Muzzling Speech Endangers Democracy

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

 Harry Truman

For sixty years, advocates of campus speech codes and prohibiting the use or certain words they deem insensitive have been willing to sacrifice the free speech rights of others for their perceived goal of protecting people from being exposed to messages, language or unpleasant historical facts which might be upsetting or offensive. 

Fast forward to June 2023, the Moms for Liberty, a grassroots organization advocating the removal of books “they” disapprove of from school libraries and elimination of school curriculums discussing LGBTQ+ rights and issues, critical race theory and the historic treatment of Native and African Americans, gender identity and sexuality, contracted to hold a reception at Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution (interestingly, where they might be exposed to aspects of America’s history and founding values they are so anxious to prevent students from learning).   

Protesters who disagree with the Moms, believing “children should be taught how to think not what to think” and their children have a right to and should be exposed to such materials, have campaigned to have the venue invitation revoked.  

Censorship in any form, whether silencing the speech of others, suppressing reading materials or revising history is rarely about compassion or family values but almost always about intolerance and/or control … and represents a clear and present danger to freedom and democracy!