Censorship, Cancel Culture, and The TattelTale Society: Part I

Updated: Mar 13


JT Bogden - What does censorship, cancel culture, and the tattletale society have in common? All are about quelching disagreement, discourse, dissent, and free speech. This is an attempt to control the conversation and promote a narrative regardless of merit. In fact, assessing the merit is not desirable as those seeking to control the narratives are utopians and ideologues who can only see the dream and are not grounded in reality. Often there is little to no merit to their narrative.


Social media outlets attempt to control the conversation while at the same time promoting their narrative or a narrative they are sympathetic towards. Facebook issued this response to an advertisement rejection.


Your ad may have been rejected because it mentions politicians or is about sensitive social issues that could influence public opinion, how people vote, and may impact the election or pending legislation.


The point of any discussion regardless if interpersonal, written, an advertisement, or any other form of communication is to influence by sharing information, knowledge, or wisdom. While Facebook insisted that the people behind the advertisement are known which is an entirely different issue this is still an attempt to control the conversation.

The American Forefathers embraced the notion of the public sphere where common citizens could discuss matters traditionally held for nobility. The public sphere was a place where ideas, thoughts, and views could be openly presented and discussed. Bad ideas, thoughts, or views would fade away. While good ideas, thoughts, or views would persist then make their way into government. The public sphere is the apex of free speech and a timeless concept. In the days of the American Founders and the Enlightenment, the public sphere was often in coffee houses. The citizens of the American Revolution period published books, newspapers, letters, and would orate their positions and views. The public assessed the value of what was being said, not the coffee houses.


Today during contemporary times, the public sphere is supported by the World Wide Web technology. Social media companies are not unlike the coffee houses as both skimmed on the conversation to make money. Unfortunately, many social media companies and the elitist behind them attempt to control the conversation today.


The Cluetrain Manifesto discusses controlling conversations. If a company tries to control the conversation, the conversation will continue to the detriment of the controlling entity as the public sphere belongs to the public. No one can control the conversation, they can only participate in the conversation as an equal (Weinberg, 2000).


Jonathan Turley who is an author and George Washington University Professor said, "The Aspen report is the latest evidence of a building anti-free speech movement in the United States. It is a movement that both rejects core free speech values and seeks to normalize censorship (Unruh, 2021, p 11). "


Let us look more closely at Censorship, Cancel Culture, and the TattleTell Society.


Censorship


In the United States, historically free speech has been limited. Remarks that incited panic such as shouting 'fire!' in a crowded theater when there is no fire or threatening a crime such as making death threats are prohibited. Nonetheless, free speech is not normal or ordinary in this world. As of 2018, the world's countries that surveil and censor internet information were mostly totalitarian regimes including secular humanist governments and theocracies such as Islamic Caliphates, Figure 1. However, three years later, surveillance and censorship have increased as evidenced by the sheer number of bannings or de-platforming from social media mostly based on partisan ideology and narratives but these platforms lack competent authority to discern the truth.


FIGURE 1: Internet Censorship and Surveillance by Country as of 2018. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_and_surveillance_by_country

Social media platforms claim to be stopping rumors and misinformation but lack any competency in making such assessments. Teams that assess the information for accuracy have no competent authority on them to assess truth, misinformation, or otherwise rumors. For example, Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor and foremost authority on mRNA gene therapy technology was de-platformed from social media because he made comments not consistent with the political left's narrative. The de-platforming had nothing to do with the truth or accuracy of the information. Dr. Malone's position is that social media is not competent to make assertions about truth and, in fact, suppress the free speech of competent authority. Dr. Malone has had attack articles discrediting him and the de-platforming in an attempt to cancel his views despite being the competent authority.


The Cancel Culture


The Cancel Culture is a form of ostracizing persons who hold competitive views to the ostracizer. This culture persists when the ostracizer has no basis for the belief or their opinion nor is there any reason for anyone else to believe in their opinion. Nonetheless, the holders of the belief insist on imposing their views on others who hold competitive views by marginalizing the opposing view holders, the ostracized. The culture is vindictive and revengeful character quality of these cancel proponents.


Often the cancel culture shows up in many ways depending on the relationship between the parties. Typically, if in a provider-buyer relationship or when peer reviews are in use the action by a cancel proponent is to provide a low rating or to marginalize the opposing view by attacking the person. When in a superior-subordinate relationship poor performance reviews or counseling may be used often in an unfair manner. When equals in a conversation, the proponent of the cancel culture may use gossip, blogging, or red (attack) articles to discredit the equal. Typically, the focus shifts from the topic to attacking the person. This is not free speech as free speech is not about the attacking person but instead about debating the view, a thought, or idea apart from the messenger. In essence, one should not be killing the messenger.


The Tattletale Society


The tattletale society is characterized by the mantra that everybody should tell someone about somebody. This is facilitated by anonymous reporting systems and the imagined Right to Anonymity that now pervades the fabric of the US Landscape. The Right to Anonymity does not exist except in the imagination of those who sponsor the unnatural Right. However, there is a Right to Fair Treatment and to face one's accuser or reporter regardless of whether the accusation, report, or allegation is criminal, civil, or gossip in nature. Fair treatment applies to all circumstances and social interactions. All involved parties should be known and not hide behind anonymity.


The Tattletale Society often rides on the coattails of political correctness which is the sensibility that conduct and language should be eliminated that may offend another person. Once I overheard a conversation among attorneys that discussed when a word becomes politically incorrect. Essentially, this boiled down to when a lawsuit is won determining a word is no longer acceptable. Unfortunately, the offended party is often not of the ilk of the conduct or language but instead enjoys a sense of empowerment believing they hold a moral and ethical superiority over others. The snob effect. Moreover, the inner workings of a person's mind cannot be known and no one else should be accountable for the thoughts of another person. In other times, a person was showing character whenever they spoke out and other persons had thick skins. There was a social grace among people. Today, social skills are lacking in most people and that social grace has faded away. In the place of social grace, there has emerged a need to tattletale based on political correctness conjured up by politicians, technocrats, jurists, and bureaucrats or the administrative state.


Part II will look at the problems that censorship, cancel culture, and the Tattletell Society have caused and then reinforcing founding principles.


References:


Federer, W.J. (1996) America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations. Fame Publishing: USA.


Friedman, T. (2005) World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. Farrar, Straus, Giroux: New York


Unruh, B. (2021) Censorship is needed to stop disagreement, says Aspen Institute. Twenty-First Century Watch, Fourth Quarter, Vol 24, No 4. P 11.


Weinberg, D. (2000) The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. 1st ed. Basic Books: USA.


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