Freedom of speech in commentary & editorials

The Cultural Collapse of Free Speech

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Thought Police Cancel the First Amendment

By Cindy Sheehan

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Cancel culture is the one of the worst trends in our society today, fueled by a combination of social media and an insatiable desire to bully and de-platform those with whom we disagree. Unfortunately, this trend is not just relegated to Twitter or Facebook. It’s creeping into our culture, with its effects being felt across multiple industries. From students being banned from universities for expressing controversial opinions to entertainers and athletes losing their jobs overnight, cancel culture has become the new norm. Swimmer and outspoken pro-woman athlete Riley Gaines was physically attacked at San Francisco State who were encouraged by a mob. What was her crime? Having an opinion that was different from theirs.

Cancel culture is nothing more than a modern-day witch hunt, with people losing their livelihoods over the slightest of offenses. It’s a hostile environment where anyone who dares to express an unpopular opinion gets attacked, harassed and ultimately canceled. And while the intention is to hold people accountable, in reality, it’s just bullying. Anyone who speaks out against the establishment narrative becomes a target, and those who don’t have the right opinion are shamed into silence.

One of my former friends/colleagues Roseanne Barr is the Queen of being Canceled. For some reason, she keeps popping back up from her cancellation (maybe because she has the “eff you” money to do it), but the Hounds of Twitter are on her scent again. Even though she and her minions bullied and chased me off of Twitter about 11-years ago, I have seen the Hounds twist and turn her words to justify canceling her at every turn (because she had supported Trump?), I disagree with the constant canceling of her squeaky-hinge voice. I disagree with canceling anyone’s voice, even if I fundamentally and viscerally disagree with what these people are saying.

What happened to the days when we could have a healthy debate and agree to disagree? Instead, we have folks looking for every possible excuse to cancel someone over their views or opinions. No longer is it a matter of discussion; instead, it’s all about silencing the opposition. The very foundation of free speech is under attack in this cancel culture, and it’s high time we stop it.

We need to understand that diversity of thought is a good thing. It’s what leads to progress, innovation, and creativity. When we shut down dissent and only allow one view to dominate, we lose out on the richness that comes from diverse opinions and ideas. We should have an environment where people are free to express themselves without the fear of being canceled.

Instead of canceling someone because we disagree with them, how about we listen and try to understand their perspective? Perhaps we might learn something new or gain a fresh insight that we never considered before. We can’t achieve this if we’re too busy being pearl-clutching offended by opposing viewpoints and looking for opportunities to cancel individuals.

The idea that we should cancel someone because of disagreeing with them is wrong. Cancel culture creates a chilling effect on free speech and impedes our ability to have a healthy debate. We should focus on a culture of enlightenment rather than a culture of cancelation. We need to have a culture where we can disagree without being disagreeable. So, let us embrace diversity of thought, encourage dialogue, and most of all, let us focus on having a healthy exchange of ideas. This is the foundation of what a free and democratic society should be. The erosion and prevention of free speech is one of the ingredients in the recipe for societal disaster.

That’s how I feel how do you feel?

Cindy Lee Sheehan is an American anti-war activist, whose son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed by enemy action during the Iraq War. She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended antiwar protest at a makeshift camp outside President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch—a stand that drew both passionate support and criticism. Sheehan ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008. She was a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Her memoir, Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey Through Heartache to Activism, was published in 2006. In an interview with The Daily Beast in 2017, Sheehan continued to hold her critical views towards George W. Bush, while also criticizing the militarism of Donald Trump.

Ms.Sheehan was the 2012 vice-presidential nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party, and received 1.2% of the statewide vote in the 2014 California gubernatorial election.

The author graciously has permitted this website permission to reprint selected essays.

The views and/or opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of APS Radio News or of its affiliate, APS Radio.

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