Freedom Means Censorship



Illustration by FSSA senior art major Zelinette Estrada.

Friends, proud citizens of these great United States, we have been wronged. This nation, which once laid claim to itself as a nation of freedom, a nation of liberation, a nation of our manifest destiny, has never been farther from this lie.

The freedom has rotted to censorship. The liberation has metamorphosed to silence. We have woken up from the American dream to see that, a dream is all it ever was.

And as we drill into the minds of countless school children across this land, the sacred words of our beloved Constitution, that all people have an unalienable right to a freedom of their own expression, I ask you, when have these words ever rung true?

Have they rung true during the countless years that African-Americans had their tongues silenced under the brutal shackles of slavery?

Have they rung true during the countless more years that we devised crooked laws and schemes to continuously silence them even after the abolition of slavery?

Have they rung true when a person, supposedly equal to any other under the law, was denied the right to vote simply because she was a woman?

And are they ringing true now, in a brutal climate of every-man-for-himself, where debate floors have transformed to shouting matches where so many howl at once that no one’s voice is being heard?

The answer of course, is no. They have never rung true.

The very core of this American ideology has never been more than a pleasant thought. Human nature gets in the way. Our greedy desire to always be right has mutated the national stage, until it is less a government, and more a gladiator arena. A mere disagreement with my ideal, has immediately been transformed to an attack on me, which means that I must now unleash a counter-attack on you. This has become our national ideology. It is not one of civility, but one of brutality. A barbaric scene which harkens back to the days of neanderthals.

The core principle here is that my opinion is superior to yours. This dangerous philosophy seeks to rat out so-called “controversial remarks.” The news media is constantly ablaze with salacious tellings of yet another high-profile individual awash in scandal over a “controversial remark.” More often than not it is a statement taken out of context, an innocent joke gone awry, or simply an opinion that has committed the violent sin of slightly breaking with the norm.

The response here is so uniform, it’s practically scripted. The comment is reported, it trends on social media, countless people put everything aside to become deeply offended with it, and then the individual who made the comment offers a deep, tearful apology of how they are so sorry, and weren’t thinking, or something to that effect.

But what is a controversial comment, really, than just an opinion that is different than yours? What is wrong then, with having a foreign opinion, no matter how extreme or unorthodox? In a country that proclaims itself a motherland of free expression, why should countless people lose their jobs over speaking their minds?

An opinion, no matter how fervently you agree or disagree with it, is still just an opinion. And under our sacred Constitution, each opinion holds as much worth as any other. So why then must we continuously hide ourselves under an accepted, uniform opinion, for fear of sparking offense? Why must we all live under one mold?

I began by saying that we have been wronged. Now it is clear to me that we have wronged ourselves. If this nation crumbles it will not be under the basis of foreign attack, but rather of our own doing. And unless we stand up and do something about it, this nation will tear at its seams.

The first amendment is your right. Use it! Speak your mind! Speak your opinion! Treat the opinions of others not as a deliberate attack on you, but simply as another thought, just as valid as the one you possess.

We are a nation of diverse thought, not a unified mold. We are a nation of wide open, liberating pastures. Of long, intellectual conversations. Of civility and humility.

I implore you, keep it that way. If not for yourselves, do it for your children. Your children who right now spend countless school hours learning of the unique wonders of our United States.

I pray you let them see it.

— by Alec Inagamov ’20