OPINION: Self-Censorship: a Personal Betrayal

By William Freeman
April 12th, 2018

            How often do you carefully written something out, rewrite it multiple times, and then pound the backspace when you realize it’s just not worth the risk of posting? How many times have you seen something on social media that you believe needs challenging but, out of fear, you don’t? This is the very worst form of censorship as it is done without a totalitarian government’s input. Self-censorship is completely voluntary, submissive, and it’s a betrayal of you.

Self-censorship is based on the fear of being ostracized, loss of employment, friendships, and, in some cases, the fear of violent retaliation. Not only does self-censorship hinder constructive debate and the vocalization of valuable opinions, it also halts independent thought.

The worst aspect of YouTube comedian Mark Meechan’s (known to most as Count Dankula) trial was not that people can now be punished for cracking jokes: it’s that there could be an even more sinister intent behind the sentencing. Could it be that this was not an attempt to silence Count Dankula, but an attempt to make an example of him to urge the population further into self-censorship? He has not been banned from creating future material, but it is implied he could face restrictions on his liberty if he creates the “wrong” material. he is banned from creating the “wrong” material.

“The court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration,” said Sheriff Derek O’Carroll, who presided over the case, “but the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.”

Aside from the threatening tone of these words, a very worrying implication of this is that Sheriff Derek O’Carroll is also guilty of self-censorship. What went through his head when the case of a sieg-heiling pug crossed his desk? I bet he was filled with fear. If Count Dankula was found not guilty, what would Sheriff O’Carroll’s peers think? What would his friends and family think? He could even be accused of being an anti-Semite himself. This fear outweighs the fear of being labeled “anti-free speech” because there are no repercussions for being “anti-free speech.” There is no aggressive majority to risk crossing paths with — in fact, Sheriff O’Carroll had everything to gain by virtue-signaling.

It’s sad to consider that he might actually believe he did the right thing. Repetitive self-censorship in our daily lives has an impact on our beliefs and opinions. The lies we repeatedly tell ourselves start to fester inside and corrupt us until we can’t distinguish the truth from the lies.

From Canadian blogger Lauren Southern’s lifetime ban from the UK to Mark Meechan being convicted as “grossly offensive,” the suppression of self-expression in the UK is nearing a level characteristic of past totalitarian governments. We live in a time where we must consider the repercussions of our actions while the rules of engagement are still unclear. We are stuck in an abusive relationship with our government; we are treading on eggshells, afraid of the potential reaction to our free expression, whether the reaction is within the boundaries of the law or not.

Mark Meechan’s conviction is scary not just because it sets a terrifying precedent, but because he is being punished not for expressing an opinion but for creating content in an area which is now a political no-go area, even though there has been no such change in the law. How can a YouTube comedian with a small following face jail time for a victimless joke, while influential Muslim preachers can spout hate towards homosexuals, Jews, women, and the West and escape unpunished, with hardly any criticism? The answer is simple: there’s the ever-present fear of retaliation from a religion with a reputation for ultra-violence and its bizarrely faithful SJW defenders who are all too quick with their accusations of racism. What’s a Scot with a pug to do?

It isn’t a minority of people who self-censor — it’s a majority, and this majority has the potential to strike fear into the government if only it speaks freely, tells the truth, and never self-censors.