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Beware of The Devil’s Work

Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and SpaceX, has purchased the popular social medium Twitter and has promised to allow former President Donald Trump to return.

Trump was banned by the previous owners for posting what was termed disinformation.  As a private company, Twitter is free, of course, to decide who can use its service.

Musk, however, pledges to make the social medium an open “town square where everyone can express their opinion.”

I agree with Musk.

I’ve made it clear on several occasions that I favor the free flow of information regardless of how repugnant the content may be.  I simply choose to ignore such material.  

Twitter and other social media platforms could provide users with filters to block potentially objectionable material that still would be available to others. I Musk chooses to follow that path.

But the calls by many individuals to ban material with which they disagree is a pernicious threat to free expression.  It is censorship—no matter how benign the intention may appear—and violates the First Amendment.

Nevertheless, possible censorship seems to be always lurking in the minds of purported do-gooders.

The latest example comes from a group of Republican Senators who object to what they consider “disturbing” LGBTQ+ television programs. They want TV warnings to be displayed.

The proposed bill not needed.  The current on-screen alerts are sufficient.

Parents just have to be responsible for policing possible content they don’t want their kids to watch. It is not the job of congress to legislate family decisions.

America has a long history of seemingly well-intended efforts to protect young people from negative influences.

Former Second Lady Tipper Gore campaigned against sexually explicit lyrics music after she and her daughter listened to the song Darling Nikki by the late singer Prince.

Gore, along with a number of other prominent women in Washington, DC, founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) that eventually persuaded the music industry to affix labels to tapes and CDs warning of explicit lyrics. Fortunately, the labels still permit some music fans to purchase songs that many of us consider disgusting.

I concede that my initial visceral reaction to these efforts is to cheer for them.  But my intellectual reflection always persuades me that such campaigns are wrong.  And we who believe we are on the side of angels, are, in fact, doing the Devil’s work whenever we stifle free expression.

I concede that my initial visceral reaction to these efforts is to cheer for them.  But my intellectual reflection always persuades me that such campaigns are wrong.  And we who believe we are on the side of angels, are, in fact, doing the Devil’s work whenever we stifle free expression.