The War On Free Speech

silence

In 1946, Martin Niemoller wrote a damning bit of prose to illustrate the rise of fascism and the cowardice of the intellectuals (including himself) who let it happen.  Here is one of the original versions.

First they came for the Communists —
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists —
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists —
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews —
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me —
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.

In the 21st century, they may call themselves innocuous names, profess their moral authority and say they speak for the betterment of society.  But don’t be fooled.  This is all about power.  This is about who controls the flow of ideas.  This is about silencing the opposition.  And the pattern is exactly the same.

First they came for Hate Speech —
And I didn’t speak out
Because it sounded like a good idea.

Then they came for Controversial Speech —
And a lot of people didn’t speak out
Because they didn’t want to get lynched on Social Media.

Then they came for Offensive Speech —
And most people didn’t speak out
Because the ones who did were losing their jobs.

Now they’re coming for Opinion,
And everybody is too frightened to speak out.

So when they come for Free Speech,
Don’t be surprised
When there’s nobody left to defend it.

2 thoughts on “The War On Free Speech

  1. This is a terrific piece, WD. It is dangerous when people who hold unpopular views aren’t allowed a voice. I label myself “a liberal” so it is particularly depressing to read that, on campuses, students who are liberals have become completely intolerant of those who hold what liberals deem “objectionable” views, and speakers have been cancelled because of the uproar generated by the liberals. Silencing people erodes democracy.

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