There’s been some concern over the last months about the potential for greater censorship policies, like those that exist in the UK, Germany, Canada, and other European countries to come to the US. Typically this has been more challenging to enact in the US because of the stronger constitutional protections for free speech, although those protections have been traditionally suspended during times of major war.
Because there is no real war going on, there are not all that many strong precedents for suppressing political speech directly, rather than through the usual indirect methods.
A lot of people in the alt-right have expressed their fear about this. I don’t think it’s something to be too nervous about, even if it goes into effect.
First of all, censorship is an admission that the official ideas are weak, and unable to survive scrutiny and opposition.
Second, it radicalizes moderates.
Third, it makes the official opinion organs less trustworthy, and less able to get accurate information about public opinion (because the information gathering methods are then impeded).
Fourth, it adds more risk and more reward to routing around the censorship.
Fifth, it creates an appearance of hypocrisy among liberals who have argued for untrammeled free speech for centuries.
Sixth, it creates a black market in samizdata, even for ordinary information.
A big part of the legitimacy of the modern arrangement is the claim that it provides both economic and political liberty to its citizens. Neither of those things are really true for any sensible understanding of the word ‘liberty,’ but whenever the state makes a decision that undermines that claim, it loses the loyalty of a large portion of its followers. We’ve seen this dynamic with the news about the NSA in the last couple years. It makes it very difficult for these states to make claims to moral authority. It has had politically significant impacts, especially, in Germany, as PEGIDA gains a lot of its moral force from the failings of the German state and its subordination to the US.
Further, the rising tide of anti-US opinion in Germany is one of the reasons why NATO has been incapable of supporting Ukraine effectively in its war with Russia. So these sorts of shifts in public opinion have major downstream political impacts.
So, my general response to calls for censorship, whether performed by the goverinnment or by private companies, is to encourage them to pull the trigger.
How lucky do they feel?
This is entirely different in countries with no tradition of freedom of thought and inquiry, in which the people have no expectation of enjoying those things. In the West, increasingly, you have freedom of thought if you are a leftist, but not if you are not. A path towards greater formalization of the existing lines is to be applauded rather than decried.
So, when an enemy is about to make a mistake, get out of the way, or otherwise cheer them on as they stumble into a pit.