April 2, 2023

MUZZLED: Five major ways Republicans are limiting free speech

MUZZLED: Five major ways Republicans are limiting free speech

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According to the Republican narrative, liberals are trying to limit everyone’s free speech, controlling what we can say and when we can say it.

Even former liberals like Bill Maher have bought into this, pleasantly discussing all that the “woke mob” is doing to hurt free speech with none other than Bill Barr on Maher’s Real Time recently.

And we’ve heard this message echoed by conservatives and MAGAts time and time again. Here are just a few examples:

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Yet, let’s be real: Republicans limit free speech considerably more than liberals ever could or would even think to do.

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While liberals criticize those who express bigoted, racist, or homophobic views, and may decide to tune that person out (or “cancel” them), Republicans have a long list of views they will not countenance.

Try walking into Oral Roberts University or the Heritage Foundation and discussing abortion rights or the bullying that trans youths encounter or atheism…or sex…or income inequality…or Donald Trump’s crimes.

The list is practically endless.

You’ll be whisked out of there faster than you can say the words “cancel culture” as they drag you out by your heels.

Have you ever tried talking to a Republican about something they disagree with?

Are we really going to pretend that they are somehow the open-minded ones, willing to consider facts that may contradict their presumptive narrative?

Is this really where we are now?

If so, the GOP has sold America on a Texas-sized load of bullshit, to be sure.

And understand another key difference: while certainly instances can be found wherein liberals object to certain speech, this is usually a private matter; whereas Republicans want to use government to restrict our free speech.

Really.

You can’t curse on the airwaves because of the FCC (because there are “bad words,” they tell us).

Students are expected to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, long before they even known what the word “allegiance” even means.

They want to ban flag-burning, put us in “protest zones,” and stop our most important way of expressing ourselves: voting, which they try every which way to subvert.

So here is a brief list of just five ways Republicans look to limit free speech on a regular basis.

There are more, but these five are key.

Look for them.

Memorize them.

Warn others about them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and however else you can, because you’ll be seeing these efforts all around you, and the more power we give Republicans, the more they’ll try to limit what you can say and how you can express yourself.

1. “Civil” Protests

Even Vladimir Putin understands that you can permit people to protest, so long as you make sure they’re never heard. Republicans have excelled at this tactic.

For starters, they put protesters in special “protest zones” to weaken their messages.

On top of this, Republicans insist that protests be “civil,” that protesters never come to the homes of politicians or other prominent figures, and that they essentially never make anyone feel uncomfortable.

This is why Dr. King was called a “troublemaker.”

Alice Paul was similarly criticized, as was Larry Kramer.

Basically, anyone who has ever accomplished anything through protest didn’t do it by being polite.

And if liberals want real change, they better start ignoring this Republican criticism and insist on showing up where their voices can actually make a difference – outside Tucker’s house (again) and the homes of senators, reps, and Supreme Court justices.

Be peaceful, but be loud and be adamant.

2. The Language We Use

The idea of “proper language” is probably so ingrained in you, that some words like “shit,” “fuck,” and “piss” might make you feel uncomfortable, even if you’re a liberal.

As noted above, these words cannot be said on the airwaves, even though they are not inherently “bad,” despite what conservatives will tell you.

And, as for me, I would rather learn from a teacher that my kid said another kid was “fucking beautiful” than ever hear my child call someone fat or learn that they supported a Muslim ban.

3. In the Classroom

With laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” initiative, and efforts to ban teaching Critical Race Theory (even though most Republicans don’t really understand what it actually is), we’re seeing more and more attempts by conservatives to limit what can be said in the classroom and what can be learned.

They want to use government to stop kids from opening certain books that might have ideas they deem dangerous, and to prevent them from hearing anything that might challenge the notion that we’re the greatest, #1, and best at everything.

Our kids learn a whitewashed version of history, with the Founders treated as divine beings and the Constitution as some brilliant document blessed by Christ.

It’s a lotta, lotta nonsense.

They even want to put all our kids in uniforms, so that we don’t face the danger of them expressing themselves in any way.

4. Through their Platforms

Two things Truth Social is not are true and social.

While the platform expounded by Donald Trump claims to be “anti-woke,” it’s been shown to have a very intense blocking mechanism when it comes to views they don’t like.

Try going on there and criticizing Trump or expressing liberal opinions on things.

You won’t get far.

Even more to the point, conservative Facebook groups and other conservative arenas certainly do not welcome liberals in any way.

And we’ve also seen how Twitter, since Musk’s takeover, has targeted and even suspended or removed liberals while allowing white supremacists and extreme right-wingers to not only proliferate, but to spread bigotry and disinformation.

5. Religion

We subsidize religious institutions through our tax dollars, since these organizations do not have to pay property and other taxes.

And yet they receive benefits.

And they often get to put religious symbols on public land.

Try doing that as an atheist and see what happens.

Republicans will pounce on you faster than Chris Christie hits a buffet.

We even have a House chaplain in the House of Representatives, and Congressional sessions typically start with a prayer.

So much for separating Church and State.

Heck, it says “In God We Trust” on our money and in our courtrooms.

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But if you question religion or these religious symbols, look out!

These are just a handful of examples, but they should be useful.

The next time a Republican tells you that you’re part of the “woke mob” trying to control their (often racist or bigoted) language, ask them if you’re allowed to tell them to go fuck themselves, or if they object to that use of free speech.

This will probably make a lot of Republicans mad, and they’ll likely try to cancel Ross.

But you can show your support by following him on Twitter. Just click on @RossRosenfeld.

Ross Rosenfeld

is a news analysis and opinion writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Daily News and Newsweek. He lives in New York.

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