Why Are American Liberals Espousing Censorship And Mind-Control?

zipper on mouth

I say “suddenly” because I always thought of censorship and mind-control as Big Brother, “1984” stuff, the tools of fascism and totalitarian dictators. Yet for several years, the primary calls for impeding open debate and limiting the tools that facilitate it have been coming from the left. No labels. No “eliminationist rhetoric.” Ban “retarded.” Ban “nigger.” Now a best-selling feminist, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has launched a fatuous campaign to ban the word “bossy,’ on the theory that it is wielded against incipient female leaders and crushes their spirits and aspirations. (I would counter that any girl who can’t stand up to a word isn’t a very promising leader to begin with.) Unable to mold human nature to its liking with reason, facts and persuasion, the increasingly popular tactic seems to be removing the ability to engage in the kinds of thinking and conduct that liberals, with varying justification, find repugnant. Linguists have shown that ideas that can’t be expressed are difficult to form, much less argue for. Eliminate bigotry, bias, inequality, and social injustice by making them impossible to articulate, and then even conceive! Brilliant!

Now Lawrence Torcello, an American philosophy professor with a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, has published  an essay in the academic website The Conversation arguing that dissent about climate change and the human role in it is so sinister that it “ought to be considered criminally negligent.”

“Climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis,” he says, and thus is worthy of criminal penalties. Of course, this will require taking a big chunk out of the First Amendment, which he feels is reasonable, writing, “We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organized campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions.”

Prof. Torcello’s degrees do not include law, clearly, or government. What is that “clear distinction,” exactly? It is, of course, whatever those in power choose to say it is. Meanwhile “funding” the expression of an unpopular opinion, as in making sure as many people hear at as the popular opinion, is to “undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions.”Translation: anything thing that undermines the ability of Torcello and his ideological allies to make the public believe what they want them to believe should be a crime. Got it.

This is the epitome of a “conservative story,” in that the right-tilting media is up in arms about it, and the much, much larger leftward-biased media is ignoring it completely. No, they think it’s newsworthy when an entertainment reporter is falsely accused by Samuel L. Jackson of thinking all black people look alike, so they can report the distorted version of the incident as more proof of white racism in America. This? Oh, this is just the conservatives making a big deal over a wacko, an outlier, as if he’s typical of progressives.

No, Torcello isn’t typical of progressives, but he is not an outlier either, especially in the area of global warming and climate change. CNN’s Reliable Sources, as I noted, took the position that it was unethical to include dissenters to climate change cant in televised discussions of the issue. The LA Times decided that open debate couldn’t be tolerated on the topic, so it announced that it would no longer print letters from climat change “deniers.” So has Popular Science and the online discussion forum Reddit.

If you can’t beat ’em, rip their tongues out.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the manifesto of Sandra Korn, a Harvard student, who advocated muzzling non-progressive voices on campus. Ah, the young!, quoth commenters. Torcello isn’t that young, and I think the progressive establishment should start to take such sentiments from its ranks as a warning sign, worthy of concern to more than just the wrong-headed readers of the Examiner, The Blaze, and Instapundit. What is happening on the Left? When did it move from liberalism to censorship, oppression of dissenters and engineered mind control? Once any ideology has been possessed by an ends justifies the means mentality, it is already corrupt and untrustworthy. Progressives need to pay less attention to stopping others from thinking thoughts they don’t like, and start analyzing why their own thoughts have become so illiberal, so fearful, so un-American, and so ugly.


Sources: Ban Bossy, The Conversation, Info Wars

49 thoughts on “Why Are American Liberals Espousing Censorship And Mind-Control?

  1. “I say “suddenly” because I always thought of censorship and mind-control as Big Brother, “1984″ stuff, the tools of fascism and totalitarian dictators.”
    Hang on, because I’ve always thought that fascism and totalitarian dictators (Communists) were Leftist/Progressive causes. Each favors the confiscation of individual rights for collectivist rights where the “state” decides everything instead of the God given individual rights enumerated in our Constitution…… Although the MSM might want to portray fascism and totalitarian governments as “right wing”, I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t Leftist leaning.

      • Communism was a form of economics, only (barely) effective due to its espousement by the totalitarian regime which enforced it. Hitler made many public claims of being a Christian (and nearly as many privately of detesting Christianity) but his actions were both soundly against the teachings of Christianity, and directed towards minimalizing and eradicating the power of the church. Nazism did, however, rigidly enforce the power of the state over the power of individuals, which is a philosophy which the American left is the current champion of. So… Jim’s right.

        • Blah blah, “Secular Religion”, blah blah, “No True Scotsman”, blah blah.

          Don’t mind me, I don’t know where I’m going with this either.

  2. Not just climate change, but also same-sex marriage is one issue they deem no longer up for debate:

    Coercion, thought control, and even thuggery (See the SEIU) and/or criminality (Lois Lerner and the IRS) are acceptable means when targeting the non-progressive.

    How are their actions any different from those of gay-rights groups trying to coerce bakers, florists, and photographers to provide creative services for same-sex weddings?

    If it is unethical to SILENCE dissenting views, then it is just as unethical – if not moreso – to coerce supportive expression.

    • Not just climate change, but also same-sex marriage is one issue they deem no longer up for debate:

      Not too long ago, it was not considered up for debate, because the idea that same sex unions could even have any value to society, much less the same value as opposite-sex marriages, was considered inherently and totally absurd. It was by putting this issue up to debate that there is same-sex marriage anywhere.

      • Only, it is the proponents of same-sex marriage who seem to be increasingly tolerant of coercion, bullying, and even thuggery. It is not enough that nationwide same-sex marriage will happen (the fact that the likely means for it is the use of judicial fiat, though, speaks volumes about their mindset), they feel they must crush ANY form of dissent or desire to opt out of participation or approval. If a Christian photographer, baker, or florist don’t want to provide services to a same-sex ceremony, then their business, even their life, must be destroyed – even though the Christians aren’t saying, “Don’t have the wedding,” they are just saying, “Don’t force me to celebrate something I believe is wrong.” The progressives instead say, “We think you are wrong, and so we will make you serve them, and to hell with your conscience.”

        To a similar extent, look at the IRS suppression of the Tea Party prior to the 2012 election. The climate change stuff is also in that same vein. It’s the use of coercion, bullying, and threats to silence opposing views.

        When they seek to coerce ether suppress opposing views of those who disagree with them (as in the case of those who are skeptical of human-caused climate change or those who are members of the Tea Party), or the coercion of artistic or creative expression in support of something (as is being done to Christian photographers, bakers, and florists), it is simply two sides of the same un-American thought process.

        They don’t just want acceptance of their views… they want an absence of disapproval or dispute with their views. Dissent will be punished.

        • Inquiring Mind:

          “The progressives instead say, ‘We think you are wrong, and so we will make you serve them, and to hell with your conscience.”’

          Want to really make their heads really spin on a swivel?

          Have them try to transport their Brie & Chablis AND their little dust bunny dog in a Somali Muslim’s taxi either from MPLS International or from their Collective Co-op to the Tofu Exchange.

      • Well said. What I fear is going to happen is all those advantages gained might be taken away later since these were gained under democratic nations. It makes no sense to me thinking a dictatorship is going to benefit the various social causes when it was a democratic gain.

  3. You ask, “What is happening on the Left? When did it move from liberalism to censorship, oppression of dissenters and engineered mind control?” There is a distinction between classical liberalism (emphasizing individual liberty by limiting government power) and Leftism (collectivism and statism, subordinating the individual in favor of the collective). The Left has always embraced totalitarian ideas. Look at the former Soviet Union, Maoist China, Vietnam, Venezuela, and Cuba. These are Leftist ideologies. There is no dissent. There is no freedom of speech to criticize the government. When language is controlled by the government, then the government gets to decide what is spoken and how. The Left in this country has been masterful in controlling language.

    • Liberal and liberty are two different words, with two different meanings, and have been at odds fairly consistently forever.

      • I think John is quite correct. We have to use the phrase Classical Liberalism, because before modern liberalism commandeered the word liberal, liberalism was used to describe the philosophy of the Founding Fathers in opposition to authoritarianism or centralism.

        Whereas modern liberalism started applying the word for “change” to imply that their ideas of collectivizing power were somehow “new” and “improvements”.

        • Yeah… But no. I get that the textbook liberal is supposed to believe in liberty, but throughout history Liberals have always seemed to be interested in a decidedly illiberal agenda.

          Perhaps it’s because the people who professed to be liberals were trying to use the credibility of the label while poisoning the well for “real” liberals, while acting very un-liberal. But if that’s the case, the “real” liberals seem at the very least complicit. Where were they? Where were the “real” Liberals during The Emancipation? During second wave feminism? Where were the “real” liberals while Obamacare came rolling out?

          Maybe “real” liberals need to call themselves something else. Like Libertarian.

          • The “real” liberals do call themselves something else.

            But the term raised by John is in reference to the late 1700s. The liberals then, WERE “real” liberals.

            In which case your assertion that “liberals throughout history have been illiberal” isn’t an accurate statement.

            • I think we’re splitting hairs. but just as an exercise, can you name a couple of people who identified as Liberals who actually cared about liberty?

              • Irrelevent. If the problem is modern “liberals” misappropriating the term “liberal”, then finding places where “people who actually cared about Liberty” identified themselves isn’t at issue.

                The term liberalism is meant to convey a belief in individual liberty. The Founding Fathers ACTUALLY believed in this, hence they are “real” liberals. The modern “liberals” appropriated the term to soften their political platform’s actual illiberality. Since, however, their people control the narrative, most people consider the word “liberal” to apply to their belief system, hence the reactionary need to call actual liberalism “Classical Liberalism”.

                It’s you who is splitting hairs.

                • Perhaps I am.

                  What I’m saying is that people who call themselves liberals generally aren’t that interested in liberty. Did George Washington call himself a liberal? No. Was he a liberal by definition? Yes.

                  We can still point to people today and say, “These people are liberty minded, they are liberal” but we would be misunderstood, because I can’t think of a single example of someone who claimed the title, then walked the walk.

                  I recommend

                  The author points out that although terms like “liberal minded” were used regularly since the 1600’s in a philosophical sense, they didn’t have political connotations until 1820, when Britain’s Liberal Party formed. And then, by 1880, the term was basically used similarly as we recognize it today. So there was maybe a 60 year span where being a liberal might have actually been related to liberty.

      • No, that’s just U.S. usage. In the rest of the English speaking world, let alone in related languages like French, the connection is far closer. Here in Australia the main right wing party (now sadly decayed) is the Liberal Party, which started with an avowed dedication to liberty and minimal intervention. It’s actually in government at the moment.

  4. I think suppression of free thought and expression is a feature of Leftism not a recently developed bug, Jack. Earlier in recent American politics when modern hyper-Leftist attitudes were not the norm, they had to put on the facade of advocating for free expression and free thought because they were terrified that the same thing would happen to their ideas that they fully planned on doing to others’ ideas.

    Most of FDR’s revolutionary action, which can only loosely be divorced from the hyper leftist rhetoric born of the 60s we see to day, was only accomplished due to the massive distraction of WW2.

  5. Hell, this back to Woodrow Wilson and the Espionage Act of 1917. A year after the Act’s passage, Eugene V. Debs, Socialist Party presidential candidate in 1904, 1908, and 1912 was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for making a speech that “obstructed recruiting”. He ran for president again in 1920 from prison.

  6. This silencing of dissenting views in publication and sites is disturbing. Publications have the right to print only some submission, not everything. But printing only one side is an appalling expression of groupthink, which was a warning not a blueprint. Some people still denied heliocentric solar system and that Elvis was dead for far too long. But are they THAT afraid of the skeptics?

    Denying them a place in civil discourse like newspapers and news sites shows a lack of confidence in the strength of their primary arguments. It’s like children putting their fingers in their ears and going la-la-la until you stop talking. If they want a consensus society, censorship accomplishes nothing. Like the arguments for gun control they have lost their high ground because they deny some things more than their opponents.

    Even aside from that, calling their opponents ‘deniers’ denies any worth in their opponents’ points. They have turned what could be a more rational plan for common goals into mass hysteria, which causes so much ill over the years.

  7. (Claude) Frédéric Bastiat, a Classic Liberal if there ever was one, would be turning over in his grave right now.


    Emotional truth seekers, who seem to need every aspect of their existance validated, view dissent as a character flaw.

    I’m a life-long resident of the People’s Republic of Madisan (WI). Click on http://host.madison.com/ and peruse the reader’s comments sometime if you ever need a stark reminder what constitutes liberal (Proglibocratic) tolerance.

  8. “Climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis,”

    So he admits that the purpose of the debate is to take “political action”.

    Meanwhile “funding” the expression of an unpopular opinion, as in making sure as many people hear at as the popular opinion, is to “undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions.”Translation: anything thing that undermines the ability of Torcello and his ideological allies to make the public believe what they want them to believe should be a crime. Got it.

    And who exactly is going to enforce this?

    In an earlier post, I wrote about the manifesto of Sandra Korn, a Harvard student, who advocated muzzling non-progressive voices on campus.

    I did point out that the faculty of universities in Saudi Arabia and Iran share Miss Korn’s basic sentiment.

    There is one thing I would point out. If a nation decides to abandon freedom of speech in favor of enforcing a particular political orthodoxy, it would be nigh-impossible to get it back, even if followers of an opposing orthodoxy gains power.

  9. Frankly, I think it all boils down to “because they can.” The conservative brand was so badly damaged by the actions, real and perceived, of the previous administration, that it opened the door for a liberal supermajority and a license to “go nuts” which they promptly did, with the ramming through of the ACA and several other wrongheaded policy initiatives that there was no one to stand in the way of. The media, mostly liberal already, made sure all of this received good press and minimized or out-and-out refused to cover any stories that didn’t fit this “new national narrative” where the first black president rode a wave of popular discontent all the way to the White House and corrected all the mistakes of those cruel old white men on the right.

    With this near-complete power, there was simply no reason to listen to opposing viewpoints, or to hear them expressed at all, the process was complete. For comparison, one of the major magazines, I think it was National Geographic, did an interview with Muammar Gaddafi some time after the initial American victories in Iraq and Afghanistan, when he had been persuaded to give up pursuit of further regional power. He was asked if he would consider holding elections at some point. He looked at the reporter like he’d suddenly sprouted a second head and said that “all the people are in power now, there is no need for elections.” I think at this point the left believes that all the right people and policies are where they need to be, and there is no longer any need to disturb them, so why is there any need to listen to other ideas?

  10. Regarding “Ban Bossy,” maybe I am too paranoid or cynical, but I wonder if this is just the groundwork for the Hillary Clinton Presidential run.

    Even if they cannot succeed in banning “bossy,” if they can cast it as a sexist term, then any attack on Clinton’s leadership style can be considered the continuation of the fictional War on Women.

    Hey, it worked for Obama. Why not do the same thing for Clinton?


      • Well the latest on the Clintons is that Former President Bill Clinton posed for a photo Thursday night with two women who work as legal prostitutes at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada at the Unite4:Humanity charity gala held in Los Angeles. The prostitutes have been identified as Ava Adora and Barbie Girl, TMZ reported. Hillary will undoubtedly “defend her man” and claim that he didn’t know anything about the ladies background.

        Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/2/bill-clinton-poses-photo-bunny-ranch-prostitutes/#ixzz2wPupqoQR

        • Yeah, I regard that as generic Clinton-bashing, as opposed to the legitimate Clinton bashing I engage in at the slightest provocation. Pols, and especially this pol will have their photos taken with anyone who gets past security. They aren’t criminals, and Bill, or all people, doesn’t have to pay for it. He’s created his own persona as a rake so I don’t have too much sympathy, but this is nothing, and thus unfair.

        • What Jack said! You h8er Wayne! They’re legal and thus ethical for a known asshole like Clinton. Seriously Jack? Apply the well known paradigm what would the news be if the person were a conservative.

          • Sure it would be news if the politician were republican- but it would unfairly be news. As Jack said, pols do photo ops, and it’s not fair to expect them to know the full background of everyone who comes up for a back slap and a picture. Just because a republican would be unfairly nailed to the wall over this conduct doesn’t mean I think we should be unfairly treating someone else the same just on principle.

            • Well, blame it on Hollywood then. From my reading of the article quite a few of the folks from the Bunny Ranch including the owner showed up at this event and were not tossed out.

    • Because this nation has a justice debt with African Americans, while women, despite the recent whining, are doing just fine. Clinton’s not going to bring in 98% support from her demographic group. (I still think its likely that she won’t run at all.)

        • I don’t owe crap for that supposed ‘debt’ and to speak of it is folly, it lumps us into groups, not treats us as individuals. Additionally, I don’t know anyone alive who is owed that debt…

          An African American friend of mine once made the argument that what he would have inherited from his ancestors had they not been slaves should come from what I inherited from my ancestors since they owned slaves.

          I promptly reminded him, my ancestors didn’t own slaves, but however if he wanted us to assume that the actions of ancestors can only be rectified in the present, then the original ‘crime’ was the purchase of his ancestors from Arab traders, and if he really wanted that line of reasoning to apply, then the best I could do for him was to buy a one way ticket to any nation of his choice on the West African coast.

          When we determined that his primary motive for the ‘logic’ he applied to repayment of ancestral crimes was really just a redistribution of wealth, we settled that discussion and he realized the error of the logic.

              • As a matter of fact, the house we purchased has ill-fitting windows (which we didn’t know at the time) because of cost cutting by whoever built the house…

                Needless to say, when opened and closed, they often come out of the guide (not completely out) and it becomes an ordeal getting them realigned / unjammed. Then, if we still manage even the slightest misalignment, we get to enjoy the sounds of a miniature hurricane at night when the wind picks up.

          • Bang on, that idea is such horseshit. I didn’t drag anyone here in chains and I didn’t lynch anyone, I was born after the Civil Rights Act. I don’t owe anyone anything based on the color of his skin. Surely Jack, the idea of those who did not commit wrongs owing anything to those who were not wronged based on things that happened 100+ years ago has got to be fraught with ethical problems, though I am sure you could articulate them better than I can.

            • Well, sure, which is why the recurrent cry for reparations is ridiculous. But nations do carry responsibility for their wrongs across generations, and have an obligation to undo the lingering results of those wrongs to the extent possible without being unjust to those who can’t be called culpable. Like many matters in ethics, it comes down the balancing. I might be a practicing firm lawyer or a prosecutor today (though I doubt it) if I hadn’t lost a job as an AUSA due to Affirmative Action, indeed, a quota. I’m not bitter about it; I’m OK, and at the time, the lack of black and females in the US Attorney’s office was a problem. I’ll accept that I was Peter, and Paul needed to be paid. But at some point, such policies can’t be justified, and certainly not on the basis of individuals “owing” anything based on grievances perpetrated by those long dead. Institutions, however, are longer lived.

  11. I wish I could find the quote, but I remember a time about 20-ish years ago when Mario Cuomo was asked about the Fairness Doctrine on radio and specifically if he thought it would be good if Rush Limbaugh were off the air.

    His answer was essentially: “No way.” He went on to briefly explain that he personally disagrees with much of what Rush says on the radio (no surprise), but that the best way to combat Rush was NOT to silence him. The best way was for as many people as possible to hear him and hear for themselves how “wrong” he is.

    A liberal saying something like that today would be an instant Ethics Hero.

    And that’s sad.


  12. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this sort of thing- now no longer even concealed behind a blizzard of rhetoric as was once the case- is as scary as it gets. This professor is telling us to our face that he, as a member of an intellectual elite, has the inherent authority to trump our basic 1st Amendment rights because he and his ilk know better. This is along the same lines of George Bernard Shaw’s peppy and utterly frightening talk on how he would decide who lives and dies in a Fabian society. Once these modern day elitists manage to marginalize the 1st Amendment (and the trend is in that direction) it’s only a short step from there to an authoritarian nightmare.

  13. I got banned from Alternet for saying Trump isn’t racist and global warming is actually chemtrails! Apparently we aren’t allowed to press against the precious social justice warriors’ frail bubbles as we might accidentally pop one and then they’ll be hurt like little babies who lost their mommies in the grocery store.

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