Was Enforced Silence the ACLU’s Agenda all along?

After reading Charlotte Allen’s blog on “The Left’s War on Free Speech,” it’s difficult to conclude that the so-called progressives at the American Civil Liberties Union were ever much dedicated to free speech.   More likely, they’ve been committed to squashing it.   And now it seems the time is ripe for them to do so.  Allen quotes several advocates for curbing the right to think out loud.  In part, she writes:

The watchword was that of one of the Supreme Court’s most liberal justices, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who wrote: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is…enforced silence.-  

Now for many progressives, it seems, the remedy is …enforced silence. Here is author William D. Cohan, writing in the Huffington Post to wonder “if there should be limits to saying or writing whatever you please in online forums that can sully someone’s reputation with impunity and impair his or her ability to make a living.”

This sort of thing should make us all shudder.  Allen continues:

Cohan’s Huffington Post piece is titled “How Much Free Speech Is Too Much?” His answer:

 “What’s clear is that we’re are at a crucial moment where the ability of technology to permit instant, unvetted and unfiltered commentary is running head-first into the justified concerns of those whose reputations can be torn asunder unfairly by it. It’s a conundrum for sure and one that needs some serious sorting out.”

He’s not the only liberal to complain that America’s 1st Amendment allows just plain too much free speech.

Cohan echoes the voice of tyranny  quoted in The Singing Revolution: “Whenever you give free speech to people, then things get out of hand.”

In fact, free speech is a use it or lose it proposition. Keep talking!

 

 

 

Follow up on Maya Angelou’s “Why I kept my Baby”

My last post on the recently deceased Maya Angelou produced some interesting feedback, and I’d like to address it.  Despite Angelou’s personal pro-life story, a lot of the eulogizing over her can seem unsettling because she lent her voice to fundraising for Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion promoter out there.  Even though I was aware of Angelou’s political leanings, I was not tuned into her support for Planned Parenthood, and certainly not the extent of it.

But Angelou’s personal story of a crisis pregnancy and the nurturing of her child still captures my imagination.  And I think it ought to be better known publicly, especially in light of this irony.

I was also drawn to Angelou’s story because it connects two underlying themes of my blog:  Relationships and Influence.

Angelou’s joyful relationship with the son she may never have known had an enormous and positive impact on the trajectory of her life – and therefore also on the lives and relationships of all those around her.  It’s a shame that she didn’t preach more about what she practiced then – about her openness to the humanity of the unborn and our innate relationship with them. Given her influence, doing so could have spared the lives of many children and prevented the brokenness of many would-be mothers. As a supporter for Planned Parenthood, she, sadly encouraged the opposite.

Influence has many facets.  Whether we have influence ourselves, or whether we cede influence to someone, what we do with influence is a huge responsibility.  It’s a shame that Maya Angelou chose to lend her influence and her name to an organization that stood against all of her best instincts.  After all, she told Family Circle Magazine that she kept her baby because “I knew there was somebody inside me.”  Somebody.

The fact is that support for abortion was de rigueur in Angelou’s political sphere.  The tragedy is if there was room for different views there, she very well may have kept to her instincts and promoted life instead. 

So, one can only wonder:  Why?  Why did she go on to support an organization that certainly would not have recognized her unborn son as “somebody?”  And if she had been a pregnant teen under the circumstances today, would she have kept her baby?

I don’t know the answers, but I think it lies somewhere in the intersection of relationships and power.  Was she pressured?  Was she simply asked to headline PP fundraisers?   Would she have ever initiated such a thing on her own? Or, is it possible that in the end, she simply lent her influence in order to preserve her influence and to avoid alienating those around her?  I can’t help but suspect it’s the latter.  The effects of influence coupled with the innate human fear of isolation — being cast out — cause people to morph all the time.

I think paying close attention to these dynamics in ourselves and others is the key to helping turn things around for a more open and life-affirming society.

Everyone Should Take a “Propaganda 101″ Class to Understand How they are Manipulated

Lots of folks have been scratching their heads wondering how genderless marriage — which seemed just a fantasy on the fringes just  a decade or so ago — so quickly became a reality of American public policy today.  There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle. A few of them include activist judges, the monied LGBT lobby, and  President Obama’s disingenuous “evolution” on the subject after being elected.

But the bigger picture shows something very different, very calculated, and decades in the making.  It’s possibly been the biggest propaganda campaign in human history.

Do you believe the biggest manipulators who push same sex marriage really and truly care about the canard they label “marriage equality?”  I don’t.  In fact, it seems more likely the power elites among them have simply been engaged in a social experiment, testing the limits of propaganda and how easily people can be controlled and manipulated, even to the point of accepting an implausible idea. Of course, “marriage equality” is a great test case for them, because it could pave the way to ending family autonomy, giving them greater control over the relationships of others.

Are you familiar with the term “availability cascade?”  It’s related to Richard Dawkins theory (The Selfish Gene, 1976) about “memes:” that any idea injected into public discourse can potentially spread like a virus and change the culture in much the same way that genes replicate and evolve.  Of course, to make it work you need an unwitting citizenry.

I think the only way around this is a proliferation of education and information on the subtle techniques of coercive persuasion. If our society produced lots of non-partisan webinars and classes taught by citizen-activists on “Propaganda 101″ people could be exposed to the  uses and abuses of social psychology so that they’re not such easy targets.  More on that in a later post.

In 1999 the Stanford Law Review published “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation,” an article co-authored by Cass Sunstein and Timur Kuran.  Sunstein served as Obama’s regulatory czar during 2009-2012.  Kuran is an economist and author of Private Truths, Public Lies:  The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (1995) a fascinating look at how our individual willingness — or reticence — to express our real beliefs is what drives all of public opinion.

In fact, our willingness to say what we believe is what drives all public opinion.  All of it.  Yes, what you say or don’t say to your co-worker, classmate, or neighbor makes a difference in how they perceive the world.  At the epicenter of the ripple effect is our daily conversations in our daily lives.

The coddling of an idea like “marriage equality” through repetition — and the suppression of dissent — projects the illusion that “everybody’s believing it.” People shift their “beliefs” to conform to what they perceive everyone else believes.  Soon enough you’ve got a chain reaction.  It’s a bandwagon effect that’s helped along by political correctness  which, through the threat of smearing and isolating anyone who speaks “out of line,”enforces that illusion by creating a spiral of silence. In essence, this teases out a reverse bandwagon effect in dissenters.

 

Excuse me for speaking (Silly me, I thought I had a “right”)

Your right to think out loud is officially up for debate.   Last night the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia held a “panel discussion” on the topic “The Future of Free Speech.”  In it we were treated to the pros and cons of allowing human beings to speak their minds.  That’s what we’ve come to, and it’s appalling.

What next?  A panel discussion on the pros and cons of allowing human beings to breathe?

As with all such discussions, an elitist few take it upon themselves to tell the unwashed masses what they may and may not say — or by logical extension, what they may or may not think.  These self-appointed arbiters of speech and thought are nothing more than a clique or a mob that’s set itself up to control others.  It’s a power grab, and their thinly veiled guise is to claim to protect us all from “hate speech.”  In other words, it’s a protection racket.  There’s no way around this.

Everything about last night’s C-SPAN panel was disturbing:  the arrogance of the plaintiffs, the willingness of the defendants to play nice and even seem jovial about negotiating the rights of everyone else, and the venue itself, the Constitution Center, which seemed happy to give tyranny a day in court.  (No doubt there will be more to come.)   If you care to check it out, here’s the link:  http://www.c-span.org/video/?318476-1/free-speech-us

Political Correctness and the Cult Mindset

My essay in the Federalist today is about Americans’ woeful ignorance of the techniques of brainwashing.  Click here to read:  “Cults in Our Midst:  Patty Hearst and the Brainwashing of America.”  My take is that it’s been exactly 40 years since Patty Hearst stunned the nation by robbing a bank with her radical comrades from “The Symbionese Liberation Army,” two months after they kidnapped and brainwashed her.

They started the way any bully or cult leader pushes an agenda:  by isolating the individual and separating the person from all relationships the aggressor can’t control.   Political correctness depends on this sort of thing.  It’s a program of behavior modification through language control.  It seeks to impose language that vilifies people who don’t conform so that they are separated and isolated from others. (You know the drill:  “bigot,” etc.)

Interestingly, the term “brainwashing” has become politically incorrect.  We should ask ourselves: Why?  The term simply comes from the Chinese/Maoist expression “hse nao” which means to “wash the brain” so that other thoughts can be programmed into it. Is the word politically incorrect because it’s a false concept?  No.  It’s politically incorrect because it is  true.  It’s very real.

If Americans understood the processes and techniques of coercive persuasion, they’d become more immune to them.  Political correctness would lose its hold, just as a magician’s tricks lose their appeal when you see them exposed.

Here are some brief excerpts from my essay, which I hope you’ll read:

In a sense, political correctness, though more subtle, is analogous to the dark closet in which Patty Hearst was isolated, blindfolded, and incessantly propagandized. It serves to silence us and create the conditions in which the arbiters of correctness can tear down the old world view and rebuild it in their image. We’re told being one of them is to be morally superior, on the right side of history. Those who oppose it are labeled, repeatedly and loudly: bigot, racist, homophobe.

In Cults in our Midst, Singer warned that cult techniques “should be studied and revealed so that citizens can be taught countermeasures in order to avoid being exploited by such groups.” She also cautioned: “The psychotechnology of thought reform is not going to go away… Education, information and vigilance are constantly needed if we are to keep us, and our minds, free.”

 

 

Bait and Switch: How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy

“Relationships, Power, and Freedom” is the central theme of this blog.  I really hope you’ll read my article published today in The Federalist because in it I attempt to get right into the intersection of each of these three qualities in our lives.  Click here for the link to my article, “Bait and Switch:  How Same Sex Marriage Ends Family Autonomy.”

Preserving civil marriage is key, because without it the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. Abolishing it would have huge implications for the survival of freedom of association and all of our personal relationships.

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The Softer Side of Show Trials, brought to you by your Friends at Mozilla

When Hollywood folks think of show trials, they automatically relive the McCarthy hearings of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee back in the 1950s.  When a student of Russian history hears the term, she’s apt to think about Stalin’s Show Trials of the 1930’s.  But let’s not go there, right?  Those were nasty affairs that usually ended with executions after perfunctory trials that declared the defendants “enemies of the people.”

There’s a more “civilized and softer” side to the idea of show trials, which was brought to us this week by Mozilla.  It means that when someone carries a belief in his heart that doesn’t meet the approval of the preachers of political correctness, he’s merely forced to resign from his job.  In this case, the person supported the idea — shocking! — that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  It doesn’t matter that he kept quiet about his beliefs, the thought reformers made a point of “outing” him for his thought crimes. That’s what happened to Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla.  We know he contributed towards Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that defined marriage traditionally.  But we don’t technically know how Eich voted on it because we all still technically have the right to a secret ballot.  Or are you beginning to wonder?

[Read more…]

Crude Demonization and the Propaganda in “Cosmos”

Did you catch the Sunday night pilot of the new Cosmos series on FOX?  If so, you probably watched with interest an odd cartoon that was injected into it.  The program featured some revisionist history in order to produce a thinly-veiled hit piece on Christians.  You can watch it here.  Take special note at 1:24.  Right smack dab in the center of focus is the Cross of Christ, just below a set of demonically-lit eyes of a church figure.

This is propaganda of the crudest sort, reminiscent of how Stalin’s Soviet Union characterized non-communists, or how the Hutus of Rwanda characterized the Tutsis, or, most famously, how the Third Reich characterized Jews.

 I imagine we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future, so let’s try to figure out one formula some outlets might use to implement such demonization.

1.)  Take a fascinating topic that captures the imagination of viewers across all age groups.  In this case, space exploration.  Get the US President’s seal of approval

2.)  Invent the story of an obscure martyr, in this case, a church figure who promoted a theological heresy hundreds of years ago and was executed for doing so — Giordano Bruno.

1.       3.)  Win the sympathy of the viewer through twisting facts.  In this case, claim — in error — that the Church as a whole persecuted Bruno for his views on science and his imagination — when the reality was that the personalities running the church at the time went after him for his theological views. 
You can read more about this here and here.

4.)  Then inject a caricature that demonizes anyone associated with the symbol f the cross.  In this case, it’s a cartoon that places the cross right in the center of focus, underneath a pair of demonic eyes so that the viewer will join the producers in demonizing the cross and those who wear it.

Whether or not you agree that this is a formula for demonizing people, it all leads to the same place:  the persecution of targeted groups of people.  Throughout history demonization through caricature has always gone hand-in-hand with oppression:  separating people through smear-by-association.  So whenever we see such things produced by a major network or outlet, we need to ask ourselves a question:  Is the caricature intended to single out a group of people with the direct effect of inspiring blanket fear and hatred of them?  Or is it a more generic “bad guy” that would would find in the context of a well-written drama or storyline?  This hit piece from Cosmos is doubtless of the first category.

“The Mortal Storm:” First, Imposed Silence, then Mandatory Enthusiasm

When power elites are pushing an agenda, the first step is to silence the opposition.  Political correctness is a tool that manipulates the universal human fear of being socially smeared in order to squash dissent.  PC begins by teasing out a spiral of silence that causes people to perceive majority approval for an agenda — even when it doesn’t exist — so that they remain silent instead of expressing opposition.

But that’s just the first step.  PC agendas cannot withstand scrutiny or open debate.  They get poor mileage and need lots of fuel.  So, at a certain point the silencing of dissent is just not enough to keep the illusion going.  That’s when power elites will ratchet it up and enlist your enthusiasm and approval.  And it’s mandatory.

A fascinating illustration of mandatory enthusiasm is in the clip below from the 1940 movie “The Mortal Storm,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

Begin watching at the 2:00 mark:

When faced with this type of cascade of human madness, we have two choices, according to the story:

1. Safety through retreat, which is really a trap, because it only feeds the cascade and makes the problem worse;

2. Courage, which forces us to confront the evil, and allows us a fighting chance in defeating it.

Part of the fallout of PC is that it tears apart families and life long friendships.   At one point in the movie, the character Freya says to Martin: “You’re the only friend I have left and the only one I can talk to.  I’ve never felt so all alone in  my life.”

And that’s the aim of  any power-mongering force:  to separate dissenters from any source of support — from friends, from family.  To make sure they have no one they can talk to.  That message from the “The Mortal Storm” is timeless and urgent.

By the way, during the 1930’s Hollywood bowed to pressure from Nazi Germany and avoided any negative portrayals of the Nazis.  “The Mortal Storm” was the first time this pact had been breached before US involvement, and it resulted in a German boycott of MGM.   (If you’re planning to watch the whole movie, here’s a quickie review of its shortcomings: I wish it was more cohesive and had more natural dialogue in several of the scenes.)

Another interesting aside is that after WWII you’d be hard pressed to find an average German who claimed to be a willing member of the Nazi party.  It seems the old line about being “on the right side of history” can often serve as a manipulative and empty slogan.

On opinion cascades and marriage, read Doug Mainwaring today

If you wonder how the whole issue of genderless marriage took off so fast — from fringe issue to public policy in just a few years — read Doug Mainwaring’s excellent article in today’s American Thinker:  “Manufacturing Consent on Same Sex Marriage.”  You’ll find in it a fascinating discussion that goes beyond Marketing 101.  In fact, you’ll wish that that there was an insightful “Propaganda 101″ course readily available to all.   What has been happening is as confusing to folks as the current understanding of marriage seems to be.

Some of us thought that the public square was for talking through issues that were controversial.   Then after we reasoned things through, we’d talk some more just to be sure.  We’d argue.  We’d debate in a civil society that allowed all views to be heard.  We’d vote on public officials or referenda.  We’d try to learn.  To think independently.   And so on . . .

Silly us.   All the while, “availability cascades” were being tweaked and organized and used to create an illusion of consent for things that seemed implausible, rendering them “plausible” as more and more people were sucked into the spiral of silence that political correctness demands of dissenters.   As people feared social ostracism, they complied.  What passed for “debate in the public square” was manipulated and rendered predictable.

I plan to write more on this subject myself, especially since the frenetic pace of genderless marriage policy provides such an excellent illustration the mechanics of opinion cascades, and the understanding of how fragile they really are.  (Doug and I also co-authored a piece on this last year, which you can read here.)