The Stupidity of Censorship

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on

Free speech and conflict. I generally try to avoid online arguments. Discussions yes…arguments no. However, the other day I came a across a parable written about cows staying inside a fence simply because they were supplied with everything they needed inside the fence. This parable was a lesson in how it would be if we defunded the police and transferred that money to programs to help the poor.

In another life and at a different stage of life I worked with cows every day, so I couldn’t help but respond to the idyllic vision of cows staying inside a fence because they were supplied with everything they needed inside inside that fence.

Basically, if people are supplied with education and everything they need they won’t have a need to break the law.

I wrote the following.

Having worked with cows for many years, there are some cows that will get out and run wild at any sign of weakness in the fence, not because they need food, but because they can…which is why you still need to be prepared for enforcement of the fence. Either that or you need to be prepared to watch what happens when the cows run wild and free. Because when one gets out…the others will soon join in…like humans, cows don’t necessarily do the logical or best thing for their own wellbeing…sometimes they just run wild because they can.

This segment earned ridicule and the point was made that all these ideas were waay over my head. Poverty creates criminals! So, I followed up with the post below.

I understood your point, however, I don’t agree with it. Poverty does drive some people to a life of crime, education and other social programs will help some people out of it. We should be exploring more options on that. However, if education and everything you need was all we need to avoid crime, why is there so much white-collar crime by billionaire business people?

If simply having enough money was the answer, why do so many celebrities get caught shoplifting, abusing their staff, ect?

A quick visit to a nearby reserve (I’ve been there many times) will reveal that many people there are actually fine people…who despite their circumstances have not turned to crime.

Yes, invest in social programs, education…yet, also, there is a criminal element that needs the police. If we are going to quote Bible verses…I would quote “the governor has not been given the sword for nothing but to punish those who do evil.”

I would encourage any one reading this, to go down to the nearby rez and/or ghetto to work there, spend time with the people there…then, the situation will become very clear. (And go down to a nearby cattle farm and see what happens when there is a herd of cattle with only one strand of unelectrified fence.)

This response simply earned more insults so I left it. However, this issue is close to me because it is personal. I know people who have escaped a life of poverty through their own intelligence, hard work, and God’s grace. I find it insulting to imply that some people are ordained to a life of crime simply because they were born into the wrong circumstance. That certain people can only escape poverty through a social program put on by government experts.

Yes, there is a place for these sorts of programs. However, there are many smart, talented people on the reserve, in the ghetto, ect. that are perfectly capable of success on their own merits.

The circumstances we find ourselves in will influence what we do…but we are not mindless slaves to circumstance. We have been given a choice.

Will we choose a life of crime or not?

Will we rise above our circumstances or will we become a casualty of them?

We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for the choices we make.

Helping others is good. If they want the help. If you are actually willing to help them and aren’t simply offering them a condescending pat on the head to soothe your guilt. Ask what they need. If they want help work with them as equals, not as a lower-class creature who needs enlightenment.

The other issue that came to mind because of the situation outlined above was the issue of free speech. None of the points I raised during the discussion were answered, they were only met with ridicule and personal attacks.

If a person (like me) puts an idea is put into the public forum they should be prepared for it to be studied…prodded and examined. Personal attacks are a debate tactic of someone who hasn’t thought through their own position. I myself have been guilty of posting without thinking…been proven wrong, and had to retract my statement. It felt bad at the time but I’m glad that friends took the time to point that out.

Because they pointed that out, I got a bad idea out of my head. So, I’m better off for it.

With free speech under attack, we would do well to consider it’s value to us all. Organizations and political systems that work on the idea of top-down thinking that can’t be challenged fall into the trap of creating their own reality and celebrating stupidity.

The family that can’t talk about that certain subject because Uncle Billy will be mad…and so, the subject goes unaddressed, and relationships are strained.

The Church where the pastor’s son is clearly not qualified to lead the worship band…but nobody says it…and so they put up with Sunday after Sunday of sour notes.

The company where the manager fires anybody who challenges him…and so, ensures that only people who don’t challenge his authority stick around…and so, nobody is brave enough to point out the design flaw…nobody talks about the accounting error…and so, the company loses momentum.

The agenda is set by the family bully or the office power broker and it must be followed. Not only that. All opposing ideas must be quashed because if there is one thing about stupidity, it hates to be challenged. Check out the history of your favorite dictatorship and you can see this sort of wishful groupthinking in all its glory.

The problem is, no matter how much we wish something were true, wishful thinking leads to imaginary results.

Truth is reality and only by facing reality can a person change it.

Free speech fosters innovation because it allows people to innovate…to challenge the status quo and try something new. Which is why oppressive societies aren’t often very innovative. (Sometimes yes, but most often they are dreary places like North Korea, East Germany ect.) Their own people aren’t allowed to break out from the mold…so, these oppressive societies are reduced to stealing innovation from places where people are allowed to break the mold and question the set way of doing things.

An organization that doesn’t allow people to ask any questions ends up being an organization without any answers.

Places where playing politics is the most important thing have a hard time accomplishing anything important.

Yes. Free speech is hard.

Searching for truth is challenging.

Debate can be messy.

But we are all better off with it. A lot better off. So, rather than trying to shut down conflict in search of a false peace where everybody is nice but nothing of substance ever gets discussed…let us pursue a greater goal. The ability to disagree strongly but still respect each other as humans.

A fake environment can never lead anyone to the truth.

The ability to talk honestly about real issues is real fellowship.

Real fellowship and honest communication leads to trust…and really, how can we ever work together in a serious way if we can’t trust each other?

We aren’t all the same and that is a good thing.

Instead of making personal attacks and trying to shut down any debate that makes us nervous…instead of trying to censor anything that doesn’t fit into our favorite party line, let us agree to pursue truth. It is the truth that will set us free.

Let us embrace the opportunities we have to discuss ideas frankly and openly….even if we don’t like them.

Let us see the other person, not as a lesser being in need of enlightenment from a genius like us…but instead, as someone who God loves. (John 3:16).

Let’s try and put the civil back in civilization.


On a lighter note. “Dweezil’s law. The less someone knows about a subject, the longer they will expound upon it… I could talk about this all day!”

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