We are exposed to censorship powers everyday.
School administrations stepping in to ban books based on content, language, age appropriateness. TV censors for live shows watch two feeds - one live, one set at a 5 to 10 second delay in order to catch profanity, wardrobe malfunctions, anything that could get the broadcast company hit with fines from the FCC. Parents censor what their children watch on TV, read in books, surf on their computers, text on their phones. And then there is political censorship...
Given our strong Constitutional and Amendment based rights in this country in regards to free speech, governmental censorship has largely only been brought to bear during wartime when national security could be put at risk by the exposure of certain types of information. But around the world and throughout history we have watched as other countries' governments take hold of the media, of free thought, of expression, tamping out anything that may lead to dissent among the populace.
While North Korea is an obvious example, as their media and access to the outside world is heavily censored and monitored in order to brainwash the populace, control of message and information is found in Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Iran, Myanmar, Cuba and many others. State run media is the norm, internet access is strictly controlled, and journalists are routinely jailed.
Obvious reason? An informed populace can cause problems. Controlling what your citizens know or can access guarantees a dumbed down, fear filled, more compliant people.
We have seen a form of this for years in this country, as many choose to self censor opting only to read, listen to, or watch programs that help them avoid cognitive dissonance. They seek out the Glenn Becks with their chalkboard of idiocy, the Alex Joneses screaming nonsensically about demons and sulfur, the Sean Hannitys who parrot GOPer rhetoric, and the Rush Limbaughs who are only too happy to cater to their need for conspiracies, bumper sticker thinking, and hatred of facts.
That self censorship goes a long way in explaining why so many were attracted to the wholly unqualified, woefully inept, diplomacy barren, intellectually thin, loudmouthed bully, Donald Trump. He gave them what they wanted - course language, acquittal for their addiction to bogeymen, acceptance of their longheld, but completely out-of-touch-with-reality beliefs, embrace of their lack of intellectual curiosity, and validation of what they have been choosing to imbibe for so long - targeting people who do not deserve their ire.
And so we see, with increasing frustration, that it is nearly impossible to engage anyone like this. They refuse to discuss a topic, won't enter into any sort of debate lest they run afoul of some of those liberal fact things, and get aggressive to the point of violence when challenged.
Now, they could point their fingers and say liberals are just as bad with our Maddows, O'Donnells, Kimmels, Morning Joes, etc - but here's the thing - we aren't. While yes, there are some who choose the safety of a bubble, the vast majority of liberals and independents do not only seek out reinforcing information. What I see are people who read Breitbart AND Guardian; who watch Hannity AND Maddow; who surf Red State AND Talking Points Memo. We follow Trump AND Obama on Twitter.
In short, we collect as much information as we can in order to find the facts, see where the disinformation is flowing, and be able to speak to the topics of the day.
And there are elements that don't like that. A LOT. Namely our current Babbler-In-Chief. Our fact checking flies in the face of his lying freestyling. Being able to immediately research and call out his distortions, made up "data", and flat out lies compromises his main goals - to be loved and adored, and to be the biggest man/best golfer/most successful/smartest ever human/best words user in the room a la Kim Jong Un.
Basically, we fuck his shit up with our knowledge and refusal to buy his bullshit.
Our first amendment has been of critical importance since he was placed into office. Our assurance that the government cannot infringe on our rights to express ourselves, research and call out his administration, and even make fun of his vocabulary, diet, and hair has insured both our sanity and our ability to obtain accurate information.
He may want to censor us, make FOX be the required news consumption vehicle, but that damned amendment gets in his way at every turn.
Last night, however, word got out that he and his minions have taken another very frightening step towards censoring what we read and hear. The Washington Post revealed that the analysts at the Center For Disease Control have been told they cannot use certain words anymore in anything “related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to the CDC’s partners and to Congress”.
Yeah. Let that sink in.
Those prohibited words?
Seven deadly verbal sins. Somewhere George Carlin is begging the afterlife powers-that-be to let him come back, if even briefly, for comment.
This is not the first attempt to control what we see. Back in October, the New York Times reported that the EPA's website had been altered:
A new analysis made public on Friday found that an E.P.A. website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms.
Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.
Everything conservatives eschew - science, bodily autonomy, threats to business models as the world heats up, poor people, and the spectrum that contains citizens who give them the oogies have been targeted for erasure from content, discussion, reality.
Obviously I find the inclusion of the word "transgender" on this list especially sickening. This administration's constant desire to portray my son as some freak of nature, someone less capable of service, someone mentally defective, someone who really doesn't exist is infuriating. As a mother who has watched my child walk a path that is frightening, threatening, uncertain, and dangerous in order to live authentically has been humbling. Yet he has walked it with grace and bravery, each step forward more firm and certain than the one before, despite him knowing how truly awful and menacing so many in society are towards transgender people.
Make no mistake, this is a word game that, if left unchallenged, will not only lead to a thinner dictionary, but an electorate who loses the ability to speak their minds, live their lives.
I have news for Trump and his equally dim cohorts, erasing the word fetus won't make abortion go away, and it doesn't magically turn that ball of cells into a living, breathing, viable human. Removing science based from the vernacular won't make scientists stop making discoveries. And erasing the word transgender won't erase my son from existence.
Your censorship attempts won't stop critical thinking, won't deter people from keeping informed, won't protect you from being seen as the woefully uneducated simpletons you are, and won't rid you of our constitutionally protected dissent. You can wallow in your willful ignorance, speak only to your dumbed down base, and lie as much as you want.
Because in the Scrabble game of censorship, you are playing words like 'but' 'no' and, well, "and". While we are throwing down big words like "criminal' 'impeach' 'obstruction' 'collusion' and 'incarceration'.
You are going to lose. And when our winning words come to pass? Here is our final offering: