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By using current events as pretexts for further restricting the ability of people to speak and to communicate, national government politicians and “big tech” companies are increasing the likelihood that people will resort to violence to get their point across.
Politicians and “big tech” claim restricting speech and communication will reduce “conspiracy theories” and the planning of violent actions. But, driving such topics into hidden corners tends to reinforce them and to encourage the people involved to become more extreme and potentially violent.
Politicians and businesses told us during spring and summer 2020 that people were entitled to become violent because they had no other way to express their grievances (despite that media and the academy were routinely reciting those grievances). Now many people (mostly different people from the people who protested in the spring and summer) who believe they have grievances also believe that the powers-that-be are not listening. And they are told not only that the “powers that be” will not hear their grievances, they cannot even express their grievances or discuss their grievances with one another. A person who believes that election irregularities led to a stolen election has even more reason to believe that when he is prevented from even raising the idea. No one should be surprised if at least some of those people turn to violence as the only apparent method to get the powers that be to pay attention.
As noted in the comments on the post “Parler” by @henryracette , it is not necessary for the national government politicians and the “big tech” executives to conduct a formal conspiracy to try to silence troublesome upstarts. Big government and big business have common interests that lead them to work toward the same result without formal coordination.
Like the “protests” in spring and summer, the human isolation caused by months lacking in-person contact leads to greater frustration and more explosive results when people do finally come together. Real life in churches, in business and social organizations, in bars and restaurants, at sporting events, at cultural events, at community events, in social groups, and other places where real people interact with other real people tends to moderate extreme beliefs. Yet we don’t have those real-life interactions today, so extreme beliefs grow unchecked in isolated individuals and in isolated corners of society. So when the people with those extreme beliefs finally do react, it should not surprise us that they might react violently.
Politicians and large companies that restrict the ability of people to speak and to communicate further that isolation, making such extremes more probable, and therefore violence more likely, not less likely. Had they let the grievances be expressed and had politicians responded with factual responses, the events of January 6 would go down as one of those occasional protests that got out of hand and we could have discussed the grievances and responses to those grievances. But, by instead engaging in name-calling (including lumping everyone who expresses a concern about election integrity in with the few who rushed into the Capitol building), and implementing heavy-handed efforts to silence the grievances, politicians and business give those with grievances reason to engage in extreme beliefs, and to respond in extreme ways.
Politicians and businesses are increasing the likelihood that at least some of those with grievances will become more violent, not less.Published in