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If I am not free to speak my mind, that is one thing (and not a good thing). But if I am not free to point to an objective standard, if my belief in words like “fact” or “truth” are questioned, now I have become unacceptable for saying some things are “fictions,” some things are “false,” and I am not safe. Now when I question a top-down mandate or authoritarian decisions which are based on one point of view, others denounced out-of-hand, I am not safe. What is more damning is when leaders can say one thing one day, another thing on another day, and those given the responsibility to question and report leave that role to me because they are silent, I am not safe. When my field of inquiry ignores then dismisses another point of view after which authorities attack their work eliminating their voice, and I stand up for them, I am not safe. When creators who create content whose position runs contrary to the cultural narrative of the day, their videos taken down, their words no longer accepted, and I point this out, I am not safe.
The slow slide toward dictatorship that some warn about which is then pooh-poohed by the intelligentsia because checkers of facts declare it so, and I point out the hypocrisy of choosing some facts but not all facts, I am not safe. When autocrats demean the very people they have sworn to protect, and I point out the psychology of refusal after the population is demeaned, I am not safe. When a person of color is egregiously attacked by both untruths and physical violence – but the individual does not subscribe to mainstream accepted views – that attack attracts little attention in the mainstream news outlets, and I point this out, I am not safe. The assaults on freedom of speech (or the active suppression of speech) depend not just on freedom “from” censorship but freedom “to” ground truth-telling in certainty.
Read historical accounts of the people who lived through dictatorships. Each story revolves around Hannah Arendt’s thesis in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” Hannah Arendt, who understood discrimination as a Jew, and was a critic of Hitler and Stalin during and after WWII, wrote,