A Response To America's 'Threat Of Free Speech' From Someone Who's Lived In A Censored Country
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Politics and Activism

A Response To America's 'Threat Of Free Speech' From Someone Who's Lived In A Censored Country

Your privilege is still free speech. For others, not so much.

A Response To America's 'Threat Of Free Speech' From Someone Who's Lived In A Censored Country

Dear American Citizens,

An introduction to a new era of political correctness and a new fight for human rights has arrived. We are currently living in a society where we have the right to free speech. However, you claim that your right to free speech is being taken from you.

But the way, it’s been “taken” from you is very different from how people in censored countries experience it.

The funny thing about living in a country like the United States is that you’re privileged enough to scream about how your right to free speech is being threatened because no one is actually threatening your free speech. The government isn't monitoring you. Rather, it’s individuals in your community who condemn you on Facebook or Twitter. The companies you work for now don’t want to tolerate intolerant comments on social media because they need to protect their image in fear of how individuals respond to intolerance, usually resulting in boycotting or petition signing.

I lived in China for 14 years in an expatriate community. There, we experienced an appallingly slow Internet service, TV that would be streamed a few seconds slower than live showings so the government could scan through and black out the television if they didn’t want you to see something they thought was inappropriate, and a “404 Error Page Not Found” popped up whenever you tried to search for things like “China,” “human rights,” “Tiananmen Square Massacre” or anything else the government didn’t want you to see. Our phones were tapped and sometimes you could hear someone else breathing on the phone, or sometimes you would be followed. Human rights lawyers are known to disappear, and human rights groups are commonly asked to leave the country and never return. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and many other social media sites you use to speak freely are banned in China. They’re replaced with other social media platforms similar to these and are monitored by the government and can give them a reason to arrest you, or perhaps ban a hashtag to prevent others from talking about it. Everything you do is monitored and used against your will.

You could face prison time, or you could disappear and no one would hear from you. You could be followed or you could get a slap on the wrist if you’re lucky.

It has taken me six years to feel like I can talk about the Chinese government on social media. And even then, with posting this, I could possibly face being banned from entering China because they’ll put me on a blacklist because speaking my mind is a threat to them. In America, the only thing you are risking is if you post a dangerous threat to your country on social media, they’ll probably put you on a no-fly list.

Now, that, my friends, is what a threat to free speech looks like.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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