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Censorship – Outsourcing Your Right to Decide

King Solomon, dubbed the wisest man in the world, wrote, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17)

And isn’t that the truth! How many times have we heard one side of a story, thinking that it rang true to us, only later to hear the other side which then completely changed our mind?

Everyone, these days, puts out what appears to be the most convincing narrative in an attempt to be the final word on the subject.  After reading an article, you almost feel as if nothing else will make a difference, but, remember, there’s simply no way of getting to the truth without hearing two sides of the argument.

Of course, that requires being open to hearing a side that may not be within your personal comfort zone, and that can be both scary and intimidating.  Why? Because listening to more facts could expose holes in your own theories, causing you to confront what has been a lack of objectivity.  Although most of us like to believe that we are open-minded, flexible and willing to listen, that’s becoming less true of more and more people.

It’s hard to ignore that everything seems so contradictory, these days, to the point where most things require fact-checking just to make sure you’re not being duped.  But who can trust the fact-checkers – yet another complex layer of the problem.

Getting at the truth, nowadays, requires a great deal of personal research, investigation and, most of all, unbiased listening to both sides.  Questions need to be asked, and the credibility of the speaker as well as their answer is crucial in order to know what to believe.

Yet, few take the time to go that extra mile,  leaving them to remain ignorant. Simply put, ignorance means being unaware or having a lack of knowledge concerning an issue.  Unquestionably, remaining ignorant requires a lot less effort, but why would anyone prefer to believe a lie rather than do the hard work of examining every angle so that they can be confident of having arrived at the truth?

One answer could be that possession of information often carries with it responsibility – the necessity to act in some way.  Truth forces you to acknowledge the facts, take a position and possibly go one step further.

Conversely, remaining in a state of ignorance allows you not to deal with the issue.  It relinquishes all responsibility, and that’s why they say “ignorance is bliss”

Much to our regret, these days, dealing with a hard and unpopular truth can bear a pretty hefty price.  It could mean the estrangement of friends who not only disagree but may actually hold you in contempt for expressing an opinion which, to them, is idiotic or disturbing.

Listening to the other side could also result in having to confront one’s own prejudices, pre-conceived ideas and possibly even political persuasion.  It might actually mean exposing our own narrow viewpoint which might as well have a sign on it saying, “Do Not Disturb.”

Here’s a case in point.  Most people have championed freedom of speech, all their lives, knowing that a society is best served by the free flow of various opinions and observations.  Suddenly, those same people are being asked to accept the newfound concept of labeling something as “misinformation or “disinformation.”

That would mean the censorship of certain ideas which “someone” has deemed are unworthy to hear.  “Someone” has decided, for you, what is true and what is false.  “Someone” has come to the conclusion that you’re not intelligent enough to filter out right from wrong.

The invisible arbiter of information, whom you will never get to meet, has made the judgment that you are incapable of carefully examining the merits of both sides and arriving at your own conclusion as to what is worth believing?

The purpose of censorship is to promote only one side in the hope that you will adopt it.  Ironically, you might have adopted it on your own after having heard both sides, but leaving out one side only ends up creating a void filled with many unanswered questions.  It actually makes you all the more suspicious that you are being manipulated into one way of thinking, and, in many ways becomes counter-productive to the goal of the censors.

It may be worth asking if we are heading towards a world where only one position will be socially acceptable.  How will that square in matters of religion and politics, not to mention  many other subjects?

Does one’s preference to a specific philosophy or attitude render all others invalid?  Isn’t that really the definition of authoritarianism – “the enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom?” (Dictionary.com)

Hasn’t it always been held that a preponderance of ideas is the hallmark of a great and open society which leads to more tolerance, acceptance and awareness of diversity?  The willingness to accept one side of a story, without delving further into the full range of facts, is to purposely cut one’s self off from careful scrutiny and assessment of all the details which are needed in order to arrive at the most logical conclusion.

We’ve seen that play out in the very latest televised court hearings which provided footage in real time, showing incontrovertible evidence as to what really took place.  Without those crucial pieces of evidence, a conviction of the would-be perpetrator might have been a foregone conclusion, because so much looked bad from the start.  But once the cross-examination took place, the first story began to fall apart, leaving way for a more comprehensive understanding to emerge.

This is why we owe it, not only to others, but also to ourselves to exercise due diligence when it comes to forming opinions.

It can almost be argued that at no other time in modern history has it been so complex to try to ferret out truth from lies, fact from propaganda and constructs from reality than these days in which we live.

We have no choice but to listen carefully to both sides in order to make truly informed decisions, have the ability to judge rightly after having done our homework and doing all we can to employ fair, unbiased and impartial reason and thinking.  Our objectivity is the best defense and one which will serve us from being accused of narrow-mindedness, fear or lacking proper consideration.

The right to be fully informed is a basic freedom requiring the hearing of both sides.  Accepting anything less is to hold your own intelligence in contempt as others decide for you.

The pursuit of truth cannot be outsourced.  It must be allowed to continue unimpeded if we are to remain a free people, because once it’s been relinquished, we will be nothing more than slaves to those who appointed themselves our masters.

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.
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