Criticism as Censorship: How America Is Embracing Limited Speech


Look, I’m a prolific writer and an internationally respected journalist. I’m also a fun mom and a teacher and a retarded school, so it’s safe to say that I’m balancing a lot of things in my life. I write all day while keeping my students busy with a video or by letting a couple of bees loose in the classroom, and I retire in the evening, and I head home to breastfeed my son while reading him ICP lyrics. He likes clowns, I like rap for white people – it’s a good compromise and it’s something that brings us together.

Increasingly though, I find it hard to exercise my first amendment rights on a day to day basis. It seems as if a bunch of people are out there trying to silence me through mean comments and criticisms of my work.

“This is poorly written. This ‘article’ is bad. You should be ashamed.”

Let me tell you, friends: nothing hurts more than the scare quotes. Won’t these damn trolls just stop with the scare quotes?

Granted, I know that realistically my detractors are most likely just one or two people creating thousands of fake accounts to say mean things to me. But even one or two people indicate that a portion of the population wish to infringe on my right as an American to say whatever I want, whenever I want.

It’s called the first amendment, and the founding fathers made it clear that every American should be protected from criticism and mean comments. When you get online and you say mean things to me because I wrote something you didn’t like, you’re not only being an asshole, you’re violating the constitution and committing a felony.

You’re also supporting a culture that wants to silence people.

A year ago, I published an article in the New York Times titled, “Black People Need To Shut Up.” Among intellectuals, my work was well received. It was an eye opening criticism of entitlement, based around cartoonish stereotypes of black people that I hold in my head, and I tied the whole thing together with a neat, totally organic little metaphor where humanity is like a movie theater in which we’re all just trying to watch our lives unfold in silence.

Then the trolls came along. Then the free-speech haters came along. Right there in the comments section and my email inbox, an entire army of people dedicated to the idea of illegally silencing me voiced their unsolicited opinion that I should be the one to shut up.

That’s not how things used to be. When we lived in a world without comment sections, free speech was valued above all, and people like me – brave voices and respected journalists – could broadcast their thoughts without fear of financial or emotional retribution. It was the spirit of free speech, going beyond the letter of the law, suppressing dissenting voices and protecting the wallets and egos of those that dared to speak in line with the status quo for significant amounts of money.

The world is not so, anymore. Now that we’ve given a voice to people that only want to use that voice to silence others, free speech is becoming something ugly, it’s becoming something I don’t agree with. And I ask you this; is it really worth it?

I have to say, friends, from where I sit, it is not. Free speech is to be protected at all costs, even if that means taking measures to silence those I disagree with. I know it seems a bit hypocritical, but hear me out – all I’m asking is that we remove the comments sections from all websites. Also I need access to those NSA files on anyone that sends me a mean email.

We need to get back to the America that cared about expression. We need to get back to the America that didn’t give lesser people an ability to criticize people of social rank. We need to get rid of comments sections and you people need to stop sending me hate mail. It’s a crime and it’s censorship.