Is freedom of speech on the chopping block?

Censorship is a word that gets tossed around in heated debates and has numerous meanings and interpretations.  It also has strong connotations associated with it. The latest mainstream controversy over censorship has to do with the SOPA and PIPA bills regarding censorship on the Internet, and there is no shortage of interpretations or emotions associated with this issue.  Many feel that these bills, which are said to help prevent pirating movies and music on the Internet, may lead to giving or do directly give the government  the power to shut down any site that they consider to infringe on copyright; thus, the government could potentially censor content on the Internet. 

Freedom is another term that falls into the same category as censorship with the numerous meanings, thoughts, and emotions attached to it.  And the last term I will bring up today is rhetoric, which follows right along with censorship and freedom in regard to its multiple meanings, both linguistically and emotionally.  For instance, rhetoric often has negative connotations associated with it and many define it as the language of persuasion often employed by politicians or lobbyists.  Associated with rhetoric is the concept of logical fallacies.  These are strategies that one employs while making an argument in order to persuade an audience. 

In deciding where we stand on an issue, we should most definitely analyze arguments for the presence of such strategies as language has everything to do with interpretation; however, we should not let others decide our fate based on their ability or inability to persuade us.  Instead, we should inform ourselves about the issue at hand and then think carefully about the short- and long-term implications of said action. 

In getting back to the idea of censorship, typically, censorship is used by a controlling body to control something; thus, when any controlling body wants to control something, it would be wise to ask what and who is being protected?  And to what ends are we willing to allow that “protection” to take place?  And maybe even more important, who gets to decide the fate of so many? 

Freedom to move about in our world begins with freedom of speech.  Once our words are muted, our ability to move (however you want to interpret that term) becomes one where we are herded because no independent thought or words are tolerated.  In the United States, we enjoy a freedom that many take for granted and that many in other parts of the world would literally die for.  Is freedom of speech on the chopping block if SOPA and PIPA are passed?  I would say that’s for you to decide and for you to decide what action should be taken.  I encourage you to not allow others to decide your fate one way or another.  Inform yourself and take the appropriate action…(some might add here…while you still can…).

Diane

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