This is a topic that seems made up, or antithetical to what it means to be an artist or creator. How can someone whose entire craft relies on freedom of expression support censorship? It’s so contrary to what allows us to express ourselves, the idea that others shouldn’t also have that freedom. But, unfortunately, it exists, and not just in those parts of the world where authoritarian control is common. Often you’ll see posts online, from writers, artists, journalists, and other creators talking about how something shouldn’t exist. How some art, or writing is too offensive. Don’t they even bother to consider, if they don’t support the freedom of expression for others, they have no right to expect it for themselves? I personally think anyone being against freedom of expression is strange, but not everyone’s livlihood relies on it’s protection so much as ours does.
This recently reared its ugly head in the discussion surrounding a video game titled, Six Days in Fallujah, a first-person narrative shooter that is set during the siege of Fallujah in war in Iraq. The game has met with a lot of criticism, mostly from people who have seen very little of the game itself, but that’s their right. Criticism is a vital part of freedom of speech. The shocking part was the petition, started by, and signed by many video game creators and journalists that asked government leaders to ban the game. Originally it included the U.S. President among them, despite the very idea of that being a violation of the Constitution. The petition was ammended to only include a few governmental bodies.
This still begs the question, why would people who rely on freedom of expression for their very livlihoods condone the supression of someone else’s? I asked that of author John C. Wright some years ago, and he explains it far better than I ever could.
“You ask why authors and creators are willing to cheer on censorship, which cuts against their own profession and even their own liberty?…first, they have nothing to lose, since censorship would only improve their works.
Second, they think like herbivores. Herbivores live in an environment where one does not struggle to chase down prey to eat. It takes no particular courage to sneak up on a blade of grass. The meadow is full of grass, and the herbivore is always welcoming to new grazing-mates because the larger the herd, the more targets exist for the predators to prey on, and the safer each individual.
The herbivore instinctively like the anonymity of the Internet, the conformity of the herd, and — here is the important part — the lack of cooperation and discipline needed by a pack-hunting animal to hunt in a pack. In humans, cooperation comes from a sense of honor, and discipline comes from obedience to the laws.
The herbivores need neither for their grazing, and so the rock bottom foundation of law, that is, the desire to avoid being a hypocrite, in them is absent.
So, no, they never think about what it would be like to have similar censorship imposed on them. The herbivores never once assume the laws will be applied in an evenhanded fashion.
If they were censored, the herbivores were scream to raise the roof. Indeed, they are like to scream about censorship even when they are not being censored.
Yours, John C. Wright”
Just something to think about, as a creative, and as a person who values their own freedom, how will you respond when someone’s liberty is in question? Sure, this means we’ll get some bad apples that get to say stupid things, but isn’t that better than the faceless mob, or the boot of government deciding who gets to say what?