Restricting speech doesn’t get rid of bad ideas

Sunlight is the best disinfectant to horrible ideas.

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Restricting speech doesn’t get rid of bad ideas

Every once in a while, someone suggests further restricting speech, or exhorts various media to not publish certain ideas, as if the ideas themselves were so seductive, that to merely be exposed to them would instantly convert untold large numbers of people into a nefarious mindset. Leaving aside the inherent premise that people at large lack agency to decide for themselves what is or is not a valid idea, it fails to take into account that an actively persecuted idea doesn’t ever actually go away. By this I don’t mean an idea that has merely been ridiculed. I mean one that is forcefully supressed by steps taken to prevent it from being heard or seen, either by law or “muh private company”.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant to horrible ideas. To actively suppress any idea, even a bad one, is to force it underground where it will spread anyway. The very fact of forcing it underground makes the idea more attractive, not less, because adherents to such an idea gain a martyr complex and will become thoroughly convinced that their idea must be correct, regardless of any proof or lack thereof, because they conclude that why else would the powers-that-be try to keep it from being expressed? People cling even harder to the idea because of the resulting confirmation bias, and the fact of suppression makes it easier to convince others. Thus, any forceful actions taken to attempt to stop the spread of any given ideas are ultimately counterproductive, because this is how human nature works.

April J. Gibson

Duncan

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