Friday, October 26, 2012

Muzzling Free Speech

Yesterday, I was  treated to censorship. I had been asked to write an Obama opposing viewpoint because the editor of the online magazine had seen some of my posts and wanted more balanced coverage (i.e., not all Obama praising). After three days, I wrote the post, which I posted here yesterday, breaking a 2-month hiatus from Facebook. While I worked, the op-ed column was taken down without letting me know until much later.

I asked what the complaints were and was told some readers and advertisers misunderstood what I wrote. I don't see how. What I wrote was as plain as plain English can be. What I found out this morning was that readers and advertisers called the ezine's offices to make their voices heard, meanwhile my virtual voice was silenced.  The editor apologized for putting me through "the battle" when all she wanted was to offer fair and balanced reporting. I guess fair and balanced at her ezine is Obama praise and no opposition.

Since ezines exist because of writers but are funded by advertising, I understand the editor in chief's actions, but what I don't understand is why he did not contact me and let me know.

I have hit against this particular brick wall a number of times. The first time was a profile I wrote about a woman who, with her family, spent World War II in a Japanese internment camp because her father refused to take an oath of loyalty. The newspaper struck my original lead likening the camp to concentration camps in Europe during that same war and turned it on its head, likening her stay in the internment camp to summer camp, which was more palatable to the advertisers. I did not like it them and I do not like it now.

Just because I understand why the editor in chief of The Celebrity Cafe killed my op-ed column does not mean I like it or that I do not realize I was censored in a country prized for its free speech. Speech is not free and I wonder if it ever has been. Loud, angry voices and money speak much louder than simple truths, facts, and figures, something I am very aware of on Facebook, and part of the reason I left Facebook. I came back because I feel that I have something worth saying and thought that my voice and my opinions should be heard, regardless of the opposing views. I do not engage in name calling or shouting down my opposition but I do civilly and respectfully disagree, often with facts and figures.

This country has become polarized and there is no middle ground where the quiet voice of truth can be heard. That is sad. This country was founded on ideals and beliefs that seem no longer apply and that is sadder still, especially when advertisers have the power to censor any voice that opposes them -- or speaks the glaring truth.

I can only hope that once this election is over and the ballots are counted sanity will return, but it is a faint hope after yesterday. I am a realist and I have been battered by this particular storm for too long to believe that we can ever return to fair and balanced reporting that is no longer censored.

If you'd like to read the original op-ed column, please feel free to do so.

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