Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Words have no meaning; they are malleable and subject to change at the whim of the powerful.
Today, Black people could be called “white supremacists,” Jews could be called “Nazis” and scientists could be called “anti-science.” The reason is obvious. It is because these people, and many others, dare to deviate from the worldviews of the powerful. These words, which are used against political enemies of the powerful, have no meaning; they are simply badges. They are badges that we place on those we disagree with so that they can be identified in a crowd, pulled to the side and reeducated or expelled by society.
For too long, Big Tech has controlled what we say by imprinting into the minds of the masses a certain worldview. They have silenced dissenters and outcast those who dare to disagree. The very notion that a company would hire “fact-checkers” to fact-check private speech is outrageous. It is as if these private companies have crept into our homes, placed monitors on our minds and filtered our thoughts.
Did we need fact-checkers to end the thousand-year idea that slavery was “natural,” as Aristotle said? Did we need fact-checkers to guide our Founding Fathers’ hands in writing our Constitution? No. What we needed was the natural, unfiltered flow of ideas from one person to another. In the past, the free flow of ideas was at full throttle. Rational thought spread like wildfire without the need of social media. Irrational thought died with the few patrons who consumed it. The world was changed by the thoughts of a few ordinary people who dared to think. Of course, people disagreed and some even became violent, but a person’s right to open their lips and unleash volumes of unique ideas upon their neighbors should never be stifled by the vitriol that their thoughts could create.
Today, speech is reserved for the powerful few: the celebrities, the social media companies and the traditional media companies. Any thought that deviates from their message is met with swift, unrelenting punishment, now known as “cancellation.” Too often we hear of individuals having their lives destroyed by seemingly innocuous acts that can hardly be said to be representative of them. But atop a throne, it is easy to step on ants. Each day brings new ants for the powerful few to step on. The enemy of yesterday becomes old news — forgotten and thrown into the grave of unwanted souls — and a new target is found for them to take aim, fire, and destroy.
Labels make it easy to destroy people; they shift burdens of proof to the party being labeled, making it impossible to wipe away the label one is given. If one is labeled as “anti-vaccine,” for example, that labeler need not say why that person is anti-vaccine. Instead, the person labeled will have the burden of proving that they are not anti-vaccine. How can they prove this, might you ask? They can’t. That is because the label means whatever each individual wants it to mean and, most importantly, what the powerful entity that labels the person tells everyone what the word should mean.
I fully support the COVID-19 vaccine; I have stated that publicly before. So then why am I constantly labeled as “anti-vaccine?” The answer is obvious: “Anti-vaccine” does not mean that one is against the use of vaccines. Instead, it means that you do not fully support studies that support the vaccine. It does not even matter that other credible sources have differing opinions from those other sources. That is because, apparently, something is only “credible” when people say it is.
Despite our society’s heavy reliance on dictionaries, it seems we would save far more time and be far more successful using definitions of our own. After all, if words had concrete definitions, then how could Merriam-Webster define “anti-vaccine” as “opposed to the use of vaccines” while I, and many others who support the COVID-19 vaccine, continue to be branded as “anti-vaccine?”
It is true what they say: “He who controls language controls thought.” It simply takes one powerful individual to label someone as something they are not. Suddenly, they will become the very thing that they never were, and the word used against that person will mean what it never did.
We should all continue to express our thoughts honestly, unfiltered and uninhibited; I know I will. Of course, I urge you to conduct your own research to determine for yourself whether something that someone says is true. After all, what another person says could be wrong, but it is not a stranger’s nor a “fact-checker’s” job to tell you that. It is your job to look at the facts, connect the dots and come to your own conclusions. You certainly might get it wrong; we all do because we are human. But at the end of the day, right will always prevail from wrong, the truth will overcome falsities and good will triumph over evil.
I will never shut my eyes, cover my ears nor cut out my tongue to appease others, and nor should you. Your natural right to speak will prevail over any evildoer’s attempt to silence you. Just keep talking.
To find out more about Armstrong Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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