Evaluating Media Bias Demands Enhanced Digital Literacy

Censorship in the Media

Judge Napolitano, the former New Jersey Supreme Court Judge, and frequent television news commenter, has a lot of opinions, and one of the strongest that Napolitano holds is censorship in the media.

When the media is allowed to censor and shape public opinion, as is popular now, instead of reporting the news, they become the media enforcers and censors. Yet the approaching censorship in the media is fraught with dangers.

For example, back in 1971, the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, an official study of what really happened in the Vietnam war, and how the government had systematically lied to the American people about many of the objectives of the war. Then later in the 2000s, Julian Assange released thousands of documents that were damaging to the U.S. government.

We have yet to determine how Judge Napolitano feels about these cases. And another major issue is brewing concerning Facebook. Republicans, incensed that former president Donald Trump has been banned from Facebook, are encouraging the Supreme Court to hold Facebook responsible as a publisher of content, rather than a mere technology company, and force Facebook to accept Trump back.

The problem with almost any type of censorship is that it’s sort of like in the early days of when the United States was founded. There were large, powerful states, and there were smaller, less populated states. Somehow, the framers of the constitution found a way to work out a decent compromise between the smaller states and the larger states.

However, in the case of censorship, most people go by the majority rules concept and believe whoever has the votes, and the money should rule the censorship battle. And a huge problem with that is that three or four years later, the tide changes and a different group is in the majority.

Ultimately, a much smaller minority, the courts, will be called on to settle most of these issues. And hopefully, the courts will side, as much as possible, to protect the voices of those in the minority.

At least we are fortunate that in general, the courts seem to be very cognizant of their limitations as in the case of high school students who have been expelled, on their off-school time for ranting on social media about their schools. 

On the one hand, they recognize schools have a duty to maintain order. On the other hand, those students do not release their rights to the school 24/7. And yesterday, the Supreme court ruled 8 to 1 that a student’s rant, no matter how vulgar, is protected free speech when it takes place off the school’s premises.

Stay tuned, as the censorship battle is likely to be with us for a long, long time. And each court battle is extremely important to protect our freedoms. Censorship limits the public’s right to have freedom of speech and the government should not be in control of what can and cannot be shared on media platforms. It completely disrupts civilian’s freedoms.

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