Censorship: An Unethical Violation of Natural Law
Censorship violates natural law through use of unethical force to restrict free speech instead of fostering open civil discourse aligned with ethical principles that could lead to mutual understanding
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Censorship has become an increasingly concerning issue in recent years. As public discourse moves more and more online, private companies and governments have moved to restrict certain types of speech, often in the name of preventing "hate" or "misinformation." However, censorship fundamentally goes against natural law by employing unethical force to silence people instead of promoting open and civil discourse.
What Is Censorship and Why Is It Unethical?
At its core, censorship is about restricting ideas and information that are deemed unacceptable or dangerous by those in power. Books may be banned, journalists imprisoned, websites blocked, search results manipulated, activists surveilled and harassed. The methods vary, but the effect is the same - certain voices and narratives are excluded from public consciousness.
This fundamentally violates natural law. As human beings, we all have the innate right to think for ourselves, share ideas openly, and make our own judgments. Censorship treats people as incapable of thinking critically or processing challenging information. It is unethical because it employs force to impose the will of the powerful on everyone else.
Instead of bringing more truth to light, censorship pushes narratives deemed by those in power to be unacceptable into the shadows. There, anger and resentment can brew without the moderating influence of open public debate. Far from creating more social harmony, censorship often exacerbates tensions and conflicts.
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Why Censorship Creates More Problems Than It Solves
Many argue censorship is necessary to prevent the spread of "hate speech" or misinformation online. However, defining "hate speech" is extremely difficult, as offense is inherently subjective. Empowering authorities to arbitrarily decide what speech should be restricted is ripe for abuse and bias.
And censoring misinformation often backfires. Banned content or speakers often gain more attention and credibility among their followers. Pushing ideas underground does not refute or debunk them - it only removes them from critical public scrutiny.
Shutting down civil debate and discussion is more likely to further polarize groups than bring them together. If understanding is the ultimate answer to prejudice, censorship gets in the way by preventing meaningful dialogue.
While the intentions behind censorship may be positioned as “good,” the means are clearly unethical. As history has shown repeatedly, restricting free thought and speech invariably leads to greater human suffering under authoritarian systems. Censorship should always be an absolute last resort, not a first line of defense.
Why Freedom of Speech Aligned With Natural Law is Paramount
Freedom of speech is vital precisely because it applies to everyone equally, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their ideas. Restricting speech for some means it can be restricted for all. And without the freedom to question, challenge, and disagree, society itself corrodes.
The alternative to censorship is not a free-for-all of unmoderated hate, but rather a system of ethics grounded in natural law. This includes fundamental values like critical thinking, personal responsibility, compassion for all people, facts over fear, and non-violence.
With these shared principles, ideas can be exchanged freely, prejudices overcome through understanding, and truth separated from falsehood. It is a slower, messier process than censorship. But ethical, open systems aligned with natural law have proven far better at securing peace, justice, and human rights in the long run.
Attempting to Control Speech By Force Is Itself Unethical
Some argue that censorship is ethical when it serves to restrict harmful speech. However, this view is fundamentally flawed - restricting the free speech of others through coercive force is always unethical, regardless of the reasoning.
Censorship disempowers people and hinders progress. Even if certain speech seems backward or ignorant, bringing more light to counter it is better than forcing ideas underground. Positive change comes through free hearts and minds, not systems of control.
Trying to restrict speech assumes ones own infallibility - that "we" are right while "they" are wrong. But no one has perfect wisdom, and progress comes from openness to new perspectives. If we believe core values like compassion and critical thinking will win out, then free speech should be fostered, not suppressed.
As the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
The desire to forcibly control others comes from fear, not ethical strength. And decisions made from fear often lead to tyranny, whether intended or unintended. Those who try to silence dissent may imagine themselves on the "right side" of history. But wielding power to coerce conformity with one's own views is authoritarian by definition. Even strictly limiting calls for violence can put us on a slippery slope to broader censorship.
Applying The Litmus Test Of Natural Law
Determining right from wrong on complex issues like censorship often seems subjective. However, natural law provides a universal litmus test - does an action align with ethical principles, or does it employ unethical coercion? When viewed from this lens, censorship clearly fails the test.
The desire to control what ideas can be expressed is itself an act of force. And the use of force to compel behaviors or restrict freedoms violates natural laws around free will and consent. Forcing individuals to silence themselves against their conscience through external pressure is unethical coercion, plain and simple.
It does not matter whether the reasoning seems justified or not. As soon as we employ heavy-handed force against the rights of others, we betray our own principles. Restricting speech requires the threat of punishment, loss of livelihood, or social ostracism. These are all forms of force leveraged to impose the will of authority figures upon the population.
And because such actions go against natural law, they often incur unintended karmic consequences. Those who drive censorship believe they serve ethical ends, viewing contrarians as ignorant or malicious. In reality, determinations of "right speech" versus "hate speech" are often biased and shift unpredictably. Well-meaning moral crusaders can easily become pawns used by the powerful to amass influence and weed out dissent.
Without realizing it, these overzealous censors are allowing themselves to become tools of oppression. They take on the karmic debt of restricting civil liberties and human rights in the name of some "greater good." But no matter how righteous the cause may seem, violating natural law is spiritually hazardous and breeds more darkness.
The litmus test is simple - does an action align with natural law by maximizing free will through ethical means? Or does it coerce conformity through force? Ethics grounded in natural law focus on critical thinking, compassion, facts over fear, and non-violence. In contrast, censorship betrays all of these principles and stacks up heavy karmic consequences, no matter how supposedly noble its ends. Those who live by unethical force often experience the boomerang effect down the line.
True Discourse Means Hearing Difficult Ideas
Changing hearts and minds happens through civil discourse, not by silencing ugly ideas but exposing them to the light. If certain voices preach intolerance from a place of pain and ignorance, shutting them down fuels more pain and ignorance.
No one is justifying or promoting harm toward others. But perhaps we have lost the ability to truly listen. Even “well-meaning” censorship risks becoming moral grandstanding that divides more than it unites.
If the goal is lasting social change, often the "high road" is sitting with discomfort and seeking to understand experiences different than our own with empathy. Reformers like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., changed the world through courageous non-violence, not by forcing opponents into submission. Activist Daryl Davis was able to get over 200 KKK members to hang up their robes, not by censoring them but by listening to them and befriending them.
With compassion and courage, let us turn from fear to the power of free hearts and minds. The battle is won by lighting candles, not cursing the darkness. If we believe that core principles of natural law will prevail, then more speech, not less, remains the ethical way forward.
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