It has long been understood that the most effective form of censorship is not that overtly enacted by an authoritarian government, but rather self-censorship. A truly effective tyranny is one in which the citizens are so cowed by the government that they censor themselves, lest they say the wrong thing and lose their job, house, or way of life. On the surface, such a society may even seem free, but that’s only superficial. Look behind the facade and you’ll see a society that has no understanding of what freedom really is.
That’s what we’re facing today with the coronavirus crisis, as individuals and organizations are falling all over themselves to show what good subjects they are. Never mind the fact that social distancing is just a recommendation, most stores will try to force you to adhere to six feet of separation. And now that “non-essential” business have been closed, and everyone is being centralized in grocery stores and home improvement stores, those stores are enacting new restrictions on the number of people who can be in the store, which direction they can go in certain aisles, and even what types of items they can buy.
No one is forcing those stores to do that. No government officials are breathing down their necks. But these stores are falling all over themselves to please not their customers, but the government. Even individuals are trying to comply with recommendations, despite their not being necessary. Just look at how many people at grocery stores today are wearing masks and gloves, versus two to three weeks ago. Yet nothing about the virus has changed. If the government recommended that wearing long winter clothing in the heat of summer would help protect against catching the coronavirus, you can guarantee that you’d see hundreds of people prancing around in their parkas in the middle of July.
We have to face the fact that we’re no longer a nation of free people. We’re a nation whose populace is easily swayed by media reports and “experts,” trusting whatever they’re told by people in positions of power without question. That isn’t conducive to liberty, and is proof that despite the outward trappings of freedom and prosperity, most of our fellow citizens have internalized the tyranny coming from on high and welcome it with open arms. The fight to regain our rights is going to be a difficult one, but it’s one that we can’t give up on.