In today’s world, the way in which information is communicated and received has a profound impact on our understanding of reality. The narrative that dominates the conversation has the power to shape our beliefs, values, and perspectives, even if it is far from the truth. This article delves into the various methods employed to stifle dissenting voices, including censorship, character assassination, and retaliation, and their consequences, as seen through my eyes, within our community.
Censorship: Silencing Dissenting Voices
People who engage in censorship are acting in a self-serving manner. By suppressing opposing viewpoints and controlling the flow of information, they aim to protect their power and maintain their dominance in the public sphere.
As a staunch supporter of free expression, I have recently encountered censorship on the NextDoor platform. My posts, along with those from individuals sharing similar perspectives, have been suppressed—even though they fully adhere to the platform’s guidelines. This censorship stems from the platform’s moderation, carried out by individuals sharing a common ideology, who endeavor to manipulate the dissemination of information.
The deleted posts, characterized as “public shaming,” centered on publicly accessible ethics complaints filed by Christina Hoggan against me, and the subsequent consequences for taxpayers. Moreover, these posts illuminated the Northern Burlington Regional No Place for Hate Committee—a publicly funded initiative of considerable local interest. It is worth highlighting that when similar posts targeted me, they were neither removed nor branded as “public shaming.”
In addition to NextDoor, I and others who hold similar perspectives have also been excluded from participating in community pages through the implementation of ex post facto rules designed to stifle our participation in the conversation. When we endeavor to establish alternative platforms, our efforts are labeled as spreading negativity.
Character Assassination: Smearing Dissent
Character assassination is a tool used to silence dissenting voices and manipulate public perception. I have been a victim of this tactic in recent years, due to my public expression of opinions that conflict with certain individuals. Rather than engaging in constructive dialogue or critical examination, a narrow-minded group has resorted to personal attacks and smears in an effort to discredit me and those who hold similar views.
I have been unfairly targeted with groundless allegations, including being falsely branded as a conspiracy theorist and anti-science for voicing well-reasoned concerns regarding COVID-related school guidelines. My advocacy for an insightful and informed discourse on the complex topics of white privilege and white fragility has been twisted into charges of racism and bigotry. My public expression against introducing polysexual themes to young children in elementary school settings has been misrepresented as terrorism, a security risk, and homophobia. Merely questioning the increasingly leftist slant of our public school curriculum has led to defamatory labels such as Nazi, fascist, and book burner. These unfounded and incendiary claims epitomize character assassination.
Besides the personal attacks, I have also been on the receiving end of malicious messages and mail, as well as endured public obscenities during a recent school board meeting.
My neighbors and fellow community members, including some I previously considered friends, circulated a petition rife with falsehoods and distortions of my character, without making an effort to engage in a constructive and respectful conversation.
My experiences are a stark reminder of the need to stand against character assassination and uphold the principles of respectful discourse and mutual understanding.
Retaliation: Silencing Dissent Through Intimidation
Retaliation aims to intimidate and deter outspoken individuals, discourage others from emulating them, and maintain control over the prevailing narrative. Retaliation manifests in various ways, including career sabotage, threats, and legal action. Frequently, those resorting to retaliation are driven by self-preservation and an aspiration to safeguard their influence.
I have personally endured the detrimental effects of retaliation. I believe Christina Hoggan has lodged two ethics violations against me as a retaliatory response to my public expressions that contradict her views. Though one of these complaints was dismissed, the process still serves as a form of punishment and imposes an unjust burden on taxpayers. Hoggan has escalated her efforts to silence me by submitting what I deem a baseless complaint with the New Jersey Bar of Examiners, presumably to tarnish my professional reputation. To me, this conduct exemplifies Hoggan’s readiness to employ any means to suppress my voice in the community, casting doubt on her credibility as an attorney and school board president.
The Threat to Free Speech and Expression
The suppression of free speech and expression through censorship, character assassination, and retaliation undermines the foundations of a democratic society. By stifling dissenting voices and controlling information, those in power attempt to maintain dominance and protect their interests, leading to an environment where truth and reason are devalued. This hampers the ability of individuals to engage in informed public discourse and hold those in power accountable, compromising the fundamental principles of a free and democratic society.
As a community, we need to call this behavior out for what it is, wrong!