Vermont Conversation: Fighting a wave of censorship | #socialmedia | #education | #technology | #infosec


The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

A tsunami of censorship is sweeping across America. In 2021, there were attempts to remove nearly 1,600 books from libraries, schools and universities — a four-fold increase over 2019, according to the American Library Association. Censorship typically focuses on books that cover LGBTQ+ issues or race and racism.

But is censorship sometimes necessary? The alleged gunman who killed 10 people in Buffalo used social media to livestream his attack and to post his racist rants. How should social media companies control misinformation and hate speech? Should former President Donald Trump be allowed to use Twitter and other social media platforms even though he has used the medium to spread election lies and stoke violence?

Christopher Finan has been grappling with these issues for 35 years. He is executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship and former president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Struggles over free speech date back to the founding of the country, he said, and he chronicles the changing nature of censorship in his new book, “How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Essential Tool for Securing Liberty and Social Justice.”

Freedom of speech is an essential part of democracy, according to Finan. 

“We will have free speech as long as we’re willing to fight for it,” he said, “and this is a time to fight.

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