Living in 1984, compliments of our neighbors
Lynching Free Speech
The end of free speech will not necessarily come when there are soldiers in the streets, secret police in the alleyways and a mustachioed man screaming at you on a television set that can’t be turned off no matter how hard you turn the knob or click the buttons.
Some of these things existed in totalitarian countries, but they were there to sweep up the hardened dissenters who refused to be silenced. The vast majority of citizens did not have bugged phones or men in trench-coats following them around.
That was what their friends and neighbors were for.
The first line of offense by a totalitarian society against freedom of speech is crowdsourced to the people in the streets. No secret police force is large enough to spy on everyone all the time.
Nor does it need to. That is what informers are for.
Some of the informers are committed fanatics. Others do whatever they are told. And the worst do it for the pleasure of destroying someone else. Whatever their varying motives, ideology or malice, such people become even more dangerous in groups where they become a morality mob.
The Two Minutes Hate in George Orwell’s 1984 is repeated on a regular basis in our society today with hysterical lynchings like those of of Justine Sacco; one of a long list of disposable victims of opportunity. The Two Minutes Hate was a Pavlovian exercise to stimulate the hate reflex. Modern counterparts like #hasjustinelandedyet with its overt malice are the genuine thing.