Business / Opinion / Politics

Accelerating Corporate Self-Censorship

censorshipFear pushes many buttons – too many. In a nation founded on free speech, resting on a caselaw that fortifies First Amendment rights, fear is driving corporate America to self-censor. This is how Socialism works.

Socialism starts by punishing the few, then widening the circle with government-supported disapproval, intimidation, cancellation, and censorship – until the public self-censors, chilling their own speech, shutting down freedom. We appear to be there. 

The US corporate community has become fearful – of the government, leftist activism, rioters destroying storefronts, media defaming, social media de-platforming, and personal cancellation. 

In an unprecedented turn, US companies are increasingly afraid to be different, to stand by old and established names, brands, historical roots, all for fear of being misinterpreted, made social pariahs. This too is Socialism, pitting citizen against citizen, using the government’s coercive power to shape, intimidate, and control the private sector with fear. 

Hopeful thinkers will doubt this assessment, say the pendulum swings both ways. But when has it swung back, short of a major political response or revolution – in all human history? Without vocal citizens, nowhere. Fear gains momentum. Unchecked intimidation concentrates power. 

Socialism works on the principle that controlling people is best achieved by instilling fear, causing them to alter their public beliefs, suppress differentness, become compliant, matching the government’s aims – or else! That is how the left works – pushing self-censorship. 

Like it or not, that is what we are seeing now. Companies have been badgered, threatened, and feel battered. Without a majority in Congress or the White House defending free speech, they feel alone, abandoned, and cowed. They are scrambling to self-censor. The shocking part is not that some will, but that so many are. Fear is driving wholesale chilling of corporate speech. 

Reporting on self-censorship, we could focus on colleges, high schools, legal cases against civic groups, churches, towns, and people. We could talk intolerance by Congress – no room for diverse ideas, free speech, worship, biology, history, or natural law.  

But focus just on corporate self-censorship. The record is shocking, evidence that traditional respect for differentness is upside down. Compliance with radical demands, fear of violence, doxing, misinterpretation, being demonized, hounded, sued, brought to their knees – is producing mass self-censoring. Is this free America? No. 

Recent events speak for themselves. They have no precedent in modern American history. Here are examples of corporate fear, prompted by riots, threats, intolerance, and Congressional buy-in. Socialism wins not by silencing the many, but by forcing self-silencing.

A short list of corporate capitulation to the left, no discussion, just self-censorship, is illuminating. Hasbro’s 70-year-old “Mr. Potato Head,” which happily began in 1952 as a thriving nuclear family, including “Mrs. Potato Head” and “baby,” has apparently become “gender-neutral,” to accommodate “transgender norms.” Gender gives offense.  See, e.g., https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/25/business/mr-potato-head-hasbro-gender-neutral/index.html.

Mattel’s “Barbie,” decades-old, an enduring and idealized fashion symbol, has now been “body-shamed” into a “body-inclusive” presentation, with disabilities and hair loss. The ideal – however, conceived – is now no longer permitted. Ideals are offense. 

On the social media front, cause and effect get mixed up – censorship used to thin a field of competitors, especially conservative voices. “Parler,” a free-speech alternative, was removed from competing stores.  See, e.g., https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2021/02/05/parler-censorship-fired-ceo-john-matze/4414041001/.

“Twitter” has revised and re-revised their guidance – to expand “hateful” words in ways that, in the opinion of many, target traditional values – beginning with free speech.  See, e.g.,  https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2019/hatefulconductupdate.html. “Dangerous speech” is defined as anything that “increases the “risk” of violence. What next?  

“Hulu” got backlash from Twitter for advertising on Fox, so quit advertising. When the left targeted 2nd Amendment rights, Dick’s Sporting Goods removed sporting rifles. twitter.com/DICKS/status/968830988246765568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E968830988246765568%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Frosssimmonds.com%2Frise-woke-brands%2F

Go to foods. “Cream of Wheat”– historic hot cereal – took the smiling black chef off the packaging. www.today.com/tmrw/list-brands-have-had-change-public-opinion-black-stereotypes-shifts-t184726. Nestle’s “Eskimo pie” ice cream changed its name for “people values.” www.today.com/tmrw/list-brands-have-had-change-public-opinion-black-stereotypes-shifts-t184726. Nabisco Oreos partnered with a transgender group to produce “pride packaging,” with “three different packs – she/her, he/him, and they/them” on cookies, with “blue, pink, and purple packaging reminiscent of the transgender flag.” That move engendered – may I use that word? – considerable backlash. See, https://www.newsweek.com/oreo-pronoun-pack-transgender-1447177https://www.indy100.com/news/oreo-cookies-tweet-trans-people-exist-b180799.

“Dixie Chicks” are now “the Chicks.” One wonders if that name sticks.  See, e.g.,  https://www.today.com/popculture/dixie-chicks-drop-dixie-their-name-t185182“Tampax” lined up with the “trans community,” which triggered a female boycott. www.statista.com/statistics/287354/most-used-brands-of-tampons-in-the-us-trend/. Critics asked: “Who at @Tampax thought it might be a good idea to gamble your entire client base (Biological Women) against this anti-factual and anti-woman” campaign? See, nypost.com/2020/10/26/tampax-under-fire-after-tweeting-not-all-people-with-periods-are-women/.  

“Uncle Ben’s” rice is now “Ben’s” an odd half measure. “Aunt Jemima’s” new name is “Pearl Milling Company,” aimed at offending no one. www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/business/aunt-jemima-renamed-pearl-milling-company.html. “Land O’Lakes” butter, afraid of giving offense, removed an “indigenous woman who once featured prominently.” Why? House Democrats said the logo might encourage “sex trafficking.” The company bowed.  www.usatoday.com/story/money/food/2020/04/16/land-olakes-removes-american-indian/5148330002/.

“Coca-Cola” pushed employees to “try to be less white,” saying that to “be less white” one should “be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy” and “break with white solidarity.” www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/coca-cola-staff-online-training-seminar-be-less-white

Of course, sports are purging, “Cleveland Indians” are no more, a decision that – rather ironically – offended descendants of the Native Americans for whom the team was named.  See, e.g., https://bangordailynews.com/2020/12/18/news/bangor/this-penobscot-baseball-player-inspired-the-cleveland-indians-name-for-all-the-wrong-reasons/. Done too, “Washington Redskins.” 

On the flip side, the “Atlanta Braves,” while pressured, are not changing their name. www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/01/22/braves-name-change-hammers.  Nor are the “Chicago Blackhawks.” https://www.nhl.com/blackhawks/team/native-american-initiatives. Other sports teams favor protests, but notably never against Chinese money. 

What does this all mean? While discussions about race, ethnicity, and what it means to be a pluralistic society respecting and celebrating differences – are good, this is not that process. The process afoot is a cancellation, intimidation, threats of private violence, the government hammer.  

Where is the logical limit? If anything gives offense to anyone, must it be banned? If so, where does that end? In short, free speech – like free commercial speech – is about allowing offense, not suppressing it. In this way, discussions emerge without intimidation, violence, fear, or self-censorship. Lost in this modern moment is patience to weigh competing values. We need it. 


We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

Support the AMAC Foundation. Our 501(c)(3) powers the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Services. This team of nationally accredited advisors offers on-time, on-the-mark guidance for those approaching or receiving Social Security – at no cost.

Donate Now

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!


Subscribe
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
PaulE
1 year ago

First off you must differentiate between small mom and pop size businesses, with owner / founders at the helm, and the large multi-nationals when it comes to business and their attitudes towards free speech and other values you are discussing. Most mom and pop businesses are generally more open to standing up for classic constitutional values, like free speech, than their larger, more country and values neutral multi-national competition.

The vast majority of the Fortune 1000 companies In the United States today are headed by professional management teams recruited for their ability to hit their financial numbers consistently in every global market they serve and avoid bad PR at all costs. That second, generally unspoken, mandate is something that is constantly front and center in all business decisions. They are shadowed quite closely by in-house legal counsel that constantly emphasizes “risk avoidance”, which includes potential bad PR, at all costs. So decisions are constantly being assessed by “path of least resistance” in most cases.

As an example, a company like Coca-Cola has teams of marketing personnel constantly evaluating their primary customer base, in each country they operate in, for what are the current social cues they can piggy-back on to increase market share in their desired demographic. Evidently their marketing personnel have come to the conclusion that jumping on the racist BLM-style bandwagon will win the company a little bit of a bump in market share with their desired demographic. While at the same time keep the company hopefully out of the cross hairs of those demonizing all businesses. After all, they see a mass media that is constantly pushing socialist values. A government now headed by a party openly pushing socialist values and a public that is half cheering it all on, while the other half is silently accepting it all. So Coca-Cola’s management chose the “path of least resistance” and opted to protect their business by hopping on the bandwagon.

Now if you apply this same criteria used in the Coca-Cola example to all the rest of the companies you’ve mentioned in your article and most of the rest of the Fortune 1000 companies, I think you’ll find the exact same decision process was used by senior management in these corporations. At least that has been my view from when I routinely used to do business with a lot of these firms. They reflect whatever the current popular standards are of those in power and who can and do buy their products or services. Right now, many corporations are deciding that adopting socialistic standards is both a way to grow their businesses, at least in the short run, while also hopefully protecting them from the growing backlash against capitalism, business itself and human rights and freedoms as spelled out in the Constitution from the Marxists.

Last edited 1 year ago by PaulE
1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x