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Over the past decade, our virtual world, our media, and our public spaces have become subject to ever-greater policing by both SJWs demanding bans and officials all too willing to ban. The end result is a nation which poses as liberal and modern yet where everything from pics of a woman in a bikini to naughty jokes can be subjected to official sanction, and where everyone becomes less sure of what they're allowed to say and thus tends to shut themselves up to be on the safe side. Self-censorship: the worst kind.
To this end, we sometimes haven't even needed coppers or campaigners to force the closure of allegedly offensive words or art: institutions and individuals have silenced themselves in the face of hollers of complaint.
Last year, the Barbican Arts Centre closed down a piece of performance art exploring slavery and racism after 250 protesters turned up on the opening night. ITV ditched a TV show featuring sexist comic Dapper Laughs after journalists and SJWs tweeted and petitioned against it. And numerous theatres have pre-emptively cut or changed plays that mention Muslims out of fear that Islamists will kick up a fuss. Free speech in Britain is being killed by police, officials, agitating mobs, and by us—by a culture of fear which encourages people to opt for self-silence over the possibility of causing a stir.
Americans will, I hope, be aghast at all this. The one massive difference between you and us is that you have a constitutional guarantee of free speech that shackles the state, whereas we have a long history of brave battles for press freedom and free speech, yes, but no written-down surety that such liberties will be respected or protected. Which is why they can now be so casually trampled underfoot.
And yet, Britain and America do share something scary in common on the new-censorship front: we both have new armies of the intolerant, growing groups of so-called SJWs and other agitators for the silencing of foul or simply old-fashioned views.
This is especially the case on campus. On both sides of the Atlantic, universities have become hotbeds of the new intolerance. British student leaders have banned the pop song "Blurred Lines," the Sun newspaper, and numerous controversial speakers, while American campus agitators demand trigger warnings on edgy (and not even edgy) literature and the disinvitation of anyone who offends them, and they harry and scream at anyone who holds different views to theirs: most recently the non-victim feminist Christina Hoff Sommers.
America and Britain might be divided by a piece of paper guaranteeing free speech—you have one, we don't—but we're united by a shared new generation of aspiring speech-policers. And in Britain, it has often been the demands of these informal groups of heresy-hunters that have coaxed the state to take action against eccentric or outrageous speech. How long can the First Amendment hold out against America's budding new censors? How long before the U.S. joins the U.K. at the funeral of free speech?