Freedom of Speech as Mythology, or Quill Pen and Parchment Thinking In an Electronic Environment


This article deals with the reality underlying a popular American myth -the myth that freedom of speech and of the press exist in this country. I contend that they do not exist, but are cleverly scripted into contemporary folk mythology; freedom of speech is a media illusion. Extensive research into censorship and mass media controls, into the “language” of sexual pornography, and into the impact of that language upon women, children, and men has forced me to reach this unequivocal conclusion. The following discussion does not concern itself with an evaluation of the pornographic language; that evaluation must be postponed for another time. This discussion instead focuses upon the manipulation of communication and persuasion in modern society; the control of ideas and expression by the “Fourth Estate” in the service of the corporate oligarchy. I suggest that this control has become so powerful as to constitute censorship; I suggest that this control has become so powerful that freedom of speech and of the press have been consumed by it, and now only exist as part of our contemporary mythology. With regard to pornography, I maintain that distorted and injurious images of women and children are commonly exploited to suit the private purposes of those corporate interests controlling the mass media. I assert, moreover, that a pornographic environment by its very nature is undemocratic and antidemocratic and a threat to free speech and to humane survival.

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Panel I: Defund Means Defund Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with