In Orwell’s 1984, there’s is an idea of punishing what he terms “thoughtcrime.” Basically, it’s not enough to say all the correct things and avoid saying any of the incorrect things, but even thinking the wrong things is a problem.
After all, thoughts can become actions, so if you think the wrong thing, then clearly you need to be reeducated.
Now, one of the reasons I will fight for the Second Amendment is to avoid this kind of dystopian nightmare from happening here. It’s already happened too many times in history and is likely to happen too many times in the future if we’re not careful.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing it happen none the less.
And we’re especially seeing it with regard to the Second Amendment.
Over the last few years, politicians from a handful of states have gotten into the bad habit of teaming up with the media, academia, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and key parts of corporate America, and of using the remarkable power of their alliance to contrive and promulgate political narratives that, even a few weeks earlier, had been on virtually nobody’s radar. In 2017, this team brought us the Trump-Russia Collusion hoax, which started as a salacious and unsubstantiated rumor but quickly became all Washington, D.C., was interested in talking about. That fake narrative was broadcast during every news program; it was conveyed during a lot of professional sports telecasts; it was featured in corporate press releases; it was appended to the splash pages and login forms of widely used websites; it was woven into the algorithms of streaming services and search engines and online stores. Its scope, in short, was astonishing.
This could also happen with guns and our Second Amendment rights. And when such an orchestrated effort comes, they will work overtime to make it just as all-consuming. They’ve already been trying. Every time a mass-murderer attacks—almost always in a so-called “gun-free” zone—the same cabal of media, entertainment personalities and politicians who want to disarm America’s armed citizens try to create a feverish movement to force through gun bans and more.
Only, as author Charles C.W. Cooke notes, that hasn’t happened because gun owners are organized and are willing to fight back.
It also keeps the government from trying to curtail our words and thoughts, despite their best efforts.
Yet they don’t have to when our windows into the world are more than happy to do so for them.
Practically speaking, this play might take many forms. If they wished to, online behemoths such as Google, Facebook and YouTube could demonetize or bar any user (or bury/misdirect searches) who expressed support for the individual right to bear arms, or even anyone who showed a mere interest in it, on the grounds that such support was “ahistorical” (“misinformation”) or “violent” (“unsafe”). If they decided to, universities and TV stations could reflexively append the word “denier” or “hater” to any figure who opposes gun control, and effectively shut a super-majority of the population out of the national conversation. If they were so inclined, America’s streaming services could refuse to carry any material that contained pro-Second Amendment sentiments, while relentlessly promoting content that called for stricter regulation, or even full prohibition.
Does that sound far-fetched? If so, may I ask why? To my eyes, at least, the last few years have made it abundantly clear that if our elite class wished to go down this road with vigor, it could do so at a moment’s notice. Indeed, if we have learned anything at all from the last decade, it is that the cultural power wielded by a handful of American industries is extremely difficult to resist, and that the tools that those industries use in pursuit of their aims are so flexible that they resemble a blank check. Bluntly put, the truth doesn’t enter into it; what matters is what a handful of potent institutions decide the truth needs to be.
During the 2020 election, the news of Hunter Biden’s laptop needed to be treated as “misinformation,” so it was—even though it turned out to be entirely true. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, any criticism of the government’s approach needed to be treated as “misinformation,” so they were—even though much of that criticism proved to be correct. In 2017, skepticism toward the wild claim that the president of the United States was a Russian asset needed to be treated as “misinformation,” so it was—even though that skepticism was so obviously accurate as to defy belief.
I’d invite you to look up “The Twitter Files” to see the role the government played in pushing at least some of this narrative, directly targeting individuals to be silenced by outfits like Twitter but unlikely to be relegated to just that platform.
How long before we start to see actions like this take place on gun rights discussions? How long until it’s basically thoughtcrime?
Sure, we’re not required to use social media–most of us, anyway–and they might be free to make whatever policies they want, but we’d be deluded to think government would never try to play a role in such a thing.
They most certainly will.
Further, they didn’t need a law to try and do what they’ve pulled the last few years. Unelected bureaucrats and White House staffers were able to just reach out and ask. These companies, either because they agreed or because they feared being regulated, complied without any force of law making them comply.
And Americans were essentially accused of thoughtcrime and silenced, removed from parts of the public discourse simply because they dared espouse a different point of view.
Now, think about the way people reacted to Brandon Herrera on X recently. They are accusing him of thinking incorrectly on the issue of guns. Make no mistake, either, and believe those critics wouldn’t silence him for his thoughtcrime if they figured they could get away with it.
No, our belief that our right to keep and bear arms is not only real but unassailable makes us perpetrators of thoughtcrime. They will seek out ways to punish us as well and we all know it.