Image by Ed Zilch from Pixabay

How Many?

Censorship can destroy freedom, but some level of “censorship” (or oversight) can also create an environment that enables freedom to flourish for those who may otherwise be unfairly targeted by false, often hate-filled rhetoric. My piece is a reflection on what happens when we are so focused on restricting any and all forms of censorship that we allow dangerous viewpoints, often controlled by the wealthy, elite, to flood the marketplace.
Throughout history and now with the spread of fake news (actual fake news, not the kind complained of by that formerly powerful person), we can see how widespread suffering can be perpetuated by unchecked speech, i.e., through vaccine and pandemic-related disinformation, etc. We already have limitations on free speech when it comes to incitement, but as my piece points out, we often allow the political elite to get away with using their platform and resources to spread dangerous information that does not necessarily rise to incitement, and this sometimes has dire consequences. Who really knows how many lives could be saved if we didn’t allow elites to make outrageous claims that influenced public opinion? After all, slavery was once grounded in religion, Syrian refugees were likened to terrorists coming to take over countries, and anyone can see the result of massive disinformation surrounding the pandemic. Reflecting on this, it makes one wonder just how many lives could (and should) have been allowed to flourish if we would be willing to do something to combat disinformation — even if that means agreeing to some level of censorship.

How many lives

stolen, enslaved

by how many lies

so freely made to protect

the Creators back, overseer

that collects taxes back

on the backs of collection

plates passed to the masses

who relies on the lies

relayed to fund the fantastic

machine that so comfortably pats

Himself on the back

scratching the root

of suffering

How many lives         

oppressed, displaced  

by how many lies       

so neatly made to carry          

propagandized waves, searing

eyes who could ever see        

thousands hidden in the sea   

sunk ungilded treasures          

who belies truth in lies           

believing place of belonging  

is written in ancient script      

that lies engraved with           

graves immersed in    

babies, mothers, dreams     

   

How many lives

succumbed to waste

by how many lies

so sorry to inform you

heirs’ flames were extinguished, foreseen

winds blowing unfair knocked

out air carried from far off

lands amiss, leaves a mess

who supplies truth in lies

Hell-o, this is a collect call

from your friendly neighbor-

hood political ac-

hang up now and

pay later


Katherine Shehadeh is a writer, mom, attorney, and student of religious studies. She resides in Miami, Florida with her husband and two small children. Katherine’s interests and central themes of her writing are in exploring the interconnectedness of nature, humanity, and the universe.

www.katherinesarts.com

Instagram: @katherinesarts

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