Skeptics Notebook – Inauguration, Media Bias, Free Speech

Excerpts from three short essays on the lingering divide in America. The President, Joe Biden is calling for national unity – an ideal which his party did not give when President Trump asked for the same thing in 2016.

The American Inauguration

We have refused to unify around the most basic of things, like America being basically good, respect for the flag and the national anthem, two genders and the use of personal pronouns…

Today is inauguration day for a new president… Is anyone going to put their hand over their heart? Is that a hostile move right now? And if they do it for this particular president (and this particular inauguration), will they for the next one they might disagree with? Or will we be treated to another national berating about our flawed founding and how we’re all children of a huge crime, who will never find redemption?

But there won’t be national unity, today. Not by a long shot. And I’ll tell you why …

America is like a married couple who have said too many horrible things to each other and now can’t reconcile. We can’t just put on the tux and little black dress and be cordial at cocktail parties anymore. We can’t even fake smile at each other. We said the things you never say. We went there. We left no insult unturned. We simply know too much about what we all think, now.
– Regie Hamm – UNITY?

Media Bias

After all, American needs unity! And that unity can only be provided by the same people who have wrecked all pretense of institutional objectivity in the pursuit of partisan outcomes.
People will continue to seek information from alternative sources, of course. But that will only provoke the media to seek new methods of repressing those alternatives. As it turns out, the commitment of many in our media isn’t to truth or facts. It’s to monopolistic control.
– Ben Shapiro, Get Ready for 4 Years of Media Sycophancy

Censorship and the Loss of Free Speech for Everyone

The way forward is difficult, and hugely complicated by a crisis of credibility. Lots of worried Americans, including many who don’t support Trump, have lost their faith in the institutions we rely on to tell us the truth – most notably, the mainstream media. This has been the case for some time, but now it feels different. Now, the patina of fake news has covered everything with a sheen of doubt and suspicion. Politics, science, law, medicine, academia…experts from every discipline are subject to new levels of skepticism, in part, because those experts hold forth on platforms that are no longer credible to half the country.

How many friends do you have who dismiss anything they hear on FOX, simply because it’s on FOX? Likewise, CNN? I have many. That’s why we can’t blame millions of Americans for dismissing the academic studies that contradict their belief that racism in law enforcement is systemic; they simply don’t trust the studies. Nor can we blame millions of other Americans for dismissing the findings of multiple courts who say the election wasn’t fraudulent; they simply don’t trust the courts. This level of mistrust is the real enemy, and I’m afraid it’s about to get a lot worse.

But I can promise you that banishing people from platforms, or banishing platforms from people, or deliberately cutting off the way millions of people communicate is not the way forward.
– Mike Rowe, I’ve Been Struggling to Get My Head Around What’s Happening in Our Country