Moving Free Speech Behind the Velvet Rope

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

I have a podcast.

Well, I have three. One is right here at RedState. “List Service” is especially for our VIP subscribers, and I enjoy sharing the week’s craziest RedState stories with listeners. Another is a Hallmark podcast (don’t judge until you’ve heard it). But my most popular podcast still remains “Just Listen to Yourself.” It is hosted by an urban network out of Cleveland, and each week I take hot topics and encourage people to think critically about those topics.

We’re proud to have built a loyal audience over the last two years and taken on some sponsors. It’s hard but rewarding work. I like to think I help people say the things they’re thinking but can’t quite seem to lend words to.

I never thought I’d be in the position of having to censor myself, but one day I found myself preparing an episode on the transgender trend and the resulting escalation of misogyny in American society. I pulled together my notes and bookmarked some articles, and as I went through my pre-show checklist, I found myself feeling a type of heaviness. I couldn’t place it.

You know that feeling. It feels like there is something wrong, something that’s at the back of your mind that you forgot about but keeps needling you anyway. A sinking feeling, some call it. “I feel like I’m supposed to be worried about something, but I can’t remember what it is.”

As I checked off items on the list, I finally realized what I was feeling nervous about. I sent a text to my producer.

“I want to do this next episode on the transgender trend, but I’m a little concerned it might wig out some of our advertisers.”

He responded pretty quickly. “Yes, it’s probably smarter just to put that one somewhere else. I hate to say it because it isn’t fair, but we’ve got a whole network to protect. Yours isn’t the only show that pulls ad dollars.”

He was right. And I hated it. I scrapped the episode, but I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little defeated. I’m in the business of opinions, and yet here I am, having to self censor those opinions because of what it might do to my livelihood. Not just mine, but the livelihoods and projects of my colleagues at the station. It felt absurd.

But that is where we are right now. In a state of absolute, unceasing absurdity, where men compete on women’s sports teams and women have perfectly healthy breasts removed so they can support the “social construct” of a masculine body. For all the current obsession with SCIENCE and DATA, using science and data to support basic biology can get you canceled these days.

Absurdity.

The worst part was that it wasn’t just about me. Perhaps I would have taken the risk if it were. I represented an entire network of people and shows. Many of our ads are interconnected. If I were to be dropped or censored, everyone else’s money would be affected too. I had to think of who they feed and how my producer keeps the lights on. We erred on the side of censorship in order to protect the people we love and respect.

That’s how they get you, isn’t it? Sure, it’s technically not violating your First Amendment rights. Say what you want, but we just won’t pay you for it. If you’ve worked for years to earn the privilege of getting paid to speak into a microphone, it can be a terrifying ultimatum; one, as I pointed out, that can affect not just you but everyone around you. How many of us are willing to take food out of the mouths of those around us?

It’s a weapon that the progressive left, led by Big Tech and legacy media, has been wielding against the truth with crushing power lately. Here at the Townhall family of websites, we have spent countless hours and many sleepless nights strategizing about how to resist this mounting pressure without compromising our mission. For a long time, we felt like it was up to us alone. We needed to be savvier, wealthier, or bigger so as to be “untouchable,” like some of the more visible players in the industry. We flirted with a lot of different ideas and solutions. As it turns out, it wasn’t ever really up to us at all…it was up to you.

Every website like RedState hates the idea of adding more of a burden to the pocketbooks of our customers. We’d like to share our expertise with you freely and often, but as this new era of censorship has begun to close in on reasonable and informed thought, we thought a good way to protect our flow of information and our livelihoods would be to offer a subscription side to our daily front-page offerings. This way, we would not be beholden to the Advertising Gods of Google or the Fascists of Facebook to keep our writers thriving. Behind that paywall, we could say the things we needed to say without fear of losing our support while still offering a lot of fresh and exclusive content for our subscribers as well.

We have been overwhelmed by how many people have not only stepped up to support free speech on our website with their wallets but have done so happily and with excitement. Our readers get it. We’re all in this absurd but enormous battle together. Some of us sit behind a desk and opine. Some of you do the hard work of keeping the country’s gears grinding, taking a precious moment every now and then to pop in and read some inspiration or catch up on the news. We play different roles, but they are equally important. Without you, we lose this precious little courtyard of free speech we’ve managed to build. In the “free” world, our advertisers and Big Tech have so much power. In our world of VIPs, you are the most powerful and the most influential. You decide if we thrive or shrink. I don’t know you, dear reader, but if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure I’d much rather put the fate of my career and the exercise of my free speech in your sensible hands than in the hands of Big Tech.

We are so grateful for your support. It’s hard to properly express it. I’m already running out my word count. As Editor-At-Large for RedState and as an American, I want to thank all those out there who have made an effort to support us with their VIP subscriptions. You could be anywhere. That you are here means so much.

If you’re not one of the cool kids yet, there’s always time. There’s always time for you to support free speech, resist censorship and give the middle finger to the Big Tech overlords who think they own us. I hope you’ll consider joining our growing revolution with a VIP subscription today. If you’re interested, now is a fantastic time to join. You’ll find exclusive podcasts from myself and others, analytical work, and sometimes just plain, old-fashioned controversial writing…you remember that? The good old days don’t need to be lost to the dustbin of the internet. They’ve just moved behind the velvet rope.

Please click here to become a VIP subscriber today and use promo code AMERICAFIRST to receive a 25% discount!