I remember there was this pundit on television complaining, as they are wont, about the nature of anonymous conversation, and that it should be done away with. And his argument was simple, if people can’t be held accountable for their speech, even if only socially, then they could conceivably say anything, no matter how dangerous or how benign. I don’t think he thought through the wisdom of those words.
We live in a country, unfortunately not a world, where the right to free speech is legally protected by the federal government. It is not provided by the federal government, merely protected; it is provided, according to the various writings of the founders, by one’s creator, essentially imbued. Unfortunately, this does not protect us from all consequences and recourse should we choose to exercise our free speech. It is altogether too easy for a man to lose his living and endanger his family by speaking his mind, most particularly if he’s speaking the truth. Essentially, there are some perspectives that are considered acceptable speech within broad society, and there are others that are not. Speech that genuinely mimics the hogwash of the mainstream media is particularly prized while alternative perspectives–say for an extreme example, fascism–are considered so inimical as to invite and justify physical violence, the words of the first amendment be damned.
Previously, to speak your mind and get away with it, you’d have to distribute leaflets, but that required the use of a printing press, which would make you generally simple enough to track down, but the internet has provided altogether new opportunities. Internet forums of likeminded or even alternatively minded souls can communicate either with the use of a handle or with no identification whatsoever, sometimes not even requiring registration with an email address. It was slow going, and I never imagined it would succeed the way it has, but this ultimately blossomed into an alternative media movement composed not of monolith conglomerates but legions of individual posters proclaiming a generally united message, themselves so difficult to track down as to require the various illegal means of the alphabet agencies so happy to abuse the word of law for short-term gains. In the last presidential election, the influence of such entities as 4chan cannot be overstated. They disseminated alternative opinions both broadly and without major hindrance, and many of these reached national importance, particularly in the form of memes–quite famously “Pepe” the frog, which the mainstream media hilariously tried to dismiss as a white nationalist emblem, only serving to further its dissemination.