March 14, 2012
Privatizing the First Amendment

Corey Robin points out that government, constitutionally barred from censoring free speech, has happily outsourced the job to the private sector most recently in Arizona. Interesting piece. Read the whole thing here.

Second, in a way, I should have foreseen this fusion because, as I argued in my first book Fear: The History of a Political Idea, it has historically fallen to employers rather than the state to police the political opinions and practices of citizens. Focused as we are on the state, we often miss the fact that some of the most intense programs of political indoctrination have not been conducted by the government but have instead been outsourced to the private sector. While less than 200 men and women went to jail for their political beliefs during the McCarthy years, as many as two out of every five American workers were monitored for their political beliefs.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at March 14, 2012 07:34 PM
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That one in five figure is news to me although I'm not surprised. I suspect its higher now with homeland security and like apparatus in place. I hope I'm wrong.

But what I would really like to know is how well our watchers did compared to the KGB. Were [and are] they more efficient than the KGB was in its "best" days?

Posted by: Buck on March 14, 2012 8:24 PM
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