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The Psychological Effect of “Liberal” Censorship

censorship photo Paul Shirley was fired by ESPN in 2010 following the earthquake that caused massive destruction throughout Haiti. Paul sharply claimed he would not help out with relief efforts for the same reason he would not give money to the homeless. He doubted any good would come of it because Haiti wasn’t in the habit of helping themselves. ESPN took exception to this attitude and cut its ties with Paul, saying his opinions were not a reflection on ESPN’s views.

There were a few people who worked at ESPN and a few who were familiar with the case who whispered that it was related to sexual harassment. Harold called it a misunderstanding when he said, “I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted.” He later filed a lawsuit suing ESPN for wrongful termination. They settled out of court.

Last January, a senior professor at Hunter College in New York was giving the first lecture of the semester to the students of an undergraduate Experimental Psychology class at a major Northeastern university. During the lecture he used the word, “Retarded,” as he was trying to explain about doing valid and invalid testing.

After class, the graduate Teaching Assistant approached the professor and said he felt uncomfortable with the professor saying that some of the students in the class would be considered retarded. A few days later, that professor received correspondence from the Chair of his Department asking for a meeting. The chair would not listen to the Professor’s explanation and demanded that the Professor apologize to his class for using this inappropriate word. The correct word, he was told, was “mentally challenged.”

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator, during the three weeks he worked for ESPN, made an off-the-cuff statements that Don0van McNabb, Philadelphia’s quarterback, wasn’t doing that well. Philadelphia’s defense deserved the credit and the only reason Donovan McNabb was getting the credit, according to Limbaugh, had to do with race. “I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

And like that, Rush was out of there.

Tim Hunt, an English biochemist who won a Nobel prize, commented at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, saying: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls… three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.” Because of this statement he was forced to resign from his position as Professor at University College, London. All of his many accomplishments fell by the wayside and his reputation was ruined, all because of this one statement.

It seems that almost every week a new word or phrase is now deemed incorrect, and those who use it are censored by so-called liberals. Indeed, this kind of censorship has been going on for decades. Week after week people unwittingly spout out the newest politically incorrect phrase and are asked to apologize and sometimes lose their jobs and their reputation because of it. One never knows just what will be inappropriate to say.

I use the term “so-called liberals” because I believe those who go around punishing others for not saying the right thing are not true liberals. True liberals are tolerant and open-minded. They are open to all points of view and are not vindictive towards those who disagree with them. Those who are vindictive and practice this kind of censorship are what I call liberal fanatics. They mean well; they think they are protecting certain groups from subtle discrimination, what they call “microaggressions.

However many see this is a reign of terror. For five or six decades, since the 1960s, radical liberals have not only engaged in this kind of censorship, but also in name-calling, using words like “sexist,” “racist,” “homophobe” and the like in order to stigmatize those who disagree with them. Again, these people have good intentions, wanting to prevent discrimination. But their censorship and punishment affect the quality of life and does harm to many people. People live in fear. They are afraid to be creative, and the arts are suffering because of it. Professors are constantly afraid to say the wrong things. Scientists are afraid to do research that might result in findings that are politically incorrect. And this censorship goes against one of the basic freedoms cited in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution: freedom of speech. The psychology of each person in our society is affected by this censorship, causing a suppression of freedom of speech and of the dampening of new ideas and innovative thinking. Each person, I believe, suffers from the censorship, feels personally attacked and stymied in attempts to say what he or she really thinks. Honest communication is virtually gone. The psychological effects of this censorship is a culture that is divided and depressed.

Perhaps a better way of doing things would to for those who are concerned about discrimination to express their feelings without trampling on the rights of others. A person could say, “I felt offended when John said so and so. He expresses his feelings, which is his right, and now a person with the opposite view expresses his. In this way a dialogue is begun. Nobody is censored, there is no right and wrong. Instead there is a discussion. Isn’t this the American way?

The Psychological Effect of “Liberal” Censorship

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2017). The Psychological Effect of “Liberal” Censorship. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from


Last updated: 24 Aug 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Aug 2017
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