It’s Independence Day. No, not the fourth of July. That’s a date, not a name. The next time someone says, “Happy Fourth!” throw a guillotine choke on them while whispering the Declaration of Independence softly in their ears as you lower them to the ground.

Here we are, 239 years after the cisgender slavemasters Founding Fathers got together because they weren’t going to let some limeys with bad teeth and terrible food tell them how much money they had to fork over for the privilege of being hectored by British overlords.

They were an incredibly brave and resolute group, with a lot to lose. These men surely knew that, by doing what they did, they were consigning themselves to years of misery and possible death. They had property, and families, and were up against the greatest fighting force in the world. And yet, they carried on, because they believed in liberty and the right to one’s one destiny. Extraordinary.

The Battle of Princeton

So I reflect on what they fought for on this Independence day. Because the world is becoming less free, and the public seems to go right along with it. Increasingly, we are being ruled over by a monied oligarchy that would like nothing more than to see you plebes banished to the salt mines. And the most precious freedom of all, the freedom of speech, is under assault around the globe.

Don’t believe me? Speech laws are becoming the norm, not the exception, even in countries that would describe themselves as “free,” or as a “democracy.” What good is a democracy if the state controls who gets to say what and when? Look at a few stories from this past week, starting in New Zealand:

New Zealand has become the latest country to think bad online manners are amenable to legislation.

The country last night passed a controversial bill, the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, in the hope of stemming “cyber-bullying”.

The bill creates a regime under which digital communications causing “serious emotional distress” are subject to an escalating regime that starts as “negotiation, mediation or persuasion” but reaches up to creating the offences of not complying with an order, and “causing harm by posting digital communication”.