One of the greatest casualties in the last 20 months has simply been the ability to ask questions.
Simply put, questions are not longer welcome. One is not to question any statement or fact made by someone in authority or bearing credentials. This is simply beyond the pale of what can be expected anymore.
We now live in the era of "Experts" in literally every field. Our government is run by experts, our wars are run by experts, our foreign policy and economic policy is run by experts, our science and medicine are run by experts, our social policy is run by experts, our entertainment is run by experts. Everything, everywhere, is now run by experts.
And experts, of course, inevitably and always know best.
In the ideal world of Our Political And Social Betters (OPASB), any press conference, article, or story would simply be a presenter and group of information takers whose job is not to report and question the presentation, but simply to ask questions to help the presenter further make their point: "You said X; how will this make our lives better?"; "Your discussion of Y will allow how much more good to happen?"; "How do we get Z to the people faster?"
You may ask yourself - and it is a rational question - what would be the point of thinking, opinions, and indeed the very role of individuals in such a society?
OPASB would of course tell you that welcome the sort of deep, inquisitive questions that drive societies and progress - but only in appropriate circumstances. The really big, heavy sorts of decisions will be handled by those appropriately educated and experienced to do so. They, in turn, can help guide the appropriate avenues of inquiry for everyone else - in fact, by helping to corral those troublesome thoughts, they are really doing everyone else a favor by saving them wasted time and effort.
Opinions are the same, of course. OPASB value the opinion of every individual, but again only around specific things. Having an opinion about your favorite flavor of ice cream or if you prefer Spring or Autumn is perfectly acceptable; having an opinion about any issue which impacts anyone else is not. Again, experts and those appropriately educated are those only ones really qualified to have opinions on such matters.
And the individual? OPASB would say that the individual is of high value - but only an element in the larger social picture. What really makes for an ideal and good individual is one that never ask questions and never expresses opinions. When informed of policies or indeed even what their opinions should be, they quiescently nod and smile. Their very best, most important thing is to quietly do whatever jobs the OPASB feel are of the greatest value and diligent act as earners to help better themselves, their government, and everyone else around them.
If you feel my description of such a society is reminiscent of some that we have known in our political present or past, you would in fact be correct. Because this is where such a society of the Experts and OPASB always end up, just before they usually end up in full blown tyranny. Why tyranny? Because without anyone questioning them and no-one challenging their opinions, there is nothing to prevent them from acting on their every whim and bad idea.
I am sure I would have an opinion on all of this, but the OPASB are informing me that as a layman, I really should not and after all, my best contribution is the narrow area in which my life seems to be assigned. After all, having thoughts and opinions that lead to questions are too big for such a small person such as I.