Tag Archives: censorship

Democrats and Republicans Have One Thing in Common: Both Suck on Free Speech, by Matt Taibbi

Censorship is one of many things both parties agree on. The only difference is who they think should be censored. From Matt Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, announced a major, $75 million campaign to boost free expression today. The move places the longtime agitator against campus speech codes in a role historically occupied by the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU. Since its founding 1920, but particularly since its famed 1976 defense of neo-Nazi marchers in Skokie, Illinois, the ACLU has been a face of American liberalism, but shifted in recent years as its once-definitional issue, free speech, is increasingly cast out of the Democratic Party mainstream.

FIRE’s expansion is great news for speech advocates, but likely wouldn’t have been necessary had attitudes toward speech not changed dramatically among liberal academics and among the ACLU’s primary donors, traditional Democrats. Moreover it’s not as simple as free speech moving now from being a blue value to a red one. What’s actually happened is far worse: tossed overboard by the blues, speech has been left without a consistent, principled champion on either side of the political aisle, as both parties have doubled or tripled down on the most idiotic forms of censorship lately, albeit in different ways.

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Letter to US Legislators: #DefundTheThoughtPolice, by Margaret Anna Alice

No society in which the government has any role in deciding what can and cannot be said, written, and disseminated can call itself free. From Margaret Anna Alice at margaretannaalice.substack.com:

“In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution reading in part, ‘freedom of information is a fundamental human right, and the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.’ This is our touchstone as well. This is the code of the Voice of America. We welcome the view of others. We seek a free flow of information across national boundaries and oceans, across iron curtains and stone walls. We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

—President John F. Kennedy, Address on the 20th Anniversary of the Voice of America, February 26, 1962

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

—CIA Director William Casey, February 1981

I am calling on you to reject S.3737 (Promoting Public Health Information Act introduced by Senators Ben Ray Luján and Chris Murphy) and every other instrument of censorship under consideration now and in the future.

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Get Ready to Be Muzzled: The Coming War on So-Called Hate Speech, by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

What is hate speech? Any speech those in power hate. From John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freedom of speech.”—Benjamin Franklin

Beware of those who want to monitor, muzzle, catalogue and censor speech.

Especially be on your guard when the reasons given for limiting your freedoms end up expanding the government’s powers.

In the wake of a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, carried out by an 18-year-old gunman in military gear allegedly motivated by fears that the white race is in danger of being replaced, there have been renewed calls for social media monitoring, censorship of flagged content that could be construed as dangerous or hateful, and limitations on free speech activities, particularly online.

As expected, those who want safety at all costs will clamor for more gun control measures (if not at an outright ban on weapons for non-military, non-police personnel), widespread mental health screening of the general population and greater scrutiny of military veterans, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more “See Something, Say Something” programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do random bag searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more surveillance of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.

All of these measures play into the government’s hands.

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Western Civilization Is Being Organized Around Winning US Infowars, by Caitlin Johnstone

What joy the survivors of nuclear holocaust will know when they realize their side’s propaganda won. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US-centralized empire’s use of propaganda, censorship and Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation is the single most urgent issue of our time, because it’s what prevents attention from being drawn to all other issues. And all signs indicate it’s set to get much, much worse.

I feel the need to reiterate once again that the censorship we’re seeing about Ukraine is of a whole new kind than anything we’ve seen before. There’s no pretense that it’s done to save lives or protect democracy this time around, it’s just “We need to control the thoughts that people think about this war.”

Once it was accepted that disinformation and misinformation must be curtailed from above, government and tech institutions took that as license to decide what’s true and false on our behalf. We know this because now they’re just openly propagandizing and censoring us about a war.

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America’s Intellectual No-Fly Zone, by Matt Taibbi

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, there’s only one acceptable opinion about the Ukraine-Russia war. From Matt Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:

From left to right, from Chomsky to Carlson, war-skeptical voices are being denounced at levels not seen since Iraq

In a 1979 essay called, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Woody Allen wrote:

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

Allen was satirizing the notion that there are always good choices in life. Often, there aren’t. Sometimes the fork in the road ahead asks you to choose between different routes to hell. The late, great Gilbert Gottfried once made the same point in a standup routine about stranded missionaries just slightly less subtle than Allen’s bit.

Indomitable public intellectual Noam Chomsky gave an interview to Current Affairs last week called, “How to Prevent World War III.” Regarding Ukraine, Chomsky revisited “My Speech to the Graduates”:

There are two options with regard to Ukraine. As we know, one option is a negotiated settlement, which will offer Putin an escape, an ugly settlement. Is it within reach? We don’t know; you can only find out by trying and we’re refusing to try. But that’s one option. The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do. Boris Johnson just reiterated this: sanctions will go on no matter what you do. What does that mean? It means go ahead and obliterate Ukraine and go on to lay the basis for a terminal war.

Those are the two options: and we’re picking the second and praising ourselves for heroism and doing it: fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.

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Twitter faces the ‘nightmare’ of being forced into free speech, by Jonathan Turley

The Twitter board opens itself up to legal action if it scotches Tusk’s takeover bid without seriously considering it. From Jonathan Turley at thehill.com:

Twitter’s board of directors gathered this week to sign what sounds like a suicide pact. It unanimously voted to swallow a “poison pill” to tank the value of the social media giant’s shares rather than allow billionaire Elon Musk to buy the company.

The move is one way to fend off hostile takeovers, but what is different in this case is the added source of the hostility: Twitter and many liberals are apoplectic over Musk’s call for free speech protections on the site.

Company boards have a fiduciary duty to do what is best for shareholders, which usually is measured in share values. Twitter has long done the opposite. It has virtually written off many conservatives — and a large portion of its prospective market — with years of arbitrary censorship of dissenting views on everything from gender identity to global warming, election fraud and the pandemic. Most recently, Twitter suspended a group, Libs of Tik Tok, for “hateful conduct.” The conduct? Reposting what liberals have said about themselves.

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Bonfire of the Governments, Part Two, by Robert Gore

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wsj.com

Welcome to the bonfire of the governments, history’s greatest conflagration.

Part One

Think of an activity that’s essential for a government bent on subjugation: censorship and the suppression of expression. Governments on both sides of the present conflict have further jacked up their efforts to control expression from the plateau reached with Covid. Russia just passed a law imposing a 15-year prison sentence for anyone spreading “fake news” about its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and European governments and lapdog legacy and social media have blanketed populaces with official propaganda. Just as with Covid, questions and deviations from the approved narrative are stifled, censored, and punished.

It was all so much easier back in the post World War II, pre-internet good old days. In the U.S. and Europe, there were several “papers of record” that had been infiltrated by intelligence agencies, and state-licensed radio and television stations. In the Soviet Union there wasn’t even that, just a few official propaganda organs.

Yet even with that degree of control, government repression wasn’t wholly effective. In the U.S. the truth got out about the Vietnam War. The Soviets could stop everything but people talking with each other, albeit in hushed tones. The cynical humor became legendary. (“They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.”) Humor always contains an element of truth, which is why statists can’t do humor. The number of citizens red-pilled to Soviet corruption and incompetence and the comparative freedom and wealth of the West reached critical mass and the government fell. It took way too long, but it happened.

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Today, there are billions of potential journalists and video producers—anyone with a cell phone and access to the internet—and trillions of text and email communications. People still occasionally engage in face-to-face conversations. The infrastructure needed to monitor all this is complex, gargantuan, and costly. Only algorithms and artificial intelligence can sort through it to identify threats to the state. Once identified, a separate infrastructure is necessary to apprehend, arrest, process, incarcerate and perhaps execute those engaged in wrongthought, wrongspeak, wrongwrite, and wrongact.

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Orwell Was Right, by Matt Taibbi

Somehow the human brain adjusts to telling endless lies and adjusting to blatant contradictions. From Matt Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:

From free speech to “spheres of influence” to our passion for endless war, we’ve become the doublethinkers 1984 predicted

This weekend I re-read 1984, a book I tend to reach for when I get Defcon-1 depressed about the state of the world. Deep in the novel, Winston ponders the intricacies of doublethink:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them… To forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again… that was the ultimate subtlety.

In the last weeks, Russia took an already exacting speech environment to new extremes. A law was passed that would impose 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine invasion; access was cut to Facebook and Twitter; stations like Echo Moskvi and TV Rain as well as BBC Russia, Radio Liberty, the New Times, Deutsche Welle, Doxa, and Latvia-based Meduza were effectively shut down; Wikipedia was threatened with a block over its invasion page; and national authorities have appeared to step in to prevent coverage of soldiers killed in the war, requiring local outlets to use terms like “special operation” instead. The latter development is connected to the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, issuing a remarkably desperate dictum requiring news outlets to “use information and data received by them only from official Russian sources.”

Russia also appears in the middle of a general crackdown on local media, not so much because those outlets are dissenting, but because they’re more likely to provide indirect evidence of war failures or the effect of sanctions. The desperation to control news has grown to the point where Russian diplomats in foreign countries are pressuring state outlets in countries like Iran to stop using the term “war” to describe what’s going on in Ukraine.

On the flip side, a slew of actions have been taken to crack down on “fake news” and “misinformation” in the West. The big one was the European Union banning RT and Sputnik:

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube also cut access to all Russian state media, because the EU sanctions also required that internet platforms delist any RT or Sputnik content, even from individuals. The statute reads, “As regards the posts made by individuals that reproduce the content of RT and Sputnik, those posts shall not be published, and if published, shall be deleted.”

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The Power of Propaganda: State Control of the Press and Media Will Be the Death Knell of Freedom, by Gary D. Barnett

Around the globe, state control of the media keeps tightening. There is not a single nation that’s going the other way. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com:

“Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.”

Evita Ochel

Once again, black is white and white is black. We are all living in a state-created inversion. The press, as has been noted in this country and others since the beginning, was charged with the noble role of informing the people about what is actually going on around them. The freedom of the press has been lauded as necessary for any free society to exist. America’s own so-called ‘Bill of Rights’ in the first amendment states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, but all government ‘guarantees,’ as has been exposed, are as worthless as the paper on which they are printed. If all this is true, then why is the entirety of all mainstream and major press and media so corrupt, dishonest, colluding, state-supporting, evil, and essentially controlled by the CIA? Why are virtually all ‘news’ reporting entities owned by the same small group of individuals and companies, or the state itself? Why is most all the ‘reporting’ just propaganda, regardless of the venue?

The only sane position to take in this day and age is to understand that every word coming from the whores in the press, the politicians, and the media are absolute lies. Everything should be considered a falsehood, and should be ignored until and unless it is completely verified and supported by fact.

We are living in madness; we are living in total absurdity. There is no other way to explain our current situation. So why does the bulk of society, not just in this country, but around the world, still cling to every word coming from the state and its minions in the press and media? Why do people believe whatever they are told to believe, without the benefit of any facts or logic; even to the point of voluntarily destroying their own life’s work, their families and loved ones, their communities, and their very souls? Can this ever be legitimately explained?

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Defending Freedom And Democracy Sure Requires An Awful Lot Of Censorship, by Caitlin Johnstone

But wait, if you’re censoring people, aren’t you taking away their freedom? Why yes you are, but taking away freedom is required to preserve it. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Kremlin-backed media outlets have been banned throughout the European Union, both on television and on apps and online platforms. RT has lost its Sky TV slot in the UK, where the outlet is also blocked on YouTube. Australian TV providers SBS and Foxtel have dropped RT, and the federal government is putting pressure on social media platforms to block Russian media in Australia.

In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Latvia, speaking in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will get you years in prison.

Twitter, historically the last of the major online platforms to jump on any new internet censorship escalation, is now actively minimizing the number of people who see Russian media content, saying that it is “reducing the content’s visibility” and “taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter”. This censorship-by-algorithm tactic is exactly what I speculated might emerge after former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey resigned back in November, due to previous comments supportive of that practice by his successor Parag Agrawal.

Twitter is also placing warnings labels on all Russia-backed media and delivering a pop-up message informing you that you are committing wrongthink if you try to share or even ‘like’ a post linking to such outlets on the platform. It has also placed the label “Russia state-affiliated media” on every tweet made by the personal accounts of employees of those platforms, baselessly giving the impression that the dissident opinions tweeted by those accounts are paid Kremlin content and not simply their own legitimate perspectives. Some are complaining that this new label has led to online harassment amid the post-9/11-like anti-Russia hysteria that’s currently turning western brains into clam chowder.

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