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Censorship

by on August 22, 2019

Censorship

by Marco M. Pardi

No totalitarian censor can approach the implacability of the censor who controls the line of communication between the outer world and our consciousness, Nothing is allowed to reach us which might weaken our confidence and lower our morale.” Eric Hoffer. The Passionate State of Mind and Other Aphorisms.

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

George Orwell. 1984.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell. 1984

All comments are welcome and will receive a response.

As I write this the American President, Trump, recently published a tweet to his followers that Israel would be showing great weakness if it allowed two democratically elected U.S. representatives (Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both Democrats) to enter Israel. Within minutes the Israeli government, better known as Benjamin Netanyahu, withdrew the permission it had granted for the trip which was supposed to start in a matter of hours.

Of course, since the questionable election of Trump it has been an open secret that the U.S. is quickly moving into a Fascist government, enhanced with its own version of racial purity, favored religion, and economic parasitism. An open secret is one which, despite being openly obvious to anyone caring to look, remains secret because few people do care to look and, among those that do, few recognize what they are looking at.

But beyond the obvious tactics of the regime, and the tens of thousands of lies told by its front-man Trump, Israel’s actions are troublingly similar to a growing number of university dis-invitations and outright bans on particular speakers. I found this particularly galling. Universities are supposed to expose students to new and different ways of thinking, not just reinforce what they enrolled with. Listening is learning. It not only tells you what the other person seems to be thinking, it gives you insights into how you feel about that thinking. Refusal to listen to someone only hardens that person’s thinking. They get no informed feedback and so they can only conclude they are right. But when given a seemingly receptive audience, people can be amazingly candid…. and foolish. Just ask any attorney. One of the primary goals of a defense attorney, whether his client is on the stand or in a deposition, is limiting what the client says in answer to questioning.

In the early 1970’s I, as an Anthropologist, was an Expert Witness for the Defense in a highly publicized pornography trial being held in conservative (read: backward) Central Florida county. My task was to review the “pornography”, mainly a magazine with totally graphic photographs and explanatory text, and render an opinion on whether it violated community standards. I was surprised, and privately offended that the Prosecutors did not challenge how I could possibly know what the standards of sexual behavior were in the community. Did they assume I had gone door to door asking? Or maybe looking in windows at night? No, they just accepted an Anthropologist as one who could render Expert testimony on a community I had lived in only a couple of years. I took that as a sign they weren’t very bright. But then, advocates of censorship rarely are.

In the meantime, the Dean of Instruction at the first college where I taught full time told me, “If I didn’t get calls from angry parents about you I would think you are not doing your job.” I took that to heart, and cranked it up. But what I’ve been reading lately suggests a growing number of colleges where I would have had a hard time surviving on faculty.

The censorship issue cuts both ways. We claim free speech yet penalize yelling FIRE in a crowded theater. We claim academic freedom yet carefully scrutinize the guest speakers to whom students are exposed. While academic freedom may not be an issue for you, the broader attempts to censor what you experience should be. But let’s be clear that we likely agree on some proposed targets of censorship, starting with items available on the internet. How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom has long been available, and delivers on its promise, as do related sites and videos. Do we want these in circulation? Personally, I would permanently silence producers of child pornography, “crush” videos showing small animals crushed to death, and similar offerings. (Oddly, I’ve seen no Republican efforts to censor these. Perhaps they “contribute” big money.) I’m sure each reader can add to the list of what should be censored. Now lets look at the other side.

The Republican regime, in control of the Federal Communications Commission, has enacted a policy by which equal access to the internet no longer exists. That is, some web sites come up far more quickly than others and are placed at the top of search lists generated by common search engines. What qualifies these sites for priority placement? Several factors, beginning with money. Another is “loyalty” to the regime. The loyalty test, under plans currently in motion, would be applied even down to postings on social media. The five paragraphs below are from a non-partisan media watchdog group:

Donald Trump’s leaked plan to censor the internet has sparked an uproar in the media. Free speech experts across the political spectrum have spoken out, and pressure is increasing on the White House to back off. But so far, Trump has shown no sign of backing off this executive order.

Right now, a law called Section 230 protects free speech on the Internet, allowing tech companies like Facebook and Google determine their terms of service and keeping government out of it.

A draft copy of an executive order leaked to the media shows that Trump plans to turn Section 230 on its head, appointing non-elected government agencies to decide what we should be allowed to post and what shouldn’t.

This is just an attempt by Trump to rally his base, feeding into the far-right myth that tech platforms are biased against conservatives–even though there is no proof of that.

The leaked executive order is so vague that it could destroy free speech on the Internet. The government has no place in deciding what constitutes “bias” or “inappropriate speech” on the Internet.

Still think censorship is not your problem? Trump and his ultra-fundamentalist Vice President, Mike Pence imposed a “gag rule” on all federal agencies forbidding any reference or referral for contraception and/or abortion. This carries forward, on a domestic level, the policies of the Republican administrations under Reagan and Bush. During those periods any federal employee found guilty of mentioning either of those options to a patient could be summarily fired. The devastation was acute in countries where HIV was spreading wildly without the use of condoms. If a foreign clinic was found to have even a desk devoted to family planning all U.S. aid money was withdrawn from the entire clinic. Now the policy is being applied within the United States. The following is a statement from Planned Parenthood:

Donald Trump and Mike Pence just took a baseball bat to health care for millions of women. Planned Parenthood was forced to withdraw from the Title X family planning program, a nearly 50-year-old program that provides birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, and other health care to millions of young, uninsured, and under-insured people across the country.

Planned Parenthood was forced to drop out and forgo millions of dollars each year in federal funds, because earlier this year the Trump administration put in place a new rule—the Trump Gag Rule—that makes it illegal for doctors and other health providers participating in the Title X program to talk with their patients about how and where they can access abortion safely and legally.

Planned Parenthood is fighting the Trump Gag Rule in court and in Congress. Title X helps prevent more than 822,000 unintended pregnancies each year. It’s the nation’s only program dedicated to helping people get affordable birth control and other reproductive health care. The program serves more than 4 million people each year—and fully 40% get services through Planned Parenthood.4

But what now? Planned Parenthood cannot be replaced in the program. In some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health care provider. And in whole states, like Utah, Planned Parenthood is the only organization that was receiving Title X funds.

Women are already having to drive impossible distances to access abortion. Now, women may be forced to drive hundreds of miles just to get birth control.

It’s truly outrageous—and dangerous. It’s 2019, not 1919.

We have to overturn the Trump Gag Rule either in the courts or in Congress and stop these GOP attacks on our bodies and our ability to control our own lives.

Concerned about Climate Change? In keeping with Trump’s pledge to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency his regime has outlawed the use of the words climate change in any scientific document or study coming from any U.S. federal agency or scientific body funded by the U.S. regime. A massive exodus of career scientists from such institutions is still underway.

And, just recently, the regime successfully put into law the criminalization of protests against oil, gas, and coal drilling or mining and the transportation, such as pipelines, of such products. The Department of Education, under the control of Betsy DeVos, a woman who knows absolutely nothing about education but is the wife of the man who invented the AMWAY scheme and the sister of Eric Prince, the man who assembled the mercenary army formerly known as BlackWater, is pressing for the revision of American schoolbooks to minimize the Theory of Evolution, write Thomas Jefferson out of the books, and teach loyalty to a narrow version of Christianity over an understanding of science.

During this time Trump directed his staff to look into ways to suspend or revoke the broadcasting licenses of CNN and NBC. As we know, he revoked a CNN reporter’s credentials to attend White House daily press briefings. A threatened court case reversed that decision so he has suspended White House daily press briefings altogether.

The reader might think the paragraphs above have been lifted from some dystopian novel (if so inclined, hurry to the bookstore for copies before these, too, are censored and banned). No, every line item above, and much more, is in the public domain. But with the regime’s constant drumbeat of “fake news” and charges of bias leveled against any and all media outlets not on their knees in praise to Dear Leader Trump (today I saw him tell gathered reporters that he was “the chosen one”) I will not be surprised by seeing these news stories fade.

So, Dear Reader, what do you think? Or have you become too intimidated to post comments?

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5 Comments
  1. I saw the “chosen one” comment on a news clip yesterday; the man actually seems to think he is the second coming of Christ. “Somebody has to do it,” he said. No, no they don’t. What Trump and his ilk have done is ruin the world in which we live. Fifty years ago, I swore I would not bring children into the world as it was then; it’s worse now. Now I listen as my granddaughter makes the same statement as the ones I made then. I am so discouraged.

    David Koch died yesterday. He was a large part of the organization which brought this regime into power. I wonder who’ll take his place. Unfortunately, cutting off the head of this snake isn’t going to be enough to kill it.

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  2. The symbol of this regime could well be the Hydra.

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  3. Rose. I sympathize with your feelings about bringing children into this world. During the Nixon years I seriously competed for a professorship at the University of Trondheim (Norway). My marital situation and my local Norwegian in-laws and friends would have supported my application for residence. But, I got edged out by a better candidate.

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  4. Dana permalink

    There simply can’t be another four years. Some of the damage can be reversed, but not without a lot of work.

    In 1985 a group of girls was taken to sing and protest abortion on the Capitol steps in Baton Rouge. Not much has changed in the Southeast, if anything.

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  5. Thank you, Dana. Your comment makes clear that Trump is simply the front man, like G.W.Bush was, for the very powerful Fascist cabal that actually runs this country whenever they are able to get their pawns in place.

    Yes, some of the damage can be undone if we catch it in time. But time is quickly running out.

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