censorship

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Solomon Islands bans Facebook for ‘harmful content’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 4:16pm in

An official claims Facebook is merely being ‘suspended’ for an indefinite time


Students studying at a computer lab in University of South Pacific Solomon Islands Campus. Photo from Flickr account of the Asian Development Bank, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Cabinet of Solomon Islands has issued a temporary ban on Facebook for what it considers ‘harmful content’ disseminated on the social media platform. It is unclear when the ban will begin and how long will this last.

The ban was proposed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Communication and Civil Aviation Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka.

Agovaka told Solomon Times why the Cabinet came up with this decision:

Abusive languages against Ministers, Prime Minister, character assassination, defamation of character, all these are issues of concerns.

The use of the internet now in Solomon Islands needs to be properly regulated to safeguard our young people from harmful content. At the moment there is no legislation to govern the use of the internet and even young kids can be able to download harmful stuff from the internet.

Agovaka said the government has not yet finalized the details with internet service providers about how the ban will be enforced. He added that press freedom will not be affected since citizens can still publish or air their sentiments on other media platforms.

There are 120,000 Facebook users in Solomon Islands.

The announcement garnered widespread criticism which prompted Permanent Secretary of Communication and Aviation Moses Virivolomo to clarify that Facebook is merely being suspended. But the official gave no timeline about the suspension.

The Facebook ban or suspension is seen by critics and the opposition as an attempt to silence citizens who are exposing irregularities in government.

Opposition Member of Parliament Peter Kenilorea Jnr reminded the Cabinet about the importance of upholding freedom of expression in a democracy:

As leaders, we will face resentment from factions of a demanding and at times dissatisfied public. Much of the dissatisfaction and mistrust, whether real or perceived, will be aired. Sometimes these need to be aired. After all, we, leaders, need to be held accountable by the electorate that place us in positions of power. We need to face the music from time to time. This is democracy.

But as leaders, let us not attack one of the main pillars of democracy upon which our nation rests – the freedom of expression. Let us not mute the voices, however angry, of those that we have sworn to serve.

Malaita Provincial Premier Daniel Suidani, a local official, also disagreed with the decision to ban Facebook:

Do not go into public life and make laws and decisions for your own good or for your own protection as is seen with the banning of Facebook.

Doing this will only lead to further frustrations. You can be guaranteed that going against your people only leads to failures.

The business sector is not supportive of the ban. Jay Bartlett, the board chairperson of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), said the Cabinet should be focusing on other more important matters:

It is the Government’s prerogative to make such a decision, but as a Chamber we believe that there are other pressing issues that requires our collective focus.

Ms Gloria Hong, a member of SICCI representing small businesses, argued that Facebook is an essential platform to interact with consumers.

Using social media helps us to build brand awareness, increase our customer base, and connect with customers.

In my view, banning Facebook is a threat to businesses, especially the small businesses who cannot afford to run advertisements on radio, newspapers and on TV.

Tourism Solomons CEO Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto warned about the repercussions for the tourism industry:

It goes without saying the platform has become vital in our efforts to keep the Solomon Islands top of mind and competitive on the world tourism stage for the time when things return to normal.

No other social media platform comes even close to what we have been achieving with Facebook.

And not just for our tourism sector, but for all Solomon Islands businesses and the wider community in general which uses Facebook as a key means of communication across our 992-island archipelago.

In a letter sent to the Solomon Times, Floyd Manata from Port Moresby said banning Facebook is not the solution:

We need to be very careful about dealing with certain things regarding this time where the world technology is changing every 6 months. Today it's Facebook next year probably TikTok. But hey think again is this the best solution to the problem?

Before you ban Facebook you should establish or come up with policies that will facilitate the issue of cyber crime and cyber security. Do we have one in place at the moment?

Facebook told ABC Australia that it is ready to discuss the issues raised by the Solomon Islands government:

We’re reaching out to the Solomon Islands government to discuss today’s decision.

This move will impact thousands of people in the Solomon Islands who use our services to connect and engage in important discussions across the Pacific.

Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher Kate Schuetze said the ban will deprive users of vital information that can save lives during a pandemic.

Given how important it is for people to quickly access information in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government may not just place political discourse and participation at risk, but even lives. Total bans on websites or internet information providers will almost never be justifiable under international human rights law.

Dan McGarry, an independent journalist living in Vanuatu, has a proposal for Pacific governments which are unhappy over the social impact of Facebook and has considered plans to censor or ban the popular social media website:

Pacific governments need to start a dialogue, not just with social media giants, but with other national regulators too. They need to learn from others’ mistakes, and leverage others’ successes.

It Not About Right or Left, Its About Neoliberalism. Mickey Huff on Big Tech’s Efforts To Purge Dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/11/2020 - 6:50am in

In mid-October, one day after Twitter and Facebook banned a story by the New York Post about a laptop alleged to belong to Hunter Biden, YouTube published a short announcement on its blog called “Managing harmful conspiracy theories on YouTube” where new “efforts to curb hate and harassment by removing more conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence.”

In the official statement, the Google subsidiary defined the terms of its growing model of censorship:

Today we’re further expanding both our hate and harassment policies to prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence. One example would be content that threatens or harasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate.”

The video streaming platform’s recent expulsion of several popular channels such as The Last American Vagabond, which provided political commentary on controversial topics and had accrued a large following over the last few years, were booted from the site in a purge that continues apace as the 2020 election saga unfolds. A week after the October 15 YouTube blog post, Patreon followed suit, revealing their own plans to “address the QAnon conspiracy theory” on the crowd-funding platform for content creators in a move that underscores the economic consequences for people creating content that runs afoul of establishment narratives.

The increasing boldness of private corporations to restrict speech that is allowed on platforms that profit almost exclusively from the hard work, creativity, and data of the users who sign up for them, is just one of the important issues that Project Censored Director Mickey Huff has been fighting to change for years. Huff joined MintPress to discuss the increasing crackdown on free speech online and much more.

 

A fight that’s just beginning

Huff describes Project Censored as a “critical media literacy education organization,” that supports “transparently-sourced, fact-based reporting in the public interest” in both independent and so-called ‘mainstream media’ – a term he takes exception to, –preferring the more accurate label of ‘corporate media’ to distinguish between the twin currents that drive our post-Internet media landscape.

Founded in 1976 by Prof. Carl Jensen as a media research program at Sonoma State University, the program has matured into one of the pillars of watchdog activism in America, with hundreds of students across the country participating and collaborating with judges and affiliates in other universities to take on the daunting task of keeping the media honest and committed to the exercise of a free press.

Ever since 1993, Project Censored has published an annual tome highlighting the year’s top censored news stories. Last year’s book, titled “Censored 2020 – Through The Looking Glass,” addressed the real agenda behind the issue of ‘fake news‘ and rampant disinformation campaigns, which serves the most powerful interests in corporate media and are now at the center of the partisan narratives being disseminated via federal agencies as we approach the November 3.

MintPress asked Huff about what he called the “rank partisanship hypocrisy” surrounding the present state of American media and the true nature of the bias displayed by news outlets and social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, in particular, which continue to come under increased scrutiny over their intensified efforts to deplatform and censor along seemingly partisan lines.

“There is a bias,” states Huff. But, according to the head of Project Censored, the bias leans “towards establishment politics, in general, and what’s best for Silicon Valley,” as opposed to the common perception held by many conservatives, that right-wing views are more likely to be nixed from the endless stream of online content.

Huff concedes that the Brahmins of Big Tech are far more likely to gravitate to neo-liberal ideas, but insists that censorship of left-wing voices has not been mitigated by such factors, either; pointing to the equally-influential role of right-wing billionaire networks and the arch-conservative makeup of players in the military-industrial complex, who have been going to far greater lengths to suppress left-wing ideas and movements for decades. “If Republicans and conservatives are really concerned about money in Silicon Valley and impacting elections,” says Huff, “they should look in the mirror.”

 

Who’s on first?

The Trump-Russia political cosmology that has dominated corporate media and has lived rent-free in the minds of millions of Americans on social media was a feature from the start of the 2016 presidential race. The Mueller investigation solidified the state’s intention to vilify Russia and other perennial geopolitical targets of the U.S. by using its own bumbling Yeltsin clone to manufacture a tenuous threat to American “democracy.”

Social media platforms have played an essential role in circulating and reinforcing the tales of Russian election interference. MintPress asked Huff about these claims, as they are now being weaponized by the establishment to justify a broad, yet selective, deplatforming policy of dissident voices in collusion with the owners of the social networks, themselves.

“Are there foreign countries interested in manipulating or influencing U.S. elections? Of course,” Huff said. But, questioned “to what degree or net effect” any such interference could possibly have considering what the data shows.

“If you actually go and take a look at that election cycle for context, Russian ads amounted to .0004% of the total content on Facebook and represented only 1 of 23,000 Facebook newsfeed posts. Between 2015 and 2017, Facebook blocked 33 trillion posts, and the Internet Research Agency generated 80,000 of them.”

As for the persistent cries from conservative circles about a liberal conspiracy to shut down right-leaning social media channels, “it turns out that right-wing propaganda and right-wing voices are actually louder on Twitter and Facebook. They get retweeted more,” Huff states.

The reality seems to reflect an equal opportunity approach to censorship that Huff qualifies as “a bipartisan effort to control the public narrative,” and accounts for the fact “that people further to the right and further to the left are marginalized and are kept out of the discussions and debates.”

Huff cuts social media companies some slack, but only in light of their ability to incorporate so-called “community standards,” which are vague and open-ended notions of civility Big Tech has used to police user activity in their TOS agreements. “There is some content, particularly on the far right that is very xenophobic or racist and that’s very problematic,” he admitted. “But, we need to talk about how to best handle those types of situations if we want to protect free speech.”

 

The E-plantation

“We are heading into a neoliberal dystopian morass ruled by technocrats and plutocrats where data is the new currency like oil, and we are all being used by these companies on their circuit board plantations.”

Huff’s use of the plantation model as an analogy for the algorithmically-controlled digital ecosystem currently under construction is more than apt, considering the exploitative dynamic that undergirds the billions of dollars generated by these enormous concerns with, essentially, free labor from millions upon millions of content creators.

“It’s in the interest of the owners and investors of these companies to control content to the degree to which it affects their profit margin,” Huff noted, but highlighted the deliberate intention to create “a group of addicted users, so that they would willingly be used in ‘Huxleyan’ style to grow to love our servitude through the telescreen.”

“The people that designed these platforms knew what they were doing,” he continued, adding that the lopsided power dynamic represented by powerful private corporations and millions of content (and data) slaves they profit from is “a real conundrum,” because “most of the general public has no idea how these systems work and tech companies haven’t exactly been forthcoming about how their own [proprietary] algorithms and bots work.”

Ultimately, Huff believes society “can’t really get to the root of that whole problem unless we look at the problem of global corporate capitalism and racial capitalism, as it exists as a system of global oppression.”

 

Break on through

Understanding the technical aspects of how these platforms and their technology really work is vital to our ability to fight back against their relentless encroachment into our lives and society, as a whole. Both the expectation of privacy and freedom of expression are under simultaneous attack by a burgeoning technocratic superstructure, which is being set up at many levels of our material reality through 5G and related information communications technologies.

The AI revolution being instigated by supranational organizations like the World Economic Forum and their powerful partners demand a new censorship paradigm that can restore the fourth estate to its former glory in a hyper-communicated world by drowning out the inconvenient truths dug up by pesky independent researchers, journalists or any individual with a mind of their own and access to a treasure trove of online sources.

Huff points out that “the kinds of censorship that take place online, particularly in social media or in search engines is often algorithmically driven.” While this fact undermines a broader perception of the evil tech CEO mastermind, such as the “idea that [Jack] Dorsey or [Mark] Zuckerberg get out the red pen and start scratching names off of a list somewhere,” the “net result” is the same, according to Huff.

“It’s not just the think tanks and hired guns that go and excise in their confirmation bias fashion,” he explains. But, on the other hand, moves at the federal level to step in and regulate social networks – such as the recent rumblings over Section 230 of the Communications Act –  could be a case of jumping from the fire into the frying pan.

“If we assume that, somehow, government is more of an objective observer, with all the K-street money and lobbying and big tech sector money and everything else that goes in there, it’s almost like a shell game.” Trying not to come off as too cynical, Huff nevertheless believes that if we are to assert our collective will over the interests pushing us into a dystopian nightmare of perpetual surveillance and censorship, tweaks to a few lines in the U.S. Code is not going to be enough.

Huff is unambiguous about his own particular vision about how we can solve these modern riddles of power: “We need long term strategies for critical media literacy education and civic engagement.” Project Censored and its parent, the Media Freedom Foundation, are carrying this vision forward by edifying the general public about these problems “in a way that’s not indoctrinated, that’s based on critical pedagogy to understand systems of power and oppression and use media as a way of informing and teaching the public to have our voice heard loudly enough in these oligarchic sectors.”

Despite the daunting nature of such an endeavor, Mickey Huff is undeterred and takes inspiration from Ralph Nader’s words to forge ahead: “We need to break through power and it’s easier than we think.”

Mickey Huff is the current director of Project Censored, founded in 1976, and president of the nonprofit Media Freedom Foundation. He is a professor of social science and history and executive producer and host of The Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. He serves on the editorial board for the journal Secrecy and Society, and is a board member of Behind the Headlines.

Project Censored’s newest edition of the year’s top censored news stories, “State of the Free Press | 2021” is due out December 1st. It’s latest documentary, “United States of Distraction: Fighting the Fake News Invasion” is available online.

Feature photo | Graphic by MintPress News

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post It Not About Right or Left, Its About Neoliberalism. Mickey Huff on Big Tech’s Efforts To Purge Dissent appeared first on MintPress News.

The Knives Come Out as Greenwald Splits From the Intercept Citing Censorship

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/10/2020 - 6:04am in

Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of investigative news outlet The Intercept, very publicly resigned from his position yesterday. The immediate trigger for his decision was a refusal to publish his article exploring corruption in the Biden campaign by his editors, but, as the cult journalist explained on his Substack page, there were also long term and deeper underlying factors that forced him to move on. Greenwald created the Substack page for this purpose, posting his resignation letter, then the censored article followed by the email exchange with his editors that preceded his resignation.

 

A bad breakup

Greenwald’s contract stipulates he has virtually complete editorial freedom and control over his own content, but he revealed that he felt like the outlet had slowly become a bulwark of the establishment, mindlessly repeating the same liberal talking points, rather than challenging them. “The pathologies, illiberalism, and repressive mentality that led to the bizarre spectacle of my being censored by my own media outlet are ones that are by no means unique to The Intercept,” he wrote.

These are the viruses that have contaminated virtually every mainstream center-left political organization, academic institution, and newsroom. I began writing about politics fifteen years ago with the goal of combatting media propaganda and repression, and — regardless of the risks involved — simply cannot accept any situation, no matter how secure or lucrative, that forces me to submit my journalism and right of free expression to its suffocating constraints and dogmatic dictates.”

Greenwald revealed that he had harbored serious problems with the conduct of his employers and the direction of The Intercept for some time, but continued on because he was still afforded complete control over his own output.

But the brute censorship this week of my article — about the Hunter Biden materials and Joe Biden’s conduct regarding Ukraine and China, as well my critique of the media’s rank-closing attempt, in a deeply unholy union with Silicon Valley and the “intelligence community,” to suppress its revelations — eroded the last justification I could cling to for staying,” he explained.

The 53-year-old former attorney said he found himself in the position of somehow being silenced from expressing himself days before an election because of the views of “random editors in New York” who wished him to conform to the Democratic Party line. Greenwald will now pursue a reader-supported model of journalism on Substack.

For its part, The Intercept ensured that the event would be an extremely messy breakup indeed, publishing an acerbic response accusing him of throwing a “tantrum” over “preposterous” charges. “He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor,” they wrote, claiming he was presenting falsehoods in order to falsely make himself look like a victim. “Over the past six years,” they concluded, “it is Glenn who has strayed from his original journalistic roots, not The Intercept.” Greenwald has since published both the rejected story and a lengthy email exchange between himself and his editors.

 

The knives come out

While some Intercept employees, like Ryan Grim, attempted to steer a neutral path between management and Greenwald, others, such as Naomi Klein, went on the attack. “Glenn was not ‘censored’ — he was edited, and edited well. Crying censorship is a marketing ploy to gin up subscribers for his new Substack. Are people really going to fall for it?” she wrote on Twitter, also suggesting he was directly and callously helping Donald Trump win re-election: “Imagine not caring that you are feeding into this garbage at this point in history.”

The Atlantic’s David Frum, the man who coined the term “axis of evil” for the Bush administration, professed his outrage over the emergence of an alliance of reactionary thinkers, including Greenwald and Matt Taibbi on the left and Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and the Federalist Magazine on the right.

Journalist Marcy Wheeler, who has repeatedly clashed with Greenwald over their radically different interpretations of the RussiaGate scandal, congratulated everyone at The Intercept on the news, claiming “a lot of good reporters…have been unfairly tainted by Glenn Greenwald simply making shit up with impunity for too long.”

 

The changing face of The Intercept

Launched in 2014 and featuring a prestigious lineup of journalists, The Intercept immediately became synonymous with hard-hitting, investigative journalism. But it also developed a reputation for not protecting their sources (a cardinal sin in the journalism business).

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was sentenced to five years in prison, thanks to The Intercept revealing her identity to authorities. One year later former FBI agent Terry J. Albury, who shared documents exposing the organization’s surveillance of journalists and of religious and ethnic minorities, was jailed after his identity was exposed. Amazingly, in 2019, The Intercept burned their third source, as intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was charged with leaking top secret documents on drone warfare the organization’s editor Jeremy Scahill.

The financial backing for the outlet comes from tech billionaire and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. With a net worth of over $17 billion, the French-born tycoon has ample cash to fund a myriad of think tanks and initiatives, all with a neoliberal interventionist outlook, many of whom have direct links to Washington and its agenda of regime change around the world. This has included using The Intercept as a vehicle to publish fawning depictions of the White Helmets in Syria. The result of this, according to Alex Rubenstein and Max Blumental, is that Omidyar is conducting “global information war” and shaping the media landscape in his interests. Thus, while The Intercept may appear radical, it does not challenge the power and interests of its own backer.

A staunch Democrat, Omidyar gave hefty donations to anti-Trump super-PACs, while The Intercept began to turn on Wikileaks, attacking the organization for supposedly being a Trump conduit. At the same time, it continues to refuse to publish its own Snowden archive, last year announcing it would shut down the project with fewer than 10 percent of the documents made available to the public.

Greenwald appears to have become seen as quite a problem for the outlet, his skepticism on RussiaGate clashing horribly with establishment Democratic opinion. As Greenwald continued to undermine the mainstream narrative of widespread Russian interference in the 2016 election, Omidyar hired noted Russia hawk James Risen as “Senior National Security Correspondent” to offer essentially the opposite opinion in its pages. Investigating suggests Risen was paid around $16,000 per article written.

This latest incident only adds fuel to the fire that the outlet has become a mainstream, Democrat-aligned organization. As journalist Matt Taibbi noted, “The Intercept uncritically took dictation from John Brennan, Jim Clapper, and Michael Hayden, and killed a piece by their Pulitzer-winning founder because it was critical of the probable next president.”

MintPress has been covering the evolution of The Intercept, from investigative outlet to “attack dog of the establishment” for some time, and it appears Greenwald is coming towards that same conclusion, writing in his farewell note:

The current iteration of The Intercept is completely unrecognizable when compared to that original vision. Rather than offering a venue for airing dissent, marginalized voices and unheard perspectives, it is rapidly becoming just another media outlet with mandated ideological and partisan loyalties, a rigid and narrow range of permitted viewpoints (ranging from establishment liberalism to soft leftism, but always anchored in ultimate support for the Democratic Party), a deep fear of offending hegemonic cultural liberalism and center-left Twitter luminaries, and an overarching need to secure the approval and admiration of the very mainstream media outlets we created The Intercept to oppose, critique and subvert.

As someone walking away from a well-paid job in a notoriously competitive and shrinking industry, Greenwald’s future is now in doubt. “I am voluntarily sacrificing the support of a large institution and guaranteed salary in exchange for nothing other than a belief that there are enough people who believe in the virtues of independent journalism and the need for free discourse who will be willing to support my work by subscribing,” he wrote. Whether you believe he is a principled truth teller or a reckless crusader helping Trump, there is no doubt that his actions this week were a big step into the unknown.

Feature photo | Image by MintPress | Original photograph by Vincent Yu

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post The Knives Come Out as Greenwald Splits From the Intercept Citing Censorship appeared first on MintPress News.

No Real Change Can Come If Speech Is Restricted By Monopolistic Oligarchs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 12:10pm in

In a solid new article titled “Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor” on the cross-platform silencing of The New York Post’s publication of Hunter Biden’s emails, The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald writes the following:

That is always how it will work: it is exclusively the voices on the fringes and the margins, the dissidents, those who reside outside of the factions of power who will be subjected to this silencing. Mainstream political and media voices, and the U.S. Government and its allies, will be fully free to spread conspiracy theories and disinformation without ever being subjected to these illusory “rules.”

Censorship power, like the tech giants who now wield it, is an instrument of status quo preservation. The promise of the internet from the start was that it would be a tool of liberation, of egalitarianism, by permitting those without money and power to compete on fair terms in the information war with the most powerful governments and corporations.

But just as is true of allowing the internet to be converted into a tool of coercion and mass surveillance, nothing guts that promise, that potential, like empowering corporate overloads and unaccountable monopolists to regulate and suppress what can be heard.

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Greenwald is correct. The increasingly iron-fisted internet censorship we’ve seen rolled out over the last four years has consistently targeted groups that are oppositional to the status quo with which monopolistic Silicon Valley megacorporations like Twitter, Facebook and Google have aligned themselves.

Monopolistic corporations, historically, do everything they can to maintain their power. Once you’ve reached a certain level of power and influence, this means agreeing to collaborate with existing power structures, like when Google, Facebook and Twitter were called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and instructed to come up with a strategy “to prevent the fomenting of discord”.

“We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America,” the social media giants were told by think tanker and former FBI agent Clint Watts, who added, “Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced — silence the guns and the barrage will end.”

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Obviously a violent uprising is something that any sane person would hope to avoid, but when you’re talking about “information rebellions” with vague terms like “discord” and “division” you’re not limiting yourself to the prevention of violence. You’re talking about controlling the flow of information to prevent people from using the power of their numbers to collectively take direct action against the ruling power establishment in any way.

As Greenwald noted, the internet was initially hailed as a tool of the people for democratizing the flow of information instead of allowing that flow to be controlled entirely by the media-owning class, and for the moment it is still far more democratic than it was back before the public had any access to media platforms of their own. People with an ear to the ground understood the potential political ramifications of a new paradigm in which ordinary people can circulate ideas and information without the permission of the establishment political/media class.

The problem came in when the corporations which were elevated to the top of this new paradigm began collaborating more and more brazenly with ruling power structures, to the point where they’re now just openly working with US government agencies to determine what information to censor. They have every incentive to do this as talk of antitrust cases and reinterpreting Section 230 heats up; they know the odds of their monopolies being torn apart go down the more favorable they make themselves to the government powers that would enforce them.

This is a major, major problem for humanity as a species, because we will never be able to make real changes to the systemic problems which are driving us toward disaster as long as establishment power is controlling our ability to interact with each other.

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Establishment power will keep advancing its own interests at all cost, even if it means pushing us into nuclear war or climate collapse. The only way to end their destructive rule is for a critical mass of the public to rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change. People will not rise up and use the power of their numbers to force real change as long as they are being successfully propagandized not to by the ruling power establishment. People will continue to be successfully propagandized as long as a critical mass are prevented from viewing ideas and information which contradict establishment-friendly narratives.

It really is that simple. If internet censorship of dissident voices continues to tighten, it will lose any potential to exist as a tool of the people which can be used to advance real change, and will instead exist only as a tool for the powerful which enables them to dispense propaganda narratives at a much faster rate than they previously could. With the added bonus of sweeping surveillance powers.

The establishment pushes censorship for the same reason cult leaders and abusive partners work to isolate their victims: they don’t want people sharing ideas and information with each other about their abuser, because that can lead to their victims escaping from the abuse. We will never escape from the abuse as long as we are successfully prevented from sharing ideas and information with each other about our abusers to awaken a critical mass.

Remember Alex Jones? Big Texan, voice like a fleet of helicopters, talked about Satan a lot? How often do you notice him these days? I used to see his face around all the time, but ever since his coordinated deplatforming across multiple online platforms I often forget he even exists. I have no idea what he’s even up to these days; he could be a hemp-wearing hippie now for all I know.

Maybe you’re happy to not see Jones himself around anymore, but think about what kind of power these monopolistic platforms have for a second. They can completely disappear someone from public attention at a whim. That’s how thoroughly they’ve come to dominate political discourse, and that’s just too powerful a weapon for a small group of oligarchs to wield.

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It’s hard to know what to do about this problem. The common argument that is often made sincerely by libertarians and insincerely by liberals is that monopolistic social media platforms which censor speech can be fought by free market competition — that developers can just start new platforms which people will flock to as safe havens from authoritarian regulations. This is a path fraught with obstacles, as Ars Technica explained following a House Judiciary Subcommittee antitrust investigation, because these giant platforms have been actively making competition next to impossible.

Of course people are free to start more fringe alternative social media platforms that won’t be censored. They’re free to dig a hole in the ground and yell into it without censorship, too. In both cases, nobody will hear them; a critical mass of people will never be reached with healthy new ideas and unauthorized information. In order to be allowed to grow to a size where a critical mass could be influenced, they’d be forced to collaborate with existing power structures and implement censorship in the same way Facebook, Twitter and Google are doing.

Moreover, there’s nothing the establishment narrative managers would like better than for dissident voices to quarantine themselves onto obscure fringe platforms where they can’t infect the mainstream herd with wrongthink. A mass exodus of all dissident voices from all mainstream platforms wouldn’t cause problems for the establishment, it would solve problems for the establishment.

So I don’t see competition resolving this problem any time soon. I think it’s going to have to be faced directly, in the same way all the other arms of establishment oppression must be faced directly. I think we need to stand as close to the mainstream spotlight as we can, draw as much attention as possible to the dangers of internet censorship by monopolistic oligarchs, and hopefully drum up some support for legal action against these corporations which benefits ordinary human beings.

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Basic public pressure helps too. Twitter has announced a rollback of its decision on the New York Post article, opting to attach a disinfo disclaimer instead of blocking to URL. This is still a paternalistic authoritarian intervention into information sharing, but it does show that censorship decisions can be swayed by public outcry. The establishment can only advance ugly policies if people aren’t shining a big bright light on what they’re doing and calling lots of attention to it; they risk losing the ability to manufacture consent if they are too brazenly forceful in their authoritarianism.

Like the rest of our struggle, we’ll either win this battle or we won’t. But we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure humanity comes out on top, because there are very dark days ahead of us if we fail. There are some battles which we can afford to lose because the cost outweighs the benefit and it won’t affect the outcome of the war, but this is not one of those battles.

_______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Dogshit Presidents, And Other Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 12:18am in

It’s extremely foolish to let monopolistic tech oligarchs have this unprecedented influence over the flow of information. I shouldn’t have to keep saying this, but here we are.

If online censorship keeps tightening, the internet will cease to be an information-democratizing tool of the people to any extent at all and will instead just enable ruling power structures to administer propaganda much more quickly and efficiently than they could previously.

~

“You should oppose censorship because it will eventually come for you too.”

This is only true of people who oppose the establishment power structures with which Silicon Valley oligarchs are aligned. It’s not true of establishment liberals, who know they’ll never be censored.

~

I have no idea what Alex Jones is even up to anymore. I used to see his face all the time, now I routinely forget he exists. That’s how powerful these Silicon Valley megacorporations are; they can completely disappear anyone from public view. This has nothing to do with Jones as a person, it’s about an immense amount of power which must be left unchecked.

If you witnessed someone you hate being snuffed out of existence by a powerful new weapon, you’d be afraid of the wielder of that weapon and worrying about who they’re going to target next. The ability of monopolistic oligarchs to completely silence people with coordinated cross-platform removal can hit anyone else at any time.

~

Most of our problems would go away if our institutions just did what they claim they do. If the media actually told people the truth about what’s happening and votes actually enacted the will of the electorate, you’d have an educated populace shaping their world based on truth.

The problem is not the official system, the problem is that the official system is a lie. A lie used to propagandize and deceive the public into thinking they’re not being fucked over by unelected oligarchs and opaque government agencies bent on world conquest.

~

People are hoping for some big new revelation which exposes the oligarchic empire for the corrupt establishment that it is, but really that exposing would have happened a long time ago if MSM reporters simply did their jobs responsibly reporting known facts about what’s going on.

~

Every once in a while I remember how the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation doesn’t have an actual healthcare system and how both its political parties are just like haha yup oh well.

The US doesn’t deprive its people of basic social programs because all its money goes into the war machine, it deprives them because if Americans stopped being so poor, stressed and busy it would become much harder to manufacture their consent for the actions of that war machine.

An entire globe-spanning empire depends on the American people not waking up to what’s going on in their government. The imperialists have every incentive in the world to prevent that from happening. US imperialism and economic injustice are linked directly, not indirectly.

~

The establishment: *rigs presidential elections so it’s always two corporatist warmongers running against each other*

Also the establishment: “You have to vote or it will mean the end of democracy.”

~

Know what’s way more destructive than a dogshit president? A system which consistently ensures that voters always have to elect a dogshit president.

~

Biden could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and the mainstream press would attack any journalist who so much as tweeted about it.

~

Most military issues are a lot more simple and clear-cut than most “experts” claim, because those experts are paid to narrative manage military agendas. Pundits who babble about the “complexities of the Middle East” are just obfuscating the simple fact that we shouldn’t be there.

~

Mentally replace all China bashing with “US imperial hegemony depends on stopping the rise of China and I’ve been propagandized toward that end by obsequious mass media stenographers.”

~

Capitalism stans who talk about how much capitalism has done for the world while ignoring the fact that it’s killing the ecosystem are like proponents of a miraculous new cancer treatment which shrinks tumors like nothing else and its only side effect is that it kills the patient.

Capitalism stans are like a guy waxing exuberant about the wondrous things fire has done for human civilization when someone points out the fact that his house is burning to the ground.

Removing profit-seeking as a driving force of human behavior would end the artificial creation of demand for planet-destroying bullshit that people don’t need, and open up the possibility of planet-healing action that capitalism does not and cannot value.

~

Anarcho-communism is basically just a description of what a healthy society full of psychologically healthy people would look like. It implicitly holds as an article of faith that people can collectively change not just their conditions, but their conditioning as well. I like it.

The most boring people in the world are those who insist humanity cannot transcend its self-destructive patterning and create a healthy world. Sure it’s possible to make that argument, but imagine being so dull that you’d choose to do so and live your life as though you’re right.

Those who claim humanity will keep repeating its same tired old conditioned patterning ad infinitum are just projecting their own dullness onto the collective future of our species.

____________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Imagine If MSM Consistently Applied The Evidentiary Standards It’s Applying To Hunter Biden’s…

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 2:24pm in

Imagine If MSM Consistently Applied The Evidentiary Standards It’s Applying To Hunter Biden’s Emails

Mainstream media and social media platforms are actively blacking out an October surprise published by The New York Post which purports to show “smoking gun” emails from the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Both Twitter and Facebook have censored the story on their platforms, the first time we’ve seen the powerful social media giants deplatform a mainstream news media article, both citing concerns about the origins of the emails and an uncertainty about the veracity of the claims.

“Facebook was limiting distribution of the story while its outside fact-checkers reviewed the story’s claims, spokesman Andy Stone said,” reports NPR, adding that “Twitter said it decided to block the story because it couldn’t be sure about the origins of the emails.”

Twitter claims it found the emails to be in violation of its policies banning content which contained private information and its rules against “hacked materials”, both of which would have forbidden all articles sharing the contents of the 2016 WikiLeaks drops if those rules had existed back then. As I warned could happen back in August, these rules have set the stage for the cross-platform censorship of a 2020 October surprise.

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There’s a good thread going around Twitter compiling posts that mainstream media reporters have been making in objection to the circulation of Hunter Biden’s emails alongside posts made by those same reporters promoting far more ridiculous and insubstantial allegations, like MSNBC’s virulent Russia conspiracy theorist Kyle Griffin saying nobody should link to the New York Post report because if they do they’ll be “amplifying disinformation”.

A new Reason article discusses how the mass media are not just avoiding the story but actively discouraging it:

On Wednesday, The New York Post published an attention-catching original report: “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.” In the previously unreleased email, which was allegedly sent on April 17, 2015, an executive with Burisma, the Ukrainian natural gas company, thanks Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity” to meet Joe Biden, according to The NY Post.

It’s a story that merits the attention of other journalists, political operatives, national security experts, and also the public at large — not least of all because there are serious questions about its accuracy, reliability, and sourcing. And yet many in the media are choosing not just to ignore the story, but to actively encourage others to suppress any discussion of it.

Indeed, two mainstream reporters who acknowledged (and criticized) the Post’s scoop — The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Politico’s Jake Sherman — faced thunderous denunciation on Twitter from Democratic partisans simply for discussing the story. Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden accused Haberman of promoting disinformation, and New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg told Sherman that he was helping nefarious conservative activists “launder this bullshit into the news cycle.” Historian Kevin Kruse asked why they were “amplifying” the story.

Indeed a scroll through today’s mainstream news reporting does appear to show some consensus among most news media that the topic of the emails should be avoided, with most MSM articles on the matter covering the after-effects of the New York Post release or explaining why readers should be dubious about its contents. A new Washington Post article titled “Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop: an explainer” takes great pains to outline how important it is to be very, very certain that this story is everything it purports to be before investing any credulity in it.

“How do we know the email is authentic? We do not,” WaPo tells us. “The New York Post posted PDF print-outs of several emails allegedly from the laptop, but for the ‘smoking gun’ email, it shows only a photo made the day before the story was posted, according to Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures, a book on disinformation. ‘There is no header information, no metadata.’ The Washington Post has been unable to independently verify or authenticate these emails, as requests to make the laptop hard drive available for inspection have not been granted.”

This would be the same Washington Post that has been circulating disinformation about Russia for years due to its disinterest in verifying information before reporting, and has alongside the rest of the mass media been promoting the narrative that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election based solely on unproven assertions promoted by government agencies despite many gaping plot holes in that narrative. Where was the journalistic concern for seeing the data and inspecting the hard drives then?

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In and of itself there is no problem at all with mainstream news media applying high evidentiary standards to its reporting and making sure readers are aware when political manipulators could be pulling the wool over their eyes. In and of itself this would be a good thing. The problem is that all this emphasis on verification and truth only comes up when it is politically convenient for these plutocratic media outlets, because only favoring truth when it’s convenient is the same as lying constantly.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when The Guardian reported without evidence and against all common sense that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been having secret meetings with Trump lackey Paul Manafort? That evidence never came out, because the story was ridiculous bullshit from the beginning, yet mass media outlets everywhere parroted it to their audiences like it was a fact. You can still post that bogus Guardian story on Twitter and Facebook to this very day without so much as a warning.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when Politico published the idiotic, nonsensical story that Iran was plotting to assassinate the American ambassador to South Africa? The report sparked many news reports and Twitter threats from the president, but when it was dismissed by the South African government itself there was barely a whisper about it. You are still free to share this bogus Politico article anywhere online you like.

Where were these high evidentiary standards when leaks by anonymous spooks dominated headlines for days with their evidence-free allegation that the Russian government had been paying Taliban-linked fighters bounties on western occupying forces? We now know that story was completely baseless and would have been dismissed by news reporters who were actually doing their due diligence, yet it’s still being cited as fact on Twitter by sitting US senators and in a recent vice presidential debate by Kamala Harris. If news reporters had spent anywhere near as much energy cautioning their audiences to be skeptical about this story and educating them about its plot holes as they’re spending on Hunter Biden’s emails, this would not be happening.

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The problem is not that there are high evidentiary standards for Hunter Biden’s emails, the problem is that there are virtually no evidentiary standards when the plutocratic media want to sell the world on a narrative which benefits the establishment upon which the media-owning class has built its kingdom. News reports will be waved through on a vague assertion by some anonymous government operative if they are damaging to Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, Syria or any other US-targeted nation, and they are on a pretty much daily basis to greater or lesser degrees.

If a news report facilitates the national security state, all journalistic protocol goes out the window and nobody knows the meaning of the word evidence. As soon as a report becomes inconvenient for a friend of the national security state like Joe Biden, suddenly strict evidentiary standards and warnings against potential disinformation are of paramount importance. This is the same as lying all the time.

They lie because the mass media within the US-centralized empire are the propaganda engine for that empire. The drivers of empire understand that whoever controls the narrative controls the world, so they ensure that all points of narrative influence are tightly controlled by them.

A world where all news stories are held to the same evidentiary standards as Hunter Biden’s emails are currently being held would be a world without empire. People would never consent to the insanity of imperialism and endless war if their consent wasn’t manufactured, and depriving them of the information that is inconvenient for that empire is essential in that manufacturing.

_________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Tech Platform Censorship & The Great QAnon Facebook Purge

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 3:56am in

So, Facebook has cracked down on QAnon, removing essentially all QAnon pages and groups.

BOOM.

Obviously QAnon is bunk. As I noted earlier it’s right in the broad sense: yes, we are ruled by pedophiles as any casual acquaintance with the Epstein case will tell you, no, Trump is not at war with them except in the sense that yeah, he’s opposed by some elite factions and some of them will be pedos. Of course, many people who support Trump are probably pedos. And it’s laughably wrong in specifics.

At one time the tech platforms mostly didn’t want to do censorship and content moderation. Of course, their algos mean they do: and there’s plenty of evidence that YouTube, for example, pushes a lot of right wing content hard, but they did it for greed, not out of any sense of political noblesse oblige or civic responsibility. Facebook played a role in at least one ethnic cleansing.

But really it was the hysteria about a possible Russian role in the 2016 election that started the censorship ball rolling.

It started with Google, who changed their algorithms. Strangely, that algorithm change hit the left much harder than the right.

(I actually noticed it myself, pages that had been on the first page of search results, like my ethics vs. morality article dropped off and never returned.)

So, you’re left wing and you hate the right (understandable) and you want them censored.

The problem is simple: once censorship gets going it doesn’t just stay with the people you want hit. Everyone who doesn’t have the power to protect themselves gets censored, and, children, people in power hate the left FAR more than the right. They can live with Fascism, authoritarianism and so on. Pinochet, Hitler, Mussolini, whoever—they were and are all good to corporations and rich people. They may be declasse and embarassing, but they don’t threaten most of the people with power or wealth. Left wingers, well, they might actually tax rich people and if you remember Bill Gates squeals during the primary at the idea of a wealth tax, well, you know that even “good” billionaires hate left wingers.

So, censorship is on the loose, the tech platforms are purging and maybe you’re happy.

But remember, it never stops with the people you hate.

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Assange on trial

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 11:54am in

Recently, two Australian journalists in China rushed to our embassy and then back home. No such help seems to be on offer for another Australian on the far side of the world. Pirate Party of Australia calls on the Foreign Minister, the Honourable Senator Marisa Payne to demand the free and unprejudiced release of Assange […]

BBC Chief Says Corporation Could Axe News Programmes

Here’s another piece from yesterday’s I, for 21st August 2020. Written by Adam Sherwin, it reports the comments by the Beeb’s Fran Unsworth in an interview with the Torygraph that the corporation could axe the 6 O’clock and 10 O’clock News from its mainstream channels in a decade. The article runs

The BBC’s News At Six and News At Ten could disappear from television screens as the corporation’s coverage shifts to digital, its head of news has said.

Fran Unsworth said that a push to attract younger viewers meant that the BBC’s flagship bulletins could move from broadcast channels to the iPlayer within a decade.

Ms Unsworth said: “Ultimately, in 10 years’ time, we probably won’t be consuming linear bulletins. I might be wrong about that but I doubt it. There might be one (bulletin) a day, but video will just be in a different space… you know, iPlayer, your tablet, your iPhone.

One of the flagship bulletins, whose audiences have doubled during the pandemic, might survive, she told The Daily Telegraph.

Figures released at the start of lockdown showed news programmes’ ratings had risen.

In the week to 28 March, five of the 10 most-watched broadcasts were editions of the BBC News At Six, with the bulletin on 23 March attracting a TV audience of 8.3 million, nearly double its typical rating so far this year. The 10pm programme had reported audiences of six million.

But Ms Unsworth said that while young viewers had discovered the BBC delivered information they could trust during a crisis, the surge in TV news viewing was a temporary phenomenon.

The corporation has announced already that it will axe the Newsround afternoon bulletin, which has run for nearly 50 years.

The BBC is slashing more than 500 jobs from its news division in a bid to make savings of £80m. Reports and interviews will be shared between BBC outlets.

This is going to delight the Tories and the Murdoch empire, who would like to see the Beeb privatised completely. About 70 per cent of news consumed in the UK comes from the Beeb, and obviously Murdoch and his squalid minions would like to see this greatly reduced so that they can move in. And that means extremely biased right-wing news, like Fox in America. Or Sky News Australia, which is so right-wing it can only get further to the right by beginning with an evocation of the Eureka Stockade and calls for the reintroduction of the White Australia policy.

The Beeb is having trouble attracting a young audience. According to the reports I’ve read, they simply aren’t interested in it. And unless the corporation can find ways of attracting them, that means the Corporation won’t have an audience and so consequently, no future.

However, many young people have learned that the Beeb doesn’t produce information they can trust. Not after its constant, vicious smearing of Jeremy Corbyn and its blatant anti-Labour bias. And Scots viewers, I’ve no doubt, will remember how Nick Robinson very carefully edited down SNP leader Alex Salmond’s full answer to a question about the impact Scottish independence would have on Edinburgh’s financial sector. Salmond stated fully that they’d gone into it, and Edinburgh’s banks would remain in the Scots capital after independence. They wouldn’t leave for London. But this didn’t satisfy the Macclesfield Goebbels, and his answer was first cut so that Robinson claimed he hadn’t properly answered it, and then completely edited out so that he finally claimed that Salmond hadn’t answered it all. It was a piece of propaganda worthy of a totalitarian state. I realise that Salmond, despite his acquittal, is still under the shadow of the multiple rape accusations. But this is a different issue, and shows how desperate the Beeb and the British establishment were to discredit him when it came to Scotland leaving the union.

Millions have learned that the Beeb does not produce information they can trust. That’s why they’re turning to alternative news sources, like those on the Net.

I think it would be disastrous if the Beeb did abandon proper news bulletins on its broadcast channels, leaving that space to be filled by Murdoch and the other media magnates. I want it to get better, not to go completely. But through its concerted campaign against the Labour party, the Beeb has successfully alienated the very people, who would have otherwise supported it the most against Tory demands for its privatisation.

And so the Beeb has only itself to blame for the crisis it is now facing, whatever delusions Unsworth might have about winning back young people.

 

 

Russell Howard Stops Show Because of Audience Filming, But Alex Bellfield Blames Dawn Butler

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 7:04pm in

This is in itself an inconsequential story, but I’m putting it up here because it shows how desperate the Tory media and their baying public are to smear Dawn Butler. Alex Bellfield is the host of some kind of small, independent radio show, ‘Celebrity Radio’, and puts videos of some of them and his rants up on YouTube. It’s bog-standard, Tory right-wing stuff – disabled people are scrounging off the state, Cressida Dick and Sadiq Khan are personally responsible for the crime wave in London because they’re too soft on Blacks because of fears of racism, Labour did nothing about the Asian sweatshops in Bradford and the rest. The other day he took it upon himself to post up a 2-3 minute long opinion piece linking Russell Howard stopping a show with Dawn Butler filming the police as she was stopped while driving.

I can’t say that Russell Howard is one of my favourite TV comedians, despite the fact that he comes from Keynsham. It’s a small town between Bristol and Bath, just down the road from me in south Bristol. Some of its simply because I don’t find some of the jokes funny, and some of its because, as someone from Bristol, I’m not so keen on some of jokes about people from my fair city. But I don’t hate him or his show. It’s just not something I’m particularly keen on.

According to Bellfield, Howard had stopped one of his gigs that week and walked off stage after an audience member stood up and started filming him on their mobile or whatever. Bellfield didn’t blame Howard for doing this, and went after millennials instead. More Tory rubbish – they hate millennials because they’re all left-wing, entitled, SJW ‘snowflakes’. But this time it was because, he decided, millennials can’t simply enjoy actually being present in the moment at a gig or an event. They have to film it to show they were there. And so the audience member showed their ignorance, and Howard walked out.

This is actually fair comment on the attitude of a number of people, but it began long before the millennials. At the Cheltenham Literary Festival back in the 1990s I remember the organisers telling the audience that they were not allowed to film. I think some venues actually check your bags to make sure that you aren’t carrying filming or recording equipment. This was slightly before mobile phones, when it was digital cameras. I think it’s not just a case of bad manners, but there are also copyright issues involved.

Bellfield didn’t blame Howard for stopping his show, because, as he went on, it was somehow Dawn Butler’s fault. She was encouraging and enabling all these rude millennials filming where they shouldn’t, because she had filmed the cops as they stopped her on a ‘stop and search’. And it’s a good job she did, because the Tory lies about her have been coming thick and fast. You only have to look at some of the rumours Zelo Street has dispatched in his articles debunking them. Like she had a White passenger with her – she didn’t – or she deliberately flipped the video to make the police look bad, which she didn’t either.

Dawn Butler is another politico about whom I have strong reservations. She’s intelligent, passionate and a good speaker. I saw her at the hustings for the Labour party deputy leadership. As a woman of colour, she’s obviously very keen on stamping out racism. My problem was that she might be too keen. We’ve already had a witch hunt in the Labour party using anti-Semitism as a purge against the left and critics of Israel. There was Rebecca Long-Bailey demanding similar action against critics of the radical Trans movement. And I remember some of the antics of Bernie Grant down at Brent council in the 1980s. Grant had a rigidly inflexible attitude to racism, which he found everywhere. Decent people, who weren’t racist at all were accused, and books purged from schools and libraries which he and coterie considered racist, but which it could be argued were no such thing. This angered other members of the left, and Martin Barks made a sharp attack on this censorship in his book Comics: Ideology, Power and the Critics, which takes a sharp aim at the way critics of the funny papers have attacked them from both the left and right. I was afraid Butler would start something similar in the Labour party.

Now it’s clear that she’s right about the rampant racism. It’s by the Blairites, who were bullying Black MPs and activists, including – no surprise! – Diane Abbott. And they’re determined not to go the way they treated those they’ve falsely smeared, because they’re being vilely smeared themselves and have expensive lawyers. As Mike and the others have said, if they’re so sure they’re being misquoted, then they should release the full text of what they said to show otherwise. And definitely not try to have any investigation into them suppressed.

And Butler was right to film the police. Excessively forceful and violent routine searches of Black people, who are guilty of simply driving about in expensive cars, have been going on for years. I found one such example in an old copy of Private Eye from around 20 years ago. And the cops in demonstrations in London have also used dirty tricks to seize and hold members of the protesting crowd in order to disrupt them. I therefore don’t blame anyone for filming the rozzers. They aren’t the Klan, as Sasha Johnson, the leader of the mighty Black Lives Matter LARPer army in Brixton has declared. But, unfortunately, there are some forces that definitely need watching and, if you’re innocent, you do need to have evidence in your defence. Especially if you’re Black.

But this is obviously too much for Bellfield and his Tory cohorts. Unable to smear Butler, he had to fall back on trying to blame her for something, even when she wasn’t responsible and was taking reasonable steps to protect herself against possible falsehood. But she’s a left-wing Black woman, and so has to go.

It was a desperate smear, and shows how low the Tories will go in smearing their opponents. Well, I’m also sorry that Howard stopped his gig. I hope his others are going better, and if it’s a choice between seeing him and Bellfield, you’re far better off laughing with the funny man from Keynsham.

Just as you are believing Butler against the lies of a viciously racist Tory pack and media.

See also: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/08/dawn-butler-enter-racist-liars.html

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