LISTEN NOW… Twitter is banning political ads, Facebook will drop the ban hammer on a whim, and YouTube has been booting creators left and right in pursuit of a less volatile political brew – but does that mean that free speech is under fire? Dive into the complexities of deplatforming and what it means for the First Amendment with your hosts on this week’s Told You So! LISTEN NOW…
The following first appeared on September 30, 2015 in response to “On Banned Books Week.”
Censorship has always fascinated me–who gets to decide what someone else can read? Why? By what authority can one person tell another what they are “permitted” to know? I reject the legitimacy of censorship out of hand. No one has such authority, and history proves those who wish to control what others consume are, without exception, eventually exposed as the bad guys.
Growing up in South Africa, many things–music, literature, art–were outright banned and censored, from ANC symbols, to most international music, to the movie “Black Beauty” solely because of its title, to certain words in newspapers, yes, literally blacked out on the page like you see in dystopian movies (and, say, in the 9-11 Commission Report), words like “Casspir” (the South African equivalent of “BEARCAT,” the armored trucks now being seeded by the Federales into peaceful communities across America, including more than 20 in New Hampshire) because if you banned the mentioning of the vehicles being used to fight illegal border wars, well then, reporting becomes problematic and difficult to do, and therefore, perhaps, journalists will stop writing about such pesky things, neh?
Under apartheid, South Africa had the “Jacobsen’s Index of Objectionable Literature” which contained a “Complete List of All Publications in Alphabetical Order, Together with Authors, Prohibited from Importation Into the Republic of South Africa, and All Other Banned Literature.” The list is long, and difficult to find online. I have ordered a hard copy of “A Culture of Censorship: Secrecy and Intellectual Repression in South Africa,” secondhand for $0.02 plus shipping from Amazon, which reminds me of two things:
1. How soon we forget our histories; and
2. Thank god for the free market. If only said book could be delivered by an aerobot drone to my door, but alas, the FAA has been spending its time on such important issues as licensing paper airplanes for flight.
South African author Nadine Gordimer wrote in 1968, republished in The New York Times Books section in 1998:
All the work, past, present and future, of an individual writer can be erased by a ban on his spoken and written word. The ban not only restricts his political activity, which is its avowed intention, but negates his creativity–he becomes a non-person, since his form of communion and communication with the society in which he lives is cut…. And so long as our society remains compartmentalized, our literature will be stretched on the rack between propaganda, on the one side, and, on the other, art as an embellishment of leisure.
Some people wonder why I take issue with so many things I see happening in my adopted country, and, frankly, why I refuse to shut up about it, to give up, to cave in, to just say, Nah, this crap is too hard to change, the difference we can make too infinitesimal, so why try?
It’s because I have lived through a police state before, and America is lock-step marching there. This is not hyperbole. I will grant you: America is doing its police state right, “better,” more subtle, more comfortable, of course, it’s what America does, after all. This police state is hidden behind both the “propaganda” arm, and mostly, the “embellishment of leisure”: The sports, the reality TV, the Christmas carol commercials to consumers in September, the debates, the joke of it all.
The bread and circuses, the tinny music piping from the organ grinder while the monkeys dance, while MILLIONS of peaceful people rot in prisons for voluntarily inhaling a plant, while MILLIONS of peaceful people in far away lands are being murdered under the cloak of the Stars and Stripes, while MILLIONS of people are being displaced by state-funded terror raining down from the skies.
Why does Banned Books Week matter? It matters because it creates an opportunity to talk about the bad guys. And, I am afraid to inform you, the US government is a bad, bad guy, he’s the boyfriend who beats you then tells you he can’t live without you–or you can’t live without him?–and you go back. Me? I decided a decade ago that I wasn’t taking the Fed Gov back, that I would take my chances with a smaller wife beater (the state of New Hampshire), and see what kind of difference I can make on a local level.
Given what happened a few weeks ago at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon, NH (in 2015), where America’s first Tor relay node was made operational again after the community decided to disregard the DHS’s scare tactics, I know I made the right decision to make New Hampshire my home.
Will you join me, and fight the good fight with thousands of other freedom fighters in New Hampshire? Join the Free State Project today.
LISTEN NOW… While most people say they’re committed to free speech, an alarming (and growing) number of Americans seem to be souring on the principle. Do they have good reason to abandon the country’s tradition of toleration and free expression? Find out with your hosts on this week’s episode of Told You So!
Five years ago today, I won my First Amendment First Circuit civil rights lawsuit against the Weare PD affirming YOUR RIGHT to RECORD POLICE in PUBLIC. Remember:
1. Record EVERY police encounter you see. This is a powerful way to keep everyone accountable and safe! If you are just passing by, see your role as being a “witness.” Don’t get involved or confrontational, simply record. If you use Facebook, using the “LIVE” feature can add protection in the event your footage “disappears” later.
2. Creating a local culture of filming police officers in NH is an excellent way to keep our police accountable to the people. We have now been waiting for YEARS for body cams, which, where introduced, strangely, only seem to record “parts” convenient to the official narrative, so ALWAYS BE FILMING FOR YOUR OWN PEACE OF MIND, YO! 🙂
2. Even if your phone is not working, pretend to film because as stated in #1, it helps keep everyone on better behavior when they think they’re being recorded.
3. The police have NO RIGHT to take your phone/recording device without following proper procedures, and if PD tells you they’re taking your recording, or that you are not allowed to film, you have a lucrative lawsuit waiting, so be sure to consult a lawyer immediately… because…
4. Police have NO CLAIM OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY (their “get out of jail free” card) and WILL be held liable for violations of your right to record them.
In Rialto, CA, where they introduced body cams years ago, they found:
“But Rialto’s randomised controlled study has seized attention because it offers scientific – and encouraging – findings: after cameras were introduced in February 2012, public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.
‘When you know you’re being watched you behave a little better. That’s just human nature,’ said Farrar. ‘As an officer you act a bit more professional, follow the rules a bit better.'”
Don’t rely on them to provide the recordings… DIY!