Culture Wars/Current Controversies

We Shall Overcome… By Censoring Our Enemies!

Plus: Cluster Bombs For Kids :: Free LGB From T :: A Scoop Of Freedom

Jul 7, 2023
∙ Paid


—Video by LW

Censorship For “Vulnerable Communities” 

Think of some of the last century’s most iconic movements for human liberation and progress. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking of his dream at the March on Washington in 1964. Gays and lesbians standing up against police brutality at Stonewall Inn in 1969. And the mass protests of Earth Day 1970.

All of those victories rested, of course, on censorship. King successfully persuaded President Johnson and Congress to hold hearings about pro-segregationist disinformation. Gays and lesbians lobbied the FCC to pressure movie studios to ban homophobic content in TV and movies. And environmentalists working in the White House got newspaper publishers to deplatform insufficiently alarmist reporters.

I’m kidding, of course. No movement for human liberation or progress has ever succeeded by censoring its opponents. Not once. Quite the opposite. Such movements themselves faced censorship, both formal and informal, and overcame it, as part of their larger efforts to overcoming societal stigma and oppression.

It’s true that racism, homophobia, and the denial of environmental problems also declined in the news media and in Hollywood. But they did not do so in response to government pressure. They did so in response to changing societal values and beliefs.

That lesson appears to be wholly lost on today’s advocates of government censorship to, ostensibly at least, “protect vulnerable communities” and fight “climate disinformation.”  In Ireland, Justice Minister Helen McEntee is urging the passage of legislation that would allow the police to enter people’s homes without a warrant to search phones and computers for hate speech. In Britain, MP Damien Collins wants to break the encryption so he can read private text messaging companies in the name of protecting children. And in every English language country there is an aggressive and successful effort by governments, think tanks, and news media companies to force social media platforms to censor critics of environmental alarmism.

And yet it’s obvious that such censorship has nothing whatsoever to do with “protecting vulnerable communities” and everything to do with framing populist political voices as racist, homophobic, and climate denying witches. In many cases, the people advocating the censorship have direct ties to military and intelligence organizations, and are cynically tapping into historically meaningful movements, and manipulating emotions including guilt, revenge, and anger to advance sectarian political goals.

Unfortunately, the censorship juggernaut is continuing its rampage through Western societies, from English speaking nations to France and Brazil. It includes billion-dollar corporate advertisers, virtually all of the mainstream news media, hundreds of universities and think tanks, Meta, which could soon constitute 80% of the social media and messaging market outside of China and Russia, and nearly the entire political establishment of the Western world.

Our movement for free speech is, by comparison, small, fragile, and powerless, but has one thing the censorship juggernaut lacks, which is the heart and soul of Western civilization for the last 300 years. The censors are never the good guys in history. They are invariably the bad guys. It is for that reason that former liberals like Lawrence Tribe and the New York Times have taken to denying the existence of a censorship industrial complex while simultaneously demanding more censorship.

In response to the nihilism of the elites, we are affirming our faith in free speech. Soon, we will issue a call for an international recommitment to free expression against censorship. After that we will affirm with others our commitment to civilization and humankind itself. We will note that no movement for human liberation and progress, and certainly not the ones for civil rights, gay rights, and environmental protection, ever demanded censorship.

They demanded freedom. And so, too, will we.

— MS

Cluster Bombs For Kids

The White House has floated what appears to be a trial balloon to see how open the public might be to giving Ukraine cluster bombs, which are famous for maiming and killing children. And quite a trial balloon it was.

The “widely banned weapons,” reported the Times, are “known to cause grievous injury to civilians, especially children…. cluster munitions, which rain down smaller bombs that scatter across the landscape. The weapons, which are meant to explode when they hit the ground, have caused thousands of deaths and injuries, often among children who have picked up duds that failed to go off in the initial attacks.”

Democrats, including the Biden Administration, have long opposed cluster bombs. “When, five days into the war, Jen Psaki, then the White House press secretary, was asked about the Russian use of unconventional weapons, including cluster munitions, she said: ‘We have seen the reports. If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.’”

But apparently not in Ukraine’s hands. Because now they need them. And thus the bombs point to a larger problem. The war effort may not be going as well as the Biden administration had insisted. Noted the Times, “Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been met with stiffer-than-expected Russian defenses” and so now the “Pentagon had determined that cluster munitions would be useful… against dug-in Russian positions.”

Ukraine is starting to get a Vietnam or Afghanistan feel to it. Our leaders say it’s a must-win war but it’s not obvious why. They say we are close to victory, but also say the Russians are so dug in that we must now use a weapon that the people championing the war just a few days ago opposed.

This is doublethink, which is a form of not thinking. We are just supposed to accept, unthinkingly, whatever our political leaders want us to on that day, or that hour, or minute. They change their message, and we are expected to change our minds. Does anybody remember the 20 years we spent in Afghanistan? Or how and why Biden pulled us out?

The honesty of the Times’ trial balloon suggests the slightest of cracks in the wall. Something appears to have shifted. Perhaps it’s Ukraine’s faltering counteroffensive. Perhaps its Robert F. Kennedy’s anti-war offensive. Or perhaps its because even doublethink has its limits.

— MS

Deep Fake of the Week

Creative director Nick St. Pierre went viral this week for this deep fake.

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