Censorship

Calls For Censorship Are Making a Comeback

Congress is never at a loss for a reason to be threatened by free expression.

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Oxford Dictionaries defines "censorship" as "the suppression or prohibition of any books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security." As I've noted recently here at Reason, calls for censorship, based on the supposed existential threat to the US' national security posed by ISIS, are on the rise. 

At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald unleashes righteous anger on these would-be censors in a column titled, "Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS":

Guaranteeing free speech rights is one of the things that the U.S., relative to the rest of the world, still does well (not perfectly, but well). It is not an exaggeration to say that the people now plotting how to exploit terrorism fears in order to formally restrict rights of free expression themselves pose a clear and present danger to the U.S… 

And as far as "hate speech" goes: there are few things more "hateful" than wanting to imprison one's fellow citizens for expressing prohibited political ideas.

America's academic and political classes rarely miss an opportunity to cynically scaremonger the public as a means of agitating for more restrictions on free speech. This year it's ISIS and hate speech, but in previous years it's been Beavis and Butt-head, Marilyn Manson, Mortal Kombat, and yes, even Twisted Sister.

All of these campy pop culture relics from decades past were considered serious enough threats to the fabric of society to warrant congressional hearings. In the video at the top of this page, you can watch Reason TV's collection of six of the most unbelievably dumb of their kind (with so much Joe Lieberman!). 

NEXT: 3 NFL Teams Wait in Limbo, Possibly Moving to LA. But Why Would LA Want Any of Them?

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  1. They should censor the random gibberish captions on that Beavis & Butthead video.

  2. They should “censor” all the Tulpa and Mary sockpuppets.

    1. The solution to bad speech is good speech.

      1. I’m all in for a Tulpa/Mary sock ban. Long as it’s not gummint doin it – two thumbs up.

        1. Ouch. Right in the crotch.

          1. Looks like “Je suis Tulpa” doesn’t translate.

            1. Looks like irrelevant claims are irrelevant.

        2. It would not be a first amendment violation certainly, but it would be hypocritical. I applaud Reason’s restraint and consistency with their professed beliefs in this matter.

          There’s also no comparison between what those two people were doing. Please don’t lump them together. One was attempting to disrupt anybody’s ability to read the blog, while the other was politely offering alternative viewpoints while evading the readership’s pusillanimous use of filters.

          1. pusillanimous

            Like speaking about oneself in the third person?

      2. The solution to bad speech is gooder speech.

        1. Yay! Cake!

  3. “Those Demanding Free Speech Limits to Fight ISIS Pose a Greater Threat to U.S. Than ISIS”:

    I can’t even begin to count the things that pose a greater threat to the US than ISIS.

    1. Pretty much all U.S. “top men”, their fellators, the well intentioned, and a good portion of the population.

    2. They don’t pose much of a direct threat, of course. The danger to us comes if the countries they do pose a direct threat to turn to our enemies (Russia, PRC, Iran) for help, with the resulting gain in our enemies’ influence in the region.

      1. Tulpa wants to argue. I choose not to, not because what he said wasn’t stupid, but because it’s Tulpa.

        1. Thank you for a defining instance of ad hominem.

          1. ooooooo – mega burn!

    3. Climate change? I mean it can raise the seas, scortch the earth, and cause miscarriages. Can ISIS do that?

      1. We must prohibit discussion of Climate Change! For the children.

      2. ISIS can raise blood pressure, scorch certain parts of the earth, and behead women. Do those count?

  4. far-right radicals in universally discredited neocon journals

    Neocon journals don’t publish far-right radicals.

    1. Didn’t you know, neocons are just extreme conservatives, kinda like tea partiers.

      1. Everyone who’s not a marxist is an extreme conservative.

      2. The only thing more extreme than tea partiers are libertarians. If they had their way everyone could say and do whatever they wanted, without asking permission and obeying orders, so long as they aren’t harming the life, liberty, or property of other people. Can you imagine that? People not needing to ask permission and obey orders? How would anyone know what to do? That’s like no rules and stuff! Anarchy! Chaos! The end of society itself!

        1. dogs and cats living together

          1. “Resentment, Hate, and the Urge to Party”

        2. An ultra orthodox Roman Catholic living next to a nihilistic libertine bisexual.

          Can you imagine the lulz chaos?

          1. Notorious GKC and Tony are roomates?

            1. Hey, we’re in confidential negotiations with highly-placed Hollywood people to sell our life story. Don’t jinx it for us.

          2. In a neighborhood called SOMALIA.

          3. I am seeing a TV show out of that, sort of like the odd couple but with more pot and butt sex, maybe an exorcism now and then.

            1. I thought it was abortion, guns, and titties for 2016.

          4. Male or female bisexual?

            1. The devil’s kind.

        3. If you went outside you would surely be killed. Everything you drank or ate would be lethel. You might even get ‘gulp’ a bad haircut.

          1. There’s a really stupid recent episode of Family Guy where the abolition of local government turns the entire city into roving street gangs and lynch mobs, and there are no more goods and services available.

            Unsurprisingly, they didn’t have a cartoon straw man as one of the characters.

            1. But there’s the Simpson’s episode where the corrupt mayor of Springfield is replaced by all the local intellectuals, who proceed to wreck the town with their do-gooder schemes until the wheelchair-physicist drops in to save everyone.

  5. This is by far the most frightening development over the past months, but hardly surprising. Some changes MUST be fought against with every fiber in our beings — this is at the top of that list. NOTHING will bring down this Republic more quickly than curtailing freedom of speech.

    1. Define “bring down this Republic.”

      1. There’s a republic left?

    2. They are screaming, but has there been any substantial new legislation passed limiting speech?

      My opinion is, that this is a phase, that must eventually consume itself. Once you bite off on the notion that we must forcible limit any speech that’s offensive to anyone, all speech will be limited as it is guaranteed that someone will be offended by anything.

      I think these idiots will eventually turn on each other, driving the movement into meaninglessness.

      So long as these calls aren’t codified into law prior to that end.

      1. The Obama administration has threatened health insurance companies if they speak out against Obamacare, used the IRS to persecute groups that espouse conservative viewpoints, among other things. You don’t need a law to specifically forbid something to have coercion.

        1. Three felonies a day.

          1. That too.

  6. Maybe the Assassin’s Creed series is onto something. The raison d’?tre of the Templars applies perfectly to our government overlords.

  7. How can they be “making a comeback” if they’ve always been present?

    The Congress that passed the First Amendment and the Congress that passed the Alien and Sedition Acts were mostly the same people. Politicians have always been slimy, unprincipled fucks. The people yearning to go back to the good old days when free speech was respected are wishing for something that never existed.

    1. The people yearning to go back to the good old days when free speech was respected are wishing for something that never existed.

      Pretty much.

    2. “How can they be “making a comeback” if they’ve always been present?”

      So you’re daying don’t call it it a comeback, they’ve been here for years, coming from far and near, putting dissenters in fear?

  8. Let’s just beat the hell out of the people who want restrictions on free speech and make them shut up. We get to be free of restrictions on free speech, they get their restrictions on free speech and everybody’s happy.

    1. ^This ^

      If there are going to be restrictions on expression then I am going to be the one to decide what they are.

      *glances at rifle leaning in the corner*

    2. Oxford Dictionaries defines “censorship” as “the suppression or prohibition of any books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security.”

      Uh, not. Should be:
      Oxford Dictionaries defines “censorship” as “the suppression or prohibition of any books, films, news, etc.” Period.

  9. Sensorship? Is that the Zumwalt?

    1. …I thought we ran out of naval radar puns Aegis ago…

  10. The soft underbelly of the whispery, creamy, and delicately unbalanced brains of the fairness fairies dance a crystalline line lightly stretched over an ocean of atrocity. I would like to not be eaten by the sharp-toothed phlegm of fairness hunting fools.

    1. You should put that to music. You could be the next Bob Dylan.

      1. I think that was one of his better ones….admirable!

        1. Inscribe it on the H@R Guide Stones.

    2. Mmmmm, creamy brains

  11. There’s a lot of Bullshit that masquerades as art these days. And quite a lot of “art” that we could do without. But once we allow any kind of censorship, we start down that slippery slope toward nothing but approved propaganda.

    1. It is not a slippery slope Hyper….it’s a precipice.

  12. My wife likes fantasy and sci/fi. She is watching one on TV right now; Sleepy Hollow. When the show first aired I was a bit intrigued. The premise is that Ichabod Crane, a man intimate with many of the founding fathers, is transported in time somehow to the present and must battle evil. I was intrigued because of the enormous potential for exploring political and philosophical ideas, of the contrast between the original vision of what the country should be vs. what it has become.

    Of course none of that is touched. I was thinking just now, is it deliberately avoided or do the writers of the show really have no idea about that. Then I started thinking about the ‘dusty document more than a hundred years old’, ‘old white slave owners’, ‘it’s about militias’, ‘it isnt a suicide pact’ people and I am stunned at the profound ignorance and lack of perspective that so many people suffer from.

    If any problem has been thoroughly explored and settled it is the problem of free speech, both in the realm of the practical and theoretical, and yet the censors still find room to push their agendas. They are not shamed and pelted with rotten fruit, they are elected.

    I have a bit of remote timberland. Sometimes I am tempted to build a cabin there and move away from people.

    1. Again, a lot of those founding fathers voted for the Alien and Sedition Acts. That’s before we get to their support for state churches, slavery and the status of women as little more than property. That’s the vision of what the country should be from Ichabod’s time.

      1. I am hesitant to lump them all together. I think the idealists had enough pull to get the constitution signed off on, but not enough to put it fully into effect.

        We have always had problems living up to the ideals the constitution is grounded on.

        1. Yes, there are Founders and Founders. There are the Charles Cotesworth Pinckneys – pretty much proslavery – and the Ben Franklins – antislavery. Then there’s the Jefferson’, aware that their slavery habit is damaging but continuing to go back for just one more hit.

    2. Also, I still see the picture of Obumbles shooting the shotgun on the Reason page. I just noticed that from the angle of his head and the dark sunglasses that he probably has his eyes closed. His eyes are not lined up with the rib. They probably put the glasses on him because they couldn’t get him to keep his eyes open when shooting the blanks. I guess the first time he pulled the trigger everyone heard this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDHIpzRWaNc

      1. I’m embarrassed to admit, that it looks like he’s using the same shotgun I shoot.

        It looks like a Franchi Alcione.

        1. Nice gun Francisco. Don’t worry, Obumbles doesnt own one, someone who knew what to put in his hands to impress people came up with that one.

          1. I’m sure it’s decreased in value since that picture was taken.

      2. I’m reading about Tim “Sullivan Law” Sullivan. Of course he had armed men to protect him, as did the crooks whose protection money he took.

    3. It might be that the writers don’t expect the viewing audience to buy their product if it contains that content even if they do have an idea of ‘that”.

    4. “If any problem has been thoroughly explored and settled it is the problem of free speech, both in the realm of the practical and theoretical”

      Fluid explosion of letter and expression should forever remain unbridled, uncaged, and ferocious because of the FUCKING FACT that, yes, this construct has been unequivocally ‘explored and settled’ and is as core to optimal human existence as fucking air.

      1. You said it so much better than I did.

    5. I enjoyed the hell out of that show’s pilot.

      It’s a damn shame they took the series in a different direction.

    6. I was heartened by an early episode where he says, “An eight percent tariff on baked goods! This is an outrage! We fought a revolution over five.”

      Never again was any such political speech uttered in the show.

  13. The War on Speech is going strong in Europe. Every country has a web of libel, hate speech and blasphemy laws, with the exception of Norway. It is especially bad in France and Brussels and only getting worse. They don’t even have freedom of association. Government and law enforcement in the US wants to follow their lead as it assures them future employment. However they have little hope in this ambition given the entrenched support for free speech. We’ve given up our war on drugs. Now Europe needs to immediately surrender in their war on speech.

    The war on speech is founded on the premise that ‘hate speech causes violence’. In fact it doesn’t and the founding fathers understood that, even if speech is later used as an excuse for violence.

    1. Wayfaring expression that exceeds limitations imposed by the bureaucracy conveniently indicates the presence of that vile and putrid demon called individualism and its nimble buddy, idiosyncratic creativity- both of which are reviled by the right-angle planner and her/his armies of vigilant lint pluckers.

      1. Your verses are making more sense to me lately. Am I learning how to speak AC, or are you out of drugs?

        1. He’s speaking in English, we just had to learn to listen in Cyborg.

    2. we havent done anything like give up the war on drugs. we’ve ceded the front of people who admit to smoking weed when they younger being electable as president, but the WOD is an ESSENTIAL part of the strategy to stay in the #1 prison population slot.

  14. Good news on the free speech front: Famed TX attorney Mark Bennett is coming to GA to overturn our revenge porn law and restore our right to insult bus drivers! I might ride a bus and post a nekkid picture of an ex-gf just to celebrate.

  15. Haverford coed reflects on her summer job at McDonalds –

    “…in everyday discourse here at Haverford, we are taught to ask for help when we feel we need it, speak up when we feel uncomfortable, and prioritize our own well being over most other things. At McDonald’s, acting in this way could have cost me my job, a job I needed to afford college. There, I, as an individual, was insignificant: The most important thing was that the customer walks away satisfied, and it didn’t matter what I had to go through to make that happen….

    “I have PTSD ? because of this, the environment at work was anxiety-producing much of the time. Yet there was no “trigger warning” for when a customer was about to start yelling, when the restaurant would get so busy that I had no time to breathe between orders and the noise would make me feel faint, when a group of men in the drive-thru would whistle and catcall me as they pulled away. The sexual harassment I experienced there is another story entirely ? the point is, at work, my mental illness and I were irrelevant. And from that, I grew; I learned to take care of myself in ways that didn’t inconvenience anyone, draw unnecessary attention to myself, or interfere with the structures in place and the work which had to be done. McDonald’s was not a “safe space” for me….”

    1. I was prepared to have fun with that up until I read Miss Legaspi’s piece and realized what she was actually saying.

      1. Damn sane millennials ruining the stereotype. Robbie needs to post something and restore my lack of faith in them.

      2. Agreed. In a post-Happy Hour reading of this post, I was prepared to become outraged.

    2. Hilariously. How incredibly strange that someone could make it to college and not already know this is simply amazing.

      1. The lessons in life which cost only money are the cheap ones.

        1. “The lessons in life which cost only money are the cheap ones.”

          Especially if it ain’t YOUR money.

    3. Wow, you totally misrepresented that article with your cherry picked quotes. Perhaps you could have included her point.

      Before you encourage someone to practice “self care” in its current definition, think about in what situations this is actually useful or feasible advice ? this extends to life at Haverford as well; since I work three campus jobs, I only have enough time on many days to go to class, go to work, and do my homework. I’m grateful to have worked at McDonald’s: It taught me how better to handle my anxiety and how to put myself last in the name of efficiency and a common goal. McDonald’s strengthened my character, my work ethic, and expanded my capacity for resilience, valuable lessons which could not be learned in the “safe spaces” of Haverford’s campus. We must remember that putting oneself first is the essence of privilege, and that, in order to grow, we must leave this selfish mindset behind.

      1. Fuck you, I quoted enough for an *intelligent* person to know what she was saying: “And from that, I grew; I learned to take care of myself in ways that didn’t inconvenience anyone, draw unnecessary attention to myself, or interfere with the structures in place and the work which had to be done. McDonald’s was not a “safe space” for me….””

        1. And I wonder how you could have missed this other sentence I quoted: “The most important thing was that the customer walks away satisfied, and it didn’t matter what I had to go through to make that happen.”

          You are guilty of what Winston Churchill called a “terminological inexactitude.”

          1. You mean the one that sounds EXACTLY like a prog millennial complaining about having to please the customer?

              1. I got the point you were trying to make.

      1. Numero uno, she was talking about how she goes through life *despite* her alleged condition, rather than using it as a go-to excuse.

        Numero two-o, I’ve heard the term used about domestic-abuse survivors.

        1. Ya gotta know your audience. Her audience is coeds – of both sexes – who are getting coddled at college. She’s trying to get them to snap out of it, so her reply to excuses of PTSD is to just walk it off.

          1. Her audience is coeds – of both sexes – who are getting coddled at college. She’s trying to get them to snap out of it, so her reply to excuses of PTSD is to just walk it off.

            A pious fraud is still a fraud.

        2. D? y?, what do either of those have to do with the relative rarity of genuine PTSD, referenced to far greater than its statistical prevalence in the American population?

          D? ?r, if her diagnosis of PTSD originated from a licensed psychiatrist, she wouldn’t need to work at McDonald’s as she would qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance as well as SSI.

          1. PTSD alone would be a tough sell for SSI, which is pretty much in psychiatric cases for people who have “chronic and persistent mental illness” such as schizophrenia, with solid documentation, evaluations and history. Not to say it is impossible, but as McDonald’s girl shows, it’s possible for most PTSD people to work — where it’s hard for folks with severe cases of schizophrenia to simply take care of themselves.

            OTOH, it seems like they’re handing out disability payments to just about anyone these days. When they started allowing ‘alternative practitioners’ such as chiropractors to do disability exams, the number of disability cases skyrocketed — and guess where a lot of patients with dubious claims go, to be declared disabled? Yes, the same ‘doctor’ who will sign them up for a lot of spinal ‘readjustments’ as part of their long-term disability care.

            There’s a great piece on the disastrous evidence base for alternative medicine, which they describe in the headline as ‘quackery’, in the latest print edition of Reason. Yet the US federal government is sending billions of dollars their way every year, even to the point of trying to suppress damning studies. Apparently much of this came because former Senator Harkin of Iowa loved a home remedy for his allergies, and so tried to impose just about every alternative treatment on our public, truth be damned.

            1. When they started allowing ‘alternative practitioners’ such as chiropractors to do disability exams

              Wait, what?

    4. “Those of us who need to work in order to support ourselves and pay tuition cannot afford to internalize the soft, self-centered mindset presented by our peers and customs folk at Haverford.”

      That’s pretty good actually. I put this in the best one percent of narcisstic college self-reflection essays. A low bar perhaps, but I wasn’t any wiser than this one when I arrived at college.

      1. I would add, “Those of us who pay to subsidize your safe space lifestyle…”

  16. link

    j/k on my celebrating. I don’t ride buses unless you count airport park & rides and hotel shuttles. I would only post tasteful fashion shots of women with or without their consent.

    1. I don’t ride buses unless you count airport park & rides and hotel shuttles.

      Thanks for pointing that out that you’re not some kind of bus-riding person. Whew.

      1. It was getting kind of real there for a minute.

      2. Get a car, Rhywun. Buses are for losers who can’t even make the weekly note on a hooptie from a BHPH lot.

        Wait, you’re from New York City…

  17. As we write, the State Department reportedly is on the verge of finding that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis, a non-Muslim religious minority in Iraq.

    “We would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, which could make it easier for Yazidis to find asylum.

    “But what about others? What especially about the largest non-Muslim minority in the Middle East: Christians.

    “ISIS viciously persecutes Christians, yet inexplicably the State Department seems to be considering declining to designate Christians as victims of ISIS’s genocide….

    “One rationale for exclusion of Christians is that ISIS follows traditional sharia law, which recognizes Christians, as well as Jews, though not Yazidis, as “People of the Book,” thus giving them a choice beyond death or conversion: paying a special tax for non-Muslims, the jizya, in exchange for protection.

    “This rationale is utterly at odds with reality. In practice, ISIS offers nothing of the kind….

    “our government must not turn its back on persecuted Christians or any other religious minorities during this, their maximum moment of need.”

    1. One rationale for exclusion of Christians is that ISIS follows traditional sharia law, which recognizes Christians, as well as Jews, though not Yazidis, as “People of the Book,” thus giving them a choice beyond death or conversion: paying a special tax for non-Muslims, the jizya, in exchange for protection.

      It always seemed to me that the worst sort of person would be attracted to working for a Department of State. This doesn’t change my mind.

      1. Yeah, even if they could show that ISIS allows a genocide-exemption tax, that doesn’t mean they’re not doing genocide. They’re simply doing genocide and letting some potential victims off the hook in exchange for payment.

        What do you call the treatment of victims who don’t pay the don’t-genocide-me tax, or who don’t want to wait around and see if the tax will be accepted?

  18. A hearing where D and R agree that prohibition works depending upon what you’re prohibiting – drugs, guns, sex, Obamacare.

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