Labels

Once upon a time there was a language in which words had meaning.  And then came the devil Ambiguity, along with his minions, Politics and Religion.  From that moment forth, meaning became as cloudy as a shower of piss.

When contentious events unfold, anywhere in the world, there is a scramble to gain control of the narrative.  It is commonplace for businesses, governments and individuals on occasion to hire people to manage the flow of information and colour it appropriately to try to morph the story into a predefined version.  This behavior affects all forms of media, stretching from newspapers and magazines, all the way down to simple memes which people share online.

One of the key strategies in public misdirection is the inappropriate use of labels.  When a news story becomes attached to sometimes a single word, or a single idea, the public’s attention is driven away from considering what truly happened and instead the public become recipients of a ‘manufactured’ intrepretation.  A recent example is the shooting in Paris.

For those of you that have been hidden under a rock for the past week, two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine and murdered a number of people.  Various ‘labels’ for the shooters were flung around in the beginning such as ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’ and ‘Islamists’, before they were quickly replaced by an ideology so important to Western European societies that almost immediately the crux of the problem was forgotten.  At some point it stopped being a terrorist attack, we were all mistaken, it was in fact an attack on free speech.  Except that it wasn’t.

There are always few bare facts in a story.  In this case the one fact that is crystal clear – a satirical magazine was attacked for cartoons which satirized Islam.  It was not the office of journalists without borders.  It wasn’t an association against censorship.  It was a targeted attack against one magazine.  To claim that this attack has anything to do with free speech makes as much sense as blaming it on cheese, or blaming it on religion.

In France there are an estimated 4.7 million Muslims.  There were three gunmen involved in this spate of attacks.  If by any chance this was genuinely caused by religious beliefs the result would have been significantly different.  And yet there were no riots or large-scale protests like we’ve seen in the past.  There is only one conclusion any rational person can draw from this.  What is the label that adequately describes men such as these, that purposely acquire weapons so they can murder people who create cartoons?  Mentally ill, perhaps?

Last weekend people marched in solidarity and didn’t really seem to know why.  They felt the very human urge to say that they are not scared, that they believe in free speech and that violence will never win.  Despite the fact they weren’t really sure of what they should be afraid of, nor were they sure of what precisely free speech is or who is threatening it.  The important thing is that ordinary people marched arm in arm with the free-speech (not so) loving leaders of the free world to send a message.  And the message was thus ‘we are blind’.

This ‘wave of feeling’ which has ridden across the western world is not going to be a catalyst for change.  Therefore it is meaningless.  The idea that doing absolutely nothing is going to stop further terror attacks is absolutely mental.  If anything they will only increase, as every single example only further demonstrates what sitting ducks we all are.  The worst thing is that whilst we all focus on the European narrative, while we raise our pens and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’, little by little our freedoms and our rights are going to be stolen from us piece by piece.

S**A P**A A**A And Censorship

Whilst I have been idly traipsing around Europe the world appears to have woken up slightly in regards to the freedom which we don’t have.  It’s apparent that the vast majority of human beings are completely unaware of the censorship which surrounds us.  The catalyst(s) of this knee jerk reaction have been a number of bills which intend to redefine the golden age of technology in which we live, all with absurdist acronyms (my favourite being PIPA – which has more interesting connotations in a number of languages) designed to obscure the view of an ordinary man behind extremely broad legal bullshit.

Since the dawn of organised authority censorship has existed in one way or another.  You only have to look as far as the best-selling book of all time.  For around 1,000 years ordinary people were banned from reading the bible.  From 500  ad to 1500 ad, average Joe was not permitted to read the bible.  And it didn’t stop there.  In 1536 a man named William Tyndale was strangled to death while tied to a stake and then his body was burned for being a heretic.  His crime.  Printing 6,000 copies of the bible in English.  I am not intentionally trying to compare the internet to the bible.  The point I am trying to make is that censorship has always existed in one shape or form.  The problem is that we only notice it when we see it at close range.

In the UK you are not free to write what you want.  If you write erotic fiction which the courts deem as not possessing sufficient literary merit you are liable for prosecution.  Thankfully all judges have to take a mandatory phd in English Literature.  In the UK the censorship of the theatre was only abolished in 1968.  As late as 1977 blasphemy was a criminal offence.  The Terrorism act of 2000 makes it illegal to collect or possess information likely to be of use to a terrorist.  Does that mean Prince William’s Grandmother never tells him where she is going tomorrow?  Is the boy scout who knows that rubbing two sticks together makes a fire a terrorist?  The Terrorism act of 2006 makes it an offence to glorify terrorism.  Unless of course you are making a film about it or standing for government.

It was only ever going to be a matter of time before governments starting glancing nervously at the internet.  For me personally the evil in these bills has nothing to do with piracy or copyright infringement.  The Arab spring has proved why the internet must be protected.  Censorship in so many countries has kept people under control.  The internet has given them freedom.  The internet has been a tool which has enabled people to fight for their own freedom.

I cannot for the life of me understand why a Western democratic government would put their name to any of these bills. When our politicians sent our young men to die in Afghanistan they said it was to bring freedom to the people of Afghanistan.  They said the same when they went to Iraq.  They bombed Libya for the freedom of the people.  It’s apparent that in the world in which we live the way to give people freedom is to kill, bomb and maim.  Our governments talk of the great freedoms we enjoy yet suddenly they want to restrict our freedom of speech.  Only such a grand contradiction could exist freely in the 21st century.  Undoubtedly this blatant dishonesty only serves to make our leaders look like a bunch of (*this comment was deleted by SOPA,PIPA and ACTA.  Instead here is the word FUZZY WUZZY BUNNY RABBITS written in block capitals.)

Censorship is a reaction of the nervous, and I for one cannot think of any reason why our leaders might be…. aside from the three words which they have been blasting at us day and night in a veiled attempt to prepare us for the worst.  I will give you a clue.  It has absolutely nothing to do with a Global Economic Crisis.

And seeing as I have written a post which mentions copyright infringement I best leave you with a quote.  The words in question belong to a Dane who is starting to interest me more and more as time goes by.  His name is Soren Kierkegaard.

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.