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Archive for September 25th, 2018

The name “Banned Books Week” is far too narrow to encompass everything we should be talking about, and a week is far too limited a time to be talking about it.  –  “The Censor-Moron

As I’ve written several times over the past few years, top-down censorship had become very rare in the US; alas, in just the past year since the last Banned Books Week, it has returned with a vengeance.  The passage of FOSTA, a law which both authorizes direct federal censorship of the internet (by creating a new category of banned speech) and exerts a powerful chilling effect (by an unconstitutionally vague description of what might be included in that category), is the worst example, but it is by no means the only one.  Congress has also conducted an inquisition of Facebook and Twitter over paranoid fantasies and the idiotically-named non-category “fake news”, with several of the inquisitors hinting at the possibility of direct censorship (or as they prefer to call it, “regulation”); the EU has also threatened to censor the social media giants using the excuse of “hate speech”.  In the UK, a member of Parliament actually wants to ban any online discussion that the police cannot eavesdrop on, and in the US cops are demanding the power both to prosecute those who criticize them and to suppress books about police violence; in some prisons, the one area of society completely under police control, “drugs” are being used as an excuse to ban books entirely in favor of expensive e-book readers (that the state gets a cut of, natch) with a very limited library:

Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections is planning to ban free book donations to inmates by mail, claiming that this is a “primary avenue for drugs” to enter prisons.  But the move coincides with a renewed push to get prisoners buying into a pricey prison eBook system…the Prisoners Lit Project and others…said that Pennsylvania prisons’ libraries are underfunded and often inaccessible and [vowed to] challenge…the new policy…The tablet devices hawked by the DOC are bulky and low-end, with tiny low-definition color displays not intended for reading at length, rudimentary hardware and translucent materials to prevent them being used to hide contraband.  They cost $147 plus tax, about three times the price of the only extant consumer device, the $50 Amazon Fire, with similar specifications.  There is no repair service: any problems with the device and you have to buy a new one.  Then prisoners must pay a minimum of $3 each per eBook from the same state-contracted vendor, which offers a list of only 8,500 titles…other states are embarking on similar plans, and they’re likely to meet stiff court challenges…

If this all wasn’t bad enough, consider the UK, which wants to subject people to police violence for the “crime” of wrongthink:

…The latest Orwellian invitation to rat out offensive speakers was issued by the South Yorkshire Police…[who]…took to Twitter to remind people…”In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents…like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing.”  It is chilling that cops, whose only business should be fighting crime, now want to hear about non-crime.  Anyone who has even a sliver of respect for the ideal of liberty, for the right of people to go about their lives without being watched or narked on, should be seriously concerned that cops would want to hear about non-criminal behavior, otherwise known as everyday behavior…This is Stasi territory.  Coppers asking citizens to file reports on things they have read or overheard really should have disappeared from Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Yet here it still is, this GDR-style instruction to eavesdrop and squeal, though now it’s happening on the other side of the old Iron Curtain…

Though lily-livered fools have been demanding they be “protected” from ideas they don’t like for several years now, it’s terrifying how quickly this terrible idea has moved from the lunatic fringe to the mainstream, and how eagerly jackbooted thugs have seized upon it as yet another way to control the thoughts of the entire population via threats of violence.

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