MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘media watch’

MSM calls for “new definition of free speech” – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2021

Ives clearly thinks he’s enlightened and liberal and educated, after all he drops references to Kant AND Mills (that’s right TWO famous philosophers), but he’s really not. He’s just an elitist arguing working class people are too dumb to be allowed to speak, or even hear ideas that might get them all riled-up and distract them from their menial labour.

https://off-guardian.org/2021/01/16/a-new-definition-of-free-speech/

Kit Knightly

Part of the main duty of OffGuardian is to troll through the masses of media output and try and pick up patterns. Sometimes the patterns are subtle, a gentle urging behind the paragraphs. Sometimes they’re more like a sledgehammer to the face.

This has been face-hammer week. In fact, it’s been a face-hammer year.

From “flatten the curve” to “the new normal” to “the great reset”, it’s not been hard to spot the messaging going on since the start of the “pandemic”. And that distinct lack of disguise has carried over into other topics, too.

We pointed out, a few days ago, the sudden over-use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” preparing us for what is, almost certainly, going to be a truly horrendous piece of new legislation once Biden is in office.

Well, the buzz-phrase doing the rounds in the wake of Donald Trump being banned from the internet is “the new definition of free speech”…and variations on that theme.

Firstly, and papers on both sides of the Atlantic want to be very clear about this, Donald Trump being banned simultaneously from every major social network is not in any way inhibiting his free speech.

Indeed none of the tens of thousands of people banned from twitter et al. have had their free speech infringed either. Neither have any of the proprietors – or users – of the Parler app which the tech giants bullied out of existence.

Free Speech is totally intact no matter how many people are banned or deplatformed, the media all agree on that (even the allegedly pro-free speech think tanks).

They also agree that maybe…it shouldn’t be. Maybe “free speech” is too dangerous in our modern era, and needs a “new definition”.

That’s what Ian Dunt writing in Politics.co.uk thinks, anyway, arguing it’s time to have a “grown-up debate” about free speech.

The Financial Times agrees, asking about the “limits of free-speech in the internet era”.

Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times, wonders aloud if Trump’s “lies” have made free speech a “threat to democracy”.

The Conversation, a UK-based journal often at the cutting edge of the truly terrifying ideas, has three different articles about redefining or limiting free speech, all published within 4 days of each other.

There’s Free speech is not guaranteed if it harms others, a drab piece of dishonest apologia which argues Trump wasn’t silenced, because he could make a speech which the media would cover…without also mentioning that the media has, en masse, literally refused to broadcast several of Trump’s speeches in the last couple of months.

The conclusion could have been written by an algorithm analysing The Guardian’s twitter feed:

the suggestion Trump has been censored is simply wrong. It misleads the public into believing all “free speech” claims have equal merit. They do not. We must work to ensure harmful speech is regulated in order to ensure broad participation in the public discourse that is essential to our lives — and to our democracy.

Then there’s Free speech in America: is the US approach fit for purpose in the age of social media?, a virtual carbon copy of the first, which states:

The attack on the Capitol exposed, in stark terms, the dangers of disinformation in the digital age. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which certain elements of America’s free speech tradition may no longer be fit for purpose.

And finally, my personal favourite, Why ‘free speech’ needs a new definition in the age of the internet and Trump tweets in which author Peter Ives warns of the “weaponising of free speech” and concludes:

Trump’s angry mob was not just incited by his single speech on Jan. 6, but had been fomenting for a long time online. The faith in reason held by Mill and Kant was premised on the printing press; free speech should be re-examined in the context of the internet and social media.

Ives clearly thinks he’s enlightened and liberal and educated, after all he drops references to Kant AND Mills (that’s right TWO famous philosophers), but he’s really not. He’s just an elitist arguing working class people are too dumb to be allowed to speak, or even hear ideas that might get them all riled-up and distract them from their menial labour.

To season these stale ideas with a sprinkling of fear-porn, NBC News is reporting that the FBI didn’t report their “concerns” over possible violence at the Capitol, because they were worried about free speech. (See, if the FBI hadn’t been protecting people’s free speech, that riot may not have happened!)

And on top of all of that, there’s the emotional manipulation angle, where authors pretend to be sad or exasperated or any of the emotions they used to have.

In the Irish Independent, Emma Kelly says that “free speech” doesn’t include “hate speech” (she’s never exactly clear what part of “go home in peace love” was hate speech though).

In The Hill, Joe Ferullo is almost in tears that the first amendment has been ruined by the right-wing press continuously “shouting fire in a crowded theatre”, citing the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, which so many use to “qualify” the idea of free speech, without realising it hands over power to destroy it completely.

Up until you can show me the hard-and-fast legal definitions of “shout”, “fire”, “crowded” and “theatre”, this open-ended qualification is nothing but a blank canvas, free to be interpreted as loosely – or stringently – as any lawmaker or judiciary feels is necessary.

As an example:

Twitter is certainly bigger and more populated than a theatre, and spreading anti-vaccination/anti-war/pro-Russia/”Covid denial” news [delete as appropriate] is certainly going to cause more panic than one single building being on fire. Isn’t it?

It’s this potential abuse of incredibly loose terminologies which will be used to “redefine” free speech.

“Offensive”, “misinformation”, “hate speech” and others will be repeated. A lot.

Expressions which have no solid definition under law, and are already being shown to mean nothing to the media talking heads who repeat them ad nauseum.

If “go home in peace and love”, can become “inciting violence”, absolutely everything can be made to mean absolutely anything.

The more they “redefine” words, the further we move into an Orwellian world where all meaning is entirely lost.

And what would our newly defined “free speech” really mean in such a world?

Be seeing you

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Donald Trump is completely right about mail-in ballots – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on May 30, 2020

https://off-guardian.org/2020/05/29/donald-trump-is-completely-right-about-mail-in-ballots/

Kit Knightly

It’s an artefact of the peculiar world in which we live that we are sometimes forced to agree with, fight alongside or even defend people with whom we would never wish to be associated.

Donald Trump is right at the top of that list. And his “feud” with twitter over tweets concerning postal votes is a perfect example.

To be clear, whatever the MAGA crowd and QAnons may wish to believe, Trump is NOT some kind of anti-establishment rebel.

Whatever small threat he posed to the status quo was stamped out shortly after the Deep State switched sides from Hillary to Trump sometime in October 2016.

From Syria to Russia to Wikileaks, most of the good parts of Trump’s “America first” or “isolationist” approach have fallen completely by the wayside. Either opposed by the Deep State to the point of total paralysis or shown to be nothing but talk in the first place.

Ever since he was elected, despite his rhetoric, Trump has been little more than a boorish Bush. Most of the time.

But sometimes, in small ways, he strikes a raw nerve with the establishment.

Like two days ago, when he tweeted out criticisms of the proposal to rely on postal votes for forthcoming elections:

Whether this was put into Trump’s mouth by his handlers to create the controversy, or whether it’s his genuine opinion, it is obviously something people are not supposed to agree with. Because twitter then took the unprecedented step of adding “fact-checking links” to his tweets.

Donald Trump is a crass, narcissistic bullshit merchant, but twitter has never done that to him before.

So why now? Why is twitter “fact-checking” Trump’s claim that postal ballots are easier to rig?

Well, it’s certainly not because he’s wrong. Because he’s actually right.

Postal ballots ARE much easier to rig than in-person voting. This is not just logically obvious, it is historically shown to be true through dozens of examples.

In 2002, a Labour councillor was convicted of voter fraud after acquiring 200 blank postal ballots, filling them in and adding them to the uncounted votes.

In 2005, when on-demand postal voting was first spreading around Britain, many councils expressed concerns that the system was vulnerable to fraud. These fears were repeated in 2010, when there was a surge in those using the system.

In 2014 the electoral commission warned that “ghost voters” could be created using mail-in ballots.

Also in 2014 Richard Mawrey QC, a UK deputy High Court judge in charge of hearing electoral fraud cases, warned that on-demand postal ballots were open to “systematic and widespread” voter fraud.

This was echoing thoughts he first expressed in 2005, after finding 6 Labour councillors guilty of postal ballot-related fraud schemes.

Mawrey repeated those concerns again in 2015, after former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman was convicted of election fraud using postal votes.

In Decmeber 2019 Steve Baker MP wrote that:

There is widespread abuse of postal votes, this simply cannot go on

That same month, the BBC’s political editor accidentally revealed a serious potential corruption on the postal ballot front.

Now, all of these examples are from the UK but the same frailties exist in the United States.

In fact, just two years ago, a Republican candidate was found to have committed electoral fraud in North Carolina…using absentee postal ballots.

In 2007 Teresa James and Michael Slater of Project Vote authored a report titled “Vote By Mail Doesn’t Deliver” in which they found there was evidence that:

Vote by mail is more susceptible to corruption than voting at polling places.

And:

Vote by mail is amenable to manipulation by election officials.

They cite multiple examples, including the Miami mayoral election of 1997 being overturned by the courts after a candidate was found to have committed widespread absentee ballot fraud.

As recently as March of this year, when Joe Biden repeatedly won primaries he was predicted to lose, there were reported irregularities in postal ballots in several states, including Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio.

So, if there are so many recent examples of fraud – and so many obvious potential vulnerabilities to the system – why is Twitter suddenly (incorrectly) fact-checking “The Donald”?

And not just Twitter, but all of the mainstream media as well. For example, CNN, the Washington Post and The New York times all have very long, very similar refutations of Trump’s anti-postal votes diatribe.

It’s interesting to note that the Wikipedia page for “Postal Voting” has already been edited to insert the same quote twice, from a New York Times article which came out today.

Their defences of the system are, frankly, sad.

The New York Times argues that, yes, postal vote rigging does happen (and even cites some of the examples I mentioned) but says doing it on a scale large enough to swing an election would be really hard, and someone would probably notice.

CNN’s is even worse. Collapsing from incompetence to unintentional hilarity, by using a report commissioned by George W. Bush in 2002 which found there was “virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” (Eagled-eyed readers will note it says “virtually no evidence”, and not “no evidence”.)

Students of history will no doubt realise that this report from the Bush-era Justice Department was commissioned in direct response to allegations that the 2000 Presidential election was rigged (which it fairly obviously was).

So, apart from twitter fact-checking the POTUS for criticising postal votes, we also have all the mainstream media doing pretzel-like feats of mental and verbal gymnastics to try and refute him. Why?

Well, because postal ballots are a large part of the establishment’s agenda at the moment. They are one of the key ideas being pushed in the wake the Covid19 “crisis”.

Just three weeks ago, the New York Times had an article headlined:

We Should Never Have to Vote in Person Again

And that’s just the latest and most brazen example of the propaganda surge on this issue.

In February, well before he could use Covid19 as an excuse, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was campaigning for more postal votes.

In March Poland’s lower house approved a bill to conduct this year’s Presidential election by post (which was later rejected by the upper house). Australia likewise “urged” postal votes in their local elections this year.

The Independent reports that “two thirds of Americans favor postal votes”, and Joe Biden called opposing mail-in ballots “un-American”

There are many other examples of pro-postal voting stories, all over the local and national media: see here, here, here, here and here.

Oh, and here and here.

You could even see this whole “controversy” as part of the propaganda itself. Trump has such a lousy reputation that any thought he expresses is instantly discredited by association.

From now on anybody that doubts the postal ballot system can be said to be “agreeing with Trump”, whilst the hordes of potential voters whose only understanding of politics is “Orange Man Bad” will throw their weight behind postal ballots as if it were some kind of moral crusade. (Expect a hashtag like #ImGoingPostal in the next couple of days).

Here, in the UK, our elections are currently totally suspended. When they “lift the lockdown”, postal ballots will be pushed as a way of “saving democracy”. But that will be far from the truth.

Trump expressed it brashly, coarsely and with his trademark lack of nuance, but anybody paying attention should definitely be very wary of widespread postal voting. And worried by the large-scale media campaign to promote it.

Be seeing you

 

 

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