Tag Archives | Censorship

After Paris and Copenhagen, Let’s Not Forget Corporate Censorship

Pic via Jon S via Flickr (CC)

Pic via Jon S via Flickr (CC)

Christian Christensen writes at Common Dreams:

It has been a bad and bloody few months. From the brutal mass murder at the offices of Charlie Hedbo to the tragedy in Copenhagen, the purportedly cherished Western values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press came under attack from religious extremism. The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, which exploded in the immediate aftermath of the Paris killings, was supposed to symbolize a collective opposition to any restrictions (imposed or self-imposed) on free expression. Similarly, there was widespread condemnation of the killings in Copenhagen, followed by reaffirmations of the central place of a free press and free speech in modern European society.

In the midst of these brutal and senseless killings, two other stories caught our eye: the suspension in the US of NBC anchor Brian Williams for lying about events during his time in Iraq; and, the revelations provided by Daily Telegraph political commentator Peter Oborne on the influence of advertiser HSBC on editorial decision-making.

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Charles Bukowski’s Letter to the Librarian Who Banned His Book

51Gk+OrWOqLYet another intriguing Charles Bukowski letter. I think I still prefer the letter he wrote to his publisher, John Martin. But this one is also a gem.

A library in Holland banned Bukowski’s book, Tales of Ordinary MadnessWell Bukowski apparently felt the need to not exactly defend his writing, but to explain how honored he was to have written something so prolific. Though, he rightfully condemns the librarian’s censorship.

Dear Hans van den Broek:

Thank you for your letter telling me of the removal of one of my books from the Nijmegen library. And that it is accused of discrimination against black people, homosexuals and women. And that it is sadism because of the sadism.

The thing that I fear discriminating against is humor and truth.

If I write badly about blacks, homosexuals and women it is because of these who I met were that. There are many “bads”–bad dogs, bad censorship; there are even “bad” white males.

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You Can Now Get the Grimm Fairytales Uncensored and Uncut in English

It’s about damn time. It’s amazing how damaging to culture and history censorship can be.

Via Press.Princeton.edu:

When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cinderella” would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezsö.

From “The Frog King” to “The Golden Key,” wondrous worlds unfold—heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all.

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The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion & Consciousness

downing.amanda (CC BY 2.0)

downing.amanda (CC BY 2.0)

via Reality Sandwich:

In the years ahead we are going to see great change sweeping through our diverse human societies. It will be change not only brought about by intentional minds and willing hearts; but also by necessity, by coercion, and from an evolutionary imperative. The 21st century will be equivalent to the dramatic ‘flat Earth to round Earth’ shift that was thrust upon humanity centuries before. Some may say we are in the midst of a 3rd Industrial Revolution. Yet rather than referring to this transition as an ‘industrial’ one, I consider this profound shift as a Revolution in Human Being – or rather as a Revolution in Human Becoming. The possibility of a genuine planetary civilization – with unity through diversity – and with the participation of an awakened and aware humanity, was never on the cards…until now. We have entered a phase where there will be new forms, new arrangements, new structures, new perspectives, and new emerging states of being.

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UK to stop its citizens seeing extremist material online

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Israel Defense Forces (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Gigaom:

The U.K.’s big internet service providers, including BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Sky, have agreed to filter out terrorist and extremist material at the government’s behest, in order to stop people seeing things that may make them sympathetic towards terrorists.

The move will also see providers host a public reporting button for terrorist material. This is likely to be similar to what is already done with websites that may host child pornography – people can report content to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organization that maintains a blacklist, to which that site could then be added.

In the case of extremist material, though, it appears that the reports would go through to the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), which is based in London’s Metropolitan Police and has already been very active in identifying extremist material and having it taken down.

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China Stops Censoring the Web—for Three Days, in One City

Michael Coghlan (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Coghlan (CC BY 2.0)

World Internet Conference in China. Now there’s an oxymoron.

via Bloomberg:

This week in China, there is a place where you can tweet to your heart’s content, Facebook your friends, or Google a YouTube video.

Beijing normally blocks nationwide access to Western social media and news websites, but it’s opening a crack in the Great Firewall just big enough for participants at a technology conference in Wuzhen, China, to squeeze through. The country is hosting the World Internet Conference from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, where leaders from local Internet giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, will mingle with executives from LinkedIn, SoftBank and other global tech companies.

This temporary opening of the gates doesn’t mean China is having second thoughts about Web censorship. Not in the least. China often lifts its controls on the Web for attendees of high-profile international forums, as it did for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing earlier this month.

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Americans Ban Books on Poverty and Class

Not only are some Americans trying to remove books on sex and religion (not to mention evolution) from schools and public libraries, now they’re going after books dealing with poverty and class, reports the Guardian:

Late last month, for the 32nd year in a row, Banned Books Week was marked across the US. Spearheaded by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, the annual salute to the freedom to read has become a fixture. It aims to counterbalance perennial challenges to the content of books and efforts to get them banned, usually from schools and libraries.

The ALA collects information on which books are objected to and reports on prominent recurring themes that tend to generate moral or ideological indignation. Subjects such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and allegations of sexually explicit content or offensive language frequently top the list.

Berkeley Heights NJ public library books and shelves

More worrying, however, is the recent rise in efforts to get books banned that cover poverty and social class.

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Sick-Outs and Walk-Outs: Students and Teachers Escalate Fight Against Censorship of History

Students from Columbine High School protest proposed changes to AP History curriculum last week. (Photo: John Lebya/@presto89/Twitter)

Students from Columbine High School protest proposed changes to AP History curriculum last week. (Photo: John Lebya/@presto89/Twitter)

More updates on the attempted censorship of history in school districts Jefferson County, Colorado.

via Deirdre Fulton at Common Dreams:

A passionate coalition of teachers and students in Jefferson County, Colorado are continuing their fight against censorship this week, employing some of the very tactics the conservative school board wants to eliminate from history textbooks.

Seventy-two of 102 teachers at Golden and Jefferson high schools called in absent on Monday, forcing both schools to close for the day; teacher “sick-outs” also closed two high schools on September 19.

Meanwhile, several dozen students from Carmody Middle School walked out of classes on Tuesday morning, marking the first time younger students have joined an ongoing protest by teachers and high schoolers against proposed changes to the district’s history curriculum. Hundreds of students from the majority of the county’s 17 high schools have staged walk-outs and protests over the last two weeks.

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Censors At Work

CensoredHave you ever really thought about the historical role of the censor? Here’s a lengthy and academic look at censorship, adapted from the conclusion to Robert Darnton’s Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature and published in the New York Review of Books:

What is censorship?

If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing. It should not be trivialized. Although I would agree that power is exerted in many ways, I think it crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that is monopolized by the state (or other constituted authorities such as religious organizations in some cases) and power that exists everywhere else in society. Censorship as I understand it is essentially political; it is wielded by the state.

Not that all states impose sanctions in the same way. Their actions might be arbitrary, but they clothe them in procedures that had a tincture of legality.

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Discussions of Michael Brown’s Death Banned in Illinois School District

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Why do people actually think stifling discourse about polarizing current events is the key to a good education?

via AlterNet:

When faced with tragedies like the shooting of Michael Brown and the community unrest that followed, there are many hard questions to be asked. Why did this happen again? Who should be held accountable? How do we prevent such injustices?

But among the hard questions, few are so pressing, or essential, as this: What do we tell the children?

For educators, that question weighs heavily, and in the Brown case all the more so because Brown’s death occurred just as the new academic year begins.But in Edwardsville, Illinois, the answer is chilling: What do we tell the children? We tell them nothing.

From the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis:

A new directive has been issued in Edwardsville schools: Don’t talk about Ferguson or Michael Brown in class.

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