Tag Archives | free speech

Tell Me Lies: European Satellites Ordered To Drop Iranian Channels In Disregard of Free Speech

Back in the 1960’s, A British poet, Adrian Mitchell, one of the great bards of that era, wrote a poem that went on to become a stage show in the West End of London. It was called Tell Me Lies about Vietnam and represented one voice among millions in the world then opposing that War

It was addressed, “To Whom It May Concern” and began with words that became its refrain:

“I was run over by the truth one day

Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way

So stick my legs in plaster

Tell me lies about Vietnam”

Years later, before his death, (and I was at the memorial service in London) he kept rewriting the last paragraph into what he called a remix. The poem took on a more global statement

That verse was a play on a children’s song:

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out

You take the human being, and you twist it all about”

And then this line:

“Tell me lies about –

Iraq

Burma

Afghanistan

BAE Systems

Israel

Iran

He understood well that Iran was one of the countries his country and others in the West (and their sycophantic media) are telling lies about.… Read the rest

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Koch Brothers Pressuring Thousands Of Employees To Vote For Mitt Romney

In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.

A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.

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Are Free Speech Zones Really Free?

Raul654 (CC)

The recent DNC and GOP conventions had so-called free speech zones, but there wasn’t much freedom on offer. Ann O’Neill reports for CNN:

Shane Brown squeezed through a gap between sections of a steel security fence 9 feet high, picked his way across a vacant lot infested with fire ants and climbed atop a rickety wooden platform. He stepped up and spoke into the microphone:

“God is a good, good God.”

His words were amplified over a hardscrabble patch of earth wedged against a highway the locals call the inner loop. White plastic trash bins stood sentry against litter, but there was no one there to fill them.

Brown, the first speaker to take the platform Wednesday at the official “free speech zone” of the Democratic National Convention, had an audience of just three — two city workers and a reporter. It was shortly before 3 p.m., and the place had been deserted since it opened five hours earlier.

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Pussy Riot Found Guilty By Russian Court

Игорь Мухин (CC)

[UPDATE: Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison.]

If there was ever any doubt that the judge would do what Vladimir Putin wanted, it has now been erased. Protests reacting to the verdict are in progress. Report from USA Today:

A Russian judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history.

The judge said the three band members committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia’s president a few days later.

They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later Friday.

The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.

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The Increased Criminalization of Dissent

Jason Wilson (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

American law enforcement agencies continue to increase their surveillance on an otherwise fairly complacent citizenry, logging an incredible amount of requests for information regarding cell phone and social media use.

Last week, a judge in New York ruled that Twitter must give a court close to three months of information from a user in a pending case involving an Occupy Wall Street protester arrested at a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge in October. In February, a subpoena from the New York City District Attorney’s office demanded the microblogging site, often used by protesters to update their followers on events happening on the street in real time, give up “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011” from user Malcolm Harris.” Harris (@destructuremal), managing editor for the New Inquiry online magazine was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge with 700 other demonstrators.… Read the rest

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Silencing The Trolls: Twitter Considers ‘Hate Speech’ Censorship

Here at disinformation we mostly live with our trolls as a part of online life, but Twitter has decided to try to silence them. Via RT:

Is Twitter allowing too much freedom? What helped move revolutions along in the Middle East, has a flip side of cyberbullying and abuse, especially of those in the spotlight. Now Twitter is taking its first step towards censorship.

The news was broken by Twitter’s Dick Costolo who was speaking to the Financial Times. As the FT put it, the site’s chief executive “became visibly emotional” as he described his frustration in tackling the problem of ‘horrifying’ abuse, while maintaining the company’s mantra that ‘tweets must flow’. Anonymous and unpunished, irresponsible twitter-users find the site ideal for expressing all kinds of extremist, racist and sexistopinions. Celebrities are among those most vulnerable, with curses and bullying clogging up their ‘@connect’ section, offending many and disrupting conversations, often turning them into hate-fights.

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Kuwait’s Top Book Censor Discusses Her Job

getimage1-uspostersWondering what it’s like to decide what knowledge is outlawed? The head of book censorship at Kuwait’s Ministry of Information explains how one goes about becoming a censor and defends the practice as a skilled art. The Kuwait Times writes:

The censors who are responsible for censoring books and other publications do an interesting job, which becomes harder during some periods of the year, yet it seems they enjoy it. In Kuwait, freedoms are respected yet within certain limits.

Dalal Al-Mutairi, head of the Foreign Books Department at the Ministry of Information [says]: “Many people consider the censor to be a fanatic and uneducated person, but this isn’t true. We are the most literate people as we have read much, almost every day. We read books for children, religious books, political, philosophical, scientific ones and many others.”

Working as a censor is interesting. “I like this work. It gives us experience, information and we always learn something new.

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SF Transit System Blocks Cell Phone Service To Thwart Protests

0816-bart-protests-Transit-Phone_full_380Mobile technology may be a powerful tool for grassroots organizing, but the flip side of the coin is that authorities can block such technology when they wish to crack down on dissent — case in point, San Francisco’s public transit system. SF Weekly writes:

This might just be a first in the annals of Bay Area transit agencies’ political suppression (such as those annals are). BART has fessed up to jamming cell-phone signals yesterday at downtown stations in San Francisco in order to disrupt protests over the death of Charles Hill, who was shot by BART police on July 3.

Here is what BART had to say in a statement on its tactics that was released today:

Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators.

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