What Jeremy Crow shows us about YouTube’s crusade against offense

I think I’ve said in the past that YouTube is headed in a noticeably censorious direction, getting rid of content they deem offensive to either themselves or prospective advertisers, based on very arbitrary conceptions of hateful content. And recently, it appears that I was proven right, again. Jeremy Crow, a prominent Luciferian occultists and one of the founders of the Assembly of Light Bearers (formerly Greater Church of Lucifer), has announced that a number of his videos have been shadow-banned by YouTube.

As Crow himself explains:

About a month ago several of my videos were “shadow banned” by YouTube/Google. If you aren’t aware, this is something that has affected an insane number of YouTubers. This form of censorship doesn’t outright remove the video from the platform, but greatly diminishes it’s possible viewership and eliminates any potential revenue earned from it. A shadow banned video will never show up in search results, the trending page or related video suggestions. Often it won’t even serve up the video to people subscribed to the channel! The primary ways you can find a shadow banned video is by having the direct link or by browsing the uploaded videos on a specific channel. In addition, these videos are excluded from the advertising revenue share. In other words, you’re going to get way less views and will earn no money off the video.

So why is Crow being targeted for shadow-banning by YouTube? Well, looking at the examples of shadow-banned videos given on his Steemit article (which will be linked at the bottom of this post), you may have noticed that all of them except one deal with the subjects of Luciferianism and Satanism. He explains that YouTube’s criteria for what is deemed non-advertiser-friendly includes political content (though strangely enough The Young Turks or CNN don’t seem all that affected), profanity, unpopular religions and apparently having a disheveled/unattractive appearance.

Now I actually touched on this subject last year, when writing about the changes to YouTube’s content policies at the time, and I gave out a list quoted from YouTube’s policy guidelines on what is deemed non-advertiser friendly.

Content that is considered “not advertiser-friendly” includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including vulgar harassment, swearing and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use, and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.

It might not be a stretch of the imagination to suggest that Jeremy Crow’s discussions of Satanism, Luciferianism and the occult would be filed under controversial subjects, but even so, I find it baffling to me how Jeremy Crows videos would be considered offensive. Last time I checked, the only people who might be offended are Christians, Jews or Muslims, and even then I don’t recall them having seen fit to mass report Satanist or Luciferian YouTube content. And setting aside the issues of “hate speech”, I’m not entirely sure what the threat is to YouTube’s bottom line. I notice in the article that Crow doesn’t mention a statement from YouTube on the issue, which if you’re shadow-banned you probably wouldn’t get anyway since you’re being banned without you knowing it. What this suggests to me is that YouTube flagged Luciferian videos for arbitrary reasons, without explanation.

Two things are certain in my eyes. Firstly, this is to me further proof of the utterly nonsensical and farcical nature of the parameters of hate speech. I have seen a number of YouTubers report videos being demonetized for absurd reasons, including a someone who uploaded a review of Sonic Adventure 2 it got demonetized for “controversial subject matter”. And a couple of months ago, YouTube introduced the limited state feature, which bans certain videos from receiving likes, shares, comments or revenue not necessarily for violating YouTube’s content policy, but for “offensive” content. It is done self-evidently to suppress wrongthink, but its supporters claim that it is supposed to be done to suppress extremist and radicalizing content. I have gone through lists of videos put under the limited state, in fact I have also seen a Twitter account that logs videos put under the limited state. You’ll find videos that can accurately be described as white nationalist or fascist propaganda, or videos that posit arguments for those systems, but you know what you won’t find on those lists? ISIS propaganda videos. And hey, if YouTube wanted to suppress videos advocating for totalitarian and violent political systems, you’d figure there’d be videos advocating for communism on these lists. But apparently not. The parameters for extremism are one-sided, driven by the ideological bias held by Google, which was documented in detail by former Google engineer James Damore in his essay. And when it isn’t, it’s just downright idiotic all round.

Second, if Jeremy Crow’s videos discussing Luciferianism and Satanism were shadowbanned, then it leaves me wondering just how many other occultists, particularly Left Hand Path occultists, have been shadowbanned. What about Michael W. Ford or E A Koetting, both of them prominent occultists in Left Hand Path systems who talk about largely similar subject matter to Jeremy Crow? Or Styxhexenhammer666, another occultist, albeit for more well known and popular because of his political commentary than for his occult videos? For all I know, Jeremy Crow may indeed be the only case of a Luciferian occultist getting shadow-banned, but if they’ve shadow-banned him, then why not others?


Link to Jeremy Crow’s Steemit article: https://steemit.com/occult/@jeremycrow/jeremy-crow-s-luciferian-videos-banned-by-youtube

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You bastards!!

I woke up after July 4th to find this fresh pile right before us. During the weekend before hand, Donald Trump posted to his Twitter account a GIF of him brawling with WWE chairman Vince McMahon with the CNN logo superimposed on McMahon’s head. Trump posted it not long after the investigations into his alleged collusion with Russia found no substantial evidence for such collusion, after non-stop accusations by the press that he was the agent of Russia. By this point, it has also been revealed that some on CNN’s own team know that the Russia story is not supported by any solid evidence – in other words, it’s bullshit and they know it. So the GIF can be taken as Donald Trump essentially gloating over the fact that his side of the story is winning over the mainstream media.

And how did the media take it? They thought that Trump was signalling a violent, authoritarian crackdown on his critics. Over a fucking meme!

That’s right, anti-CNN memes are considered to be a form of incitement to violence. Before this, there was a whole other shitshow from the right about how Kathy Griffin and the Trumpesque Caesar of Shakespeare at the Park and how these were supposedly violence against the President, and now I find the media and their liberal supporters proclaiming that their lives are in danger because Trump shared a meme on his Twitter. There are few richer hypocrisies than this!

And CNN were so offended and scared by the meme it was their top story, their reporters and their friends screeching all day about how Trump reemed them in the ass with simply a moving image that mocked them. But, that’s where the fun ends. Since they wouldn’t take being mocked by a meme for all to see, or perhaps because they believe memes are incitement to violence, CNN decided that it would be appropriate to try and track down the person who made the meme to begin with. At first it had emerged that the maker of a meme was a Reddit user named HanAssholeSolo, who may or may not have been either a teenager or a 40-year old man depending on who you ask. They dug up some information about the Reddit user, contacted him and were apparently able to get an apology out of him. He promised not to do another anti-CNN meme again, and CNN said that they would reveal all the information they dug up if that changed. In essence, they cyber-stalked a guy they thought was responsible for nothing more than creating a meme that offended them that was shared by the President, and threatened to dox him if he made more memes. That is fucking reprehensible! You’re putting someone’s privacy on the line because of what is just a meme.

The journalistic class can cower all they like behind the excuse that he made other memes that they reckon think are Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic or whatever, but none of it changes the fact that there was no reason for CNN to go after this guy. He committed no crime, he hurt no one, all he apparently did was offend some powerful people. So-called journalists and media pundits actually think they have a right to expose someone and take away their anonymity in order to expose their “hate”. What the fuck kind of thinking is that!? In a different time, these people might have been aristocrats looking for seditious critics of the monarchy, Catholic elites searching for suspected heretics, or imperial Romans going after Christians. “We have the right to expose people for their subversive thoughts and expressions” is their mantra, and to that end they will stop at nothing, even if it means targeting innocent people, to satisfy their lust for control. And they’re proud of what they do.

Oh and they haven’t just been acting unethically either. They are likely criminals as well. According to Julian Assange of Wikileaks, CNN has violated Section 135.60 of New York’s criminal code, which prohibits coercion in the second degree, specifically the part which prohibits exposure of a secret or publicizing an asserted fact which would subject a person to ridicule or contempt. Senator Ted Cruz also thinks that CNN may have violated the criminal code of the state of Georgia, specifically § 16-8-16 which deals with theft by extortion, in which the public dissemination of any information relating to any person in order to ruin his reputation is prohibited. What’s more, section 241 of the United States Code prohibits conspiracy against a person exercising their legal rights as provided by the laws and Constitution of the United States. I think it’s possible that CNN broke the law and that a legal case that could be brought against CNN, and I hope there is a case brought against them because it couldn’t happen to a more deserving organization. They can pretend to be defending their freedom of the press all they like, but what press freedom entitles people to threaten to dox an innocent person exercising freedom of expression online over a meme?

And to add insult onto injury, it’s possible that CNN got the wrong guy. Buzzfeed claims that the meme wasn’t actually created by HanAssholeSolo, or was a version of HanAssholeSolo’s meme that was edited by someone else. I don’t trust Buzzfeed as a source, but if this is true then it’s entirely people that CNN went through all that trouble only to get the wrong guy. I can’t help but wonder who they’ll go after next. CNN now claims that they still don’t know who the memester was, but they also claim that it’s not the most important issue in the world. Really? If that’s true, why the fuck would they go through all the effort of digging up the personal information of someone who committed no crime or wrongdoing if it was all just nothing!? Better yet, why were you so outraged about the meme in the first place!?

And in the wake of this something’s been nagging me. A professor named Josh Chafetz tweeted that, in his view, freedom of speech only protects you from government censorship and not public censure from private entities. Aside from the fact that, as I’ve mentioned, there are probably laws against that, there’s a bitter hypocrisy associated with this because of how I see this argument from some on the left. I always thought the left as a political umbrella was generally opposed to the power of big business, right? They don’t like big corporations having too much power and doing whatever they want, right? So then why do left-liberals now seem to think it’s OK for CNN, a major media corporation run by a multi-millionaire, to threaten a private citizen’s right to freedom of expression? Because the government isn’t doing it? But then they go on about how right-wing billionaires such as Peter Thiel are supposedly silencing the freedom of the press for whatever reason. And I’ll tell you something else: I bet the makers of Nobody Speak, a pile of utter apologia that asserts that Gawker was innocent of wrongdoing despite outing several private individuals without their permission, probably don’t have anything to say about Jeff Zucker’s organization censoring a private law-abiding individual. Of course they don’t, because it’s not Donald Trump or Peter Thiel doing it. You’ve got someone who’s basically being censored over memes by a multi-million dollar corporation, and the left is telling us that’s perfectly fine even though they’re supposed to be against big business! Almost like they don’t actually care about that on principle, after all it’s OK when they’re being fascists isn’t it!? If you think you’re fighting the rich and billionaires because you think they’re coming after the freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but you’re OK with this shit from CNN, your cause is frankly fucking worthless to me!

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a man at the centre of the HanAssholeSolo debacle: one Andrew Kaczynski. After all, he’s the guy who dug up his information in the first place and he was the author of the article wherein CNN gave their veiled threat to begin with. And for this service, he is congratulated by his media colleagues who, like the fascists they truly are, laud the fact that he gave CNN leverage to dox a man over a meme by proclaiming that those who oppose them will “change their tune once identified”. This is not the first thing Kaczynski has done. He has ruined the life of another private citizen, one Justine Sacco, over what was supposed to be a joke tweet about her being a white person in Africa by publicly outing her for an angry Twitter mob to target, which led to her losing her job. But even worse was when, in 2013, he gave out the identities of two people – Mike Mulugeta and Sunil Tripathi – who he falsely believed were the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings, and he reported that falsehood as fact. One of them, Sunil Tripathi, committed suicide after the false accusation resulted in him and his family being constantly harassed and threatened. All he’s known for otherwise is digging up dirt about politicians. So CNN basically hired a professional muckraker who is also known for ruining people’s lives for a paycheck. He is a scumbag, and I hope one day he gets what’s coming to him.

CNN is the most immoral company in media, and they’re what’s wrong with journalism today! They spin either lies or half-truths constantly, their journalists have no fucking clue what’s going on and make shit up but they expect you to take them as fact, but they consider themselves an untouchable class of people who cannot be criticized or else you’re against the free press. And for that reason, CNN and others like them think they can just do whatever they want, even if it’s flagrantly unethical. Can’t imagine why so few Americans trust the media. Can’t imagine why Trump is their President to begin with. Anyone who defends them, in my view, is not worthy of my time or trust. I don’t think I’ve been so outraged as I am about this whole thing.

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YouTube is circling the drain

YouTube has recently put out a new set guidelines aimed at ensuring that the videos that get uploaded by users are more “advertiser-friendly”. This means that people on YouTube can get videos de-listed for monetization, meaning they will be unable to generate ad revenue for those videos, because those videos aren’t considered “friendly” to advertisers.

Below is a list of content that YouTube deems inappropriate for advertising:

Content that is considered “not advertiser-friendly” includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including vulgar harassment, swearing and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use, and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.

What this ultimately amounts to is that your videos can be de-listed for monetization if you  not only talk about the wrong things (like social justice warriors, terrorism and Hillary Clinton) and possibly hold the wrong opinion but even so much as make a raunchy joke or shout “fuck”. This can’t be good for the AVGN I assume.

It’s not even a level playing field either, as the likes of CNN can still generate ad revenue from videos that surely violate this policy. I suspect this is an attempt on the part of YouTube to discourage those who generate income from YouTube videos from holding the wrong opinion or saying the wrong things, or just to create a nice habitat – nay, safe space! – for advertisers.

Not to mention, here’s an example I found of just how insane this policy is.

I would also like to address the inevitable “YouTube is a private company therefore they can do whatever they want”. Can big private companies do whatever they want? I’m not so sure of that, even though I identify as a libertarian. I would think that there are certain things that private businesses and corporations aren’t allowed to do. After all, are they not subject to the law just as private individuals are?  And the thing is, I don’t think the people who are defending the right of big social media companies to ban people for having the wrong opinion or talking about the wrong sort of subject matter would be so keen to defend Chick-fil-A for refusing to serve gay people because they don’t believe in same sex marriage, or McDonald’s for allowing people the choice to eat unhealthy fast foods, or GM for making veritable death cabs and selling them on the market, or companies like Halliburton for being able to profiteer off of the Iraq War, or big tech companies that dump hardware in places like Ghana where it creates e-waste that releases toxic chemicals when burned in landfills. It seems fairly obvious, then, that the people defending big social media only do so out of convenience, based on the fact that the people being censored, delisted or banned are usually people with opinions they don’t like.

I am of the opinion that social media companies need to uphold the freedom of speech of all its users for the simple reason that they are a very large platform for speech. Millions of people around the world use YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and they need it in order to connect with others in the modern world as well as to succeed. I, personally, need Facebook in order to stay in contact with my fellow game design students when I am at home so that we can discuss the project and help each other do our work. They are that important to everyday life nowadays, and they create a massive platform for anyone to express themselves freely. When you remove people for wrongthink on your social media platform, you end up creating a culture of censorship on that platform. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before people start leaving that platform. This has already been happening to Twitter, and I am convinced it will happen to Facebook and YouTube as well. Not to mention, a culture of censorship is cancerous to a free and open society. People will be afraid to think for themselves and express themselves openly, while an increasingly authoritarian or at least soft-minded culture will eventually influence the government to cater to its whims and erode the freedom of society as a whole. I do not want to see this happen. At all.

So, no. I don’t think big social media companies should be allowed to get away with this.

The Guardian, British politics, and why once again I’d rather be in America

Last night I became aware of a post from the Guardian where the author presumes to claim that to have free speech is poisonous to our democracy. The idea is that because there are trolls out there who sling abuse, express “hateful” or politically incorrect views on the Internet, or send death threats, then the Internet and freedom of speech are a threat to our democracy – which is stupid. It was part of a series of articles called “the web we want”, dedicated to “ending online abuse”. And as others have noticed, it’s nothing more than a way to showcase their inability to handle any speech that isn’t sanitized to their liking or ideologically agreeable. And if you think that’s bogus, consider that the Guardian actually published a quiz where you play a moderator and decide which comments to block and see how they stack up against what the Guardian moderators think – should you answer “Allow” to the responses, you can find out that the Guardian comprises of people block public comments on the basis of ideological difference, or even on the basis of criticizing the Guardian’s credibility as a news source. Below are examples.

 

Also, they recently vilified Stephen Fry as a privileged asshat for criticizing trigger warnings as oppressive – oh, and they tried to say it was about child sex abuse. That they go out of their way to vilify someone as privileged because of their opinion, along with that article about free speech “poisoning” democracy.

I was genuinely shocked and disheartened to see a British, and supposedly liberal, paper openly endorse articles that campaign against freedom of speech and against the right of others even to offend. That is until I remembered that the Guardian actually had an article as recently as two weeks ago where in the central platform was that the Internet is exclusively teeming with hatred if uncensored on the basis of the Microsoft Tay fiasco (you know, that chatbot learning AI that was a stupid idea anyway). And only months ago, I distinctly remember a Guardian journalist claiming that banning porn on campuses somehow gave students more freedom of choice, which is not just stupid, only makes sense if you believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, and ignorance is strength. Seriously: banning porn actually increases freedom of choice? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

But honestly, shit like The Guardian just makes me convulse at the state of British politics – a state that has this illiberal pile of journalistic excrement masquerade as the conscience of the British press and supposedly liberal British society, where brainwashed souls preach the “evils” of liberty and how “good” it is to punish those whose views are “below the line”. Again, people who believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength and, in their case, censorship is freedom of speech and victimhood is righteousness.

To me it kind of makes sense in the UK because our political culture, at least in my opinion, isn’t like America’s – otherwise, more people besides liberals and libertarians like myself would be outraged by the literal denouncing of freedom of speech. I can’t help thinking that if this were America and an it was American paper or pundit who denounced freedom of speech in the name of public good, in no unclear terms (and I say that because sometimes politicians can get away with all kinds of bullshit if they hide it or dress it up well enough), then literally almost everyone would be against that paper or pundit.

For most Americans, freedom of speech is like one of the laws of nature, at least in the public consciousness. This is because the United States of America enshrines freedom of speech as part of its Constitution, and that Constitution is powerful in the minds of every American who isn’t one of those Christians who thinks the word of “God” trumps that Constitution – it’s even got some real meaning in my mind, and I’m not even originally from America. I admire that, and I have admired it always. It’s like an oath that politicians can easily be held accountable to by the people and the Supreme Court if they try to mess with civil liberties. What’s more, while America is certainly not perfect, in my mind it’s probably the only country that set out to establish itself on the modern ideal of liberty from birth – that was the goal of those Founding Fathers who created a new nation in 1776. I deeply admire that too. America hasn’t had a history of always living up to liberty and justice for all, but in our hearts and minds at least we know this is a genuine betrayal of values because we know those values have been at the heart of the nation’s vision from the beginning. As long as the people believe in liberty, and it’s clear in their minds that liberty is under attack, they don’t stand for it.

In the UK, as far as I know we don’t have anything as binding and powerful as the US Constitution. To me, we are only partly a liberal, secular society, and we have a parliamentary government whose members to me only endorses freedom what it suits them, and usually it’s just us liberals and libertarians, and a few papers and journalistic outfits, who are against that. And in this country, the police can sometimes arrest you for offensive speech (like in the case of Matthew Doyle), and the police in some parts even think they have the power to police online speech (like in Glasgow for instance). To me, The Guardian are now only acting as a voice for an illiberal political establishment in the UK – a voice that’s polite enough to appeal to the.

Also, the main powers of our government are unscrupulous vampiric conservatives and often vaguely illiberal socialists, or at least they seem illiberal to me; under Ed Miliband they actually agreed to Tory censorship of the Internet, Gordon Brown’s administration asked their former drugs adviser David Nutt to leave for challenging the government’s drug policy (he suggested drugs like cannabis should be reclassified because they are less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco), and even now there’s quite a few Labour MPs who’ve had a tendency to endorse illiberal policies such as blasphemy laws and maintaining the criminalizing of prostitution, the latter especially in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that we would decriminalize prostitution. Then there’s Labour MPs who are just crazy. There’s actually a Labour MP named Aysegul Gurbuz who was recently suspended because she claimed Hitler was “the greatest man in history”, and another MP named Carolyn Harris who pulled the hair of her aide after she found out she was a lesbian. The Tories may be assholes, but Labour are sometimes not much better. Not to mention, Britain’s history is not one of a country that valued liberty, but of one that valued the absolute rule of monarchy under “God”, and even though we have a secular parliamentary government, we maintain a royal family that does nothing and has no business existing – this fact alone tells me that either we still endorse royalty as part of our British identity and heritage, or that it’s not clear where our values lie.

Those who know me might be able to imagine why I don’t feel I belong in such a culture. And in all truth, I would probably rather live in an imperfect country where liberty is still visibly enshrined as the highest ideal and has sought liberty from the beginning than a country than country that is supposedly secular and liberal but will embrace illiberalism when it suits them. No matter America’s imperfections, even it’s clownish political behavior, no matter how many times I’ve criticized it, it sometimes feel like I’d rather be in America than be immersed in Britain’s noise.

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Now if only immigration weren’t such a problem.

What France is becoming should not surprise you

Recently, France has passed a law banning people from paying for sex, with clients facing fines of €3,750 if they flout the law. Apparently, prostitution is not a crime in France, but paying for it is, which basically means that the French government isn’t criminalizing sex workers, but rather banning people from paying them for their services. If you think that sounds stupid then guess what? It is. Seriously, how do you ban people from paying for sex work without criminalizing prostitution as a whole? How does that work? It doesn’t. If your government wants to ban people from paying for sex, you might as well just criminalize prostitution altogether because the whole point of prostitution is that one person pays another for sexual services. It’s fairly obvious that laws like this exist only to work against the sex industry. The people passing these laws seem to not want to punish sex workers directly so they want to punish the clients instead – but such a thing by itself is a punishment of sex workers because it directly harms their industry as a whole. If you want to protect sex workers, just decriminalize prostitution as a whole and allow sex workers to operate in a regulated industry. The pimps and traffickers can’t exploit sex workers if they operate in an environment where their rights are protected by the law. But of course, that’s common sense, and governments don’t often consistently operate under common sense.

To be honest, though, I actually don’t feel too surprised with this law being passed in France. The French government has made notable moves towards authoritarianism before, despite their president Francois Hollande’s claims that their country values freedom (specifically freedom of speech). In 2011, France banned Muslims from performing street prayers in the absence of adequate mosques, apparently to appease the French far-right’s concerns that the street prayers are a sign of “invasion”. In 2010, the French government passed a law banning the wearing of the burqa, the traditional veil often worn by women in Islamic culture. Four years later, the ban was inexplicably upheld in the European court of human rights. The law was passed on the pretense of preserving the freedom of women, presumably under the delusion that women only wore the burqa under coercion, but anyone who knows anything about freedom and liberty can inform you that it is totally possible to wear a burqa by choice and that banning the burqa does nothing to protect the civil liberties of women. Just last year, in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists, the French authorities arrested the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala over apparent anti-Semitic remarks and for supposedly inciting racial hatred and sympathizing with one of the attackers, and he was also given a jail sentence in Belgium on similar charges. He’s been sentenced seven years imprisonment for the specific charge of his social media comments that supposedly sympathize with terrorism. The French authorities also opened up several other cases of people “condoning terrorism” or mocking murdered policemen, and similar instances of what some might describe as “hate speech”. And later last year, in the wake of the Paris attacks in November, France decided to extend a state of emergency and pass a bill whose provisions are very much characteristic of a country panicking about terrorism. Around the same time, the French government closed 3 mosques that were supposedly linked with radicalization, and suggested that about 100 more mosques would follow under the pretense of preventing radical ideology and hate speech. Oh, and the government has also raised plans to police online “hatred” – twice – which at this point you know is not going anywhere good..

It should also be noted that, again, despite Hollande’s claims that France is committed to freedom of speech, France is not completely liberal. So-called hate speech is illegal in the country, and specifically speech that characterizes a group as a mortal danger is illegal. Which of course, is stupid. You’re not coercing individuals, truth be known you aren’t violating any of their rights. Only the mythical right to not be offended or insulted. France also has laws prohibiting Holocaust denial, as well as libel laws and online surveillance curtailing freedom of speech online, and it actually endorses the concept of a “public speech offense” with regards to the arts. And as you surely know, when you legally divide speech into acceptable and unacceptable speech, you do not have freedom of speech. And no, there’s no such thing as “partial” freedom of speech either. Because of this, it’s clear that France is not the liberal example of democracy the media sometimes has you believe it is (at least during coverage of the attacks in France), but in fact an illiberal democracy, or rather an authoritarian state – after all, any country that decides what you can and can’t say is in fact authoritarian because it does not recognize freedom of speech.

So in my opinion, France is slowly but surely embracing full-on authoritarianism. The only peculiarity seems to be that it frequently seems to center around women, Muslims, and Jews, and a noticeable paranoia concerning terrorism.

A belief driving witch-hunts and moral panics

I watched a documentary about the infamous “video nasties” that were the center of a lot of controversy and media scandal in the UK, and the characteristically British problem of how the furor surrounding them always leads to media hysteria and the erosion of freedom of expression. For those who may not be aware, the term “video nasties” refers to low-budget horror movies which were released on home video in the UK and were typically highly graphic in their violent content.

In the documentary (which is ironically titled Ban the Sadist Videos), I learned a little something about what I feel drove the moral panic surrounding it, or rather the people whipping it up. There was always this belief that these videos would fall into the hands of children and that the videos would not simply desensitize them to violence, but also compel them to actually commit the brutal acts of violence depicted in the real world. I think this mentality reached its lowest point in 1993, when a boy named James Bulger was beaten to death two other boys and the movie Child’s Play 3 took the fall for it as the supposed cause. But interestingly enough, the documentary showed quite a few interviews conducted by news reporters talking to children who apparently have seen some of these “video nasties” and don’t seem particularly traumatized by it. To them it was nothing more than entertainment, and what’s more it was the kind they clearly weren’t meant to watch, so it had that forbidden fruit angle – the kind that I’m sure today’s youth may be familiar with. Even more interestingly, I think at least one of them that they were unrealistic and silly. But of course, the media was never that concerned about what the children as free agents thought – they were only concerned with children as people that had to be “protected”.

During the 1980’s, one of the key figures in this whole moral panic was one Mary Whitehouse, a woman who I swear her name has become synonymous with prudery, censorship, and moral panic over the years – at least in the UK. She’s also known for being an ally of everyone’s least favorite wicked witch Margaret Thatcher, who helped introduced stricter censorship to the UK and contributed to this country having the strictest censorship in the Western world by the 1990’s. People like her and the British press were keen on promoting the idea that the images they saw on video would directly harm people and through people their social order. In my opinion, this all hinges on a central idea – the idea that human beings are inexorably influenced by forces that they cannot control because they lack the ability to choose whether or not to feel influenced.

This week I caught an article from author Ryan Holiday, and this is probably my favorite part of it:

Real empowerment and respect is to see our fellow citizens—victims and privileged, religious and agnostic, conservative and liberal—as adults. Human beings are not automatons—ruled by drives and triggers they cannot control. On the contrary, we have the ability to decide not to be offended. We have the ability to discern intent. We have the ability to separate someone else’s actions or provocation or ignorance from our own. This is the great evolution of consciousness—it’s what separates us from the animals.

With every crusade against violent and subversive media, there seems to be the belief that the opposite of that comes to effect; that people are ruled by things they cannot drive and will always act at the behest of certain influences because they can’t say no, so they have to be protected by self-declared guardians of public morals. With every crusade against those deemed as “detestable slaves of the devil”, we’re always told be on the lookout for those controlled by supposedly evil forces, who are possessed by demons because they engage in witchcraft and beliefs outside of the Church. Beware the rationale behind all the self-imposed guardians of public morals; they are believers in the notion that we are mindless automaton-like beings.

A decline of reason

I think future historians may yet look at this decade as utterly connected yet hopelessly divided – this is but a charitable description that I would offer for this current age.

Recent events concerning campus policing of speech and political expression, the police arresting people like Matthew Doyle for speaking “offensive” thoughts rather than committing any actual violations of other people’s right to life and liberty, and the media response to the transformation of Microsoft’s “chatbot” Tay from friendly artificial teenage girl to Nazi sexbot, among other phenomenon, have me pretty damned convinced that the Western world is going in a worrisome direction – one that will depart from the flame of intelligence.

With Tay specifically, I have to wonder who thought it was a good idea in the first place. But when I see the Guardian implying that the Tay fiasco justifies censorship, claiming that the internet is full of “the kind of material all genocides feed off” and “awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice” and denouncing the right to offend as “a culture that sees offensive speech as a source of  amusement”, it just makes me think that certain people spend their miserable lives trawling the ugliest side of the Internet with no regard for the rest of the net. Also, I have to repeat myself, who thought Tay was a good idea anyway? Who thought that a “chatbot” learning AI on Twitter – freaking Twitter! – would be a good idea? The Internet may be full of nasty people, but the problem is not the Internet being uncensored but rather the fact that people are just awful anyway. With Doyle’s arrest, I see nothing more and nothing less than another chapter in the rise of mob mentality, the kind that we saw in the wake of one dentist killing a lion named Cecil. Only now I see that British law enforcement are not simply facilitating mob mentality – in this case at least, they’re actively sustaining themselves with it! I can see the death of justice arriving in a world that endorses mob mentality as justice, because justice is perverted, raped, and sacrificed because the people have deemed mere offensive speech a criminal act. Democracy in action, right?

It’s a disheartening phenomenon that Man tends to march towards group mentality, and now, in a world connected by computers and information, Man is more enamored in said group mentality than ever before –  and also, more enveloped in the foulest poisons of herd mentality. The human race in its current state is the largest herd in the entire animal kingdom, and those who try to exist as individuals or simply contradict that hard may lead difficult lives as the herd punishes them for their dissent but not for committing any actual crimes or violations of the right to life and liberty. In my opinion, this is all fueled by misinformation, ignorance, and a majority decision to not think for oneself, and I believe it can be fueled by much consumption of misinformation that isn’t processed by reason or an individual relationship with the information presented before them.

Be under no illusion: if I am right about this new direction, then this new direction is entirely at the behest of Man itself, rather than the work of shadowy forces seeking to undermine our species. We’re all too familiar with the notion of shady government conspiracies working to dumb down the mind in order to keep it under control. But in my eyes, this is what the people seem to asking for. They now choose weakness, rather than the individual pursuit of strength and balance, and decide that the world must protect their fragile being – having to grow strong on their own would probably kill them! Enlightenment would probably kill them! Man can be weak and ignorant enough as it is, but what we as a species are going through is frankly sickening. We can blame the media, the government, and the world all we like, but in truth the way we are going is Man’s fault. We have the freedom to choose our way, to move towards freedom, but we choose ignorance and the perpetuation of our own weakness instead. And why? Because we aren’t conscious of what freedom means. We aren’t conscientious enough to hold ourselves accountable and responsible, and that’s not good: because it’s only in a world where we are conscientious, accountable, and responsible that liberty can survive. I don’t just mean the government, I mean the people. In a world where we expect the world to protect our own weakness, we lose that conscientiousness, accountability, and responsibility, and with it we will inexorably lose our freedom.

All because Man too often does stupid things, and then when we do them we blow them out of proportion. All because we are somehow convinced that we cannot function as adults with being coddled by a “good shepherd” or by guardians of all that is good. All because we are weak in the face of aggression from those who we clearly have the power to ignore and cry to the world instead of cultivating the strength to keep it together or rise above it, let alone fight back. And in this age we will not succeed in achieving a safe, friendly world. All we will do is either create a sanitized world where there is no liberty, or simply bring malignant and destructive habits upon our world – and we know for a fact that this is not the whole of what Man is capable of doing.