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.

Haram Month #9 – The convicting of Anjem Choudary

When I heard that Anjem Choudary had been convicted yesterday (or rather it was revealed that he had been convicted last month, it struck me at first as an issue that I have actually had to wrestle with and needed some clarification on.

For those who don’t know who Anjem Choudarey is, he is a notorious British Salafist Muslim preacher and activist known for his advocacy of the implementation of sharia law in the UK and his demonstrations against Western civilization. He, along with Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, founded such radical Islamic organizations as Al-Muhajiroun, Al Ghurabaa and Islam4UK, and was a prominent and divisive figure in the Islamic world who made many TV appearances. He was known to have spoken out in support of jihad as an obligation for Muslims to fulfill, and in 2014 he went so far as to pledge allegiance to ISIL and encourage others to do so – the latter of which to lead to him being arrested. He is seen as a hate preacher, and I don’t doubt that many people (especially people who are of a socially conservative disposition) wanted him banned. I also have no doubt there were and still are a lot of Muslims who distance themselves from Choudary and claim this man is an enemy of Islam – to which Choudary would probably respond by saying that it is in fact they who are the enemies of Islam.

What annoyed me was how the much of the mainstream media and Ella Whelan from Spiked looked at Choudary’s conviction and seemed to paint this as a free speech issue – that the man was arrested solely because of inciting and preaching “hate”. Him being a hate preacher, one who spews “bile and hate”, and the prospect of him being “gagged” and “shut up” is the primary focus of it for much of the media, to the point that is makes me think that the man was being convicted solely for hate speech. Don’t get me started on The Independent, which their “free speech has its limits” shit. That mantra almost had me defending Choudary. Ella Whelan from Spiked was just as bad, because on the day Choudary was convicted she talked about how censoring Choudary’s views was a bad thing, and the next day she appeared on a Sky News debate to talk about this from a pro-free speech lens.

But let me tell you what I have come to understand: this is not a free speech issue. Both the people who support freedom of speech and the people who thinking it should be curtailed are looking at the issue the wrong way. From what I have read, Choudary actually has a history of recruiting people and indoctrinating them. He recruited people to fight for Osama bin Laden. Al-Muhajiroun, one of his organizations, had been known to actually radicalize individuals who would then go out to commit, or attempt to commit, terrorist attacks. Examples include the shoe bomber Richard Reid, the dirty bomber Dhiren Barot, the 7/7 bombers, the Transatlantic Bomb plotter and the men who murdered Lee Rigby. Choudary also taught six of the nine men who planned to send mail bombs to various targets, radicalized a young man named Brustroth Ziamani  and he had been in contact with a teenager in Australia who was planning to carry out an attack on Anzac Day last year. To my mind, him protesting and talking about Islamism wasn’t the only thing he was doing. He had indeed been in contact with individuals who would then go on to carry out attacks, and he had been recruiting and helping to radicalize individuals so that they can carry out terrorist attacks and murders in the name of Allah. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that when he contacts potential radicals he is teaching, instructing and radicalizing them giving that he actually supports the spread of Islamism by force. Really, the term “hate preacher” simply doesn’t do him justice, for he was more than that – he was a recruiter. I wish the media would use the term “terror recruiter” or “jihad recruiter” more often than they use the term “hate preacher”.

Put simply, this is not a free speech issue. It’s a terrorism issue. If all Choudary had been doing was organizing protests and appearing on TV to preach his views, I would have no major issue other than with his views. But it’s not as simple as that. He was actively recruiting, radicalizing and training people to fight and wage jihad. So anyone who thinks this is about freedom of speech, whether from a pro or anti perspective, is simply in the wrong. While I do feel that Choudary’s conviction should not be used to justify an increase in censorship no matter how abhorrent your views are, there can be no doubt that Choudary crossed the line by directing people to commit violence let alone encourage support for ISIL. Not to mention the fact that the organization he founded is a jihadist organization with the intent of spreading sharia law through, well, encouraging jihad.

The fight for liberalism in the West – Part 2: Liberal culture needs to be re-asserted

The fight to preserve the values of liberal democracy won’t be fought in the battlefield where the armed forces of the Western world are currently engaged in conflict or will be in the future, nor will it be fought on our behalf by the state. It can only be fought by all of us as individuals on the battleground of ideas, where all of the other culture wars fought in our societies are fought. For make no mistake, this is in truth a culture war.

It should not have escaped your notice that the illiberal (nay, anti-liberal) identity politics championed by the likes of feminists and Black Lives Matter is not just endorsed by celebrities and the mainstream media, but in America’s case it is also being endorsed by the current president Barack Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That to me suggests that politics and the state is dancing to the tune of prevailing identitarian progressivism and the division that it engenders, perhaps because the people who support it are the loudest voices. But the prevalence of progressive identity politics is not the only problem. The values of Western liberal democracy are being eroded culturally by other factors as well. And again, not so much by the state but by the people, even though they stand to benefit from these values prevailing in our society.

For instance, freedom of expression. We have witnessed several instances in the Western world where artistic media and advertisement can be censored by the whim of public outrage, even if that outrage is in the minority like in the case of the Protein World ad saga. In Australia Grand Theft Auto V got banned at Target Australia by a large number of people who have never played any Grand Theft Auto game but presume to know what it is about. When DC Comics released a Batgirl comic depicting the Joker holding, tons of people. When video game companies like Lionhead Studios and Obsidian Entertainment have intended joke content in their games (like the a depiction of a woman with large breasts in Fable III for National Cleavage Day, and a poem about a Don Juan type character named Firedorn Lightbringer within Pillars of Eternity) that happens to offend someone on Twitter, the people on Twitter take it upon themselves to shame them into changing or removing that content and eventually the companies capitulate and apologize for content that they made as a joke. And don’t criticize social justice warriors Stephanie Guthrie for shaming the creator of an Anita Sarkeesian face-punch game, or you could be the center of a witch-hunt and be accused of harassment simply for disagreeing with her. On YouTube, you can actually have a video removed for the ever-vague notions of hate speech. And more recently, after everyone’s favorite gay super-villain Milo Yiannopoulos published a scathing review of the new Ghostbusters movie on Breitbart, actress Leslie Jones reported Milo and now there’s a hashtag campaign aimed at getting Twitter to ban Milo Yiannopoulos. And it worked: Twitter has recently suspended Milo Yiannopoulos, and I can only assume he has been getting the blame for the ire directed at Leslie Jones.

It seems to be lost on the people advocating that Milo be suspended that while he can be censored for a scathing movie review, and perhaps blamed for the actions of those who might have harassed Leslie Jones, there are examples of people who threaten others with violence publicly, and yet they have not been banned. Indeed, I can’t say if any of the people shouting for killing police officers in the wake of Alton Sterling have been banned yet either. It is thus entirely obvious that people with the wrong opinion in the eyes of the Twitterati are punished with censorship and accused of harassing other people, while people who actually call for violence against individuals remain active on Twitter.

The power of social pressure is such that a man can land a spacecraft on a comet, but he can be reduced to tears because of constant pressure and shaming by a large number of feminists for nothing more than the fact that he was wearing a T-shirt with a lot of scantily-clad women on it. If a public figure makes so much as an innocuous joke that offends the wrong people, they’re harassed and shamed by people with puritan mindsets and too much time on their hands. Like Tim Hunt’s joke about female scientists, or Richard Dawkin’s sharing of a video by SyeTenAtheist on Sargon of Akkad’s channel. In the former case, Tim Hunt lost his job. In the latter, Richard Dawkins may well have suffered a stroke brought on by the stress of being constantly harassed by SJWs shaming him for sharing the video. And sometimes it happened to private individuals who weren’t so famous before, like Justine Sacco, a senior director of corporate communications at IAC who posted a sarcastic tweet about AIDS during a trip to South Africa and found herself publicly shamed and trending on Twitter as a result.

It’s also at a point where the phenomenon of “trial by Twitter” is fairly well-documented. That’s right, online social pressure is even valued above the rule of law – one of the cornerstones of any liberal democracy worth its salt. Like in the case of Kesha’s attempted to sue produce Dr. Luke, accusing him of sexually, physically and emotionally abusing her. She was denied a temporary injunction, and tons of people sided with her and condemned Dr. Luke simply because Kesha broke into tears over being denied that injunction, and despite a lack of hard evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Luke. There’s also the case of Afrika Bambaataa, who was accused of sexual assault by several individuals who claim he abused them in the 1980’s when they were underaged, including a Democrat activist who released a video accusing him of rape (apparently for the purpose of “emotional healing”, seemingly as a substitute for calling the police). There has been no criminal conviction against Bambaataa, at least not as of yet, and unfortunately the case can’t be tried in court and police investigations are apparently not possible due to New York’s statutes of limitation, but despite this there have been calls for Cornell University to discard their collection of records released by Bambaataa and he has been effectively disavowed by the public and Zulu Nation. When Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian radio personality accused of rape, was acquitted, the Twitterati were outraged that people chose not to automatically believe the plaintiff, and there were even voices suggesting that the premise of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, along with the adversarial legal system, be abandoned entirely.

To me, it seems that the power of social pressure magnified by social media has not been lost on people living in the age of social media. Indeed, I think it seems like social media either has too much power or gives too many people too much power to coerce private entities and individuals or just shame them.

Another force that working against the values of liberal democracy is cultural relativism – the idea that there are no greater or lesser cultures, just different ones that are all equal. The problem with this prevailing is obvious. Every time, nowadays, when there is a serious terrorist attack committed by someone shown to identify with radical Islam, there are too many people unwilling to address the culture within which they are raised or raise themselves. In fact, we too often have a media and politicians who want to turn us away from the motives of the culprit. Not to mention, in the UK, there are actually sharia courts in operation and it is feared that they basically operate as sub-legal or parallel legal courts, similar to how the Khap Panchayats operate in India. And I’m sure the phenomenon of Salafist Muslims taking to the street to agitate for the supremacy of sharia law is well-known. It seems evident to me that the idea of individuals from different cultural backgrounds existing under a common banner is fading in the West, and we are actively allowing this by not questioning any aspect of it whatsoever. And it is worse in Europe, where it is starting to feel like there’s going to be a new Islam-inspired terrorist attack that takes the lives of tens of innocents every month or so. And every time it happens, people are discouraged from talking about a radical Islamic culture that has been fostering for a long time and currently inspires future terrorists whilst going unchallenged by a society that seems uninterested or unable to tell them . And all because of the bizarre conflation of the Islamic religion with the Arab ethnicity or race, despite the obvious fact that being a Muslim and being an Arab are not the same thing – one is a religion you can be raised in or choose to be part of, the other is a race, something you are born as.

I believe that all of the following needs to happen in the West if the values of liberal democracy are to be saved.

  1. Private companies must exert their right to refuse to censor themselves in order to suit the whims of social justice warriors.
  2. Individuals must not allow themselves to be silenced by the same social justice warriors.
  3. Social media companies need to show that freedom of speech and expression is a right guaranteed to all.
  4. Private media companies should refuse to cave to social pressure and refuse to fire people for saying the wrong thing.
  5. We must delegitimatize the phenomenon of “trial by Twitter” in which people are “tried” by court of public opinion via social media, and instead trumpet the rule of law.
  6. We must reject cultural relativism, and embrace the values of secular liberal democracy as a common banner under which we all live under instead of encouraging self-segregation.
  7. We must challenge bad ideas in forum of public debate and the media, especially the bad ideas that have inspired an increasing number of terrorist attacks.
  8. People who are easily triggered need to just block people who harass them instead of further stoking the flames. Better yet, get off social media for a little bit or turn off the phone.

If none of these things happen, then I predict that the values of liberal democracy will be eroded, and Western civilization will truly decline.

Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886) by Edward Moran.

Complete and utter disgrace in the left

You know, I seriously think that the left-wing has completely abandoned concepts like the freedom of assembly, the rule of law and generally the ability to just live with people you disagree with politically without turning to violence. I don’t think they support the idea of peaceful protest anymore as demonstrated by supporters of Bernie Sanders, most recently in San Jose, California. And now, progressives in America seem to hit a new low. Yesterday the news website Vox had released a statement announcing that one of their editors, Emmett Rensin, had been suspended. Rensin had put out a tweet the previous day saying:

“Advice: If Trump comes to your town, start a riot.”

When I saw this statement, I felt a question arise, “what the fuck are you doing!?”. It didn’t seem to be particularly sarcastic, nor did it seem to be a joke – but even if it was a joke it seems to be in pretty bad taste given recent events. It seemed obvious that Emmett Rensin was directly supporting the idea of premeditated violence as a legitimate form of protest aimed at a presidential candidate simply because, let’s be honest, he just doesn’t like. Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate reasons to criticize Donald Trump and I ultimately do not support him, but he has the same right freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as everyone else as he should do under the rule of law in what should be a free and civilized country. By endorsing violence as protest against a candidate, you are advocating that a someone be suppressed by violence or the threat of violence and you are rejecting the concepts of freedom of assembly and the rule of law. You are advocating. Simply put, you are advocating for authoritarianism, I dare say you might also be advocating fascism. This is same mindset that a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters seem to be harboring – the mentality that the best way to get what you want is by throwing a tantrum (like in the Nevada Democratic convention) and assaulting your political opponents (as it looks they they do a lot of with Donald Trump), the latter seemingly with the attempt of suppressing the other side through violence.

I bet they think that Donald Trump encouraging violence somehow justifies Bernie Sanders supporters being violent to Trump supporters, but I can’t help but wonder if some of the violence associated with Trump was actually, at least in part, mostly to do with anti-Trump people causing a ruckus (and there some who actually experience this, like Tuscon police officer Brandon Tatum), whether it’s in support of Bernie Sanders or just in support of Black Lives Matter. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt for a minute that Donald Trump’s supporters can be violent, nor do I have any doubt that Trump is lying when he says he doesn’t condone violence (he clearly does), but I think the mainstream media narrative should be treated with a lot more skepticism than even John Oliver manages to display on the matter. And even if it is mostly Trump supporters who are violent, does that really justify the behavior of Bernie Sanders supporters in San Jose? They, like Black Lives Matter, just want to control the conversation through violent suppression. And I’m willing to bet they know that all the violence will get blamed on Donald Trump regardless by the media or anyone else. San Jose’s mayor certainly resorted to blaming Trump. And you know what, I just bet that the media will do everything they can to somehow take advantage of this like the duplicitous profiteers of outrage and violence that they are. But I think what might also be going down is that the progressive left has decided to resort to violence because simply referring to Trump and his supporters as racists just isn’t working.

And going back to what I said in the beginning, it is clear to me that leftists in general are up to the same thing in the Western world. In America, Black Lives Matter are the kind of people who last year disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, Washington in order to take his platform from him while threatening to shut down the event if he did not relinquish said platform, and more recently they’ve been attempting to disrupt Milo Yiannopoulos’ speeches in various universities. Two people associated with Black Lives Matter even managed to accost Milo at DePaul University in order to try and silence him. While we’re on the subject of universities, the entire social justice movement is nothing more than an exercise in attempting to control political discourse through coercion – they want to silence the opinions of others because they detest the notion of freedom of speech and expression. They did it all through Gamergate and they continue to do so in American universities, and they driven by the same bullshit as Black Lives Matter and taught by progressive and often feminist academia.

Then you have events like in Paris, France where protesters decided that freedom of assembly does not exist for officers of the law so they attack them and their cars, which I’ve written about before. The people behind the attack were the kind of thugs who believe that there is no justice as long as the police are around and who disavow the notion of the rule of law, preferring to get their way through violent coercion instead. I don’t care what their cause is, if they go about suppressing police officers through violent coercion. Oh, and they weren’t above wearing a Guy Fawkes masks either, as some of them apparently did. They seem like self-styled anarchist activists.

And while we’re on that subject let’s talk about the left in my own country, Britain. The left is also in the business of trying to take control, albeit less violently than in America. They also really hate the British public for re-electing David Cameron of their own free will last year, and when he was re-elected people took to the streets to try change the fact that the Conservatives had been re-elected. The whole thing just screamed like a massive sermon of “TORY SCUM!”. They took to riots and clashed with police hoping to get the Conservatives out of power, but they did not prevail. They like to suppress anything right wing as basically an act of virtue signalling. Recently there was an anti-EU protest in Dover where apparently far-right individuals complained about immigration and burned EU flag (the latter part, frankly, is just awesome in my opinion). They were met with opposition by left-wing “anti-fascist” protesters who blocked the anti-immigration protesters and did but call the anti-immigration protesters racist and virtue-signal all the way, but some of them were arrested for, surprise surprise, interfering with the free assembly of the anti-immigration protesters. There’s a group active here called Antifa, a self-described “anti-fascist” group that spends their days showing up to the sites of “white pride” and apparently fascist rallies in order to protest not their cause but simply the fact that they have the right to free assembly and speech. Of course, they often like to push a strongly pro-mass migrant message, which itself should be a red flag because it means Antifa’s actions serve no purpose other than as a giant belligerent virtue signal. When I was in Swansea, I saw areas of the city marked “anti-fascist” areas. Do you know what that looks like to me? It looks like a gang marking territory. And that’s just perfect. In my mind, they aren’t fighting for freedom, they aren’t resisting tyranny, and they are certainly not interested in debate. They want to control the conversation and drown out the voices of those they deem morally and politically inferior.

Not to mention, the UK has its own social justice warriors. They’re active in a majority of British universities, and use “No Platform” policies to silence the views of those they disagree with. Often times it’s after pressure and bullying from a vocal minority who feel threatened by ideas they don’t like. And these snowflakes are led by an NUS that is not only notoriously illiberal and censorious, but is now also being led by one Malia Bouattia – a woman who is about as black as Rachel Dolezal, but claims to be “politically black”. Bouattia is also known for her obsession with the “Zionist-led” media, leading to some to think of her as an anti-Semite, and for her refusal to condemn ISIL for fear of Islamophobia. And just like in America, British universities capitulate to these snowflakes and crackdown on freedom of speech, expression, assembly and thought on their campuses. Sometimes on universities even political parties merit you being the subject of bullying: you can be bullied out for being a Tory or a supporter of UKIP.

Then you sometimes have more violent examples. Self-styled left-wing anarchist protesters, who are actually thugs, once attacked Cereal Killer Café in Shoreditch. Why? Well supposedly, they were fighting gentrification. Yes, they decided to oppose gentrification by getting into a mob and vandalizing Cereal Killer Café, of course. Oh, and they seemed to align themselves with an anarchist group called Class War. That makes sense. Because anarchists totally respect free enterprise and the rule of law, right? And just take a look at what Class War said in order to justify the incident.

“Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Soon this City will be an unrecognizable, bland, yuppie infested wasteland with no room for normal (and not so normal) people like us.”

Class War were also planning to accost the Ripper Museum because they thought it was misogynistic, and they only cancelled because they knew the police would be on the scene and they thought there would a lot of arrests.

All this and more is enough to lead me to the conclusion that the left wing is increasingly prone to seeking the advance of its ideas through coercion, often through violent means. And what are the ideals that the left feel can be justified by both social pressure and violent coercion? Progressivism. So-called equality (not so much the idea that we all have the same rights and are all capable of achieving merit, but rather things like equality of outcome or equal parity or the idea that we’re all worth the same even when we’re not). Concern for tolerance. Promoting diversity and inclusiveness. Social justice. Fighting hatred and prejudice. Fighting misogyny. Or just even the idea that they’re sticking it to the man. Or simply to stop the people from electing the wrong man or woman into a position of political office. Even if you agree with all of these premises, you must be faced with the following question: why do these premises justify the endorsement and implementation of coercion and violent suppression, and the abandonment of the rule of law and political freedom, especially in civilized countries where the rule of law is a given? Why must this be? And the answer to me always seems to be about control and power. They just want to prevent another point of view from being heard or even considered. And now it’s clear that much of the left is willing to use or simply support violence in order to achieve that.

Well, as of yesterday, I’ve had it! I am sick of the left wing and its methods. I know that currently I’m not exactly left-wing, but that doesn’t stop me from being exceptionally revolted at the left because they have decided that violent suppression of ideas and people that they dislike is OK. I believe in freedom, and I know that having freedom in a system of political organization requires the concepts of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of expression, and it requires those things be protected under the rule of law (preferably through constitutional principles). By choosing to abandon these principles, the left has chosen to reject freedom, thus proving themselves opposed to a principle that I hold sacred.

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.

Hatred, intolerance, and mob mentality: the threats to freedom

On Friday I wrote about the threat to freedom of speech lingering over universities in my country at the ends of airheaded and comfort-obsessed student unions. But I have become aware that freedom in my country is being endangered, if not killed entirely, by a much bigger threat than student intolerance: hatred. Not specifically hate in itself, or even hateful speech, but hateful actions and extreme intolerance in political form. Our government is playing on the hatred and intolerance of mob-minded masses on the Internet and arresting people who, while they may have said hateful things, did not go out and commit crimes and violence based on that. If you say something hateful, everyone on Twitter practically tars and feathers you before you get investigated by the cops. If you say anything in the newspapers about certain groups of people, you’re reported to the police. If you put up an advertisement that makes you feel insecure, you can get people to sign petitions to get it pulled or banned.

1984 has long passed, forget about Big Brother as described by George Orwell. Welcome to the postmodern world of the 2010s, where anything can be censored and banned if enough people whine intolerantly. In this country, if people protest loud enough over any shit you say, they can shut down a writer, get an ad, art exhibition, or a TV pulled,  or get the cops to investigate someone for doing nothing more than making offensive statements. Speech is potentially a crime, and so is hash-tagging. Even so much as a cruel joke, which nearly all of us do, can get you investigated or arrested by the new Gestapo police.

And this is no longer the product of any cold and torrid fascism. In fact, I don’t mean to sound like some right-wing nut, but I think it’s the result of the failure of modern liberalism. More accurately, a direct result of both the hypocrisy of modern liberalism and the hatred and intolerance that modern liberalism has allowed to have its way. Think about it: liberalism is supposedly about tolerance and equality, yet in our supposedly liberal society we are continually appeasing the mob mentality of the masses and the foaming mouths of the intolerant and hateful few who want to silence freedom of speech. This applies to public places, printed media, television, and the internet, especially the last of those four considering the increase in regulation being applied to the Internet in this country.

Online mob mentality is, naturally, not limited to the UK. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere in this day and age, which means even America could be in danger from the tradition of liberty being violated not by the government, but by its own people, subject to hatred, intolerance, and ignorance of the true meaning of freedom. Indeed, how long before most of the rest of the world becomes coaxed into holding liberty hostage by the masses?

Liberty cannot thrive in a place where people of intolerant and ignorant minds can censor everyone else and coax the state to ban whatever they tell them. Such a land would be no different to a dictatorship run by one person and his or her iron hand. Both environments are unjust because they hold freedom hostage and oppress the individual, and the people as a whole by proxy. And in a land where freedom is not held as sacred, and where ignorance reigns supreme, this is all too easy. And as we’re in an age of democracy, whatever new age of oppression may yet come will be brought about not by government or officials, but the people themselves, for the people will demand censorship and oppression because they mistakenly believe it is the way to protect the insecure and the innocent.

Universities need to defend freedom of speech

This afternoon I discovered a newsletter at my university, possibly printed by the student union, and I red about how they are questioning the importance of freedom of speech because someone made comments on Twitter about raping someone. What’s stupid about it is that the person said he wanted to rape someone if she wore the dress that was either black and blue or white and gold because she claimed it caused him “emotional damage”.

Seriously? You’re going to question the moral value of freedom of speech because of the foolish statements of someone who is obviously a retarded nutcase? I mean really, anyone who takes that whole dress thing seriously enough to want to rape someone in that dress is beyond idiotic and the people who feel threatened by that are even more mentally weak.

Obviously if this person actually did commit to those stupid statements and went out and raped someone then he should be punished for it, but we must not let such the trite ravings of an obvious nutcase undermine everyone else’s free speech, and the innate moral worth of freedom of speech as a whole. I worry that the young people in student unions may not know the exact moral worth of freedom of speech, and why freedom of speech must be total, rather than chilled or partial, if liberty is to mean anything for mankind. At least that’s what I get from the fact that the majority of universities in the UK are home to student unions who actively censor students. Saying that however, my university doesn’t seem to be doing too bad (at least judging from the censorship index, which lists my uni as green), and in all honesty I have not yet challenged my student union on censorship or engaged in political issues with them. Then again, that might be because whenever I look into them they don’t seem to be up to anything at all.

Nonetheless, I maintain that students in university really need to put more thought into liberty and freedom, and take a stronger stance against censorship if they are to maintain those values, if they actually believe in them that is.