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Euro-Newspeak

Orwell imagined a political order that would try to change people by expunging certain terms from the vocabulary in order to make the very concepts those words represent un-knowable.

Of course Orwell had not heard of the European Union. To quote EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini:

I do intend to carry out a clear exploring exercise with the private sector… on how it is possible to use technology to prevent people from using or searching dangerous words like bomb, kill, genocide or terrorism

And of course this will also block anyone researching the history of Nazi German and all manner of other governmental action throughout history . It might be interesting to speculate on what the motivation of someone like the EU’s “Justice and Security” Commissioner really are.

(via Ben Laurie)

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18 comments to Euro-Newspeak

  • James

    Not to disagree with the main thrust of your point- the abhorrence of such a move- but he did say that articles of historic interest, such as Nazi Germany, would be exempt.

    Of course, the practicalities seem questionable.

    He’s still a knob, though.

  • WalterBowsell

    “And of course this will also block anyone researching the history of Nazi German and all manner of other …”

    Which is one of the reasons why it won’t happen. Franco is just strutting for the sake of the ignorant who’ll hear about such radicalism and sleep a little better at night.

  • but he did say that articles of historic interest, such as Nazi Germany, would be exempt

    Which of course means the system will not work at all.

  • Pa Annoyed

    Yes, but what is “history” and what is “hate-filled lies and distortion”?

    It sounds like a good opportunity to introduce an official history, and ban all alternatives. But I’m being paranoid, no doubt.

  • Robert

    I wonder if folks like him would attempt to ban bomb making manuals called chemistry textbooks, hmmm?

  • tranio

    Any comments from you Europeans about the Brussels City government banning a demonstration in commemoration of 9/11? More free speech disappearing. Apparently 10 of the 18 members of Brussels council are muslims.

  • Kim du Toit

    What’s to speculate?

  • I had my own rant about “General” Franco here(Link).

    It is a fencepost. It is not for these people to filter. It WILL be abused as soon as, if not long before, the pretence of the EU is decreed bankrupt and people start organising against it.

  • J

    I see that we are importing political ideas as well as goods from China these days.

    Cretins.

    J

  • guy herbert

    tranio,

    If you care to provide a credible source for either assertion, then I’m prepared to comment.

    It could hardly work quite as simply as you suggest. Belgium has some of the most extraordinarily tangled governmental systems in the world.

    Brussells is treated as a region in the Begian system, having an 89-member regional parliament, not a “city council” of 18 members. The commune within that city-region known as the City of Brussels has a community council of 47 members, and a district council of 10 that has most of the policy responsibility, though the Mayor is a figurehead, and there is a Secretariat to carry out administration. If you read French or Flemmish you can find out all about them here and see pictures of some of the jolly officials, too. Some of them do have African (remember the Belgian Congo, and Francophone West and Central Africa generally) or Arabic names to excite your prejudice, but by no means a majority.

    Wikipedia has some irreproachable figures from the last Belgian census (1991) indicating that a smallish minority of the Brussell’s population is of recent immigrant extraction, so your assertion that a majority of council members (under highly proportional electoral systems) are muslims is just a bit implausible.

  • Brad

    It sounds pretty easy to me. Just put in a filter like many search engines have for adult material, to filter or not filter. Just have the option to search genocide filtered by “historical interest” or “mad nut job planning on building a exploding a dirty bomb in the heart of Manhattan or London or Rome”. Not hard really.

    What tires me is comments like this (and worse) by the likes of Frattini are made every day by our betters, get ignored by the masses, and when a few people point it out and say “hey, this is a problem” WE’RE dismissed as on the fringe. The greatest success of Statism so far is that it is mostly ignored as it invades peoples lives (and threaten more) and those who question it are the ones given the careful examination. Comments such as this slide right on by, while the counterpoint comes from nutsville.

  • Midwesterner

    Guy,

    Maybe he is referring to this?

  • quenton

    Well of course he said that they would never attempt to block “legitimate” use. Just like gun owner databases weren’t supposed to be used for gun confiscation. Or ID cards are for “your benefit”. I could go on but I think the point has already been made. Any time a politician or bureaucrat says that a new law or regulation is supposed to accomplish x the real (and intended) outcome will always be the opposite.

  • guy herbert

    Thanks, Mid,

    I hadn’t seen any reports of this in the British media, but then there’s no reason for it to be reported. Small and medium sized demonstrations happen all the time and are only reported by the people involved – because they just aren’t interesting. (I am continually fending off suggestions that NO2ID hold “a big march or demo” from people who have no comprehension what it takes to create one and how cost-ineffective it is.)

    My comment on the Mayor of Brussells’ decision (not as in tranio’s Islamic-conspiracy version, the decision of a council dominated by Muslims) is this:

    Of course I think that any group, no matter how nutty – and people who think Europe is in imminent danger of “Islamicisation” are if anything more nutty than the Islamists who violently repudiate a gradual encroachment of modernity on the Arab world – should be allowed to protest as long as they don’t actually threaten others or prevent them going about their lawful business. The decision is by my lights wrong.

    But it is by no means unusual for European governments and police to restrain or restrict demos in public places for public order reasons. Even in Britain, we have had bans on political uniforms snd police approval over the routes of marches since 1936. Though it is far from ideal, it isn’t a new development, or particularly sinister.

    Even if I think the authorities ought to be protecting demostrators of all kinds engaged in peaceable protests against those who will riot against them, I am less concerned about the occasional demo banned because it might cause a riot than the same sort of bullying treatment handed out to people who are breaking no law. It is not comparable to the web-censorship apparently being proposed by Commissioner Frattini[1].

    It is British police policy to use the excuse of “Forward Intelligence” to intimidate all demonstrators by photographing and recording them. There’s an account here, but watch any demo you come across.)

    And there is this sort of thing:

    As I walked up the entrance ramp I was stopped by police. “I am afraid I can’t let you past me until I have searched you, as I have reason to believe that you could have articles intended for criminal damage,” said an officer.

    “What good reason?” I asked.

    “We watched you address the crowd.”

    “I am being stopped for what I said in a speech?” I spluttered.

    “Oh no. Not because of what you said. It is because you look overconfident.”

    That was the official reason, I was “overconfident”; bless them, they even wrote it on the stop-and-search slip the police have to provide. Under the title “Grounds for Search”, the officer wrote: “overconfident attitude of Mr Thomas”.

    [1] One of the scariest things about the EU from my perspective is that institutional point: it is the Commission – the bureacracy – that has the “right of initiative”. Even in the worst of conventional dictatorships policy is deemed to derive from political authority, with the administrative caste in a supporting role.

  • Counting Cats

    Guy,

    Can’t point to a reference, but as I read elsewhere the Mayors party has eighteen members sitting on the council, ten of whom are muslim.

  • guy herbert

    Here’s a list of the full communal council:

    http://www.brucity.be/artdet.cfm?nLanguage=1&id=4049

    I understand that the nominally muslim Ms Hariche was stand-in for the atheist Mr Thielmanns for a while, but that he’s better now.

    The row may have more to do with the fact that francophone socialists dominate the council than that there are teriffically many muslims – though that the muslims are generally francophones too riles the nastier Flemish nationalists.

    Put it down as part of the bad-tempered disintegration (in every sense) of Belgium picked up by Perry here rather than a hugely significant piece of restraint on free speech by foreign types.

  • Sunfish

    Quenton:

    Well of course he said that they would never attempt to block “legitimate” use. Just like gun owner databases weren’t supposed to be used for gun confiscation. Or ID cards are for “your benefit”.

    Not sure which country you’re thinking of. So-called REAL ID (in the US) does offer a benefit. Granted, I personally think that said benefit badly fails a cost-benefit analysis, in that the harm from mandating one specific government ID for pretty much every activity trumps all of the fraud that might be prevented or the terrorism that won’t be.

    As for the UK’s proposed ID card, all I can say is that my impression is pretty much everything that the UK Gov’t does reeks of fascism as implemented by Larry, Moe, and Curly.

    At any rate, I’d be curious to know what Generalissimo Franco’s notion of “legitimate” use is. For instance, in my profession, knowing how homemade bombs are made and what they look like could be important. For the general public, I imagine that the same information could also be important: If you know what a homemade bomb looks like, then when you see one you’ll know to arrange to be someplace else. Knowledge is power, and especially when applied to the perfectly-healthy human instinct for self-preservation.

    Guy:
    Thanks for those links. After reading the comments on the one about the speaker being searched due to “overconfidence” I feel a good twelve IQ points stupider.

    But it is by no means unusual for European governments and police to restrain or restrict demos in public places for public order reasons.

    What gets me is, some European countries (Belgium leaps to mind) actually have full-time permanent riot teams. They do nothing but either control riots or train to control riots. Here, with 800,000-odd police in this country, we don’t have a single such full-time team. Riot control is purely an additional duty of whoever’s actually on shift when the riot happens or (less common) a SWAT team.

    Does the continent actually have that much of a “public order” problem?

    Watching the comments about Muslims being elected to Brussels’ local government makes me wonder a little. We’ve had fear in the USA about pretty much every group at one point or another, President Kennedy being Catholic as prime example, or a freshman congresscritter from Minnesota being Muslim. and yet civilization has somehow failed to collapse.

    Or, did I just not get the memo?

  • Paul Marks

    “smallish minority” Guy? And what is that bit about “recent” immigrants – what difference does “recent” make? Indeed Muslims born in the West tend to be more radical than immigrants so the whole “immigrant” thing misses the point. I wonder what the most popular first name in Brussels is these days (various spellings of certain well known name) – perhaps “wikipedia” will honestly tell you, or perhaps not.

    Mark Stein would not agree with you about “smallish minority”, but then his family are Flemish (indeed he spent a lot of his childhood in Flanders) so perhaps he is “nasty”. He would argue that it is not the “nastyness” of the Flemish that is the problem, but their cowardice. For example, the bus load of people who sat and did nothing whilst “youths” (guess what is that is code for) kicked the bus conducter to death in front of them – and would mostly not even speak about the event afterwards (too scared of an expanding local community).

    If the Flemish will not fight (i.e. be nasty) to defend their towns they will lose them – it is as simple as that. Perhaps the world should not be like that – but it always has been.

    Bottom line – free speech is not tolerated in Belguim. It does not matter who is banning political speech they do not like.

    I think you would agree that bans by French or Flemish speaking pinkish grey people are just as bad as bans by black or brown people.

    By the way one Islamic suicide bomber from Belgium was female, blond and blue eyed (a convert, but some of the converts are having children). I do not know whether the lady’s first language was French or Flemish – but I doubt it matters.

    Still back to the post:

    The E.U. person might talk to the Chinese (and to Google and so on) they may help him with his depraved desires.

    As for me, I hated the man as soon as he used the words “private sector”.

    People who use that term, other than to attack it, tend to assume that civil society (i.e. the civil interactions of human beings) is only a “sector” and the state should control a lot, if not all, of life.