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The work is ongoing

“Daily we work to remove that content online which is both harmful and – particularly when it comes to Covid-19 and vaccinations – which is harmful and provides misinformation and disinformation – Daily, we have those contacts with the online providers, and the work is ongoing.”

Big Brother Watch provided this video clip of Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (no, I did not miss out a word after “Digital” and, yes, she often is that incoherent) defending the Conservative government against Labour concerns that the government might not be doing enough censorship.

That is what depresses me most. Not that this semi-secret “Disinformation and Misinformation Unit” that was mentioned in no manifesto and which nobody voted for exists, nor that it it was not euthanised soon after birth as it should have been. Both of those facts are depressing in the way that January weather is depressing, or governments. That part that is extraordinarily depressing is that one cannot look to the Opposition for even the weak disincentive for this behaviour that a hypocritical denunciation would provide. The incentive is in the other direction. Labour and the Conservatives are competing over which of them can be most repressive.

14 comments to The work is ongoing

  • William H. Stoddard

    The very fact that such things are being suppressed makes me unwilling to trust anything the vaccination advocates say.

  • Stephen William Houghton II

    As Rand said, hate speech is an anti-concept, the purpose of which is to obliterate the concept of free speech.

  • The most important thing to remember about censorship is that it is effective.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Shlomo Maistre writes, “The most important thing to remember about censorship is that it is effective.”

    Yes and no. I think that eventually a tipping point is reached when nearly everybody has experience of something they know to be true not being reported, or being lied about. After that point distrust becomes habitual.

  • Andrew Douglas

    In effect we are suffering under a Lab/Con coalition. And never has the ‘Con’ part been better named.

  • Paul Marks

    When the “on line harms” Bill was first talked about it was presented as being about stopping kiddie porn (“we must think of THE CHILDREN”) – now it turns out to be about censoring OPINIONS the government does not like (and brands “disinformation”). Well that is despicable, utterly despicable, but not unexpected.

    Three hundred years ago Sir Robert Walpole presented theatre censorship as the answer to a horrible play – all about rape and murder (advocating such things), he had the play written himself. His real objective was censoring political dissent – three centuries later and the same tricks are still be used.

    Natalie asks why the political parties all seem to sing from the same hymn sheet – on censorship and everything else, with the only argument being “you are not doing it ENOUGH – do it MORE, whip the people with scorpions!” on ever more government spending and regulations (regulations on all matters).

    This is because “experts” and officials create policy – and politicians are then presented with it, and carry it to the public. In theory politicians could say NO, and sometimes that actually happens – but it is rare in the modern United Kingdom for politicians to say NO and stick to NO. After all they are “educated” in the same schools and universities as the officials and “experts” and watch the same “mainstream media”.

    Also there is a STRUCTURAL problem – unlike the United States where such people as State Governors are directly elected, in our system the position of the leader of a council or a Prime Minister is not nearly so secure (as Margaret Thatcher found out when she was betrayed).

    To get rid of President Trump the international establishment (the tech lords and so on) had to rig a Presidential Election – let us say that a British Prime Minister said NO to lockdown (and stuck to NO) – there would be no need to rig a General Election to get rid of him or her (a Prime Minister can be removed by internal political pressure).

    Shlomo Maistre is not (I think) saying that censorship is 100% effective – but it does not have to be. It does matter if a few people (or even more than a few) know that the official line (or whatever) is false – as long as a MAJORITY of people do not know that.

    If a MAJORITY of people believe the line that there is no Early Treatment for Covid 19, or that “lockdowns” are a good thing, or that Britain producing no C02 will “save the planet” than it does not really matter if a few people (or even quite a lot of people) are calling out “but the country is being put on the road to destruction” – not if the majority of people do not hear the warnings, or hear them only in a way that DISCREDITS the warnings.

    It is not true that democratic politics is always “all sound and fury signifying nothing” – after all in some American States, such as Florida or Nebraska or South Dakota (and many others), it makes a real difference if a Republican or a Democrat wins the election of State Governor or control the State Legislature. Elect the correct Republican and they will say NO to lockdowns and so on – and stick to NO.

    So democratic politics is NOT always about several different political parties all pushing, essentially, the same policies (because they do not create the policies, officials and “experts” create the policies, the politicians just present them).

    The question is can British politics be changed so that there is a real difference between the political parties – so that, for example, a political party (with an actual chance of winning elections) will say NO to such things as Agenda 2030, and not just go with the “Davos” flow.

    I think it is possible for the Conservative Party to start saying NO to officials and “experts” – I really do believe that (that it is POSSIBLE). But I do not believe that Mr Johnson is a person who will do that.

    As Peter Bone (Member of Parliament for the next town south of mine) recently pointed out – Mr Johnson has even agreed to a Parliamentary body that is half made up of Members of the House of Common and House of Lords and half made up of Members of the European Parliament – such a body will have a built in pro European Union majority (as some members of the Commons and Lords are pro E.U.).

    “It is only an advisory body” – yes, just as Agenda 21 (agreed by Prime Minister John Major – soon after Margaret Thatcher was betrayed) was “legally nonbinding” till much of it was made domestic law. Agenda 2030 will go the same way – and so will this “its just an advisory body” Parliamentary body with with the European Union.

    So even on British independence from the European Union (the European Union itself only being part of the plans of the “international community”) we-are-betrayed.

    The thing is would another Prime Minister NOT betray liberty and betray the nation? Or would they look at what happened to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (or, perhaps, even to Pope Benedict XVI) and say privately to themselves “I had better do as I am told – or I will be out on my ear?”

    I do not know. I just do not know.

  • Paul Marks

    It is worth remembering just how different the position of the United Kingdom is from, say, Australia.

    Australia has truly vast natural resources relative to the size of its population – it can afford things such as lockdowns and all the rest of it.

    The United Kingdom does not have vast natural resources relative to the size of its population – if we continue to follow Big Government, Interventionist, policies – things will go horribly wrong here.

    There will be terrible suffering.

  • Fraser Orr

    I think Natalie what should rather more depress you is that a significant majority of the British public not only don’t object, but agree wholeheartedly.

    If the government goes awry we can, in theory, fix it. If the people go awry, common sense is entirely lost, then we are truly f**d.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Natalie,

    Shlomo Maistre writes, “The most important thing to remember about censorship is that it is effective.”

    Yes and no. I think that eventually a tipping point is reached when nearly everybody has experience of something they know to be true not being reported, or being lied about. After that point distrust becomes habitual.

    Are you not proving my point? If you are right that eventually such a tipping point is reached, then that just shows one more way in which censorship is always effective. Effective means having an effect and censorship always has huge effects – you listed one: “when distrust becomes habitual”. You thought that was a bug? For TPTB that’s a feature.

  • Paul Marks

    Shlomo Maistre.

    I think we agree that “censorship being effective” does not mean everyone being deceived just most people – and YES that happens, sometimes the truth is kept away from most people (and for a very long term).

    Natalie’s counter argument is that the establishment have to be careful that they do not get a reputation for deceiving people – for if they do, then people (MOST people) will not believe them.

    That is not “one more way censorship is effective” – that means it has become INeffective.

    “That is not a bug – that’s a feature”.

    No it is not – as the establishment want to be believed.

    I know that it is often said of Soviet propaganda that “they did not want to believed – they wanted to demoralise people” and that may be true in the end. Although that cynicism eventually DESTROYED the Soviet Union.

    But that is not what the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organisation (and on and on) want to be believed.

    They want to be believed – so if censorship does not lead to them being believed, it has become INeffective.

    It is a bug – it is not a feature.

  • I have a wild idea which I will share FWIW (if anyone sees an obvious flaw, please say).

    From time to time, launch freedom of information act requests to get full details of what the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has had suppressed since last time: the web pages they got taken down, the justifications, etc.

    Put these pages and justifications on a website whose purpose is to document what our wonderful government is protecting us from.

    There would be no ‘misinformation’ involved since anyone who visited the site would be fully aware that a given page had been taken down at UK government request on such-and-such a date for such-and-such an alleged reason.

    The idea came to me from memory of the Nazis’ gallery of “degenerate art”. Goebbels kept the pictures he removed from the galleries and dumped them in a somewhat pokey venue that Germans could visit to see what absurdities and horrors he was protecting them from. Given what some interwar ‘art’ trends were like, I expect he got some of the propaganda benefit he hoped for – but the queues continued to be long for so long that in the end Goebbels found an excuse to shut it down.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Paul Marks,

    Natalie’s counter argument is that the establishment have to be careful that they do not get a reputation for deceiving people – for if they do, then people (MOST people) will not believe them.

    That is not “one more way censorship is effective” – that means it has become INeffective.

    Well, I disagree.

    There are two separate questions here.

    1. Do the media want to be trusted by the people even as they lie through their teeth? Yes.
    2. If censorship leads to most people distrusting the media, then is censorship no longer effective? No.

    Even if most people distrust the media, censorship may still be effective. And, in fact, that mass distrust of the media is a rather common eventual consequence of uniform, thorough, and unreasonable censorship.

    I do take your and Natalie’s point that the media want to be trusted by the people and THAT end is harmed if most people do not believe the media anymore, but that does not mean that censorship is in such a scenario necessarily ineffective.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Niall – it’s a splendid idea.

  • bobby b

    “Put these pages and justifications on a website whose purpose is to document what our wonderful government is protecting us from.”

    Better host your website somewhere far away and unaffiliated with the UK. Under an assumed name. Pay only with cash. Because your “wonderful government” is going to hate you and will be looking for you.

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