Archive for the ‘censorship’ tag
Interesting essay by Steven Nadler, arguing that freedom of expression, without restraint, benefits the state as well as its citizens
Baruch Spinoza, the 17th-century Dutch thinker, may be among the more enigmatic (and mythologized) philosophers in Western thought, but he also remains one of the most relevant, to his time and to ours. He was an eloquent proponent of a secular, democratic society, and was the strongest advocate for freedom and tolerance in the early modern period. The ultimate goal of his “Theological-Political Treatise” — published anonymously to great alarm in 1670, when it was called by one of its many critics “a book forged in hell by the devil himself”— is enshrined both in the book’s subtitle and in the argument of its final chapter: to show that the “freedom of philosophizing” not only can be granted “without detriment to public peace, to piety, and to the right of the sovereign, but also that it must be granted if these are to be preserved.”
Spinoza was incited to write the “Treatise” when he recognized that the Dutch Republic, and his own province of Holland in particular, was wavering from its uncommonly liberal and relatively tolerant traditions. He feared that with the rising political influence in the 1660s of the more orthodox and narrow-minded elements in the Dutch Reformed Church, and the willingness of civil authorities to placate the preachers by acting against works they deemed “irreligious,” “licentious” and “subversive,” the nearly two decades-long period of the “True Freedom” was coming to an end. The “Treatise” is both a personally angry book — a friend of Spinoza’s, the author of a radical treatise, had recently been thrown in prison, where he soon died — and a very public plea to the Dutch republic not to betray the political, legal and religious principles that made its flourishing possible.
…Well before John Stuart Mill, Spinoza had the acuity to recognize that the unfettered freedom of expression is in the state’s own best interest. In this post-9/11 world, there is a temptation to believe that “homeland security” is better secured by the suppression of certain liberties than their free exercise. This includes a tendency by justices to interpret existing laws in restrictive ways and efforts by lawmakers to create new limitations, as well as a willingness among the populace, “for the sake of peace and security,” to acquiesce in this. We seem ready not only to engage in a higher degree of self-censorship, but also to accept a loosening of legal protections against prior restraint (whether in print publications or the dissemination of information via the Internet), unwarranted surveillance, unreasonable search and seizure, and other intrusive measures.  Spinoza, long ago, recognized the danger in such thinking, both for individuals and for the polity at large. He saw that there was no need to make a trade-off between political and social well-being and the freedom of expression; on the contrary, the former depends on the latter.
(click here to continue reading Spinoza and The First Amendment – NYTimes.com.)
It’s of course perfectly standard for members of Congress to not be exceptionally proficient in technological matters. But for some committee members, the issue did not stop at mere ignorance. Rather, it seemed there was in many cases an outright refusal to understand what is undoubtedly a complex issue dealing with highly-sensitive technologies.
When the security issue was brought up, Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina seemed particularly comfortable about his own lack of understanding. Grinningly admitting “I’m not a nerd” before the committee, he nevertheless went on to dismiss without facts or justification the very evidence he didn’t understand and then downplay the need for a panel of experts. Rep. Maxine Waters of California followed up by saying that any discussion of security concerns is “wasting time” and that the bill should move forward without question, busted internets be damned.
The fact that there was any debate over whether to call in experts on such a matter should tell you something about the integrity of Congress. It’d be one thing if legitimate technical questions directed at the bill’s supporters weren’t met with either silence or veiled accusations that the other side was sympathetic to piracy. Yet here we are with a group of elected officials openly supporting a bill they can’t explain, and having the temerity to suggest there’s no need to “bring in the nerds” to suss out what’s actually on it.
“No legislation is perfect,” Rep. Watt said at one point, continuing the insane notion that the goal of the House should be to pass anything, despite what consequences it may bring. Later, Iowa Representative Steve King tweeted, somewhat ironically, about surfing the internet on his phone because he was bored listening to his colleague Shiela Jackson speak about the bill. Then, even more ironically, another representative’s comments calling him out for it were asked to be stricken from the record.
This used to be funny, but now it’s really just terrifying. We’re dealing with legislation that will completely change the face of the internet and free speech for years to come. Yet here we are, still at the mercy of underachieving Congressional know-nothings that have more in common with the slacker students sitting in the back of math class than elected representatives. The fact that some of the people charged with representing us must be dragged kicking and screaming out of their complacency on such matters is no longer endearing — it’s just pathetic and sad.
(click here to continue reading Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works | Motherboard.)
We are certainly living in a new digital age when Bob Dylan directly answers his critics (who we’ve discussed, and dismissed, previously), on his own website, not needing to remain “inscrutable”, nor talk through a friendly journalist, with their own agendas. Much better, really.
Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn’t happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook. If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing.
We did go there this year under a different promoter. According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages. The Chinese press did tout me as a sixties icon, however, and posted my picture all over the place with Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The concert attendees probably wouldn’t have known about any of those people. Regardless, they responded enthusiastically to the songs on my last 4 or 5 records. Ask anyone who was there. They were young and my feeling was that they wouldn’t have known my early songs anyway.
As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.
(click here to continue reading To my fans and followers | Bob Dylan.)
I didn’t realize the so-called China controversy started in May 2010, but His Bobness would know.
I looked for the Mojo article in question, but it is apparently not online, as none of the myriad articles I read on the topic include a link. Oh well.
Insanely ridiculous. How is this even remotely acceptable behavior? Police should avoid doing illegal acts if they are so worried about being videotaped.
In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.
Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.
Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, “[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want.” Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, “The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law – requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense.”
The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler’s license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
(click to continue reading Are Cameras the New Guns?.)
Police are public officials, paid with our tax dollars. Why should they be exempted from established principles? Horrible decision by lawmakers in Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland, and everywhere else considering similar draconian laws.
Sounds like an April Fools joke, but it isn’t.
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.
But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.
As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.
You want to know the best part? The juicy, plump, dripping irony?
The author who was the victim of this Big Brotherish plot was none other than George Orwell. And the books were “1984” and “Animal Farm.”
[Click to continue reading Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others - Pogue’s Posts Blog - NYTimes.com]
This is a really really compelling reason to avoid purchasing a Kindle, no?
In George Orwell’s “1984,” government censors erase all traces of news articles embarrassing to Big Brother by sending them down an incineration chute called the “memory hole.”
On Friday, it was “1984” and another Orwell book, “Animal Farm,” that were dropped down the memory hole — by Amazon.com.
In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.
An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.
[Click to continue reading Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle Devices - NYTimes.com]
I don’t see how this can be covered in PR pixie-dust. Amazon is going to be the butt of a lot of jokes for a long time. Sneaking in and deleting 1984 of all books? Seems like there could have been a less obnoxious way to handle this, perhaps a note to those Kindle owners who had downloaded 1984? a coupon? Something, not just zapped down the memory hole…
We almost bought a Kindle a few months ago, thinking it might be a way to subscribe to periodicals without all the paper waste, no longer would we consider it. Annotating articles is a work-product, and Amazon could just remove it without asking.
Amazon’s published terms of service agreement for the Kindle does not appear to give the company the right to delete purchases after they have been made. It says Amazon grants customers the right to keep a “permanent copy of the applicable digital content.”
Retailers of physical goods cannot, of course, force their way into a customer’s home to take back a purchase, no matter how bootlegged it turns out to be. Yet Amazon appears to maintain a unique tether to the digital content it sells for the Kindle.
Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said.
Amazon hasn’t changed the wording of their terms of service, yet
Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.
A few interesting links collected May 17th through May 19th:
- New York State Aims for 100 MW of Rooftop Solar Power by 2015 : TreeHugger – photo: Seth Anderson via flickr.
And thanks to TreeHugger staff for learning from their little mistake – proper credit to photographers is not difficult, makes everyone happier, fitter.
- The 1871 fires – Disarranging Mine – Did you know that on the night the Great Chicago Fire started, October 8, 1871, there were many more fires across the Upper Midwest?
- Gabriel Villa’s Mural Destroyed « mediating the medium – "I recently received a disturbing e-mail from the artist Gabriel Villa that began with “The city white washed my mural.” In it Villa explained how the mural he began in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood at Kaplan’s Liquors 960 W 31st St, as a part of Version>09 was destroyed by the city only days before its completion. I had been documenting Villa’s progress as a part of this year’s festival and I am sadden by the news of its destruction. He was granted permission by the owner of the building to paint the mural and this forces me to ask, what was the real reason for this censorship?"
Despicable. Censorship at its most heavy handed. Welcome to Daley's Chicago
A few interesting links collected May 15th through May 17th:
- A Mattress Here, A Mattress There….Why are they everywhere? | Today's Photos: Today's best Chicago photos, handpicked by our editors. in Chicago – Carryout on 17 East Ohio
- Chicago for the Architecture Buff – my photo of the Rookery stair used here:
209 S. Lasalle St.
Named for the giant flocks of pigeons that once roosted onsite, the Rookery is really two buildings in one."
- City Room – Metro – Alderman Destroys Public Art – "BALCER: You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera's. Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind.
MARSZEWSKI: It's really too bad that he didn't know that was art.
Ed Marszewski is the art festival organizer who asked Villa to paint the mural. And it's his mom that owns the building that Villa painted on.
MARSZEWSKI: We didn't realize that you need to get a permit to paint your own wall. Do you know if that is in fact a law?
A spokesman for Chicago's buildings department says section 13 25 50 of the City Code requires building owners to have a permit for painted signage or to alter or repair painted signage on a building. But a spokesperson for the city's law department says there's no permit necessary for a mural on the side of a private building as long as it's not an advertisement and as long as the property owner has given their permission. "
A few interesting links collected May 7th through May 8th:
- Barack Hussein Obama’s un-American mustard choice – The latest blogospheric brouhaha? When President Obama ordered a burger earlier this week, he asked for it without ketchup — and with Grey Poupon. No, seriously. Not that this should be surprising by now, but even Sean Hannity has picked up on the story and broadcast it to millions of Fox News viewers. Naturally, in response, various liberal outlets are responding with equal fervor.…Why, then, am I writing about this? Well, because it gives me an excuse to link to a really fascinating article Malcolm Gladwell wrote for the New Yorker a few years back about the science of taste — why people like certain kinds of things like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, soda and mustard. Turns out that those store brand colas really aren’t very well-made, that Heinz really might be the platonic ideal of ketchup and that almost everyone prefers Grey Poupon to patriotic and manly (but lousy) American mustard. From the piece:
The Seattle Traveler » Waterfront Fun at Seattle Maritime Festival – Seattle puts its maritime prowess on display this weekend with the annual Seattle Maritime Festival.
Saturday’s Family Fun Day is always a big treat, and the highlight is the Tugboat Races. These are the largest Tugboat Races in the World = with over 40 boats expected to participate.
Photo credit: swanksalot @flickr
- Lawmaker Defends Imprisoning Hostile Bloggers | Threat Level – “Rep. Linda Sanchez responded Wednesday to Threat Level’s tirade against her proposed legislation outlawing hostile electronic speech. Her answer: “Congress has no interest in censoring.”Sanchez, with the introduction of the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, clearly has a great interest in censoring.”
A few interesting links collected January 24th through January 25th:
- Want to Know What Flickr Thinks Should be Censored, Public Art, Museum Paintings and Screenshots of the Flickr Blog When They’re Critical of Flickr | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection – Censorship and communication re: censorship is the consistently bad part of Flickr, ever since their beginnings, actually. Early on, Flickr marked my entire stream as “restricted”, but I never did find out why. “If you’d like to see if Flickr is censoring any of your images as well, go to the Flickr Organizer and click on “more options” under the search function and then tell the organizer to show you only “Restricted” content. You might just be surprised that Flickr has censored some of your images as well.”
Johnny Red Kerr – Peter Vecsey – “On that disheartening note, longtime Bulls broadcaster John “Red” Kerr is ailing with prostate cancer. After working the microphone for the first seven or eight games this season, the 33-year veteran and expansion team’s original coach (of the year, 1966-67, gaining entry to the playoffs) was forced to stay close to home.
A ceremony honoring Kerr’s service to the franchise has been moved up from April to the second week of February. A statue in his likeness, sculpted by the same artist who carved Michael Jordan’s image, will be placed outside the United Center in the same vicinity as His Airness.
Conspicuously absent from the Hall of Fame as a contributor, Kerr was a better-than-average center (13.8 points, 11. 2 rebounds) for 12 seasons with Syracuse, Philadelphia and Baltimore. His biggest achievement in my eyes, though, was recognizing the greatness of Julius Erving and George Gervin as GM of the ABA Virginia Squires long before anyone else.”
The Dan Rather lawsuit against Bush’s cronies at CBS continues to move forward, and the New York Observer found this exhibit1 among the documents:
This week, Dan Rather’s legal team submitted a memorandum to the judge overseeing Mr. Rather’s $70 million civil lawsuit against his former employers, which for the first time made public some of the thousands of documents that CBS has already turned over in the ongoing discovery process.
In Exhibit J of the current filing, Mr. Rather’s legal team include a list (turned up in discovery) which CBS executives apparently compiled in the fall of 2004, prior to settling on Mr. Thornburgh and Mr. Boccardi.
The list includes Mr. Boccardi’s name as well such seemingly reasonable potential candidates as David Gergen, Gene Roberts (former managing editor of The New York Times) and Dick Wald (former president of NBC News).
Then things get a little bit more conservative. Under the category “others” are the names of potential candidates such as… Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh.
Herein, CBS’s full list of “others”:
Nicholas Von Hoffman
At the very bottom of the list, someone wrote in one more name. “Roger Ailes.”
In other words, CBS was only interested in squelching the truth, destroying Dan Rather, and collecting scalps to ensure that George W Bush won the election in 2004. I hope Dan Rather keeps pushing this matter, and that more juicy documents get released. All of the rabid Republicans on this list are enemies of the state, I hope they all get deposed and publicly humiliated.Footnotes:
- I corrected any obvious typos [↩]
I don’t know, is that something you’d put on your resume1 ? Especially since it is your employer saying it about you?
The constantly offended assholes at the Parents Television Council have complained to the FCC about the brief, accidental nudity on last week’s Survivor Gabon episode, in which Marcus’ genitalia was briefly visible during a challenge.
Citing the the accidentally broadcast of Libra’s “fuck” on Big Brother 10, the PTC says in a press release that “CBS has once again decided to violate the public trust,” and calls the flash “shocking and purposeful.” Because seeing a human body part will forever destroy their souls and the souls of the precious, innocent children who happen to be Googling about penises, the PTC wants an apology and for CBS to hunt down the person who dared let this happen. People: It’s a penis, and it’s only shocking to those people who don’t get to see one regularly, either their own or someone else’s.
Don’t the PTC folks have anything better to do? Rhetorical question, of course. And to think, if Sarah Palin becomes President (or even Vice President), the Christian Taliban will have a high ranking politician on their side, taking their phone calls, and expanding their hateful message.Footnotes:
- CBS lawyers responded “This was a completely unintentional, inadvertent and fleeting incident that was virtually undetectable when viewed in real time. In the first 24 hours after the broadcast, before freeze-frame images were widely posted online, we received one viewer comment from the 13 million who watched the telecast.” [↩]
[click to embiggen, iffen ya dare]
Thank the pasta lords, now I can sleep at night without worrying that a giant nipple is going to destroy America. I have no sympathy for the dingleberries who own/run CBS, but the FCC is even less sympathetic a beast,
In a decision that clears CBS of any wrongdoing for airing the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that featured Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” a federal appeals court overturned the $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission levied against the station, calling the fine arbitrary and capricious.
The decision was handed down early Monday by a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the fine was unfair because the commission, in imposing it, deliberately strayed from its practice of exempting fleeting indecency in broadcast programming from punishment. The commission also erred, the judges ruled, by holding CBS responsible for the actions of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who were characterized by the judges as “independent contractors hired for the limited purposed of the Halftime Show.”
[Click to read more detail regarding Court Throws Out Super Bowl Indecency Fine - NYTimes.com]
and because the FCC acted in poor faith, deciding which incidents were worth going after.
The court, in its ruling, said the FCC would have had a stronger case against CBS had the performance been pre-recorded. But because it was aired live, and there was no solid evidence that CBS had advance knowledge that Timberlake was going to tear at Jackson’s bustier, the station did not appear to have acted recklessly by broadcasting the show.
In fact, the court said, CBS had implemented an audio delay and other measures to help censor any unexpected profanity, and numerous “script reviews” and “wardrobe checks” before the show did not reveal any problems.
“CBS rejected other potentially-controversial performers who had previously engaged in offensive on-air conduct in favor of Jackson and Timberlake, with the NFL ultimately approving the selections,” the court wrote. “Timberlake in particular, CBS asserts, had on several prior occasions performed ‘Rock Your Body’ live on national television without incident.”
As Steve Earle sang: Fuck the FCC
and another version, after performing F the CC a couple of years: