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Monday, May 16, 2005


censorship on the horizon

arthur silber brilliantly analyzes the reaction of the militarist right to the ongoing fiasco involving newsweek and american government torture involving desecration of the quran -- and sees the seeds of censorship taking root in the paranoid and radicalizing "war" on terrorism.

So what is the logical result of all this? There are at least two major results, and two major goals: first, strengthening the idea that, whatever the United States does, it is always right and anyone who questions our policies is wrong, and anti-American -- and if we do make any mistakes, they are trivial and barely worth mentioning, thus trying yet again to shut down all debate; and second, if the Bush supporters and warhawks had their way, censorship.

Censorship is what they're after, and don't let them tell you otherwise. They announced this goal unmistakably at least a year ago. (Here's the classic, regret-filled formulation: "And here's a question: Freedom of the press, as it exists today (and didn't exist, really, until the 1960s) is unlikely to survive if a majority -- or even a large and angry minority -- of Americans comes to conclude that the press is untrustworthy and unpatriotic. How far are we from that point?") Of course, they "regret" that censorship might be necessary. It's a terrible shame and all that. But damn it, if magazines like Newsweek ARE GOING TO GET PEOPLE KILLED -- well, what can we do? We obviously have to shut them up. They brought it on themselves. It's their own damned fault. Of course, we’d like to have a free press, but THEY'RE GETTING PEOPLE KILLED!

And please,
please don't say it can't happen here. It did happen here -- during World War I and World War II. They want to go back to the good old days, when people got thrown in jail for reading the Bill of Rights in public.
all this is given yet more force by the realization that newsweek is errant only in factchecking against a particular internal pentagon report -- that it isn't even reporting new news when it reports on american interrogators' desecration of the quran, which has been widely repeated in the print media for two years. meanwhile, the bush administration and pentagon behave with unimaginable indignance -- as though it were somehow inherently above actions they clearly are not.

it is with great regret and trepidation that i understand the campaign against an activist, liberal mainstream media has become analogous to the campaign against an activist, liberal judiciary -- both of which are conveniently aimed at the remaining independent sources of authority which might prove troublesome to fully emancipating executive power from law -- each every bit as specious, paranoid and radical as the other.

there clearly is bias in every media outlet and there always will be. reporting for profit is far from truth-telling, after all. but it has always existed, is far from conspiratorial or unique, and -- most importantly -- cannot ever be used as justification for infringing upon the first amendment. to the extent that the media opposes the government, i say hurrah! for that is their all-important role in a free society -- to act as watchdog, harasser, prober, factchecker against an institution that would easily run amok into tyranny without it. whatever human peril results from that balance of antagonism is easily endurable when one considers the massive jeopardy our entire society would be placed in without it.

Censorship scares the hell out of me. These liberals need to get their acts together to start bringing some balance back to the government.

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