Thursday, October 9, 2008

On Censorship

In keeping occasional tabs on that little petri dish of middle-class American ignorance known as Bitch PhD, I ran across an excellent example of censorship at work.

History note: I, being manitor, was banned from their thoughts a while back, when they told me that Arab men, women and children from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Persian men, women and children from Iran, are worthless compared to their human counterparts in America. Naturally, when I asked why, it was rude/uncivil/whatever.

Anyway, since then, it seems that the bitches have been busy banning other "trolls" for reasons unknown (unknown because everything is now deleted, except their own anger), and have been motivated to come up with an angry post explaining why their banning is not a problem.

It is hard to find a more concise, blunt example of justifying censorship than this thread of theirs, so I'm using it as a crucible for analyzing how the censorship thought process works--and how modern, educated Germans (excuse me, Americans) can justify such abhorrent, stifling behavior.

Here's the original post:

For the record, when you or a loved one gets banned from commenting on a blog, that's not censorship. You're not John fucking Steinbeck, nor are you in some shitty dystopian science fiction movie, ok?

You just got un-invited to a dinner party. Because you are annoying and ruin the conversation.

Edited by bitchphd to add that comment moderation has now been turned on. Comments by trolls or troll apologists will be deleted without remorse. Suck it.

Labels: civility

(That last bit there, about civility, was done without an appreciation of irony at the time, but they've retroactively applied one, which is nice.)

Now, this isn't going to be an essay about my specific banning. Most of my posts were links to the essays on this board in which I discussed Obama's publicly stated policy positions about more attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and possibly Iran. However, because all of my posts were deleted, it is impossible to discuss why I was really banned.

That's exactly the problem with censorship: when you censor, you can no longer even discuss what is being censored using primary sources. (You might think that a Bitch with a PhD would understand the problem with removing primary sources, but apparently not.)

Censorship is the killing of history, and the rewriting of history to conform to an authoritarian's preference, rather than reality. Once the censorship is complete, the censor can then reframe the past based on their own perception of the past, and the censorship creates a vacuum that allows their imagination to become "reality."

In this way, censorship is a ragnarist act. Ragnarism explains how the fearful mind, afraid of unexpected change, tries to achieve an absolutist, unitary state by repressing the natural dynamism of the conscious mind. The conscious mind is multi-faceted and not under the full control of we humans; we have thoughts that we are not aware of, urges that we did not plan for (or did not want), and desires that we cannot control. In the simplest way of putting it, we do not consciously direct each of our heartbeats, nor do we decide when to feel lustful.

The sick mind, though, fears the uncertainty of this state, and therefore tries to reconceptualize itself as a singular entity which is in control of impulses, thoughts and urges. This task is impossible, which is why, say, religious prudes cannot actually stop feeling desire. They can just bottle it up, and the process of deception will cause madly irrational behavior as the flood of desires spurts out around the finger in the dike.

Censorship is a ragnarist control imposed upon the outside world. It is an act of authoritarianism, similar to the sick mind trying to "take control" of aberrant thoughts in order to allow the sick human's singular conception of him- or herself to "rule" the mind. In censorship, though, other people become the troubling thoughts, because they say and do unexpected things that challenge the sick mind's perception of the world. As a result, the censor censors them, attempting to enforce an artificial "order" or absolutism, and validate their self- and world-conception.

Like all acts of antilife, censorship harms the censor, because it attempts to force an unnatural relationship into the world. However, it is a harm that is longer-lasting, like the harm of breathing carcinogens, and may seem to be worthwhile at the time.

For the ragnarist trying to repress their own troubling thoughts and desires, the result is a lifetime of unnatural repression, unfulfillment, unexplained (and misunderstood) rage, and victimization. However, each act of lashing out at inner thoughts will make the sick feel comforted, because each act of lashing out is an authoritarian act, which can seem (momentarily) to be stemming the tide of uncertainty and trouble. Just like it "felt good" for George W. Bush to bomb Iraq when Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, the censor is reassured with each new stroke of the pen; each book burned or poet imprisoned.

When Hitler censored, as when all censors censor, he was striving for a unitary, authoritarian space (Germany) ruled by a singular vision. In order to pursue that unattainable goal, the sick-minded Hitler had to stifle uncertainty and dynamism--i.e., any speech/actions (like troubling thoughts/urges) that did not conform to the preconceived idea of his authoritarian space.

The difference between censoring people and censoring one's own thoughts is that in the external world, the authoritarian can create a hard-copy "proof" of the effects of one's work. This is where the censor can glow with ragnarist pride: because once the censored thoughts have been deleted, the censor gets the privilege of redefining them.  For example, Hitler can burn a book, and once the pages and words are gone, he can tell the masses, "It advocated hatred of Germany!"  The masses, naturally, scream and cheer, for they have their proof: the authoritarian has told them what was censored, and why.  

Of course, if anyone read the book, they might see that it was a rather mild academic work supporting communism in Germany.  Not that it matters what was actually in the work; what really matters is that the censor has redefined it, so no one in the authoritarian space needs to think about it anymore.  

Censorship in the larger world, just like attempts to quash thoughts in the mental world, is very harmful.  Natural strength lies in diversity, because from diversity comes experience and growing, improvement and evolution.  Censorship, as a process of antilife, stifles the diversity and attempts to create stagnation of thought, which is one step closer to death, and resists the natural ebb and flow of the changing, natural world.  

When the act of censorship occurs, no one can go back and find out "why."  Even the censor's own memory is lost, in time, because the troubling thoughts have disappeared.  It is an attempt to destroy history as well as to impose authoritarianism in the present.  The censor's past (and that of the stage the censor operates on) fades into a blur: how many have been censored?  Why were they all censored?  Did it have to be that way?  What will be censored next?  

Like the Third Reich, or Guantanamo Bay, or any arena of censorship, no one knows.  The past becomes a gray cloud; a place of "black ops" and forgetfulness.  Orwell called this the memory hole.  Sure, there are still grand parties, and happy aristocrats, and just as the sexually-repressed priest can appear to live a virtuous, joyful life before all his supporters, the stage of censorship can appear sustainable and even pleasant.  But underneath, the damaging effects of unnatural stifling will burst out--perhaps on the altar boy, perhaps in Baghdad.  

The sick-minded will actively support this type of behavior, as indeed they have ever supported censorship.  The authoritarian offers them a vision of victory that gives them hope in the struggles with their own minds.  By censoring, and proving that troublesome thoughts can be eliminated, the censor promises the masses that they, too, can defeat the uncertainty within their own minds, and become that much closer to an unnatural state of absolutism.  They grovel and cheer each proof of censoring, just as the sick-minded at a religious convention cheer whenever someone on stage professes the strength of their faith: the group ritual aspect of ragnarism is a great social boon toward the goal of artificial order.  And because that goal can never actually be attained within an individual mind, the sick-minded will always be drawn to public displays of impossible victory, order and authoritarianism: faith, censorship, war, etcetera. Indeed, many social groups form for expressly this purpose--to validate the inner ragnarist struggles of the members by making them feel that victory over uncertainty and change can be achieved.  

Hitler the censor did not say to himself, or to others, "I am committing an evil act of censorship to validate myself and avoid troubling thoughts." Of course not--the censor never says things like this. Nor did Hitler invade Poland under the claim "I am aggressively invading a sovereign nation that did not threaten me, in order to steal its resources." Those claims are not made by the authoritarian. Nor does the censor often call his behavior censorship.  


A person is banned after repeated refusals to engage the premises of a conversation or for contributing patently offensive material.

You see? Something happened, but now it's gone. What was it? Why, it was _______!

Why does the past need to be deleted in order to explain what it was? Because if the explanation were offered alongside the proof (the primary source; the offensive book; the troublesome poet) the illusion would not be able to sustain itself.  

The censor does not censor for civility.  The censor censors for absolutism.  If the goal were civility, the censor would have no need to censor, because everyone civil would be able to see and recognize the incivility, and they would not be threatened by it.  

The existence of censorship proves an authoritarian system, because an open system could easily sustain incivility--and indeed, an open system is how incivility is countered, gentled, and blended, to the betterment of all.  Without openness, true incivility can never be "fixed."  

The fact that a system is artificial and broken is demonstrated when the system is forced to censor.  In the Third Reich, it was because the regime could not tolerate criticism of its actions.  In America's televised presidential debates, it is because the regime cannot tolerate criticism of its actions.  It is thus everywhere that censors have hold: when the shared social illusions are so weak that they cannot stand up to challenge, censorship is enforced to protect them.  It's a case of methinks thou dost protest too much.  Like the braggart loudly boasting of his exploits--all performed where no one present has seen them, of course.  The censor has to redefine what its enemies say, because it cannot stand up to its enemies' words as they are.  

The end result of censorship is exactly what Bitch PhD has left in her congratulatory thread--a happy little room filled with people who all agree with one another, have the same general perspective, and who never need to upset one another beyond pre-set bounds:

Well put.

AND in my humble and unchallengable opinion, "I"m being censored" is absolute 100% prima facie evidence that one is a troll.

The women over at feministing call it "troll b gone"

I really like the analogy of blog commenting (especially on this blog) as a dinner party.

See how easily it is to get modern, educated Americans to support censorship? Here's a real gem:

While seconding the the-person-who-owns-the-blog-is-allowed-to-do- whatever-the-hell-she-wants-re-comments sentiment, is it possible to see/create a link to view the deleted comments? I ask mainly because I've responded to a couple of the less-antagonistically worded trollings, and then been unable to find out if they responded, and if they did, what they said.
I appreciate removing annoying/irrelevant comments to keep the discussion on track, but I also enjoy being able to engage people who disagree very strongly with many of the views expressed on the site (and while I could start my own blog, I suppose, I a) don't have time and b) don't think I would have nearly the readership of this site)
Something like the strike-through edit would be cool, for purposes of referencing what was said if continuing the discussion off the bitchphd boards.
But I am all for not letting a troll continue posting new stuff, natch.

This is a poster who at least has some preconception of the problems with censorship--and yet, she supports it, as long as she is able to adopt an Othering term for the people being censored.

Here, it's "trolls." It might also be "terrorists" or "witches."

Read the quotes with a couple phrases switched out, and pretend you're at won't know the difference!

AND in my humble and unchallengable opinion, "I"m being falsely imprisoned!" is absolute 100% prima facie evidence that one is a terrorist.

The boys over at Guantanamo call it "camel jockey b gone"

This is one of those funny little quirks about humans: they can possess the ability to think rationally in some cases, but when you press some button that, in their minds, refers to "disorder," that all goes right out the window. With Americans recently, it was "terrorists," to replace "communists." As long as we're killing terrorists, it's okay to murder however many children in our path. And as long as the only censoring we're doing is to "trolls," it's okay to delete any comments we want.

And these are people who oppose Bush! These are people who write at length about the wrongness of Bush holding "enemy combatants" at his discretion! Yet, let the authoritarians of their own chosen space (the moderators of their Bitch PhD blog) decree a policy of unilaterally deleting "trolls," and they are happy to have it happen.

In the little Bitch PhD parable of America, you get their self-lauding "conversations," which are so very like the televised American presidential debates, where a lot of stuff is said, but none of it worthwhile.  The questions and answers are all scripted.  In Bitch PhD's case, the presidential debates are an excellent metaphor, because the boundaries are about the same.  Everyone knows Sarah Palin is stupid and inexperienced.  Everyone knows birth control is good.  Everyone knows it's not polite to talk about dead people, unless those dead people happen to be the American troops that attacked Iraq (and its best not to put their actions that way).

Like most American "progressives," they are not truly committed to ideals of openness and freedom. Rather, they are sick; they are ragnarists; they are happy citizens of authoritarian utopias. The only difference is, they have a different leader--Obama, instead of Bush. It is so fitting, and so efficient, that all the deathlords need to do is change the mask on their spokesperson, and they can get a whole different group of Americans to support the killing.


littlehorn said...

I've heard many analogies to justify the censorship of one person, and they are all very similar.

They usually imply a place that you own, and a person that you invited. Then, the person does something terrible. So, you have him leave the place.

When they try to justify censorship in general, they'll talk about gardens and the need to get stuff under control to have pleasant stuff cropping up.

But none of those analogies take into account the fact that someone's speech is not akin to a particular plant which you can sacrifice like that, and it is not like taking a crap on the carpet either.

squarepusher said...

I agree with you. The left has been totally co-opted and their infatuation with Obama now seems to be more about idol worship than any real issues.

Let's look at the issues the democrats have been betrayed on, and yet loved every single minute of it:
- Impeachment (a dog-and-phony show was all, with Congress clearly disinterested and joking around)
- FISA with immunity for telecoms (passed, and Obama was actually in favor of it, despite promising to vote against it - a weak excuse was offered as justification)
- Obama would not hire Washington insiders (yet Biden as VP, all the old Clinton insiders, and even Paul Volcker is poised to make a comeback in an Obama presidency as Treasury member)
- The Democratic congress under House Speaker Pelsoi delivered diddly squat - and actually enabled Bush. An approval rating of 9% and lame lies from Pelosi to the tune of 'Oh, we need an overwhelming majority or we can't get nothing done'.

So I have to conclude that the so-called 'progressives' weren't really concerned about the issues as much as they liked to believe - it was more about the back-and-forth wrestling match with the Republicans, name-calling, and false idol worship.

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