X Close

The new world war on free speech The Censorship Industrial Complex has taken root

Musk can't beat them on his own (Henry Nicholls - Pool/Getty Images)

Musk can't beat them on his own (Henry Nicholls - Pool/Getty Images)


June 19, 2023   5 mins

The war on free speech is hardly a novel phenomenon, instead mutating over the centuries. What is new, however, is its global aspirations: today, the conflict takes the form of a world war.

You can see its shadow in every Western country, from the US and Canada to Ireland and Australia, as well as in every multinational organisation, from the EU to the UN. Rising levels of hate speech and misinformation, we are told, make it more urgent than ever for governments, corporations and multilateral organisations to adopt stronger measures to protect vulnerable populations online.

It is for this reason that Biden’s Department of Homeland Security recently created a “Disinformation Governance Board”, the European Commission crafted a new Digital Services Act and Code of Practice on Disinformation, and the UN is proposing a “Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms”. All of these initiatives are allegedly the product of good intentions; all of them, however, are rooted in the same fallacy: there is little evidence to suggest that hate speech and misinformation are on the rise. On the contrary, Western countries are more tolerant of racial, religious and sexual minorities than ever before. To take one example, the percentage of Americans who approve of marriages between white and black Americans has risen from 4% in 1958 to 87% in 2013 to 94% in 2021.

There are, of course, plenty of examples of misinformation and hatred online, and Twitter and Facebook are right to reduce their spread — but often the threat is exaggerated. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), for instance, recently published a study that concluded that antisemitism was increasing on Twitter. But there is no definitive evidence of rising hate online. The ISD study counted tweets criticising George Soros which didn’t mention his Judaism as antisemitic. Elsewhere, “hate speech” includes the reluctance of some people online to use female pronouns when referring to transwomen — even though one might oppose using female pronouns for natal males and harbour no animus toward transwomen.

Here we can see that what people label as “hatred” and “misinformation” is often merely an opinion they don’t like or which they fear will encourage bad behaviour. In both the UK and the US, this led to government officials demanding that social media platforms censor “often-true” content, including about Covid vaccine side effects, out of fear that such stories would result in vaccine hesitancy.

What’s more, Facebook and Twitter have also started deleting a significant amount of true content. Between 2020 to 2021, for example, Facebook censored claims that the coronavirus came from a Chinese lab, even though that was always as likely, if not more so, than the natural-origin hypothesis. Twitter also censored an accurate New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop while allowing supporters of his father, Joe Biden, to falsely claim it was a result of “Russian disinformation”.

The global campaign to censor disfavoured views on Twitter and Facebook is therefore rather curious. If there is no evidence that hatred and misinformation are increasing, and ample evidence of inappropriate censorship of true and accurate information, why are politicians across the West calling for greater power to censor?

Some of the demand certainly appears to be grassroots. Since 2016, an increasing number of psychologists have started to document the rise of “concept creep”, the dramatic expansion of what people in Western societies consider to be “harmful”. It used to be that one would have to show physical or financial harm from speech for it to be restricted: often, one would have to commit fraud, incite violence or ruin a person’s career. Today, by contrast, a growing number of people consider petty offences, such as calling a transwoman “he” or denouncing Soros as a “globalist,” to be the cause of “real-world harm”.

Yet this support cannot be taken in isolation; more often than not, it is the result of funding from governments. It was, after all, Renee DiResta, a former CIA Fellow at Stanford University, who proposed that DHS create a “Disinformation Governance Board”; in Brazil, meanwhile, a Supreme Court judge is leading calls for greater censorship; in Canada, it is Justin Trudeau who has sought a crackdown on wrongspeech; and in the UK, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue is funded by the UK government and the US Department of Defense.

Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that these efforts all share an elitist, anti-populist strain. Many of the government agencies, contractors and NGOs that are advocating for greater censorship have ties to the military, intelligence and security organisations, spawning what I term the “Censorship Industrial Complex”. How this is manifested is relatively straightforward: fearing that a wave of populist political victories would undermine Nato, the EU and the Western Alliance, government intelligence, military and security officials engaged in disinformation campaigns, such as the one claiming Trump was a Russian asset and that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, while demanding censorship of populist and anti-war voices.

Together, these measures constitute nothing short of a world war on free speech. After all, the intention of the UN and the EU is to censor disfavoured speech at a global level, specifically by insisting that Twitter and Facebook obey their dictates or face massive fines and nationwide restrictions.

So far, one of the greatest obstacles to these censorious ambitions is Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, who has publicly stated that he refuses to comply with EU rules. But Musk is also under enormous pressure from advertisers, many of whom stand with the censorship advocates and heads of state. Under pressure from the Turkish government, for instance, Musk was forced to censor disfavoured Turkish journalists or face Twitter being cut off in the country entirely.

Even if this were not the case, free speech has never been a gift that can be secured by one person. Rather, for it to survive, it is up to the citizens of the world to insist that governments stop demanding, directly or indirectly through the NGOs they fund, that social media platforms censor disfavoured views. And to the extent that content moderation by social media companies is inevitable, they must be transparent about what content they are restricting, how they are restricting it, and why.

Nor is any of this outside the realms of possibility. It was encouraging, for instance, to see the Department of Homeland Security shut down its “Disinformation Governance Board” three weeks after introducing it, following an online backlash. In Europe, too, resistance is growing to the Digital Services Act. And, on Twitter, we have seen rowdy and rousing opposition to the UN’s proposed “Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms”, as well as new censorship proposals in Ireland, Brazil, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Most of all, we need to change how we perceive ostensibly earnest calls for reducing “hate speech” and “misinformation”. We need to train our ears to hear such language as pretexts for government censorship. We need to remind our fellow citizens of the enormous progress we have made against hatred and discrimination over the decades and centuries. And, perhaps most of all, we should feel insulted, patronised and threatened by those elites who are trying to undermine that precious thing we have been fighting for since society was born: our right to express ourselves, however much it might offend them.


Michael Shellenberger is the founder and president of Environmental Progress, as well as the author of the best-selling book Apocalypse Never (HarperCollins 2020) and San Fransicko (HarperCollins 2021).

shellenberger

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

123 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

For whatever reason, we have a political and technocratic class that is impotent and incompetent. No one has a vision to build things. They only know how to tear things down. Censorship is a convenient tool to deflect criticism from their policy failures. The culture wars exist only because it’s easier to govern when people are divided by nonsense.

Journalists like Shellenberger give me hope for the future. Although the regime media has terminal cancer, there is a new group of tenacious truth tellers pushing back hard – and their following is growing. Like Shellenberger, I have no issue with content moderation, as long as it is completely transparent and consistent. We should expect no less.

Love seeing Shellenberger published in Unherd.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

He has done great work and along with other real journalists like Matt Taibbi and Lee Fang they have exposed something many of us were once naïve enough to think would not happen in the supposedly freedom loving West. Needless to say, I think we are a bit more jaded and cynical now.

Peter D
Peter D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed, our political and technocratic class have us in a very tight place. This is a very destructive time and I fear for the future. Censorship is an authoritarian tool. Anyone pushing it is outing themselves.

George K
George K
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Here he is in a national blog whining about not having free speech?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  George K

Tell that to the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. They got plenty of attention in the alternative media as well.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  George K

Tell that to the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. They got plenty of attention in the alternative media as well.

V T C
V T C
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I feel the article missed the main point. Censorship should generally be verboten, whether or not there is in fact more hatred online is irrelevant.

Carol Calhoun
Carol Calhoun
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

and MSM has become mostly fake. Thankful for a few truth tellers with a mouth piece such as Shellenberger, Tiabbi, Glenn Greenwald. We need them and more like them.

Curts
Curts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Hate to align with the tin foil hate wearing conspiracy loons but I fear these hat wearers may yet have a point.
15 minute cities, revisionist practices on history, hate crime, thought crime, tech to track you, facial recognition sneaked in, control from government on protesters finances (Canada), defund the police (US), indoctrination not education (everywhere), the undermining of anything traditional including the family – it get’s scary.
When you start joining dots between these as a cohesive purposeful movement we need to have somewhere to expose the “we’re doing this for YOUR own good” style of government and that is shrinking fast with the help of the “useful idiots”. Any criticism however mild and you’re a brown shirt also administered by said “useful idiots”.
Dialogue and pluralism is healthy, single party states are bad. Do I have to list them…?
The picture on top of the article of these exponents with big cheesy smiles patting each other on the back sends shivers down my spine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Curts
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Curts

The key is—connecting the dots. It is a learned skill which more folks need to acquire.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Curts

The key is—connecting the dots. It is a learned skill which more folks need to acquire.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Like Shellenberger, I have no issue with content moderation, as long as it is completely transparent and consistent.”
But does Unherd itself live up to this standard? I have been alarmed by the subtle, covert content moderation that occurs right here on Unherd. Comments disappear, sometimes to reappear, sometimes not. The reasons why are hard to fathom – they are usually unpopular comments, but they are not trolls, etc. If Unherd is not a place for the unheard perspective, what is?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

This has happened to me: The moment I hit “Post Comment” it shows the finished version, as always, but with that notice “…held for further consideration”, (or some such, can’t quite remember). It happens so fast that it must be a moderation program. Some word or combination of words causes it too jettison my poor wee comment into inter-stellar space. Sometimes it eventually posts properly, sometimes not.
Or I suppose it could be that the computers at UnHerd just don’t like me.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

This has happened to me: The moment I hit “Post Comment” it shows the finished version, as always, but with that notice “…held for further consideration”, (or some such, can’t quite remember). It happens so fast that it must be a moderation program. Some word or combination of words causes it too jettison my poor wee comment into inter-stellar space. Sometimes it eventually posts properly, sometimes not.
Or I suppose it could be that the computers at UnHerd just don’t like me.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

He has done great work and along with other real journalists like Matt Taibbi and Lee Fang they have exposed something many of us were once naïve enough to think would not happen in the supposedly freedom loving West. Needless to say, I think we are a bit more jaded and cynical now.

Peter D
Peter D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed, our political and technocratic class have us in a very tight place. This is a very destructive time and I fear for the future. Censorship is an authoritarian tool. Anyone pushing it is outing themselves.

George K
George K
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Here he is in a national blog whining about not having free speech?

V T C
V T C
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I feel the article missed the main point. Censorship should generally be verboten, whether or not there is in fact more hatred online is irrelevant.

Carol Calhoun
Carol Calhoun
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

and MSM has become mostly fake. Thankful for a few truth tellers with a mouth piece such as Shellenberger, Tiabbi, Glenn Greenwald. We need them and more like them.

Curts
Curts
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Hate to align with the tin foil hate wearing conspiracy loons but I fear these hat wearers may yet have a point.
15 minute cities, revisionist practices on history, hate crime, thought crime, tech to track you, facial recognition sneaked in, control from government on protesters finances (Canada), defund the police (US), indoctrination not education (everywhere), the undermining of anything traditional including the family – it get’s scary.
When you start joining dots between these as a cohesive purposeful movement we need to have somewhere to expose the “we’re doing this for YOUR own good” style of government and that is shrinking fast with the help of the “useful idiots”. Any criticism however mild and you’re a brown shirt also administered by said “useful idiots”.
Dialogue and pluralism is healthy, single party states are bad. Do I have to list them…?
The picture on top of the article of these exponents with big cheesy smiles patting each other on the back sends shivers down my spine.

Last edited 1 year ago by Curts
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Like Shellenberger, I have no issue with content moderation, as long as it is completely transparent and consistent.”
But does Unherd itself live up to this standard? I have been alarmed by the subtle, covert content moderation that occurs right here on Unherd. Comments disappear, sometimes to reappear, sometimes not. The reasons why are hard to fathom – they are usually unpopular comments, but they are not trolls, etc. If Unherd is not a place for the unheard perspective, what is?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

For whatever reason, we have a political and technocratic class that is impotent and incompetent. No one has a vision to build things. They only know how to tear things down. Censorship is a convenient tool to deflect criticism from their policy failures. The culture wars exist only because it’s easier to govern when people are divided by nonsense.

Journalists like Shellenberger give me hope for the future. Although the regime media has terminal cancer, there is a new group of tenacious truth tellers pushing back hard – and their following is growing. Like Shellenberger, I have no issue with content moderation, as long as it is completely transparent and consistent. We should expect no less.

Love seeing Shellenberger published in Unherd.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

There’s less real hatred, but the elite technocracy keeps expanding tthe definition of hatred to make it appear otherwise.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

There’s less real hatred, but the elite technocracy keeps expanding tthe definition of hatred to make it appear otherwise.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Meanwhile… Unherd removes content that may include lengthy discussions of issues vital to our current culture. It doesn’t matter to me how many downticks a comment receives; if others have responded and the conversation has been conducted with civility, it should stand.

Isolated rants that include vitriol are perhaps, a different matter; they tend to produce little or no comment and are easily distinguished from genuine debate.

So genuine debate becomes Unherd, as in Unread. Unherd becomes part of the problem.

Editors: read this, and reflect, along with the article you’ve just published with great hypocrisy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What’s the deal with this? The comments get a little contentious and suddenly they’re flushed down some rabbit hole, disappear for a few hours, and magically reappear. Not cool. Unheard can use a little transparency itself.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think it’s automated. Unherd use WordPress as a platform, which has a variety of systems in place for automating moderation. For example, certain keywords would put a post in pre-moderation for somebody to come along and determine if it actually is worthy of deletion.

The downvote system is almost certainly similar but is only triggered after a threshold is met. If I could be bothered, I’d like to see if there is a specific number of downvotes before this occurs. I really wish they turned this off, but I also wish people weren’t so trigger happy with down voting just because they disagreed with something.

I have on two occasions had posts just disappear with no indication of moderation and with no downvotes. One was a challenge to a factual claim by the columnist (another commenter made the same challenge and received the same fate). The other one may well just have been a technical glitch or human error.

I think Unherd need to clarify their moderation policies, perhaps in an actual editorial. At least people wouldn’t be left speculating any more.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I agree that they should clarify this Andrew. It is very annoying when it happens. I have always suspected that it happens when people click the flag on the right of the comment rather than downvotes. But it would be nice to see this fixed.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I’d be willing to bet they are not allowed to disclose the ‘triggers’ that cause posts to disappear. That’s the ‘secret sauce’ of these blunt tools if you will – and like all organizations they have to balance the risk of offending people with inappropriate censorship versus allowing content to get posted by bad actors that gets then into serious hot water. A small outfit like unherd can’t develop its own system, so the only defence they have is to use an ‘industry standard’ system. Of course in a perfect world, all our favourite eminently reasonable unherd columnists would spend every waking hour sifting through thousands of comments and making carefully reasoned decisions about what’s appropriate censorship. Apparently they think what they say to us is a better use of their time than what we say to them. And so they should.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I also think it has nothing to do with downvotes.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I’d be willing to bet they are not allowed to disclose the ‘triggers’ that cause posts to disappear. That’s the ‘secret sauce’ of these blunt tools if you will – and like all organizations they have to balance the risk of offending people with inappropriate censorship versus allowing content to get posted by bad actors that gets then into serious hot water. A small outfit like unherd can’t develop its own system, so the only defence they have is to use an ‘industry standard’ system. Of course in a perfect world, all our favourite eminently reasonable unherd columnists would spend every waking hour sifting through thousands of comments and making carefully reasoned decisions about what’s appropriate censorship. Apparently they think what they say to us is a better use of their time than what we say to them. And so they should.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

I also think it has nothing to do with downvotes.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I think it’s more than that. I’ve tested this before and have come to the conclusion that if anyone clicks the red flag icon on a post, then every subsequent post made by the alleged “offender” gets withheld for approval. I’ve had simple posts such as “agreed” get withheld for approval.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Possibly. I may be wrong, but every time I notice a post with more than a few downvotes, it seems to disappear for a while. Of course the downvotes may correlate with false flagging, but some automated systems do withhold on the basis of down votes.
I wasn’t aware that a removed post caused subsequent posts to be withheld. My pre-moderated ones always seem to be because I’ve used a “sensitive” word.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

This is something that hadn’t occurred to me, but I think you are correct. I’ve had the same experience of having every comment get quarantined for half a day once I post something too unpopular–or at times, to my discredit, too rude.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Possibly. I may be wrong, but every time I notice a post with more than a few downvotes, it seems to disappear for a while. Of course the downvotes may correlate with false flagging, but some automated systems do withhold on the basis of down votes.
I wasn’t aware that a removed post caused subsequent posts to be withheld. My pre-moderated ones always seem to be because I’ve used a “sensitive” word.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

This is something that hadn’t occurred to me, but I think you are correct. I’ve had the same experience of having every comment get quarantined for half a day once I post something too unpopular–or at times, to my discredit, too rude.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I agree that they should clarify this Andrew. It is very annoying when it happens. I have always suspected that it happens when people click the flag on the right of the comment rather than downvotes. But it would be nice to see this fixed.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I think it’s more than that. I’ve tested this before and have come to the conclusion that if anyone clicks the red flag icon on a post, then every subsequent post made by the alleged “offender” gets withheld for approval. I’ve had simple posts such as “agreed” get withheld for approval.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s happened on this debate already.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think it’s automated. Unherd use WordPress as a platform, which has a variety of systems in place for automating moderation. For example, certain keywords would put a post in pre-moderation for somebody to come along and determine if it actually is worthy of deletion.

The downvote system is almost certainly similar but is only triggered after a threshold is met. If I could be bothered, I’d like to see if there is a specific number of downvotes before this occurs. I really wish they turned this off, but I also wish people weren’t so trigger happy with down voting just because they disagreed with something.

I have on two occasions had posts just disappear with no indication of moderation and with no downvotes. One was a challenge to a factual claim by the columnist (another commenter made the same challenge and received the same fate). The other one may well just have been a technical glitch or human error.

I think Unherd need to clarify their moderation policies, perhaps in an actual editorial. At least people wouldn’t be left speculating any more.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s happened on this debate already.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I tend to see most of my posts taken down at some stage as I’m generally out of step with majority opinion on the site. I find it slightly absurd that Unherd, dedicated to ‘challenging the herd’, reacts seemingly on the basis of red ticks. My experience is that the other users of the site are able to constructively challenge my views, or at least the sensible ones, without needing the help of censors.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

“My experience is that the other users of the site are able to constructively challenge my views…”

Aw, thanks John 🙂

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Absolutely agree, and though some of the debates can become what might be termed “vehement” there’s nothing wrong with that as such, providing it doesn’t cross a line.
Anyone who “flags” a non-abusive post is wasting their subscription, since they’re not able to withstand the views of those who might otherwise remain ‘Unherd’. Absolute cowards – and they know it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

If that is the problem, I’d like to think something was done about it. False flagging (interesting double but literal meaning) is pathetic and a waste of absolutely everyone’s time.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

If that is the problem, I’d like to think something was done about it. False flagging (interesting double but literal meaning) is pathetic and a waste of absolutely everyone’s time.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

It’s quite easy to pick apart most of your arguments.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’d be delighted if you try it some time, Jim.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Give it time John. I’m sure I will.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Give it time John. I’m sure I will.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A long thread under a very provocative post by this “John Murray” just disappeared. If it doesn’t come back, I’d suspect he deleted it himself to make it look like Unherd censored it. Interesting game to play!

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’d be delighted if you try it some time, Jim.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A long thread under a very provocative post by this “John Murray” just disappeared. If it doesn’t come back, I’d suspect he deleted it himself to make it look like Unherd censored it. Interesting game to play!

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But John… you literally represent the Herd. You’re not here to challenge the mainstream narrative, only to reiterate it. You can’t complain. You have lots and lots of sites where everyone will applaud your comments. We are the Un-heard trying to Un-Herd the likes of you. Peace be with you!

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Not complaining, Amy, but if you want an echo chamber you need to complain to the guys who took my subscription money. In a democracy healthy debate is an alternative to shooting each other, surely?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But you’re not “debating”, you’re pontificating and pushing propaganda. Even so, I’d never, ever call to have you censored.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

He’s debating with you right there !
Interesting – and encouraging – how the one thing we can all agree on is our dislike of censorship.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

He’s debating with you right there !
Interesting – and encouraging – how the one thing we can all agree on is our dislike of censorship.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But you’re not “debating”, you’re pontificating and pushing propaganda. Even so, I’d never, ever call to have you censored.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

Not complaining, Amy, but if you want an echo chamber you need to complain to the guys who took my subscription money. In a democracy healthy debate is an alternative to shooting each other, surely?

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

“My experience is that the other users of the site are able to constructively challenge my views…”

Aw, thanks John 🙂

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Absolutely agree, and though some of the debates can become what might be termed “vehement” there’s nothing wrong with that as such, providing it doesn’t cross a line.
Anyone who “flags” a non-abusive post is wasting their subscription, since they’re not able to withstand the views of those who might otherwise remain ‘Unherd’. Absolute cowards – and they know it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

It’s quite easy to pick apart most of your arguments.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But John… you literally represent the Herd. You’re not here to challenge the mainstream narrative, only to reiterate it. You can’t complain. You have lots and lots of sites where everyone will applaud your comments. We are the Un-heard trying to Un-Herd the likes of you. Peace be with you!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What’s the deal with this? The comments get a little contentious and suddenly they’re flushed down some rabbit hole, disappear for a few hours, and magically reappear. Not cool. Unheard can use a little transparency itself.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I tend to see most of my posts taken down at some stage as I’m generally out of step with majority opinion on the site. I find it slightly absurd that Unherd, dedicated to ‘challenging the herd’, reacts seemingly on the basis of red ticks. My experience is that the other users of the site are able to constructively challenge my views, or at least the sensible ones, without needing the help of censors.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Meanwhile… Unherd removes content that may include lengthy discussions of issues vital to our current culture. It doesn’t matter to me how many downticks a comment receives; if others have responded and the conversation has been conducted with civility, it should stand.

Isolated rants that include vitriol are perhaps, a different matter; they tend to produce little or no comment and are easily distinguished from genuine debate.

So genuine debate becomes Unherd, as in Unread. Unherd becomes part of the problem.

Editors: read this, and reflect, along with the article you’ve just published with great hypocrisy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago

The good news is… in real life, people are having more open conversations about what they were subjected to over the past 3-4 years and becoming cognisant of the REAL spreaders of “disinformation” – the corporation-controlled governments. The Internet is one big advertising board for big pharma and big tech, and their state puppets. This revelation is also helping many people “wake up” to the fact that they’ve been conned by these self-appointed overlords most of their lives. So we are living in interesting times. The bad news is… the Internet’s days are numbered. All roads (“covid”, gender identity politics, CBDCs, “net zero”, dangers of “AI”, impending “alien” invasion) lead to DIGITAL ID. Like all Eugenicists, these monsters want us chipped and tagged, and to control every single aspect of our lives. They won’t succeed. But they will bring down their digital domain in the pursuit of it. Invest in all things non-digital now. Teach your kids real-world skills and get them off screens. When it passes the tipping point, the downfall of the EDC (Evil Digital Construct) will happen fast and the fallout will be chaotic. But the future will be more human.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago

The good news is… in real life, people are having more open conversations about what they were subjected to over the past 3-4 years and becoming cognisant of the REAL spreaders of “disinformation” – the corporation-controlled governments. The Internet is one big advertising board for big pharma and big tech, and their state puppets. This revelation is also helping many people “wake up” to the fact that they’ve been conned by these self-appointed overlords most of their lives. So we are living in interesting times. The bad news is… the Internet’s days are numbered. All roads (“covid”, gender identity politics, CBDCs, “net zero”, dangers of “AI”, impending “alien” invasion) lead to DIGITAL ID. Like all Eugenicists, these monsters want us chipped and tagged, and to control every single aspect of our lives. They won’t succeed. But they will bring down their digital domain in the pursuit of it. Invest in all things non-digital now. Teach your kids real-world skills and get them off screens. When it passes the tipping point, the downfall of the EDC (Evil Digital Construct) will happen fast and the fallout will be chaotic. But the future will be more human.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Once governments, NGOs and supranational bodies place narrative (ideology) above objective truth then we should all be worried.

A half truth is a whole lie.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Once governments, NGOs and supranational bodies place narrative (ideology) above objective truth then we should all be worried.

A half truth is a whole lie.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
1 year ago

Thank you. There are few voices criticising the fake hate industry, which is growing in power as hate diminishes.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
1 year ago

Thank you. There are few voices criticising the fake hate industry, which is growing in power as hate diminishes.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
1 year ago

Why should freedom of speech and freedom of press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the government?
Truth is the most precious thing. That’s why we should ration it
The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses
It is, of course, much easier to shout, abuse, and howl than to attempt to relate, to explain
Vladimir Lenin
These quotes are over a century old yet any one of them, or something uncannily similar, is being used today by “I know it’ll work this time” re-imagined socialist elites as the article clearly points out. But it’s all for our own good don’t ya know. We would have asked you first but it was an emergency and we just didn’t have the time.
Any of us that lean to social liberal ideals, which can include liberals and centrist conservatives, know that the current trend to censorship is a time-tested tactic of Know Better revolutionaries in a hurry. There have even been books written about it. Gasp! Most of us also know that these revolutions are usually lead by a determined minority that rises to to the top on a wave of support from a larger mixed collective of opportunistic carpetbaggers, apathetic dullards and well-intentioned wishful thinkers that view a bit of heavy-handed excess as a fair trade for a nugget or two of gold justice. They end up doubly disappointed. First when their self-delusion that the excess can be controlled (“You’re being silly, they’ll never go that far”) is crushed and then finding out the gold wasn’t real in the first place.
The only question now is how much damage this disaster train causes before it inevitably de-rails.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

It’s like he’s describing the Guardian.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m pretty sure Vladdy was a subscriber. He took advantage of a Friends and Family discount. Just enter REDBOLSHIE and get 50% off of a one year subscription. Word has it he was good with the content but couldn’t abide the bourgeoise capitalist nature of delivery fees.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

…or the New York Times, The Washington Post, New Yorker, New York Magazine, etc etc

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m pretty sure Vladdy was a subscriber. He took advantage of a Friends and Family discount. Just enter REDBOLSHIE and get 50% off of a one year subscription. Word has it he was good with the content but couldn’t abide the bourgeoise capitalist nature of delivery fees.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

…or the New York Times, The Washington Post, New Yorker, New York Magazine, etc etc

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Thanks for that Lenin quote. Astonishing really.
Of course, he’d never have got into power under those rules.
Why should criticism be allowed ? Quite simply because those in power are never perfect and will never learn and improve without the feedback. Otherwise you get the “compound interest” effect of communist states making everything 1-2% worse every year while the capitalist ones made everything 1-2% better. And turn Europe’s breadbasket into a country that suffers famine and imports food.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

It’s like he’s describing the Guardian.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Thanks for that Lenin quote. Astonishing really.
Of course, he’d never have got into power under those rules.
Why should criticism be allowed ? Quite simply because those in power are never perfect and will never learn and improve without the feedback. Otherwise you get the “compound interest” effect of communist states making everything 1-2% worse every year while the capitalist ones made everything 1-2% better. And turn Europe’s breadbasket into a country that suffers famine and imports food.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
1 year ago

Why should freedom of speech and freedom of press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the government?
Truth is the most precious thing. That’s why we should ration it
The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses
It is, of course, much easier to shout, abuse, and howl than to attempt to relate, to explain
Vladimir Lenin
These quotes are over a century old yet any one of them, or something uncannily similar, is being used today by “I know it’ll work this time” re-imagined socialist elites as the article clearly points out. But it’s all for our own good don’t ya know. We would have asked you first but it was an emergency and we just didn’t have the time.
Any of us that lean to social liberal ideals, which can include liberals and centrist conservatives, know that the current trend to censorship is a time-tested tactic of Know Better revolutionaries in a hurry. There have even been books written about it. Gasp! Most of us also know that these revolutions are usually lead by a determined minority that rises to to the top on a wave of support from a larger mixed collective of opportunistic carpetbaggers, apathetic dullards and well-intentioned wishful thinkers that view a bit of heavy-handed excess as a fair trade for a nugget or two of gold justice. They end up doubly disappointed. First when their self-delusion that the excess can be controlled (“You’re being silly, they’ll never go that far”) is crushed and then finding out the gold wasn’t real in the first place.
The only question now is how much damage this disaster train causes before it inevitably de-rails.

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago

I have just One thing to say about all this:

”’Awaiting for Approval”’

Emil Castelli
Emil Castelli
1 year ago

I have just One thing to say about all this:

”’Awaiting for Approval”’

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 year ago

Excellent article.
The potential impact of social media has been compared to that of the invention of printing. The latter triggered to a flood of intemperate pamphlets and books which led to polarisation, paranoia and a hundred years of witch-hunts and religious wars (as well as the Reformation, the spread of literacy and an acceleration of Science). Maybe we should look at the framework which eventually helped channel constructively the effects of printing:
1/ No censorship before an article is published BUT legal responsibility for anything published.
2/ A publisher is legally liable as well as the writer. Neither can be anonymous.
3/ Complaints resolved in public courts on the basis of clear laws and not quietly by bureaucrats on the basis of ill defined fashion or hidden agendas.
4/ Strong preference for free speech. Immense suspicion of any attempt by government to censor.
5/ Clear distinction between private and public speech.
The long term result was the mostly honest reporting and commentary of the newspapers – and mostly free yet sensible public debate – of the twentieth century. (Obviously this is an idealised simplification of three hundred years of history but it may provide a starting point for addressing our current challenges),
Maybe we should adapt, update and apply these principles instead of passively accepting the growth of a censorship complex as described in the article. A good start would be to reform “Section 230” which is the US rule which stripped the tech platforms of the legal liabilities of a publisher. This unbalanced the checks and balances of the regime which moderated printing and, as importantly, is so commercially advantageous that it has given the US government immense leverage over the tech giants by threatening to remove it. 

Last edited 1 year ago by Alex Carnegie
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Some greater discipline is surely needed. But I’m not sure that involving the courts that much is the way forward – slow, costly, already overloaded, some very unreliable verdicts around at the moment.
I’d also be reluctant to see the liveliness of debate curtailed. You can have the sort of free and easy discussion that you might do at a dinner table or in a pub here today. And I think we have to accept that people can make mistakes – most content is written quickly and without serious reflection (and certainly no legal advice).
Ideally, a particular forum would have a clear ethos and guidelines and there would be some peer pressure effect.
Perhaps some form of registration is needed for professional commentators (like journalists).
I don’t think “publishers” (social media sites) can be responsible for the specific content that individuals post. I do think they can be responsible for the general conduct and policy of the site – so a site that has no standards or repeatedly fails to enforce its published standards can be sanctioned.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Like you I think some sort of “greater discipline” or framework is probably required and is inevitable. There may be a choice between
a) the emergent model with anonymous bureaucrats pressuring tech companies into a hidden censorship utilising unknown and fluid criteria.
b) a more legal approach based more on retrospective penalties for breaches of defined public rules and less on than pre publication censorship.
I am very hesitant about the details but I suspect the latter has less risk of evolving into an Orwellian imposition of an orthodoxy. Anyway, there needs to be an open discussion of what rules should apply in the public square. I dislike the way we are just drifting towards an authoritarian policing of public speech.

Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Like you I think some sort of “greater discipline” or framework is probably required and is inevitable. There may be a choice between
a) the emergent model with anonymous bureaucrats pressuring tech companies into a hidden censorship utilising unknown and fluid criteria.
b) a more legal approach based more on retrospective penalties for breaches of defined public rules and less on than pre publication censorship.
I am very hesitant about the details but I suspect the latter has less risk of evolving into an Orwellian imposition of an orthodoxy. Anyway, there needs to be an open discussion of what rules should apply in the public square. I dislike the way we are just drifting towards an authoritarian policing of public speech.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

A better model is that proposed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: the tech platforms are communication conduits like the telephone companies. The phone companies are not held liable for the speech of their users. Makes a lot of sense to me.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Some greater discipline is surely needed. But I’m not sure that involving the courts that much is the way forward – slow, costly, already overloaded, some very unreliable verdicts around at the moment.
I’d also be reluctant to see the liveliness of debate curtailed. You can have the sort of free and easy discussion that you might do at a dinner table or in a pub here today. And I think we have to accept that people can make mistakes – most content is written quickly and without serious reflection (and certainly no legal advice).
Ideally, a particular forum would have a clear ethos and guidelines and there would be some peer pressure effect.
Perhaps some form of registration is needed for professional commentators (like journalists).
I don’t think “publishers” (social media sites) can be responsible for the specific content that individuals post. I do think they can be responsible for the general conduct and policy of the site – so a site that has no standards or repeatedly fails to enforce its published standards can be sanctioned.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

A better model is that proposed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: the tech platforms are communication conduits like the telephone companies. The phone companies are not held liable for the speech of their users. Makes a lot of sense to me.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 year ago

Excellent article.
The potential impact of social media has been compared to that of the invention of printing. The latter triggered to a flood of intemperate pamphlets and books which led to polarisation, paranoia and a hundred years of witch-hunts and religious wars (as well as the Reformation, the spread of literacy and an acceleration of Science). Maybe we should look at the framework which eventually helped channel constructively the effects of printing:
1/ No censorship before an article is published BUT legal responsibility for anything published.
2/ A publisher is legally liable as well as the writer. Neither can be anonymous.
3/ Complaints resolved in public courts on the basis of clear laws and not quietly by bureaucrats on the basis of ill defined fashion or hidden agendas.
4/ Strong preference for free speech. Immense suspicion of any attempt by government to censor.
5/ Clear distinction between private and public speech.
The long term result was the mostly honest reporting and commentary of the newspapers – and mostly free yet sensible public debate – of the twentieth century. (Obviously this is an idealised simplification of three hundred years of history but it may provide a starting point for addressing our current challenges),
Maybe we should adapt, update and apply these principles instead of passively accepting the growth of a censorship complex as described in the article. A good start would be to reform “Section 230” which is the US rule which stripped the tech platforms of the legal liabilities of a publisher. This unbalanced the checks and balances of the regime which moderated printing and, as importantly, is so commercially advantageous that it has given the US government immense leverage over the tech giants by threatening to remove it. 

Last edited 1 year ago by Alex Carnegie
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I suggest that we rubes take the attitude that when the rulers start cracking down on speech it is a signal that something is rotten in the State of Denmark.
In other words, step away from tall buildings, because you never know what may come crashing down.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

I suggest that we rubes take the attitude that when the rulers start cracking down on speech it is a signal that something is rotten in the State of Denmark.
In other words, step away from tall buildings, because you never know what may come crashing down.

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
1 year ago

To those with unshakeable belief in the value of Medicine to Health might want to look at the following:
The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth CenturyJohn B. McKinlay and Sonja M. McKinlay

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

They won’t look at it, Ruth. Their belief is, literally, unshakeable. If what we’ve just been through didn’t shake them, nothing will. But never stop trying!

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

They won’t look at it, Ruth. Their belief is, literally, unshakeable. If what we’ve just been through didn’t shake them, nothing will. But never stop trying!

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
1 year ago

To those with unshakeable belief in the value of Medicine to Health might want to look at the following:
The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth CenturyJohn B. McKinlay and Sonja M. McKinlay

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Agree with everything in this piece except this: “There are, of course, plenty of examples of misinformation and hatred online, and Twitter and Facebook are right to reduce their spread.”
No, because here we’re accepting the fundamental premise of the censors that there is some level of harsh language that SHOULD be suppressed. The appropriate position is that ALL language should be acceptable by default. Free adults are responsible for policing what they read on their own authority. Anything else just leads us down the road to prior restraint, with you-know-who putting themselves in positions of authority to do the restraining.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Agree with everything in this piece except this: “There are, of course, plenty of examples of misinformation and hatred online, and Twitter and Facebook are right to reduce their spread.”
No, because here we’re accepting the fundamental premise of the censors that there is some level of harsh language that SHOULD be suppressed. The appropriate position is that ALL language should be acceptable by default. Free adults are responsible for policing what they read on their own authority. Anything else just leads us down the road to prior restraint, with you-know-who putting themselves in positions of authority to do the restraining.

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
1 year ago

Fantastically well written and absolutely spot! Wow a journalist who is actually critically questioning what is going on! Rare breed! Well done

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
1 year ago

Fantastically well written and absolutely spot! Wow a journalist who is actually critically questioning what is going on! Rare breed! Well done

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

I recently reviewed ‘Puppeteers’ by Jason Chavitz on AMAZON. The good news is that AMAZON has allowed the book to be sold. The bad news is that in my review I refer to Obama and Eric Holder as ‘skunks’ for how they handled funds derived from federal fines….the comment was flagged as ‘hate speech’ and was not allowed to be posted. I thought calling them ‘skunks’ was kind, as I would have certainly used much stronger language had I not thought I would be censored, but I was censored anyway,….I am guessing my experience is not unusual.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

I recently reviewed ‘Puppeteers’ by Jason Chavitz on AMAZON. The good news is that AMAZON has allowed the book to be sold. The bad news is that in my review I refer to Obama and Eric Holder as ‘skunks’ for how they handled funds derived from federal fines….the comment was flagged as ‘hate speech’ and was not allowed to be posted. I thought calling them ‘skunks’ was kind, as I would have certainly used much stronger language had I not thought I would be censored, but I was censored anyway,….I am guessing my experience is not unusual.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Remarkable. An Article about Free speech and Censorship and yet across 15 paragraphs no mention of the CCP or Putin’s FBS, nor the totalitarians in Iran and elsewhere.
That’s not a reason to give a free pass to malign influences in the West, but when one talks of a World War on Free Speech and then miss out completely the most anti-free speech actors you lose some credibility.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Fair point. The thing about those regimes though, is their censorship is engaged in avoiding the kind of cultural effects the West seeks to visit upon itself. That’s quite a conundrum: which is stronger, censorship imposed from above or self-censorship?

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

It’s obvious that corrupt and totalitarian regimes silence free speech. That’s why it is so frightening when free speech is being silenced…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

That’s kinda the point. We don’t want to become authoritarian regimes like the ones you mentioned. I don’t care what Putin thinks about free speech.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think the clue is in the title, and the first paragraph…

“The war on free speech is hardly a novel phenomenon, instead mutating over the centuries. What is new, however, is its global aspirations: today, the conflict takes the form of a world war.“

The author explicitly acknowledges a long history of censorship by individual regimes over the centuries but, quite rightly, is here voicing his alarm at the totalitarian-like coordinated efforts of almost every government in the world to censor certain topics on a global scale. This, we have never seen before.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We already know about those nations you mention. The point is we don’t want it in The West.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Fair point. The thing about those regimes though, is their censorship is engaged in avoiding the kind of cultural effects the West seeks to visit upon itself. That’s quite a conundrum: which is stronger, censorship imposed from above or self-censorship?

Saul D
Saul D
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

It’s obvious that corrupt and totalitarian regimes silence free speech. That’s why it is so frightening when free speech is being silenced…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

That’s kinda the point. We don’t want to become authoritarian regimes like the ones you mentioned. I don’t care what Putin thinks about free speech.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think the clue is in the title, and the first paragraph…

“The war on free speech is hardly a novel phenomenon, instead mutating over the centuries. What is new, however, is its global aspirations: today, the conflict takes the form of a world war.“

The author explicitly acknowledges a long history of censorship by individual regimes over the centuries but, quite rightly, is here voicing his alarm at the totalitarian-like coordinated efforts of almost every government in the world to censor certain topics on a global scale. This, we have never seen before.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

We already know about those nations you mention. The point is we don’t want it in The West.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Remarkable. An Article about Free speech and Censorship and yet across 15 paragraphs no mention of the CCP or Putin’s FBS, nor the totalitarians in Iran and elsewhere.
That’s not a reason to give a free pass to malign influences in the West, but when one talks of a World War on Free Speech and then miss out completely the most anti-free speech actors you lose some credibility.

Ticiba Upe
Ticiba Upe
1 year ago

There is no such thing as “hate speech”…there may be speech which any given individual may hate but there is on “free speech”…enough of this bs power grabbing

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 year ago

I’m reminded of the old quip: there is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia. True believers on the left and right demand intellectual hegemony, particularly on the left with the “seminarians”, aka professors, running the universities.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

I grew up in N Ireland. There never was any free speech for the likes of us. None of this bothers me in the slightest. Can’t lose what you never had.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yet it does seem like you are an outspoken and opinionated man. Not much use in being “bothered”, but I’d think you would take some issue with the “new censorship”.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yet it does seem like you are an outspoken and opinionated man. Not much use in being “bothered”, but I’d think you would take some issue with the “new censorship”.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

I grew up in N Ireland. There never was any free speech for the likes of us. None of this bothers me in the slightest. Can’t lose what you never had.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago

What worries me is that misinformation has real world consequences. 63% of Republican voters believe that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, although only 50% of those think they’ve seen any evidence. Why do they think that? Because powerful people and institutions have told them so. The result led to the attack on the Capital and a lack of trust in free and fair elections, a cornerstone of democracy. Now those powerful people and institutions claim the rioters were the heroes and the cops defending the building the villains.

When my Dad was young, polio was a thing, but the vaccine came along and now it’s not. Cholera, TB, smallpox, using leeches were all things, but advances in medical science means that in developed countries we don’t have to worry about them any more. But anti vaccine theories, any science theories are rife.

We’ve come through COVID where hard decisions had to be made, some partly right, some partly wrong but conspiracy theorists are already having a feeding frenzy.

It’s naive expecting a return to a world where there is objective truth, rather than alternative facts, but this article was profoundly depressing in its advocacy for a post truth world.

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

When my parents were young, scarlet fever was not unusual. It is very rare now. Not because of vaccines or medicine, but because living conditions have improved. The main improvements in public health are down to improvements in living standards. It would be good if WHO was investing in clean water, good housing, reduction in pollution and better working conditions rather than ‘pandemic planning’.
Much of the pharmaceutical industry’s products have had the opposite effect, reducing people’s health. As for Covid19, I am struggling to see any ‘right’ decisions taken. The NPIs were incredibly harmful, and the so called Covid19 vaccines were and are literally lethal.
The problem with ‘misinformation’ is who decides. Was the gunpowder plot a ‘conspiracy theory’. Questioning the ‘truth’ of the Zinoviev letter (1924) would have definitely been labelled as misinformation. As for the Iraq dossier ….

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

It wasn’t washing one’s hands or improving the water supply that eradicated smallpox it was vaccination!
Ditto Polio, which was quite common in the UK in the mid 20th century but is only now endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan – I wonder why?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Nope. Sadly this is all vaccine industry propaganda.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

So vaccination doesn’t work then? Edward Jenner was a quack? How come I’ve never met anyone who has polio? Is it because we are washing our hands more?

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Have a look at ‘Turtle’s all the way down’ to see an alternative narrative. BTW improved sanitation ISN”T the same as hand washing – you’re getting confused by your history.That was Semmelweiss and childbirth. And yes, the Covid19 vaccine is lethal. It killed my sister. Look at VAERS, excess deaths. MHRA and many. many more papers/research and you will see plenty of evidence for its harm. Of course not everyone is killed by it. Not all smokers die of lung cancer, not all women who took thalidomide had disabled children.It doesn’t stop tobacco and thalidomide from being dangerous. Indeed, I don’t know anyone who was killed by Covid19 – so clearly not dangerous then.
BTW there are many papers which show the improvement in health due to improved living conditions pre vaccinations. Do the research.eg Look at Stewart’s work (he was Head of public Health in Scotland) for a start.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

I’m very sorry to hear about your sister and certainly share your concerns re COVID. I am also well aware of improvements in public health re cholera and other diseases.
Where I take issue with your position is the idea that because there may be issues with covid vaccines vaccination itself is problematic.
Smallpox has been wiped off the face of the earth because of a concerted global effort to vaccinate people and stop them catching it – improvements in sanitation are entirely secondary. What a wonderful human achievement! We should be dancing in the streets celebrating the fact we aren’t dying of smallpox anymore!

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

I’m very sorry to hear about your sister and certainly share your concerns re COVID. I am also well aware of improvements in public health re cholera and other diseases.
Where I take issue with your position is the idea that because there may be issues with covid vaccines vaccination itself is problematic.
Smallpox has been wiped off the face of the earth because of a concerted global effort to vaccinate people and stop them catching it – improvements in sanitation are entirely secondary. What a wonderful human achievement! We should be dancing in the streets celebrating the fact we aren’t dying of smallpox anymore!

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Vaccination doesn’t “work”. Edward Jenner is probably a fabricated story. You’ve never met anyone with polio because you live with modern sanitation – the infrastructure of toilets and plumbing, and soap and disinfectant. Polio spreads through feces getting onto the hands that are used to eat with, without washing off the bacteria. Although a quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that cases of “vaccine-acquired polio” also now exceeds “naturally occurring polio” even in the poorest countries in Africa. So… we literally GIVE children polio with the “vaccine.” Great, huh?!

Ruth Sharratt
Ruth Sharratt
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Have a look at ‘Turtle’s all the way down’ to see an alternative narrative. BTW improved sanitation ISN”T the same as hand washing – you’re getting confused by your history.That was Semmelweiss and childbirth. And yes, the Covid19 vaccine is lethal. It killed my sister. Look at VAERS, excess deaths. MHRA and many. many more papers/research and you will see plenty of evidence for its harm. Of course not everyone is killed by it. Not all smokers die of lung cancer, not all women who took thalidomide had disabled children.It doesn’t stop tobacco and thalidomide from being dangerous. Indeed, I don’t know anyone who was killed by Covid19 – so clearly not dangerous then.
BTW there are many papers which show the improvement in health due to improved living conditions pre vaccinations. Do the research.eg Look at Stewart’s work (he was Head of public Health in Scotland) for a start.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Vaccination doesn’t “work”. Edward Jenner is probably a fabricated story. You’ve never met anyone with polio because you live with modern sanitation – the infrastructure of toilets and plumbing, and soap and disinfectant. Polio spreads through feces getting onto the hands that are used to eat with, without washing off the bacteria. Although a quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that cases of “vaccine-acquired polio” also now exceeds “naturally occurring polio” even in the poorest countries in Africa. So… we literally GIVE children polio with the “vaccine.” Great, huh?!

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

So vaccination doesn’t work then? Edward Jenner was a quack? How come I’ve never met anyone who has polio? Is it because we are washing our hands more?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Nope. Sadly this is all vaccine industry propaganda.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Ruth Sharratt

Truth can only be evidence based. Are there sufficient facts, sufficient data. The idea that Covid vaccines ‘were and are lethal’ is not remotely backed up by any evidence. If they were ‘lethal’, millions would have died, including me, my family, my friends and everyone where I live. This is the kind of misinformation and conspiracy theory that has real world consequences.

Advances in medical science are proven, because there is an abundance of evidence that supports it.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Critical Theory is a conspiracy theory, one that you believe in, apparently.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

It’s not something I have the slightest interest in, one way or the other. I certainly don’t believe in it, whatever it is.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Last week you told me Critical Theory isn’t a conspiracy theory, this week you have no idea what it is? Hmmm

Answer the following questions:

Can a women have a peni5 and are borders racist?

If you believe these statements are true, then you believe in “Theory” and accept a post truth world.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Sorry, I did no such thing. As I say I have no interest in critical theory, and I didn’t last week or, in fact, ever. Your obsession with women with genitalia is a little worrying and how can borders be racist. I support a sensible immigration policy that works for the country. Satisfy you?

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

From “The Post” 6th of June – “One in Three Believe In The Great Replacement Theory”

“Andrew, I know very little about ‘Critical Theory’ and care even less but I do know that it’s not a conspiracy theory. So should you”.

How can anyone have a honest debate with you.

If you went to University did studied a degree in a social science, there’s a high probaility you would done a module in Critical Theory.

I just laugh at the idiocy of it all but top deflecting. How about the KKK comment, care to defend that?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

So the module studied at University was a conspiracy theory, is that what you’re saying? As I say, I know little and care less so if you’re saying they are teaching conspiracy theories at our universities then OK.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Yes, they are teaching nonsense so according to you anything that can’t be verfied by objective truth (evidence), which “Theory” via Post-modernism explicitly rejects. It is a conspiracy theory (It calls itself theory after all).

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Yes, they are teaching nonsense so according to you anything that can’t be verfied by objective truth (evidence), which “Theory” via Post-modernism explicitly rejects. It is a conspiracy theory (It calls itself theory after all).

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

So the module studied at University was a conspiracy theory, is that what you’re saying? As I say, I know little and care less so if you’re saying they are teaching conspiracy theories at our universities then OK.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

From “The Post” 6th of June – “One in Three Believe In The Great Replacement Theory”

“Andrew, I know very little about ‘Critical Theory’ and care even less but I do know that it’s not a conspiracy theory. So should you”.

How can anyone have a honest debate with you.

If you went to University did studied a degree in a social science, there’s a high probaility you would done a module in Critical Theory.

I just laugh at the idiocy of it all but top deflecting. How about the KKK comment, care to defend that?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Sorry, I did no such thing. As I say I have no interest in critical theory, and I didn’t last week or, in fact, ever. Your obsession with women with genitalia is a little worrying and how can borders be racist. I support a sensible immigration policy that works for the country. Satisfy you?

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Last week you told me Critical Theory isn’t a conspiracy theory, this week you have no idea what it is? Hmmm

Answer the following questions:

Can a women have a peni5 and are borders racist?

If you believe these statements are true, then you believe in “Theory” and accept a post truth world.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

It’s not something I have the slightest interest in, one way or the other. I certainly don’t believe in it, whatever it is.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But what if the evidence itself is censored?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

They were telling five year olds to get vaccinated. My neighbour was very happy when they developed the vaccine for children. Why would that be?

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I don’t know your neighbour. Do I think vaccines work, though, and have done for disease prevention for years, without conspiracy theories? Yes.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Of course I do. I’m fully vaccinated. I got the Covid jab too – because I’m 58 years old with some chronic disease history in the family. But they were advising children to get vaccinated, even though they had virtually zero risk of bad outcomes, and vaccines didn’t prevent the spread of the disease. My 21-year-old healthy son was fired from his job for refusing the vaccine, even though he was not at risk from Covid and vaccines did not prevent spread of the infection.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Of course I do. I’m fully vaccinated. I got the Covid jab too – because I’m 58 years old with some chronic disease history in the family. But they were advising children to get vaccinated, even though they had virtually zero risk of bad outcomes, and vaccines didn’t prevent the spread of the disease. My 21-year-old healthy son was fired from his job for refusing the vaccine, even though he was not at risk from Covid and vaccines did not prevent spread of the infection.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I don’t know your neighbour. Do I think vaccines work, though, and have done for disease prevention for years, without conspiracy theories? Yes.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

The majority of people didn’t die because the shots they got were duds. Thousands died as they got contaminated shots (production processes for drugs cannot be scaled that quickly).

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

My point on misinformation exactly. This kind of pernicious nonsense is dangerous. And, of course, totally unsupported by real verifiable evidence.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

It’s not pernicious nonsense and it’s totally supported by real verifiable evidence – the type that’s censored so the likes of you continue believing the lies.

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

It’s not pernicious nonsense and it’s totally supported by real verifiable evidence – the type that’s censored so the likes of you continue believing the lies.

John Murray
John Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Amy Horseman

My point on misinformation exactly. This kind of pernicious nonsense is dangerous. And, of course, totally unsupported by real verifiable evidence.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Would like to know why after mass Covid vaccinations the excess deaths went up in some countries like Germany? Germany started out as one of the countries with the least excess deaths in Europe. Then they had mass vaccinations in 2021, and now it seems they have more excess deaths than many other countries, who did badly at the beginning of the pandemic, but improved later. Will we ever know, if excess deaths occurred because of the vaccine side effects and/or lockdowns, which severely affected people with other diseases. So far I haven’t come across a straight answer. Were vaccinations the reason that supposedly less people died later in the U.K.( and US?) or didn’t it make any difference. You will find answers by reputable scientists on both sides. The problem is that the pro-vaccine physicians and scientists were allowed to have a platform and the sceptical ones were massively censored.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephanie Surface
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Not that it matters but humans are genetically quite robust and evolution has allowed many to avoid illness. Nearly half of volunteers intentionally exposed in the Challenge trials never became ill, at all. We have never been equally vulnerable to the pathogen and likely to the vaccine ill effects as well. In the past any harms to those who may be less robust would have ended the effort. Not sure why those cautions were abandoned for the masses.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Critical Theory is a conspiracy theory, one that you believe in, apparently.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

But what if the evidence itself is censored?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

They were telling five year olds to get vaccinated. My neighbour was very happy when they developed the vaccine for children. Why would that be?

Amy Horseman
Amy Horseman
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

The majority of people didn’t die because the shots they got were duds. Thousands died as they got contaminated shots (production processes for drugs cannot be scaled that quickly).

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago
Reply to  John Murray

Would like to know why after mass Covid vaccinations the excess deaths went up in some countries like Germany? Germany started out as one of the countries with the least excess deaths in Europe. Then they had mass vaccinations in 2021, and now it seems they have more excess deaths than many other countries, who did badly at the beginning of the pandemic, but improved later. Will we ever know, if excess deaths occurred because of the vaccine side effects and/or lockdowns, which severely affected people with other diseases. So far I haven’t come across a straight answer. Were vaccinations the reason that supposedly less people died later in the U.K.( and US?) or didn’t it make any difference. You will find answers by reputable scientists on both sides. The problem is that the pro-vaccine physicians and scientists were allowed to have a platform an