What do you think?
Rate this book
208 pages, Paperback
First published October 1, 2001
a recent obscene internet and text campaign ... persuaded hundreds of French parents that the government wanted primary school children to masturbate in class... many of yesterday’s marchers ... swallow wholesale the distortions pedalled by Mr Soral and by Catholic extremists in recent months on “la théorie du genre” – or gender theory. They demanded the withdrawal of a pilot programme in four areas of France which seeks to steer primary school boys and girls away from gender stereotypes. This apparently modest programme consists of trying to persuade girls that they can perfectly well drive tractors and boys that they can be ballet dancers if they want to. Harmless? Not as far as the marchers were concerned. It was this programme which was the subject of the obscene rumour spread by text and online a few days ago by Mr Soral’s lieutenant, Farida Belghoul. Texts, tweets and emails persuaded hundreds of mostly black and Muslim parents that there would be masturbation and cross-dressing in primary schools.How long do you think these people who use free speech to incite hate and spread lies will allow speech to remain free if they win?
The most sinister change in the way war is perceived springs from what two years ago seemed to be a wholly positive development. Satellite television and the use of information supplied by YouTube, bloggers and social media were portrayed as liberating innovations. The monopoly on information imposed by police states from Syria to Egypt and Bahrain to Tunisia had been broken. But as the course of the uprising in Syria has shown, satellite television and the internet also spread propaganda and hate. Fraudulent atrocity stories have an effect on a war: a Libyan militiaman who believes that the government soldiers he is fighting are under orders to rape his wife and daughters isn’t going to take many prisoners.Too much of the debate about free speech is unnuanced and hysterical, with no considered discussion being given to its darker sides. The slippery slope argument is pulled out again and again in support of rampant, unfettered free speech. Supporters of unfettered free speech seem unwilling to grapple with or even admit its darker, less savoury consequences, seemingly preferring instead to pretend that these don't exist. The tragic consequences of a dictatorship which censures and censors have been well and fully ventilated. It might help to remember that as with all things in life, humans are more than capable of using ANY tool for both good AND ill.
The situation has grown worse since Libya. The ‘YouTube war’ showing atrocities on both sides has outpaced the actual war in Syria as an influence on both rebels and government supporters. Satellite channels such as al-Jazeera depend on these propaganda clips. Many of the atrocities are real. Rebels can see film of mass graves of people killed by poison gas or children writhing in pain from napalm burns. In government-held parts of Damascus people don’t go out much in the evening but sit at home watching footage of captured government soldiers being decapitated or Christian priests and Alawite soldiers having their throats cut. Much of this footage is real – but not all. A correspondent in south-east Turkey recently visited a Syrian refugee camp where he found ten-year-old children watching a YouTube clip of two men being executed with a chainsaw. The commentary claimed that the victims were Syrian Sunnis and the killers were Alawites: in fact the film was from Mexico and the murders had been carried out by a drug lord to intimidate his rivals.
The diet of snuff movies helps explain the ferocity of the conflict in Syria and the degree of hatred and terror on both sides. It also explains why the two sides find it so difficult to talk to each other. How would Union soldiers in the American Civil War have reacted if they had repeatedly watched film of a Confederate commander cutting open the body of a dead private in the Union army and eating his heart?
To Miss Ella Minnow Pea:
I regret to tell yew most greephos news: Mannheim is mort. I no that yew new him, were phrents with him. That yew ant he ant his assistant Tom were worging still on the Enterprise 32 shallenge…
On Wednesday, July 19, the Council, having gleaned and discerned, released its official verdict: the fall of the tile bearing the letter “Z” constitutes the terrestrial manifestation of an empyrean Nollopian desire, that desire most surely being that the letter “Z” should be utterly excised — fully extirpated — absolutely heave-ho’ed from our communal vocabulary!
”Banishment”: the next banishment victim! To become one more invisiblinguista. The 4000th, 5000th such victim? Is anyone counting? Perhaps Nollop? Expunging each entry in his Heavenly Lexicon — one at a time — until the tome’s pages stop resembling pages at all. Until they become pure expurgatory-tangibull. Ravenstriate leaves. Ebony reticulate sheets. Tenebrous night in thin tissue. Contemnation by tissue! It is almost unbearable.