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Category Archives: Censorship

New app to bring awareness to internet censorship – Western Herald

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Here in the United States, if the internet isnt working, or is working slowly, the solution is often as simple as calling tech support. In most cases, theyll have the user run a speedtest, and there are millions of sites and applications that provide this service. However, there arent so many sites that allow users to see who has access to their information, and for people in countries where the internet is censored or restricted, even the fastest internet connection wont grant them open access to information.

This is one issue the team working on the Open Observatory of Network Interference project hope to address with their new Ooniprobe app, which, as of Feb. 9, is available in a beta version for free on Google Play and in the App store. The app has three main features, a speed test, a web connectivity test and a test that detects the presence of components that could be responsible for censorship or surveillance.

Without a tool like Ooniprobe, governments have plausible deniability in terms of censorship events, and actually, people claiming that they can’t access a website is not in itself proof of intentional, government-commissioned censorship, Arturo Filast the creator of the app said. Now, anyone around the world can run Ooniprobe and can inspect how their network is working and whether censorship is being implemented. The type of data collected by Ooniprobe cannot really be denied by governments since it provides a clear picture into what is happening in a user’s network.

Filast believes access information is a fundamental human right, but in the current state of affairs, many countries either censor or severely restrict the internet; with countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India showing thousands of blocked sites – including many messaging sites like WhatsApp and Telegram, according to OONI World Map Explorer.

While countries like the United States have considerably fewer reports of censorship and blocked sites, the country isnt entirely free of censorship. Even here at Western Michigan University types of censorship are in place, but according to Chief Technology Officer Tom Wolf, there is a fine line between censorship and internet security.

In my opinion preventing malicious cyber activities that are illegal in nature and/or intended to disrupt normal internet traffic would not be considered a form of censorship. I would view this as cyber security, Wolf said.

This begs the question of exactly where one should draw the line between security and censorship. Most firewalls, such as Merits Palo Alto – the firewall currently in place here at WMU – scan for evidence of malicious activities and dont otherwise censor content.

Filast addressed the very fine line between security and censorship, distinguishing that security measures should restrict themselves solely to universally bad content.

Internet censorship, in any form and of any type of content, is a slippery slope. We see this in countless occasions where it’s implementation is passed as an excuse to restrict access to content that is universally bad, but then the same system gets used to implement censorship for content whose value is much debatable, Filast said.

However, Nathan Tabor, a visiting professor and historian focusing on South Asia, expressed concerns over this slippery slope mentality, pointing out that when someone knows their internet activity is being censored, theyre more likely to change their patterns of consumption in a form of implicit censorship.

A lot of my work is in Persian, so I often access sites from Iran, another place that has very restricted internet access. The things that I access have to do with history and literature, pretty innocuous subjects, but perhaps my internet history comes up on the radar of some overzealous homeland security official because Im accessing sites from Iran. With the data mining that happens with my search history, Id look like a terrorist, Tabor said. The sites that you read will fall into some kind of aggravated pattern decided by a security apparatus, regardless whether or not youre doing anything wrong.

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White House media ban is ‘unconstitutional censorship’, America’s National Press Club warns – The Independent

Posted: at 2:48 pm

The National Press Club has condemned Donald Trumps exclusion of select media outlets from a White House press conference, calling the unprecedented action deeply disturbing and likening it to censorship.

Senior figures from the world’s leading professional organisation for journalistsjoined a host of other industry leadersin protesting the decision announced by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to block news outlets including CNN, TheNew York Times, BBC, TheGuardian and BuzzFeed from the off-camera gaggle.

I find it deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable that the White House is actively running a campaign against a constitutionally enshrined free and independent press, the club’s president, Jeffrey Ballou, saidin a statement.

The action harkens back to the darkest chapters of US history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship. The National Press Club supports our colleagues in the White House Correspondents Association in its protest and calls on the White House to reverse course.Mr Spicer did not give any justification as to why the news outlets had been excluded, however far-right organisations Breitbart News, One America News Network and The Washington Times were all granted access.

Othermajor outlets approved included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Reuters and Bloomberg, with Associated Press and Time both boycotting the gaggle after the exclusions emerged.

It came just two months after the press secretary promisedthe Trump administration would never ban press access regardless of the political leaning of the publication.

We have a respect for the press when it comes to the government, that that is something you cant ban an entity from, he said. You know conservative, liberal, otherwise I think that is what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.

Donald Trump: We are fighting the phoney, fake news

National Press Club Journalism Institute President, Barbara Cochran, also accused Mr Trump of hypocrisy for claiming he loves the First Amendment, which defends the freedom of the press.

The president said, No one loves the First Amendment more than me. We call on the president and his staff to prove that and stop interfering with the ability of all news organisations to do their job of covering the White House, she wrote.

TheNew York Times and Buzzfeed both issued written statements protesting their exclusion from the briefing.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier discouraged conservative news outlets who celebrated the gaggle, citing organisations who defended his network when former President Obama tried to freeze out Fox News in 2009.

Some at CNN and New York Times stood with Fox News when the Obama admin attacked us and tried to exclude us, he wrote on Twitter, a White House gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs.

It came as the US President renewed his attack on the mainstream media at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. Its phony, fake, he said.I called the fake news the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.

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Metallica’s James Hetfield on Chinese Censorship: Hopefully One Day They’ll Realize We’re Not a Political Threat – Loudwire

Posted: at 2:48 pm

Raymond Ahner, Loudwire

When bands perform in China, it is no secret that they must submit their song lyrics to the government, who then return to the band with a list of songs they can and cant play as well as allowing certain songs as long as the lyrics are altered to something permissible. Metallicas recent trek to the country was no different, though James Hetfield seemed nonplussed by being forbidden from playing classics like Master of Puppets.

In an interview with South Morning China Post, the frontman was more than understanding about the censorship, stating,Why shouldnt you respect their culture when youre there as a guest and youve been invited to play? We want to be respectful and just because we do things differently, it doesnt mean it should be forced upon [others].

Hetfield is optimistic about returning to China and having the ability to play not just Master of Puppets, but other exclusions like One (in Shanghai) and Hardwired. But hopefully well keep coming back and theyll realize were not a threat politically and we have no agenda except to cross boundaries with music and let people enjoy the songs, he continued. Were not trying to bring a secret message to anybody.

During Iron Maidens performances in China last year, Bruce Dickinson toed the line with the censors, mouthing curse words and instructing the crowd to take a picture despite cameras not being allowed at the concert.

Metallica will embark on a North American stadium tour this summer, bringing along Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Gojira on select dates. For more info and a list of all stops, check our 2017 Guide to Rock + Metal Tours.

Where Do Metallica Ranks Among the Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Live Acts of All Time?

10 Bands That Were Banned From Countries

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10 Unforgettable James Hetfield Moments

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Metallica’s James Hetfield on Chinese Censorship: Hopefully One Day They’ll Realize We’re Not a Political Threat – Loudwire

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Behold the censorship machine! – Personal Liberty Digest

Posted: at 2:48 pm

Personal Liberty Poll

Exercise your right to vote.

In an effort to make websites more advertiser friendly some media outlets have taken to eliminating comment sections where, without considerable effort from moderators, they are unable to control the direction of reader conversations. But a Google-funded algorithm could change that via censorship.

The technology, called Perspective, uses machine-learning to ferret out toxic comments. Its designers reportedly based the technologys moderation standards on those used by the team of human moderators tasked with keeping discourse civil on The New York Times website. The Times is also reportedly now using Perspective to expand the number of articles it allows comments to appear on without overtaxing its moderation team.

Developers explain how the tool works thusly:

Perspective is an API that makes it easier to host better conversations. The API uses machine learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. Developers and publishers can use this score to give realtime feedback to commenters or help moderators do their job, or allow readers to more easily find relevant information, as illustrated in two experiments below. Well be releasing more machine learning models later in the year, but our first model identifies whether a comment could be perceived as toxic to a discussion.

The level of potential toxicity appears largely based on the use of vulgarity or insulting language in comments.

Here are a few examples of comments the technology would deem highly toxic in comments:

And here are a few that are considered the least toxic:

Personal insults and name calling cheapen any pointand theres certainly no shortage of uncomfortable language on the internet. But is the top-down sanitation of comment sections really the answer?

How long before the machine decides whole topics are too uncomfortable for discussion and are likely to cause readers to leave?

And if the problem is online harassment, are we really going to pretend that simply silencing the true assholes among us will make them disappear? Theyll still be out there Ever been in a big city traffic jam?

Civility is important. But pretending that life isnt uncomfortable, and partially so because of the personalities of people we have to deal with, isnt the answer.

Besides, sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade or a f*cking moron.

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Perspective or censorship? Google shares AI designed to fight online trolling – RT

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Google has released to developers the source code to Perspective, a new machine tool designed to flag toxic comments online. Its creators hope the AI will clean up internet debate, but critics fear it will lead to censorship instead.

Perspective was created by Jigsaw and Googles Counter Abuse Technology team both subsidiaries of Googles parent company Alphabet in a collaborative research project called Conversation-AI. Its mission is to build technology to deal with problems ranging from online censorship to countering violent extremism to protecting people from online harassment.

Jigsaw has partnered with online communities and publishers to measure the toxicity of comments, including the New York Times, Wikipedia, Guardian and the Economist.

This gives them (news sites and social media) a new option: Take a bunch of collective intelligence that will keep getting better over time about what toxic comments people have said would make them leave, and use that information to help your community discussions, said CJ Adams, product manager of Googles Conversation AI,according to WIRED.

Until now, for news sites and social media trying to rein in comments the options have been upvotes, downvotes, turning off comments altogether or manually moderating, Adams said.

Twitter and Facebook also have recently announced anti-trolling moves.

On a demonstration website launched Thursday, anyone could type a phrase into Perspectives interface to instantaneously see how it rates on the toxicity scale.

RT America tested the AI with some comments from our own website. Type he is a Communist with a Jew nose into its text field, and Perspective will tell you it has a 77 percent similarity to phases people consider toxic. Write I piss on Confederate graves; I wholly agree with your views of these fellows and Perspective will flag it as 42 percent toxic, while Please RT no more Libtards gets a 33 percent rating.

Jigsaw developed the troll detector by taking millions of comments from Wikipedia editorial discussions, The New York Times and other unnamed partners. The comments were shared with ten people recruited online to state whether they found the comments toxic. The resulting judgements provided a large data set of training examples to teach the AI.

Ultimately we want the AI to surface the toxic stuff to us faster, Denise Law, the Economists community editor, told WIRED. If we can remove that, what wed have left is all the really nice comments. Wed create a safe space where everyone can have intelligent debates.

Jared Cohen, Jigsaws founder and president, said the tool is just one step toward better conversations, and he hopes it will be created in other languages to counter state-sponsored use of abusive trolling as a censorship tactic.

“Each time Perspective finds new examples of potentially toxic comments, or is provided with corrections from users, it can get better at scoring future comments,” Cohen wrote in a blog post.

Not everyone thinks Perspective is wonderful, however. Libertarian journalist Virgil Vaduva ran his own experiment on Perspective, and concluded that the AI can easily be used to censor controversial speech, whether that speech comes from the left or the right of the American political spectrum.

Applying the AI to censor comments will create an environment empty of value where everyone agrees with everyone, or so it may appear, Vaduva wrote.

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‘Sensitivity’ or Self-Censorship? – The Weekly Standard

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Here’s an excerpt from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:

Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog-lovers, the cat-lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere. The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did.

There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no!

Farhrenheit 451 was published in 1953.

Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post news story:

Before a book is published and released to the public, it’s passed through the hands (and eyes) of many people: an author’s friends and family, an agent and, of course, an editor.

These days, though, a book may get an additional check from an unusual source: a sensitivity reader, a person who, for a nominal fee, will scan the book for racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content. These readers give feedback based on self-ascribed areas of expertise such as “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities within families” or “transgender issues.”

Sensitivity readers have emerged in a climatefueled in part by social mediain which writers are under increased scrutiny for their portrayals of people from marginalized groups, especially when the author is not a part of that group.

The Washington Post article was published in 2017.

As Post reporter Everdeen Mason points out, if you’re an author of best-selling renown whose published works include Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone just for starters, you might think you don’t need to be screened by a sensitivity reader. You’d be wrong:

Last year, for instance, J.K. Rowling was strongly criticized by Native American readers and scholars for her portrayal of Navajo traditions in the 2016 story “History of Magic in North America.” Young-adult author Keira Drake was forced to revise her fantasy novel “The Continent” after an online uproar over its portrayal of people of color and Native backgrounds. More recently, author Veronica Rothof “Divergent” famecame under fire for her new novel, “Carve the Mark.” In addition to being called racist, the book was criticized for its portrayal of chronic pain in its main character.

Furthermore, sensitivity readers aren’t even controversial in the eyes of a surprising number of the media. “What’s not to like?” asks Claire Fallon of the Huffington Post:

There’s really no meaningful difference between the content editing any reputable publisher would offer and sensitivity readingexcept that most agents and editors, to this day, are white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied women. The average editor at a publishing house isn’t personally familiar with the experiences of an American bisexual child of Chinese immigrants, or a black teenager, or a deaf woman. An editor can and will alert their author that an odd coincidence reads as ridiculously contrived, or that a character’s dialogue seems stiff and unrealistic; that’s part of helping a writer hone their craft and polish their book. What, then, if the book’s flaw lies in a cultural detail misrepresented, or a glaringly dated stereotype of a person of color? Unless the editor has more fluency in a given culture than the author, the editing process could skip right over that weakness.

And Slate’s Katy Waldman, although not quite so enthusiastic about the sensitivity industry as Fallon, still thinks it’s a generally good industry to have around:

As a push for diversity in fiction reshapes the publishing landscape, the emergence of sensitivity readers seems almost inevitable. A flowering sense of social conscience, not to mention a strong market incentive, is elevating stories that richly reflect the variety of human experience. Americaspecifically young Americais currently more diverse than ever. As writers attempt to reflect these realities in their fiction, they often must step outside of their intimate knowledge. And in a cultural climate newly attuned to the complexities of representation, many authors face anxiety at the prospect of backlash, especially when social media leaves both book sales and literary reputations more vulnerable than ever to criticism. Enter the sensitivity reader: one more line of defense against writers’ tone-deaf, unthinking mistakes.

Even authors these days seem to see no problem in having to rewrite their books to fit the exquisite sensitivities of sensitivity readers. Waldman mentions one author “who totaled 12 sensitivity reads for her second novel on LGBTQ, black, Korean American, anxiety, obesity, and Jewish representation issues, among others.”

There’s another name for sensitivity screening, of course. It’s called self-censorship. In Fahrenheit 451 some 64 years ago, Ray Bradbury prophesied that ever-increasing authorial sensitivity to the demands of an ever-increasing group of aggrieved minorities would result in books so blandly inoffensive that no one would care about books anymore. And then you’d have actual censorship.

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Universities and the Threat of Censorship – Conatus News – Conatus News

Posted: at 12:44 pm

During the last few years, we havewitnesseda very worrying period for free-speech within universities. In 2015 alone we witnessed 30 universities banning newspapers, 25 banning songs, 10 banning clubs or societies, and 19 worryingly banning speakers from events. Not only that, we have witnessed various feminists, human-rights advocates and LGBT-Rights defenders indicted as encroachers of acceptable propriety and consequently indicted as unfit for a speaker platform.

In the same year, the feminist and anti-Islamist Maryam Namazie was inadmissibly indicted as a highly inflammatory figure who could incite hatred, and was initially prevented from talking at The University of Warwick. Also in 2015, another feminist, Julie Bindell, was labelled transphobic and attempts were made to thwart her planned speech at The University of Manchester because it was deemed that she might also incite hatred. Furthermore, attempts were made to foil the planned university speaker-event of comedian Kate Smurthwaite at Goldsmiths, University of London, as well as Dapper Laughs at Cardiff University for similar refractory reasons. The factious journalist, Milo Yiannopoulos, was also initially no-platformed and prevented from appearing at the University of Manchester in October 2015 over concerns that he, likewise, might incite hatred.

The venerable Chief-Executive of HOPE not HATE, Nick Lowles, was also no-platformed and prevented from speaking at aNational Union of Students (NUS) anti-racism conference in February of this year by the NUS Black Students on the grounds that he was seen as islamophobic and could rile certain frail university students. Not only that, the eccentric MP and former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also been indicted as unfit for a speaker platform at Kings College London after he made inappropriate remarks about President Obamas ancestry.

Where did all of this encroachment on university free-speech originate? As many a student with even a tentative grasp of NUS-philosophy will attest, much of the encroachment has emerged out of a sanitising utopia that is politically-orientated NUS policy encroachment which is uninvitingly embodied in its current no-platforming policy. How did this happen? The NUS was once a profoundly respected body that prized free-speech and truly represented all students around the UK inclusive of political disparity.

Once upon a time, the NUS would only infract on the independence of a university platform when individuals such as fascists and racists wanted to perorate their sickly ideas. Now, however, we have a union gravely steeped in political proclivity, a union that thumps for inoffensiveness and one that regards any speaker who might aggrieve a persecuted minority worthy of censorship.

Its not just the no-platforming of speakers, we have seen people within the NUS short-sightedly no-platform themselves. The honcho of the NUS LGBT+ section caused an uproarwhen she did just that during an event that she was scheduled to appear on alongside the much-respected LGBT-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. Much to the surprise of many LGBT+ people across the UK, her decision was motivated by the fact that she wanted to remonstrate against and to further arraign Peter Tatchell for holding apparent racist and transphobe views.

Such issues of no-platforming have obviously been a motivator alongside the appointment of Malia Bouattia as the new NUS president, a person that many deem cavil on account of past remarks that many argue are anti-Semitic for many NUS-disaffiliation campaigns. Whilst Exeter, Cambridge, Surrey, Oxford, and Warwick have all voted to remain, Lincoln, Loughborough, Hull, and Newcastle have all voted in favour to disaffiliate. And it wouldnt surprise me if more follow.

Weve seen a plethora of articles rightly griping about the NUS as of late by various academics, campaigners, luminaries, and students all of whom seem to be united in their consternation that the NUS and various university student-unions have restricted free-speech to excess. They rightly adjure their readers to challenge both the NUS and various student-unions because they both now undermine the very legitimacy of debate within universities leaving untold damage to the rich pluralism and debate that once characterised universities. Many deem such untold damage, such a low ebb, to be a mere reflection of the mollycoddling preferences of the uproarious, regressive, and deeply-forcible newfangled university generation.

What, though, is this newfangled university generation? This newfangled generation is characterised by its marked yearning for utopian-like inoffensive environments, its unashamed appeal to pity or guilt to effectuate its political campaigns, its identity politics, its clamorous protestations it calls liberation, its writhing victimisation, its brash holier-than-thou attitudes, its candid cultural relativity, and its unimpeachable ill-will towards those who have the audacity to criticise any unscrupulous areas within minority groups they deem persecuted.

However, what about its unapologetic safe-space advocacy? Is it not the case that universities should be safe places where people are protected from offensive narratives? Moreover, is it not right that universities be increasingly encouraged to symbolise places where students particularly LGBT students and other minority groups can feel protected from maltreatment, harassed, etc.?

Many people both within and outside of academia have quite a different opinion of what universities should represent. Many claim and quite commendably that universities should be places in which the rich tapestry of discussion and debate are safe-spaced i.e. protected as opposed to being safe-spaces in which inoffensive narratives are supressed.

Universities should, of course, be safe-spaces that protect students from certain types of behaviour. No university should put up with particular forms of behaviour such as students or speakers inhibiting the participation of LGBT-students within university life, or subjecting them to violence (or threats of violence). This would clearly be in breach of the law, and utterly reprehensible.

Here its important to introduce a key distinction: freedom-of-behaviour vs freedom-of-expression. Let us consider an example to highlight this. There are many students and speakers, for example, with rather regressive religious-leanings who make the claim that women should be prevented from showing their hair publicly and prevented from occupying certain positions in society the head of a church, for example. Now, whilst I find such a view utterly distasteful, I find myself unwilling to proscribe such drivel-like open expressions of such opinions. However, and here is the important point: if they were to then physically ring-fence such positions from women (or verbally threaten women with violence if they were to occupy or even pursue such positions) then I think contravening would certainly be justified.

What, then, about an external university speaker given a platform in which he or she spews the claim that LGBT people should be prevented from participating in the military? Or a speaker claiming that such a group should be stoned to death because they have spurned godly-endowed propriety? Should they be allowed to speak their minds? Am I really arguing that as long as such a speaker is not actually preventing the LGBT community from participating in the military, or actually stoning LGBT members, then such a speaker should be allowed to churn-out such cruel and hurtful narratives?

Most exponents of that shibboleth safe spacewould likely deem any approval to be, at best,outre, and at worst, uncouth a mere stridencycommandeered by the privileged in societythat doesnot merely ignorethe rights it obviouslytrammels but, most pressingly,ithas the potential ofyielding universityenvironments that is knownto becoldly indifferent and even a pillar that substantiatesthe injustices that besmirch minorities.

I think that an important distinction should be carried when talking about this upbraided term platform namely, contested vs uncontested speaker platforms. I am of the opinion that speakers should have the right to an uncontested platform that is to say, a platform bereft of an opposing speaker if the speaker has not been found to be in breach of what I call inalienable-traits. What do I mean here? To put it bluntly, not encroaching upon those fundamental traits that are an inalienable part of a persons identity at a given time. That includes, at the very minimum, gender, sexuality, race, age and nationality.

If, however, a speaker is found to be encroaching upon such fundamental traits of a person an example would be denying such characteristics, ridiculing them, etc., but is not in breach of the law, then it is my view that a university must only allow that speaker to talk on a university campus on the condition that they are challenged by an opposing speaker (agreed by individuals and/or a society within a university who identity with that trait a speaker is deemed encroaching upon). No-platforming here is positively inexcusable. The stultification of such liberty that this stifling would bring-aboutshould be utterly condemned by all students and university staff alike. Such a speaker should instead be debated and their views exposed to scrutiny.

Why, though, should open debate be prioritised? I have two arguments for this. I will expound the first. Now, its important for us to remember that noxious narratives those that infringe upon the rich humanist-based principles of equality, compassion, and, lets face it,human decency come in various forms, and they will likely be encountered wherever students might find themselves, and whatever age they may be. Noxious narratives can penetrate our local communities, our work environments, our friendships, and even our families. Surely theres an imperative that young people at university be equipped with the invaluable tools to effectively invalidate and neutralise such things as racism, homophobia, transphobia and sexism?There is therefore a key utilitarian point to be made: how can students challenge those noxious narratives in society in the furtherance of equality and overall societal well-being if they have come to learn that noxious narratives can only be defeated through avoiding them? Put another way, how can students particularly those who are passionate about promoting or directing social, political economic, orenvironmentalchange with the desire to make improvements in society and to correct social injusticecreate a better society if they are not fully aware of those things which are antithetical to it?

The secondargument relates to an important epistemic issue: how can students know if offensive narratives are actually morally circumspect if they are not exposed to them? After all, let us not forget that once upon a time Darwins account of evolution was deemed to be immoral and deeply offensive by swathes of people (and many still deem it to be). Galileos heliocentrism was also deemed to be immoral and deeply offensive and many efforts were made to muzzle such views. Given the advances in todays science and the benefits from this that have trickled into our society that the views of Galileos and Darwins have considerably effected we heartily look back to that time in the knowledge that such a view was indeed made manifest despite the significant offense caused. Whilst I deem many a narrative assuredly and distastefully in error racist ones being examples who can unerringly claim with a degree of confidence that all those narratives that our society (or others) considers offensive, whether by the majority or minority, are unquestionably so?

Now, with these two arguments kept in mind, I deeming myself to be somewhat of a defender if notvying fordefender of both classical liberalism and human-rights fear that the kind of universityenvironments hankered for by both theNUS and large swathes of universitystudent-unions alikeis hindering students from effectively tackling noxious narratives in society whilst, simultaneously, deprivingthem of such a key epistemic point. However, there is a third argument to be made which is closely linked to the previous two I expounded. The kind of university environments hankered for by both the NUS and large swathes of student-unionswillcreate, sooner or later, the kind of university environments that preventstudents from expending real discretion. I say this because the kind of excessive censorship that we have seen being coveted by both NUS and student-unions alikewill have the dire consequence of creating a very large sect of people in universitywho are unequipped with the tools of extolling the difference between, on the one hand, independence of thought and, on the other hand, meekness. Students need to exposed to as much richly-plural a medium ofviews as possible in order that they can extol such a key difference. This is such an invaluable component within the development of our young peoples critical reasoning skills. And its critical reasoning which is indispensable in the overall fight against noxious narratives whether in university, our local communities or in society as a whole.

Its essential that students convene in solidarity and press the NUS and university student unions to recalibrate their footing and champion such an extolling, such a key difference. We cannot and should not tolerate their trajectory that currently sees them staunchly remaining inimical to it. Students need to be armed with those salient and deeply important tools to challenge, through debate, those noxious narratives within our larger society. Students need to be exposed to narratives that some, even many, deem offensive for this to happen, and universities need to be places that unerringly epitomise the fearsome pursuit of knowledge and, with it, epistemic-justification.

However, as long as mollycoddling and inoffensive environments continue to be the uncouth utopia of the new-fangled generation and university student unions and the NUS continue to epitomise this we will irrevocably see further free-speech violations within further education. The consequence of this will inevitably be students personifying a spindly type of principled-activism one mired in flimsiness and susceptibility that shakily endeavours to achieve the kind of decent society that most of us rightly deem upstanding.


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WikiLeaks’s Assange: Yiannopoulos is facing ‘censorship’ – The Hill

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 3:45 am

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is facing “censorship” amid controversy over a video in which the far-right provocateur appeared to defend pedophilia.

“US ‘liberals’ today celebrate the censorship of right-wing UK provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos over teen sex quote,” Assange tweeted Monday night.

US ‘liberals’ today celebrate the censorship of right-wing UK provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos over teen sex quote.

Yiannopoulos has been facing backlash since a video clip gained traction on social media in which he says relationships between older men and young boys can be beneficial. In the clip, he also mentions his own sexual abuse.

Employees from Breitbart News, where Yiannopoulos works, are reportedly prepared to leave if the company doesn’t take action.

And Simon & Schuster is canceling the publication of Yiannopoulos’s book, “Dangerous.”

In a Facebook post Monday, Yiannopoulos denounced the claims that he was advocating for pedophilia.

“I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim, Yiannopoulos wrote.

“I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers. I’ve outed three of them, in fact — three more than most of my critics.”

The government of Ecuador granted Assange asylum in 2012. Since then, he has been living inside the government’s embassy in London.

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WikiLeaks’s Assange: Yiannopoulos is facing ‘censorship’ – The Hill

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Letter: Tele-town hall is form of censorship – Republican Eagle

Posted: at 3:44 am

This is a salad which works fine for Trump’s oligarchy. However, these false fears and economics do nothing for the majority of our citizens.

After an hour and a half of waiting for his censorship to end, I hung up and I am sure I wasn’t alone in this fiasco.

I wanted to ask questions about two pieces of legislation. The first was House Joint Resolution 40, which would allow “mentally incapable” persons to be omitted from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and enable them to legally buy a firearm.

Question: Congressman, really, haven’t you heard of Sandy Hook?

The second was HJR 41, which would remove the requirement for energy companies to report any funds received from foreign countries.

Question: Congressman, do you really think that is an overly burdening regulation for Exxon and others?

You have said that “doing live town halls” doesn’t work because it lets in the radical protesters and turns it into a political rally. I am not a radical protester. I simply wanted you to explain why you voted “aye” on both these bills. Because you censored your tele-town hall, I didn’t get an answer and I am sure that there are others who didn’t get their legitimate questions answered.

By the way Congressman, Michael Flynn’s phone was not wire tapped. The truth is that the Russian ambassador’s phone was monitored while Flynn was doing Trump’s bidding. Nice try, but you can’t defend or excuse this guy.

Gary Anderson

Red Wing

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Letter: Tele-town hall is form of censorship – Republican Eagle

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker goes from censorship to killing state … – City Pages

Posted: at 3:44 am

The magazine feared no subject under Sperling. Its coverage included an array of contentious topics like shoreline development and climate change.

Natasha Kassulke succeeded Sperling. Lost in the transition was the magazine’s license to cover all things water and earth.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp often meddled. Under Walker’s handpicked cabinet member an article about the state’s endangered pine martens was killed. In 2015, a story on climate change and its impact on Wisconsin animals was kiboshed.

A search of the magazine’s archives shows there hasn’t been a story regarding climate change or global warming in the past three years.

Walker now wants to kill the publication once and for all.

His recently submitted budget has it ceasing publication in 2018. Cost savings of $300,000 annually and allowing the DNR to better focus on managing natural resources have been Walker’s justifications for the move.

Since the magazine pays for operations and staff through subscriptions, some Badger State residents say Walker’s logic is bunk. Anti-environmental politics is the culprit behind scotching the journal, they counter.

Kassulke worked at the magazine for about 15 years. She stepped down as editor last summer.

“When Walker’s administration came in,” she says, “I was required to show all stories, all text, all photos to the entire department leadership team for review. And through that process, I have several stories that were either edited [down], changed, or at times even killed.”

In February, Kassulke’s story about feedlots and drinking water was supposed to be included in a magazine insert. It still hasn’t been published.

“My gut tells me [halting the magazine] is part of a continuing agenda to create a vacuum and black out information on very important environmental issues and an anti-science agenda,” she says.

DNR spokesperson Jim Dick has repeatedly denied editorial content played a role in the decision.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker goes from censorship to killing state … – City Pages

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