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Free Speech?

From https://kenanmalik.com/2019/05/31/who-has-the-right-to-speak/:

…It is, in my view, precisely because we do live in plural societies that we need the fullest extension possible of free speech. In plural societies, it is both inevitable and important that people offend the sensibilities of others. Inevitable, because where different beliefs are deeply held, clashes are unavoidable. Almost by definition such clashes express what it is to live in a diverse society.   And so they should be openly resolved than suppressed in the name of ‘respect’ or ‘tolerance’. And important because any kind of social change or social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. Or to put it another way: ‘You can’t say that!’ is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged.

The notion of giving offence suggests that certain beliefs are so important or valuable to certain people that they should be put beyond the possibility of being insulted, or caricatured or even questioned. The importance of the principle of free speech is precisely that it provides a permanent challenge to the idea that some questions are beyond contention, and hence acts as a permanent challenge to authority. This is why free speech is essential not simply to the practice of democracy, but to the aspirations of those groups who may have been failed by the formal democratic processes; to those whose voices may have been silenced by racism, for instance.

The real value of free speech, in other words, is not to those who possess power, but to those who want to challenge them. And the real value of censorship is to those who do not wish their authority to be challenged…

My comment to the above post:

Having been censored from this blog, but nevertheless continuing to value the ideas placed here, I have to gulp.

I don’t know why my comments have been censored. I am certain that in the present readers’ minds, the very fact of my being censored by Kenan must be a damning statement that must immediately put me into the very back of a deep cell.

To go back to examine my previously accepted comments, and then those that were censored, I am at a loss. The contents really do not appear to warrant such action.

Perhaps it is because of my visible name? [not given in the Comments] Having been in programming, the desktop computer field and bulletin boards and all their subsequent iterations since 1972, I have seen the best and the worst of it. For that reason, I am averse to placing my given and family names onto an internet platform. Sorry about that. If that is sufficient to get me automatically damned, so be it.

To the substance of the post: I am in complete agreement with Kenan’s philosophical argument that free speech ought to be “free speech”.

Similarly, I fully agree that the law in a democracy ought to apply to every person equally.

Then we get to reality. Those with heavy duty lawyers and access to the various gatekeepers in the judicial system will always have the law bend toward their side. In a copyright infringement case where I was an expert witness for the other side of the table from a major Hollywood producer, who was backed by a formidable team of lawyers from cities across North America, funded by a major film production house, the plaintiff had no chance. That my suggestion even allowed his single non-specialist legal counsel to fight them to a draw was a miracle. It is undeniable that the full-court press tactic, even without a “win”, caused a major chill across the community of writers.

There are way too many cases where the law is most certainly not being applied “equally”. Witness the very recent official admission that indigenous peoples in North America, and specifically in Canada, have been subjected to nothing less than a “genocide”.

So, in which of the endless universes is there equal treatment under the law?

Back to free speech, and back to you the reader’s undoubted innate response to my starting statement that Kenan censored me: we all depend on some basic platform from which to gaze upon the actions around us. Kenan’s Moral Compass, therefore, must be considered such an absolute reference point. And if HE censors someone, boy! that guy must deserve it!

Whether Kenan’s reason was trivial or substantive is not the issue, is it?

Dare I ask, was Kenan being ({[hypocritical]})?

No. (Providing, it wasn’t, in fact, some AI contraption that did the dirty deed.)

Kenan was being HUMAN. We, at this point in our evolutionary stage, depend on some stable reference platform upon which to stand. Is that a point to be argued? Whether it ought to be so, is not the argument.

Individually, we are not yet points of energy that have no need for relativity.

Until that simple situation can be accepted, philosophical discussions of oughtness must be tempered by what can be done with what we are given.

What do you think of “free speech”? Before answering, I urge you to read the full post: https://kenanmalik.com/2019/05/31/who-has-the-right-to-speak/

From Whence Comes Anxiety?

Anxiety comes from…

The mind or the brain?

If it is the brain, there are a phalanx of drugs being promoted that purport to alleviate the symptoms.

If your anxiety comes from your mind, it can be eliminated by professional coaching.

Your choice: drugging the symptoms, or removing the anxiety by having a direct conversation with its cause.

Weigh the consequences of either option: Drugs such as benzodiazepines, opiates or alcohol are dangerously addictive and only mask the reason for your anxiety; Coaching by a certified psychologist using CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) will attack the source of your anxiety and place in your hands the proven tools to stop anxiety from taking over your life.

To mask anxiety or to get rid of it?

Your choice. Read Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It, by Dr. Michael Catchpole, available through Rutherford Press:

Anxiety: Debug It Don’t Drug It

Is the Internet Breaking?


One hundred-and-fifty years ago, most countries had a postal service that enabled citizens to send and receive five or six messages every day. If you wanted to have afternoon tea with a friend, you could place the request into an envelope, drop the envelope into a mailbox by 10am, and have confirmation in time to dress for the occasion.

Today, we do the same with a variety of synchronous (phone, video) or asynchronous (text, email, etc.) technologies. The outcome has changed little – though, it is more likely to be coffee instead of tea.

With the vastly increased complexity of our new communication technologies – exacerbated by our loss of community oversight to private interests with only profit and corporate benefits in mind – there has been an equal increase in the number of access points for the transmitted information. And where there is such access, someone will seek to use it to personal advantage. “Community oversight” is now considered too naive a concept, so we have rules. As each rule is circumvented a new book of rules is required. The volumes of rules now requires armies of people in each country – bureaucrats and lawyers – to adversarially determine which “t” needs to be crossed and at what profit to whom.

We still know that we need some way to communicate with friends and family regarding the afternoon tea, so, holding our nose, we still use the services of the private, for-profit organizations to perform the human necessity of maintaining contact.

The unfortunate result is that humanity has created a virtually autonomous monster called “the internet”. And we really have no idea how to moderate the monster’s negative effects.

In fact, unknown to all but a tiny number of users of the internet, there are dedicated people working mostly as unpaid volunteers who struggle to deal with this monster. One such group is the European “RIPE”, described in Wikipedia: “RIPE is not a legal entity and has no formal membership. This means that anybody who is interested in the work of RIPE can participate through mailing lists and by attending meetings.”

Here is a fascinating peek into that mysterious world:

…………………………………

Posted by anti-abuse-wg ; on behalf of; Ronald F. G******* :

Perhaps some folks here might be interested to read these two reports, the first of which is a fresh news report published just a couple of days ago, and the other one is a far more detailed investigative report that was completed some time ago now.

Dossier Gubarev – Russian hackers

Court Document

Please share these links widely.

The detailed technical report makes it quite abundantly clear that Webzilla, and all of its various tentacles… many of which even I didn’t know about until seeing this report… most probably qualifies as, and has qualified as a “bullet proof hosting” operation for some considerable time now. As the report notes, the company has received over 400,000 complaints or reports of bad behavior, and it is not clear to me, from reading the report, if anyone at the company even bothered to read any more than a small handful of those.

I have two comments about this.

First, I am inclined to wonder aloud why anyone is even still peering with any of the several ASNs mentioned in the report. To me, the mere fact that any of these ASNs still have connectivity represents a clear and self-evident failure of “self policing” in and among the networks that comprise the Internet.

Second, its has already been a well know fact, both to me and to many others, for some years now, that Webzilla is by no means alone in the category commonly referred to as “bullet proof hosters”. This fact itself raises some obvious questions.

It is clear and apparent, not only from the report linked to above, but from the continuous and years-long existence of -many- “bullet proof hosters” on the Internet that there is no shortage of a market for the services of such hosting companies. The demand for “bullet proof”
services is clearly there, and it is not likely to go away any time soon. In addition to the criminal element, there are also various mischevious governments, or their agents, that will always be more that happy to pay premium prices for no-questions-asked connectivity.

So the question naturally arises: Other than de-peering by other networks, are there any other steps that can be taken to disincentivize networks from participating in this “bullet proof” market and/or to incentivize them to give a damn about their received network abuse complaints?

I have no answers for this question myself, but I felt that it was about time that someone at least posed the question.

The industry generally, and especially in the RIPE region, has a clear and evident problem that traditional “self policing” is not solving.
Worse yet, it is not even discussed much, and that is allowing it to fester and worsen, over time.

It would be Good if there was some actual leadership on this issue, at least from -some- quarter. So far I have not noticed any such worth commenting about, and even looking out towards the future horizon, I don’t see any arriving any time soon.

Regards,
rfg
…………………………………

Time to Recycle (or Dump?)

Pile of Letters

Isn’t the internet great? Anything you want to know is right there at your fingertips!

There are a few problems. Wherever people and their ideas congregate, somebody wants to make money out of it. So, there are ads coming out of your keester, hucksters trying to spam/phish/scrape/? your i.d. and your id. Grumps and haters YELLING AT YOU!

And there are just too many new words and terms to keep straight – ah, correct.

We all have vague memories of some really neat stuff that we read. Somewhere. Sometime. Maybe. If only all that miscellaneous disconnected data would just stop flying at my aging greying cells!

Where was I? Oh. Recycling. Well here are a few facts that were posted in the last century. They have each been debunked – which is to say, “proven to be factually untrue”. But that won’t stop the internet from recycling them (wry grin):


In the 1500s baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children — last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”.

True or false?

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.

True or false?

If you would care to see the debunkers at work, check out these two sites:

“Snopes”

“History Magazine”

There’s a Story in Here Someplace

The Intercept has a recent article: Stock Market Swings Tell Everything You Need to Know About Our Rigged Economy

The recent Dow Jones fluctuations have very little to do with a legitimate fear of inflation. The stock market panicked largely because CEOs and shareholders fear that they’re losing their upper hand over a workforce that’s cutting increasingly into their record profits. The Fed’s response to that may well be worse for the average American than anything that happens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange: It may throw workers who are already hurting under the bus in the name of a stopping something — inflation — that’s nowhere to be found. There’s an outsized chance it could even trigger another recession, as more dramatic rate hikes have been known to do in the past.

Mascots Commissioned by Committee

 

What is Cultural Appropriation?

Do the CA Cops have their hackles raised by even having that question asked? Does it mean that only a person with bona fide genetics, having been raised fully within the culture, is permitted to comment on or write a story about, say, a cult like Bountiful?
Bonny Brooks, writing in Quilette on 30 Jan. 2018, and linked from Pandaemonium, suggests we shake our heads and rethink what is being done being blindly raising the CA flag.
Yes, there should be the occasional slap on the wrist for blatant commercial appropriation of culture, but:

We often call this a ‘cultural appropriation’ panic, but the animus driving it is reaching into the deepest crevices of writers’ private lives and personal histories. I call this the memoirification of literature; the lovechild of a justifiable call for more diverse writers and a social media marketing imperative, this drive to personal confession demands ever more particularised voices prepared to share their particularised testimonies under the banner of literary forms that are not, by definition, supposed to be testimony. And increasingly there are penalties for those who appear not to ‘stay in their lane’ and write endlessly about themselves.

There is no appeasing this impulse. In the last few weeks, I read an article asking who ‘gets’ to write fiction about sexual abuse and another telling writers how they must do so should they dare. The current zeitgeist for biographical vampirism is even pushing journalists reporting on issues of public interest to qualify themselves. As James Bloodworth recently put it, having fielded online jibes for writing a reportage book about low wage labour in Britain while not actually being (or no longer being, in his case) a low-wage labourer: ‘A peculiar thing about our age is that one of the easiest ways to get ahead is to talk endlessly about yourself. If you aren’t prepared to emote publicly about how ‘tough’ things were for you personally, you’re effectively at a disadvantage to those that are.’ Were his critics not sure what journalism is?

For those of us that have memoir-worthy backstories but are more memoir-averse, this trial-by-testimony approach to choosing and marketing literature is alarming. As it happens, I fit within several historically ‘spoken for’ and much written about groups. However I don’t write testimony and I do not own these issues. There isn’t one way to emerge from adversity, so demanding a paint-by-numbers approach to its portrayal is frankly childish, reductive, and philistine. Characters should be three-dimensional beings, not mascots commissioned by committee.

 

image from Algonquian tradition

A Letter From Inside

Detained in solitary confinement, Osman Kavala has been able to get a letter out.

When I was taken into custody on board returning from Gaziantep, I was not worried. I counted on that it would be understood immediately that the suspicions against me are unwarranted. Yet, my arrest and the accusations that led to my arrest came as a surprise to me…

…read more: Letter from Osman Kavala