Illusory free speech
Wings Over Scotland, the “low grade propagandist” site, (according to Michael White of the illiberal Guardian) got into a spot of bother. It had its Twitter account suspended all of a day and a night.
Most newspapers and columnists announced the suspension incorrectly as a ‘ban’, wishful thinking on their part. A few honourable journalists complained it was undemocratic. Those keen to have their idea of justice implemented laughed.
Yeah but no, but yeah, but no
All manner of pundits and opinion formers felt compelled to preface their not-above-the-shoulder flag waving with the sneaky caveat “love him or loathe him”.
The public has to be reminded, for we are truly stupid, that a political figure might not be liked by some quarters of society, especially those Campbell criticises for their brazen falsehoods and their cruelties. In addition, stipulations imply those praising him are not actually his bosom buddies. They might like what he writes but would never be seen choosing drapes with him.
Despite being so patently loathsome, Stuart Campbell, editor of the site, is “essential reading”, a case of, we tolerate people like Campbell to show we are terribly fair-minded.
How to make a non-compliment
Do they adapt their mean-spirited crap for other people in the public eye?
“Picasso, love him or loathe his misogynist portraits of naked women with both eyes on one side of their face, he’s a great painter.” Or how about, “Love or hate her crass impersonation of Maggie Thatcher, there’s no doubting strident Theresa May takes her new job seriously.” Or worse still, “Love or loathe lesbianism, each unprepossessing leader of Scotland’s opposition parties is doing a fine job of holding the SNP to account.”
The more you treat readers as dummies to be given an opinion rather than letting them form their own the sillier it gets.
Why do journalists feel it necessary to tell people what to think? Like the colonial mentality of Michael White, could it be they see themselves as high-grade propagandists?
When did libertarian become authoritarian?
The source of the ban was an extremely ‘low grade’ and over-wrought Daily Express hack to whom concocting wild exaggeration is her entire career. Her prose is akin to drunk Jackson Pollock tossing oils from paint pots in all directions.
As I am apt to remind, an exaggeration is a lie. Poor research proffered as fact is also a lie.
The hack in question, Siobhian McFadyen, knows how to work a policing system to her advantage. She spat at anybody who suggested she calm down. She’s the troubled kid who screams, “Don’t touch me, you paedo!” when endeavouring to separate the oik from a playground fight. The little sod hopes you’ll retreat in case you get tainted. Errant children have learned the trick of accusatory slander.
A hack on the wrack
McFadyen claims to be Scottish, and probably is, but her name is the Irish female equivalent of ‘Patrick O’Toole’. I dropped three one-sentence tweets into her time line, always in the third person, my way of showing disapproval without being accusatory. I was taught early never to write anything about anybody that you wouldn’t say to their face. And anyhow, even a bat crazy harpy has the right of reply.
In her effort to besmirch she managed to imply the crudity of the Wings’ emblem, (an unresolved design) is a proto-Nazi insignia. The emblem is a frizzy haired lion sitting astride art deco wings, as if it has a paw caught in a live power socket.
Nevertheless, tired of that well-worn gibe thrown at Wings by the pig ignorant, I sent McFadyen a photograph of Jaguar car’s hood ornament, the one used before the more familiar leaping predator.
A flash in the cess pit
Though I knew the site would be reinstated as swiftly as it was closed, for the complaint had absolutely no basis in reality, you could see a suspension of Wings Twitter coming a mile off. It’s an easy target.
Campbell is not scared of words, especially lewd expletives. To the casual reader crude language must appear unnecessary, and defamatory, as bad as some of the gutter trolls who inhabit the denizens of the spirit world, determined to keep civil rights a matter for Westminster to dispense or withdraw on a whim. They know Campbell’s existence is the tetanus jab to their rabid cause. He has a rare ability to interpret complicated statistics and graphs, lampooning government concocted versions created to fool the population.
Nevertheless, when you take into account the growing influence of the site, it’s massive readership, and the incessant attacks made on its integrity to silence it, you can understand why he blocks so many with a simple, “Fuck off!”
SNP HQ is PC, OK?
You can sense the SNP applauding Wing’s tenacity and naked honesty, but keeping well back lest the party hierarchy gets associated with Wings were it ever to be sued. It doesn’t pay to be too close to untamed mavericks, the old disease of upright institutions. If correct in that observation, it’s a shame they do that for they would do well to employ him as an antidote to Unionist lies.
Then again, Campbell is not a member of the SNP, doesn’t vote SNP, and the site not politically aligned. He is a former Lib-Dem supporter now rootless, lost in his humorous make-believe world of bear-infested Bath where he lives and works, and appears to thrive on a diet of teeth curling sugar injected drinks.
The Wings site has done a tremendous amount of good for the democratic process in terms of open participatory journalism, hitherto non-existent in Scotland. Jeering at hypocrisy is standard fare. It’s unswerving in its mission to lay bare contradictions uttered by our politicians, and expose the hidden agendas of the British establishment. Its work is unparalleled.
I see no reason why an editor should not call the sputum of a foolish hack “an utter disgrace”, or a fabricator of political untruths a chronic liar, and for that matter, a scooped spade what it really is, a bloody shovel. But sometimes I wish Campbell wouldn’t give free ammunition to the adversaries of Scotland’s ambitions.
The real story – it’s censorship, dumbass
Few newspapers noted the troublingly obvious.
We know of Google’s craven submission to Chinese authorities in censoring certain words and historical data, but it quit the huge Chinese market for those reasons. The owners of Twitter gave no reason for the suspension or the reinstatement of Wings. They acted as über-editors. Twitter and Facebook – that censored a Vietnam war photograph not once but three times – have become the most powerful editors on the planet. This is a deeply worrying development.
The famous 1972 photograph of a group of people running away from a US napalm attack, one naked little girl in their midst, the skin on her back scorched and peeling, appeared in an essay on Aftenposten’s Facebook page, (Norway’s largest circulating newspaper) in an article about photographs that altered public opinion.
Facebook wrote to the editor of Aftenposten demanding the publication remove the image from its Facebook page – declined to wait for a reply, and removed the image before Alfenposten could respond.
Censorship cannot be justified on the basis it protects public taste
Furious at the censorship, the editor of Aftenposten wrote a front-page letter to Zuckerberg, rebuking the social site for its inability to “distinguish between child pornography and famous war photos”. Espen Egil Hansen continued, “I am upset, disappointed – even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society. I am worried that the world’s most important medium is limiting freedom instead of trying to extend it, and that this happens in an authoritarian way.” [Slightly abridged.]
After a sustained furore that included a widely broadcast protest from the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg – unbelievably her post was also deleted – Facebook reinstated all the posts and the picture. Zuckerberg, self-styled libertarian for free speech, turns out to be a bit of a dictator.
Bullshit has wings
With the exception of The National newspaper, no intervention was made by the editors of our ‘Better Together’ UK newspapers on behalf of Wings, or by our First Minister. Quite frankly, that isn’t good enough. We elect these people not only to protect us, but our democratic outlets too.
In full sarcastic mode, BBC Television’s Brillo salesman, Andrew Neil, posted, “What a loss to civilised and informed discourse”, perfectly exposing his vanity and insecurity in one neat sentence.
BBC jerks aside, Facebook’s gizillionnaire founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is in the news again this time because he’s promoted himself facilitator of US-Israeli foreign policy.
He’s meeting some of the worst extremists of the Israeli parliament (my term for anybody who bombs, shoots, poisons, and walls in citizens) to discuss ways of stopping Palestinian ‘extremists’ (an Israeli term for anybody who retaliates against Israeli occupation) using Facebook as a means of communication. You can be certain he has the backing of Obama and the Pentagon. Expect soon his award as ‘Great Mensch of the State’. JK Rowling must be envious of Zuckerberg’s power.
Your privacy belongs to others
By what authority are Internet giants set over and above the electorate and governments? How are they to be sanctioned by law for breaching civil rights, other than reacting to public outrage?
An hubristic journalist seeking revenge for some perceived hurt is a minor annoyance compared to the power of mega-wealthy media owners, harvesters of lonely Internet souls. Facebook and Twitter have become Purgatory, the place where you must wait indefinitely until judged innocent or guilty, or agree to purification.