The Internet is probably the most heavily controlled media on Earth; only it is controlled by chaos. China could save billions of dollars if its government realized that total chaos is a more rigid censor than absolute control. The Internet has become a mass of rumor, fact, confusion, paranoia, defamation, conspiracy theories, and deliberate misinformation. All the Chinese government needs to do is hire a couple of hackers to begin rumors like the government is putting obedience drugs in the water, Israel is funding the Secret Police, or that Bush is secretly manipulating Chinese jobs, and there would be no need for censorship. The population would take care of that themselves.
I first came across this unique form of censorship four years ago when I was co-moderating a Yahoo! group called Do Something America. It took a little effort, but the group owner and I rid the board of most of the violently insane “net nuts”. We even managed to do some cooperative actions, like calling our Congresspeople over the stolen 2004 election. Then things started to change. First it was the rumors that Karl Rove was being indicted by a grand jury. As I mentioned before, such rumors undermine the grand jury system and would invalidate any such indictment. Personally, I think that the White House itself was behind those rumors, as they guaranteed that Turd Blossom walked free.
I tried to get people to check their sources before they posted, but I was fighting a losing battle. I felt like the little Dutch Boy trying to stem a flood by sticking appendages into a leaking dike. It seemed that every net nut in the U.S was posting the most incredible idiocy. Most of it concerned Israel. Hitler’s International Jewish Conspiracy was alive and well and living in Do Something America. Israel was behind Sept. 11th. Israel was behind all the ills of the American economy. Israel was behind the Iraq war. Israeli art students were spying on the DEA office in New Jersey. These “articles” came complete with broken links and no way to verify the information. The harder I banned and deleted, the more nonsense flooded the board.
Not that it would have made any difference. The more idiotic the post, the more it had been cross posted to other Yahoo! groups. It wasn’t just anti-semitic idiocy either. There was a lot of AIDS denial, absurd Sept. 11th conspiracies–it got to the point where the idiocy so outweighed the factual information that I simply gave up. The other Yahoo! boards were worse. I just left Yahoo! to the net nuts.
With no regulation of Web content, there is no standards for truth or accuracy. This reduces the Web to the same meaningless drivel as Fox News. Worse, all the paranoid idiocy acts as a smoke screen to undermine the legal process. When you have a bunch of loonies marching down the street demanding government investigations of the patently absurd, it drowns out the voices of those of us who want investigations of the provable crimes committed by the Bush Administration.
Of course we can depend on the Libertarians to be the loudest voice preventing us from fixing this problem. Libertarians fight off the establishment of standards on the Web as hard as they fight the establishment of standards on all other media. To the Libertarian, lies, misinformation, bigotry, and defamation are all part of free speech. Requirements that statements be true and verifiable are considered censorship to the Libertarian. Laws that protect minorities from defamation bring on accusations of oppression. Libertarians deliberately confuse fact with opinion, and claim that an requiring an opinion to be stated as an opinion is a threat to their First Amendment rights.
One AIDS denier whom I banned from Do Something America, and later ran into on another board, called this nonsense The Marketplace of Ideas. According to him, everybody should be free to post anything that they want without consequences, and it is the reader who has to pick out what is true or untrue. With that sort of logic, Bayer can use rat poison for aspirin filler, and it’s up to the consumer to tell if it’s safe to take. Nobody has the time to check every piece of drivel that comes through the Internet. Besides, a lot of the conspiracy theories are backed with either the logic of madness or the logic of some damned good PR agents.
The lack of journalistic standards, enforcement of defamation laws, and prevention of rumor mongering reduces the Web to Fox McNews. The only people who have anything to fear from establishing standards are the corporations. Reliable information would cause their downfall. If Bush was not protected by a fog of conspiracy theories, he might have been prosecuted for the actual incompetence that led to Sept. 11th. The statement of opinions would remain protected free speech as long as such opinions do not lead to harm to individuals or minorities. So the establishment of standards would not silence Libertarians as they claim. It would only cause the end of the most damnable form of censorship ever created.
Censorship is the primary tool of all dictatorships. Be it a Communist or Capitalist dictatorship, control of the masses depends on the control of the media. In Communism, the media is directly controlled by the state. The Russian language even had a word for it, Pravda. Pravda literally means “Official Truth” as opposed to real truth. In other words, Pravda means that you know it’s a lie but you are going to make believe it’s true. The alternative is a one-way ticket to Siberia. In a Capitalist dictatorship, or fascism, the media is controlled by the corporations and is used to support their puppet government. This is why we have a White House press corps which obediently tells the American public any Pravda the White House hands them. You know that they are lying, but it is even more difficult to discover the truth than it is in a Communist dictatorship.
The Corporations discovered how dangerous a free press is when Woodward and Bernstein brought down the Nixon Administration. That set the fascist takeover of America back by an entire decade. From the beginning of the Reagan Administration, the corporations began a massive push to emasculate out free press, and they have succeeded. Just look at Fox News or CNN. That obscene example of “McNews” was made possible by the deregulation of the media.
Back in my youth, the media was regulated for the public good. Antitrust laws prevented any single network from taking over the airwaves. Local affiliates were required to serve their broadcast area. They had to promote local interest broadcasts, advertise local businesses, and present opposing views to editorials. Most importantly, the free press was protected by law. Today deregulation has reduced the media to the personal mouthpieces of the monopolistic corporations. Local affiliates are no longer independently owned thanks to the eliminations of anti-trust laws. Local businesses stay solvent by selling Chinese-made merchandise, and the only point of view the media is required to promote are their owner’s. This means that the press is no longer free. The media is now exclusively the mouthpiece of the monopolies which own them.
Deregulation has utterly destroyed any semblance of a free press. The courts have ruled that press releases can be treated as real news. Public Relations puff pieces can be presented as fact, and there is nothing that the public can do about it. Fox News and CNN can falsely report weapons of mass destruction in Iraq without legal consequences. The laws that protected a free press are no longer in force. What is left is corporate Pravda.
Now that the corporations have the media just the way they want it, they need to make certain that it stays that way. This is where the Libertarians come in. The purpose of the Libertarian party is to protect corporate power. (More about this in a future section.) In the strangest example of double-speak that I have ever seen, the Libertarians call the laws that protect free speech censorship. They decry the obvious censorship of Fox News and CNN while opposing any sort of regulation that would put a stop to it.
There is a certain logic to that. The Libertarian movement serves as another source of government disinformation. Libertarians are a source of conspiracy theories that act as a smoke screen for government misconduct. They are a source of rumors which undermine the legal system which protects us from fascism. The Libertarian disdain for defamation laws also act as a divide and conquer tactic to split the left.
A common Libertarian tactic is to say “Do you expect the government to tell you the truth?” and then turn around and tell a bigger whopper. Accusations of the Mossad being behind the Bush Administration, or that jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt cheap steel. The rumors about Karl Rove being indicted by a grand jury would guarantee that it would not happen. (Such rumors undermine the grand jury process and would invalidate any such indictments. ) Holocaust denial and the return of the International Jewish Conspiracy assures that Jews will be frozen out of the left. Thus, Libertarians are as big a tool of censorship as the Born Again Christianoids. I will go into more detail in my next post about the Libertarian Market Place of Ideas.
They conspired with the Mossad to destroy the Twin Towers. They have conspired to poison our water with fluoride. They are conspiring to give American jobs to undocumented workers. They have conspired to destroy American freedoms through the income tax. They are like rats in the walls, working tirelessly to undermine the Constitution. Whoever they are, they are a busy bunch of bastards.
So who exactly are they? Nobody really knows who they are. Some say they are “Skull and Bones”; a Harvard student’s club. Others say that they are the International Jewish Conspiracy, and that Israel is secretly running the world. I have also heard that they are a secret cabal of Kaballah masters called the Illuminati. That last one just doesn’t make any sense. The Kaballah is a Jewish mystical discipline. So wouldn’t the Illuminati be part of the International Jewish Conspiracy? Who would I go to for an answer to that question?
Americans seem to love conspiracy theories. There are so many of them. Feminists are conspiring to destroy the American Family through abortion. Unions are conspiring to rob honest libertarians from amassing wealth. The number of conspiracies and conspirators is endless. All the ills of the world are because of some mysterious conspirators are manipulating world events for their own sinister ends.
The utter absurdity of conspiracy theories is enough to give me a migraine. Sorry, America, George W. Bush is not Lex Luthor, and Batman and Superman are not going to depose him. If Magneto was real, he would be in his 90s right now. Dr. Evil is a movie character. There are no evil magicians manipulating the world through Kaballistic Numerology. Two high level stock brokers making a deal on a golf course is not a conspiracy. Even if they did belong to Skull and Bones together, it is not a conspiracy.
Why bother doing anything about the state of the world when it’s all the Illuminati’s fault? Were I a member of the Bush misAdministration, I would be encouraging conspiracy theories as much as possible. I would be hiring on-line guerrilla marketers to post phony conspiracy evidence in chatrooms, social networks, and bulletin boards. I would be hiring ghost writers to produce books that “prove” the Mossad conspired with bin Laden, or that jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel girders. There is nothing that can effectively squash the investigation of real crimes as accusations and phony evidence of false crimes.
Conspiracy theories also serve an emotional need for stability. They assure the American public that there is indeed somebody in charge of their lives. Christianoids have Jesus running their lives, and Libertarians have Thomas Jefferson as their savior. Conspiracy Theorists have the International Jewish Conspiracy to blame their failures on. Conspiracy theories assure us that somebody is in charge even if that somebody is a James Bond villain.
The fact is, we are living in a Capitalist chaos with thousands of different factions maneuvering to take advantage of each other. The big fish are out to eat the little fish, and the rest of us are only here to buy gasoline from them. The United States Constitution gives us both the power and the responsibility to put a stop to this kind of capitalist chaos. We have the constitutional power to enforce limits and reasonable laws to end the abuse in government. We are the actual government, and we are not doing our jobs. It is much easier to put another $150 into the tank of the old SUV and blame the price on those damned Illuminati.
Ultimately conspiracy theories are an excuse to continue to avoid our responsibilities to ourselves, to our nation, and to the world. Nobody conspired to have us ignore the corporate abuses happening in the Middle East right now. Nobody conspired to have us ignore the warnings about Global Warning. Nobody forced us to listen to the Capitalist bullcrap spouted by the neocons. We all know the homeless are out there, we ourselves chose to ignore them. The state of the world is our fault, and only we can fix it.