Tag Archives: censorship

‘Confederate’: Save your ammo for the real battles ahead of us, snowflakes

I find it ironic that I recently wrote about what I called “the cultural war on white people” and that with the piece I used a graphic from “Game of Thrones” (specifically, the Night King, a blue-eyed devil who leads the “white walkers.”)

Because this past week’s tempest in a teapot was the fact that the creators of “Thrones” plan to create next an HBO television series called “Confederate,” which examines an alternate universe in which the South successfully seceded from the Union.

This would be no big fucking deal if we didn’t live in an era of smug, pearl-clutching outrage addicts, but we do, so it is.

So addicted to their self-righteous outrage are the snowflakes supposedly on the left that now they don’t hesitate to engage in attempted prior censorship — the dooming of a creation, of an expression, before it even has been substantially started by its creator or creators.

These aren’t true leftists, because true leftists value the freedom of expression.

“Confederate,” if and when completed, might suck ass. It might be corny. It might turn out to be tone-deaf, although I rather doubt that it will. I mean, “Game of Thrones” over the past several years has matured. Sex scenes apparently meant to appeal mostly to young heterosexual males have diminished with each passing year as the show has grown more serious, which includes the development of its female characters from sex objects to the show’s true leaders (heroines and villainesses and somewhere in between).

And despite criticisms apparently from those who haven’t seen the series, “Game of Thrones” is diverse. True, it’s set in a Medieval-like place and time and so you see a lot of white characters, but it has important black characters (but, if we’re keeping count, not any Asian characters that I can think of, and while the series has featured at least one Latino actor, it hasn’t had any explicitly Latino characters, since there is no Spain or Latin America in Westeros, the mythical land in which most of the series takes place).

But if “Game of Thrones” isn’t racially diverse enough for you, snowflake, well, go yell at George R.R. Martin, on whose series of books the television series is based.

But that said, no creator of a poem or a short story or a novel or a song or a television show or a film or of anything has to practice affirmative action in his or her creation.

We can and should argue for a diverse workplace and for the equality of opportunity in our society and in our daily lives, but artistic creations are something else. They exist in a special realm that needs to be protected, even from “harmless” snowflakes.

If you want to create something that features predominantly or only black people or Asian people or Latino people (or gay people or women or men or transgender people or…), knock yourself out; maybe your story or your movie or your song lyrics are focused on that group of people and you don’t want to drag a lot of other people into the mix just to make some snowflakes happy.

If you want to create something that features predominantly or even only white people — gasp! — you can do that, too, especially if the time and the place depicted in your creation warrant it.

And the “Thrones” co-creators seem to be well aware of what they’re getting into with “Confederate.” “Thrones” co-creator D.B. Weiss recently told Vulture:

… [I]t goes without saying slavery is the worst thing that ever happened in American history. It’s our original sin as a nation. And history doesn’t disappear. That sin is still with us in many ways.

“Confederate,” in all of our minds, will be an alternative-history show. It’s a science-fiction show. One of the strengths of science fiction is that it can show us how this history is still with us in a way no strictly realistic drama ever could, whether it were a historical drama or a contemporary drama.

It’s an ugly and a painful history, but we all think this is a reason to talk about it, not a reason to run from it. And this feels like a potentially valuable way to talk about it. …

Many black Americans say that they’re beyond sick and tired of the slavery theme. I can understand that; as a gay man, my entire life I’ve seen that in most movies gay male characters are acceptable only as flamboyant, easily identified, non-threatening nelly queens, as the deserved victims of violence (up to, of course, murder), and/or as the mentally ill perpetrators of violence (up to, of course, murder) and/or of other depraved crimes, and usually the only acceptable ending for them is to commit suicide, to be murdered or to die of AIDS.

You want a happy ending from time to time.

But the Civil War never ended. Look at “President” Pussygrabber, his Nazi elf of an attorney general from Alabama, his oily secretary of state from Texas and the rest of his Cabinet members who hail mostly from the South, and the map of the 2016 presidential election results:

Image result for map 2016 presidential election red blue

This is a valid, still very relevant topic, and “Confederate” would, I think, only further the discussion. And on board “Confederate” are the husband-and-wife television-writing team of Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman.

As Malcolm Spellman told Vulture:

… For me and Nichelle, it’s deeply personal because we are the offspring of this history. We deal with it directly and have for our entire lives. We deal with it in Hollywood, we deal with it in the real world when we’re dealing with friends and family members.

And I think Nichelle and I both felt a sense of urgency in trying to find a way to support a discussion that is percolating but isn’t happening enough. As people of color and minorities in general are starting to get a voice, I think there’s a duty to force this discussion. …

Nichelle Tramble Spellman said:

… I think what was interesting to all of us was that we were going to handle this show, and handle the content of the show, without using typical antebellum imagery. There is not going to be, you know, the big Gone With the Wind mansion. This is present day, or close to present day, and how the world would have evolved if the South had been successful seceding from the Union. And what was also exciting to me was the idea that in order to build this, we would have to rebuild world history …

Malcolm Spellman adds:

This is not a world in which the entire country is enslaved. Slavery is in one half of the country. And the North is the North. As Nichelle was saying, the imagery should be no whips and no plantations.

Read the entire Vulture interview with the four creators of “Confederate”; I think that it’s clear that, as “Thrones” co-creator David Benioff put it, “anyone who thinks that Malcolm and Nichelle are props have never met Malcolm and Nichelle,” and that, as the interviewer worded it, “Confederate” is not going to be “almost pornography or wish-fulfillment for white supremacists and the alt-right.”

If “Confederate” sucks for whatever reasons — if it’s artistically lame and/or it’s tone-deaf or even offensive to the reasonable members of its audience — then let it die deservedly in the marketplace of ideas, but let’s not kill it in the crib.

As Benioff said:

… [W]e haven’t written any scripts yet. We don’t have an outline yet. We don’t even have character names. So, everything is brand-new and nothing’s been written. I guess that’s what was a little bit surprising about some of the outrage. It’s just a little premature. You know, we might fuck it up. But we haven’t yet. …

Coming from the creative minds behind “Game of Thrones” and the Spellmans, I expect “Confederate” to be more like “Game of Thrones” in quality than like “The Man in the High Castle,” Amazon.com’s series that imagines that the Germans and the Japanese had won World War II and that I have tried twice to get into but just haven’t been able to, as it’s just not that good.

I hope that these what-if-history-had-turned-out-differently television series don’t proliferate too profusely, but I don’t recall Amazon.com being called anti-Semitic for having resurrected Hitler, so I think it’s incredibly bullshit for the creators of “Game of Thrones” to be called racist for planning to resurrect the South.

Pick your battles and save your ammo for the battles that matter, snowflakes. You’re only turning off far more potential allies than you are doing yourself any good by attacking popular culture that is enjoyed by millions of Americans — and that is not actually “racist” — such as Bill Maher’s show and the not-even-born-yet “Confederate.”

It’s pretty clear that you’re making it all about yourself and your supposedly easily hurt pwecious widdle feewings, and that’s not a winning strategy. Nor is prior censorship in a nation that has valued the freedom of expression since its inception.

Keep trying this bullshit; you’ll see.

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No good options for Sony Pictures with ‘The Interview’

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, from left, Diana Bang, as Sook, Seth Rogen, as Aaron, and James Franco, as Dave, in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)

Associated Press image

Seth Rogen and James Franco are shown in a still from “The Interview,” a movie that Sony Pictures Entertainment has put on indefinite hold because of threats made by apparently-North-Korean hackers to retaliate should Sony release the movie not only in movie theaters, but in any other form.

I don’t recall that at any time in my life was a movie not released because of terrorist threats.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has taken criticism from many for deciding not to release “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as a team who ultimately assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Sony’s decision not to release the movie as planned on Christmas Day wasn’t enough; hackers who have been identified as probably North Korean apparently demanded in an e-mail to Sony that “anything related to the movie, including trailers” be removed from the Internet and that Sony “never let the movie [be] released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy,” as though it were possible for Sony to police the entire Internet and prevent all leaks or acts of piracy.

The Associated Press reports that “Sony Pictures has been removing all signs of ‘The Interview’ from its websites and taken its trailers off YouTube. On Wednesday, the studio canceled its Dec. 25 release after the hackers made threats of violence against theaters showing the film. Sony has said it now has no plans to release ‘The Interview.’”

While I doubt that any actual terrorist attack at a movie theater would have been committed had “The Interview” been released as planned — North Korea has no operatives within the United States, to my knowledge, and as North Korea doesn’t want its inhabitants to leave the Asian nation at all, I don’t really see the United States ever crawling with North Korean operatives  — I imagine that Sony would like to avoid any lawsuits or negative publicity (or both) should any such terrorist attack actually happen, even though such an event is fairly highly unlikely.

While I would like to see Sony at least release “The Interview” on DVD and streaming, as it would any other theatrical release, I imagine that Sony doesn’t want to have to worry about further problems with North Korean criminals in the future. Sony Pictures Entertainment is, after all, first and foremost a business. Its No. 1 reason for existing is not to enlighten us or even to entertain us, but to profit from us, and if Sony perceives that releasing a film would or could cost it more than if it withheld the film, Sony’s probably going to withhold the film.

“Team America: World Police” (which was distributed by Paramount Pictures) went off without a hitch in 2004 (I saw it at a movie theater and I’ve seen it on DVD), but maybe that’s because the late Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was portrayed by a puppet (and was not assassinated technically; at the end of “Team America” his human body is destroyed, but from his body a cockroach emerges – Kim Jong Il actually is [or was…] an alien in the form of a cockroach, you see – and flies off in a miniature spaceship, promising to return). And maybe it’s that Kim Jong Un is a lot more sensitive than was his daddy.

Just as “Team America,” had it never been released, probably wouldn’t have been a great loss to American culture, the pulling of “The Interview” (as much as I’ve liked some of the work of Franco and Rogen in the past) also probably isn’t a huge loss to American culture. We can take some comfort in that, I think.

We can assert that Sony Pictures Entertainment shouldn’t cave in to terrorist threats, but at the same time, should any terrorist attack actually occur at any movie theater showing “The Interview,” we then would lambast Sony’s greed that put dirty profits above precious human lives (and, as I noted, I would expect at least one lawsuit to ensue).

As much as I’m not into sticking up for corporations, I don’t see that Sony really could win in this case (except that if I were in charge at Sony, “The Interview” probably would, minimally, get an online and/or DVD release…).

Still, one day I’d like to see “The Interview” at last, in one format or another, and we have the apparently-North-Korean hackers, with their terrorist threats, to thank for that. It’s a movie that I probably would have skipped otherwise, at least in its theatrical release.

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NBC, CNN should call Rethugnicans’ bluff

Reports The Associated Press:

Washington — The Republican National Committee charged [yesterday] that NBC and CNN are promoting a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Rodham Clinton, threatening to blackball [the two networks] from future [Republican Party] primary debates if they air upcoming programs on the former secretary of state.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus called a planned NBC mini-series on Clinton and a CNN documentary on the first lady an “extended commercial” for a future Clinton presidential campaign. In separate letters to the networks, he urged them to cancel “this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.”

Clinton has not yet said whether she’ll run for president again in 2016, but her future remains the subject of wide speculation in political circles and beyond. The primary debates typically provide a ratings boost for the networks and are highly coveted as the presidential campaign unfolds.

In making the charge, the RNC was raising a common complaint among Republican activists that news and entertainment industries favor Democratic candidates. Republicans have also used a potential Clinton campaign as a fundraising tool in recent months as both parties begin to assess the crop of candidates to succeed President Barack Obama.

CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary film on the former first lady, looking at her professional and personal life. It will be led by Oscar-winning director and producer Charles Ferguson and is expected to air in 2014.

NBC has announced a miniseries called “Hillary,” starring actress Diane Lane. No air date has been announced but it is timed to be released before the 2016 presidential election. NBC has said the four-hour miniseries will follow Clinton’s life and career from 1998 to the present. …

The RNC gets to dictate the networks’ programming?

Really?

And it’s hilariously ironic, because it was Repugnican icon Ronald Fucking Reagan who killed the so-called “fairness doctrine” in 1987, allowing CNN and NBC to air programming about Billary Clinton if they so choose.

But when the results of Reagan’s action aren’t favorable to their party, the Rethugnicans cry “foul.”

Love her or hate her — and I don’t much like her myself — but Billary Clinton is a public figure of significant public interest, which makes her an appropriate subject for a documentary or even a mini-series. And the networks have the First-Amendment right to produce such programming if they so fucking choose.

NBC and CNN should tell the blackmailing Rethugnicans to go fuck themselves and proceed with their programming.

Who, after all, really needs whom? 

Billary Clinton thus far is beating all of the potential 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates in nationwide polls, which apparently has Reince Priebus (that’s “major prick” in Greek) & Co. shitting their pants. If she weren’t such a threat, I can’t see them trying to dictate the networks’ programming in the Repugnican Tea Party’s favor.

The AP article linked to above claims that coverage of the the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primaries is ” highly coveted,” but aren’t the votes of the American people in a presidential election also highly coveted? Would the Repugnican Tea Party not shoot itself in the foot by disallowing any of the networks to cover any one of its presidential primary debates?

Are the party’s presidential primary debates not also “political ads,” to use Priebus’ own words?

Again, CNN and NBC should ignore the Rethugnican Party’s pathetic, desperate, anti-democratic blackmail attempt and proceed as they wish.

If the Repugnican Tea Party can’t win the war of ideas, then too fucking bad. It has no fucking right to try to manipulate and rig the marketplace of ideas itself.

P.S. Further on the topic of Billary, while it certainly is possible that “Billary fatigue” might harm her campaign, should she decide to run for president for 2016, unless another high-level Democratic candidate emerges, I still think that the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is Billary’s if she wants it.

It would take someone like, say, Al Gore or Howard Dean, I think, to give Billary a run for her money for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, as Barack Obama did in 2008, and thus far we’ve had no indication that someone on that level has any intention of running for 2016.

Whether or not Billary could win the White House is another story, of course.

Recent nationwide polls put Repugnican Chris Christie from 4 percent to 6 percent behind Billary, a lead that Christie, should he decide to run (and I’m pretty sure that he will), might not have such a hard time erasing, especially if (when?) “Billary fatigue” fully kicks in.

But could the so-called “moderate” Christie make it alive out of the Repugnican presidential primary season, which is much ideologically purer (that is, much more right-wing) than is the presidential election itself? Will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have the sense not to nominate their party’s biggest fascist, but to nominate their party’s candidate who has the best chance of actually winning the White House?

It’s too early for all of this, I hear some readers groaning. My response to that is No, it’s not too early to prevent control of the White House from reverting back to the Rethugnican Party in 2016.

Barack Obama hasn’t done nearly enough to get us out of the abyss that George W. Bush & Co. left us in, but another Repug in the White House will only dig our hole even deeper.

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There goes the men’s vote

Rick Santorum (centre) attends a prayer service at the Path of the Cross church in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week

AFP photo

While as president of the United States the “Christo”fascist Prick Santorum would be dangerous, Gallup’s daily tracking polls show that the wingnut doesn’t have even the support of a full one-third of the Repugnican Tea Party — thank God. (Prick is shown above “praying” in Puerto Rico, which he says should embrace English, despite the fact that the nation has been Spanish-speaking since shortly after Christopher Columbus claimed it for the Spanish crown way back in 1493…) [This reminds me of that wonderful saying of anthropologist Wade Davis: “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”])    

The more papal pronouncements that “Christo”fascist Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabe Prick Santorum makes, the more obvious it is why he lost his last election — re-election to the U.S. Senate for Pennsylvania — by a whopping 18 percent.

Santorum’s latest crusade for the Vatican is his promise that as president, he would instruct his attorney general — remember former wingnut Attorney General John Ashcroft putting giant drapes in front of a U.S. Justice Department statue with (gasp!) a bared boob? — to prosecute those accused of distributing pornographic material that the Santorum administration (shudder) deems “obscene.”

Wow. It was one thing, I suppose, for Santorum to pick on women, opposing not just abortion but even birth control, but now he is threatening millions and millions of American men that he will cut off their steady supply of “obscene” pornography.

“Obscene” pornography — and I’m not sure what counts as “obscene” to Prick Santorum; would Playboy be “obscene”? (It very apparently would be to John Ashcroft, the kind of attorney general that Santorum would pick) — “can be very damaging,” Santorum has decreed papally.

Emissions from fossil fuels are far more damaging than is pornography — I mean, no more Homo sapiens and pornography certainly will be a moot point — and alcohol and tobacco products demonstrably are “very damaging,” as are sugary and fatty foods, but Santorum has yet to tackle any of those evils.

Corporations, which put obscene profiteering way above people and the planet and which crush the human spirit like something out of “The Matrix,” are “very damaging,” as is permanent bogus warfare for the war profiteering of the military-industrial complex (indeed, military overspending perhaps is the No. 1 factor in the collapse of the American empire). Is Prick Santorum going to take on the sacred cows that are the corporations and the military-industrial complex?

And how about guns — aren’t guns more dangerous than is pornography? Don’t guns kill far more people than does porn? Is Prick Santorum, who is so fucking eager to protect us all from ourselves, going to take on the gun lobby? 

In the same year (1973) that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the issue of abortion in Roe vs. Wade, in Miller vs. California the court decided the issue of “obscenity” with what came to be called “the Miller test,” which essentially leaves it to the states or other locales to determine what is and what is not “obscene.” (And obviously, what is widely considered to be “obscene” in Salt Lake City, for instance, and what is considered to be “obscene” in such places as New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco are very different.)

The Miller ruling fairly explicitly prohibits the federal government from imposing a nationally uniform standard on “obscenity,” yet this is exactly what Prick Santorum promises to do as president.

Apparently, all that “the Miller test” allows in all 50 states is mere nudity (without sexual activity, presumably — and I suppose that masturbation would be sexual activity, and perhaps even an erection is indicative of sexual activity) and, according to Wikipedia’s entry on “obscenity,” “male-to-female vaginal-only penetration that does not show the actual ejaculation of semen, sometimes referred to as ‘soft-core’ pornography wherein the sexual act and its fulfillment (orgasm) are merely implied to happen rather than explicitly shown.” (So, if Prick Santorum’s crusade against porn were taken to its extreme, apparently Playboy would be allowed, but not much else. [And indeed, Playboy is pretty tame by today’s standards of porn, probably so that it can be distributed in all 50 states without Miller-related local interference.])

In my book, Miller vs. California is woefully outdated — indeed, the availability of wonderfully raunchy Internet porn in all 50 states, which probably could not have been foreseen in 1973, pretty much makes Miller moot — and thus deeply flawed. In my book, the First Amendment covers all forms of sexually oriented expression with the exception of such things as child pornography and other forms of sexually oriented activity in which the participants are not consenting but are forced. (It is legally recognized that minors, because of their young age, cannot consent, and that certain intellectually incompetent individuals cannot consent, either.) Other than that, willing, consenting participants who are of age should be able to have just about whatever they want to do sexually be visually recorded if they so wish.

I probably digress a little, but I know that millions and millions of men — and, of course, plenty of liberated women — of all sexual orientations are with me when we say collectively to Prick Santorum: You will have to pry our “obscene” porn from our cold, dead fingers.

This “freedom” that the wingnuts bloviate about so much, yet so many of them want to impose their own backasswards religious and “moral” beliefs on the rest of us just like the theofascists of the Taliban wish to impose their own backasswards “moral” code and religious beliefs upon other people. That’s not fucking “freedom.” That’s theofascism. That’s why I call these far-right-wing traitors “Christo”fascists (with the quotation marks because the one thing they most definitely are not is Christian.)

It is very simple, ridiculously simple: If you oppose abortion, then do not have an abortion. If you oppose contraception, then do not use contraception (although those who contribute to overpopulation are major fucking assholes). If you oppose same-sex marriage, then do not marry someone of your own sex. If you oppose pornography, then do not consume pornography.

As I pointed out, Americans’ freedom allows them — us — to possess and/or to consume or use even things that demonstrably, and not even arguably, are harmful to us, such as firearms, cigarettes, booze, certain prescription drugs that easily are abused, and junk food.

Our personal “salvation” is our own to work out as individuals — it’s not the job of Prick Santorum, acting as the puppet of Pope Palpatine, to “save” us against our will.

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It stinks in Paul Le Pew’s Maine

The Repugnican Tea Party governor of Maine — a stupid white man, of course, named Paul LePage — wants to remove a 36-foot-wide, 11-panel mural depicting the state’s labor-movement history that exists in the lobby of the state’s Department of Labor in its capital of Augusta. Oh, and while he’s at it, he wants the conference room that’s named after labor-movement icon Cesar Chavez renamed.

Why?

Because the name of Cesar Chavez and the mural — which depicts such scenes as child labor, the introduction of the secret ballot for labor-union votes, and a shoe-mill strike and a paper-mill strike (and which you can view here) — is too potentially offensive to business interests.

A Maine newspaper reports that

According to LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt, the administration felt the mural and the conference room monikers showed “one-sided decor” not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals. [“Pro-business goals”? WTF?]

“The message from state agencies needs to be balanced,” said Demeritt, adding that the mural had sparked complaints from “some business owners” who complained it was hostile to business.

Demeritt declined to name the businesses.

The mural was erected in 2008 following a jury selection by the Maine Arts Commission and a $60,000 federal grant. Judy Taylor, the artist from Seal Cove, said Tuesday that her piece was never meant to be political, simply a depiction of Maine’s labor history.

This is the state’s Department of Labor that we’re talking about, but LePage, in typical Repugnican Tea Party fashion, has his allegiance straight: the interests of the rich and the super-rich over the interests of the common person. (Ironically, in his probably-exaggerated, Dickensian website biography, LePage claims to be “The oldest son of eighteen children in an impoverished, dysfunctional family” who “left home at the age of 11 to escape domestic violence and lived on the streets of Lewiston for two years, making a meager living shining shoes” [which apparently means that he now thus has the license to do whatever the fuck he wants to do].)

Following LePage’s “logic,” perhaps any pro-health murals or other images in the state’s public health department and in the state’s and the state’s counties’ hospitals and clinics should be removed. Why? Well, these pro-health images might be — gasp! — offensive to business! After all, the tobacco, alcohol and junk food industries’ profits will slump if we are too successful at promoting healthy lifestyles. And so will Big Pharma’s. And the wealth care industry’s in general. And that would be un-American! (What are you, a Commie?)

The Repugnican Tea Party’s plan for the nation is clear: to hand over all public property, all public functions and all public powers to the businesses and the corporations so that there is no “public” anything left. Even the state of Maine’s labor department, under the thumb of the state’s stupid white male Repugnican Tea Party governor, is supposed to exist not for the benefit of the state’s laborers, but for the benefit of the laborers’ employers.

Under the Repugnican Tea Party worldview, anything and everything can be and should be subverted to serve only the rich and the super-rich. Fuck the people!

How this is not treason — to act against the best interests of the majority of the people for the monetary interests of the rich and the super-rich few — escapes me, yet it is the Repugnican Tea Party that claims to have the monopoly on patriotism.

I guess that I’m a tea-bagger, because I believe wholeheartedly that we sorely need another American Revolutionary War, to be sure: but this needs to be a revolutionary war against the treasonous plutocratic few who are a de facto monarchy — and against those traitors who aid and abet these traitors — who tell us, the people, that we need to sacrifice even more even though income disparity for some years now has matched the levels of the income disparity of the 19fucking20s.

Now more than ever during most of our lifetimes, laborers need more protections, yet Paul Le Pew and his treasonous ilk are telling us that right now laborers need even fewer.*

This shit stinks.

P.S. I have to note that this current event reminds me of the historical event in which plutocrat Nelson A. Rockefeller in the 1930s hired Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint a mural on a wall of  the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Rockefeller never allowed the public to view the completed mural (he had it covered up) and he later had the mural chiseled off of the wall because he found the mural to be too subversive to business interests. 

Of course, a huge difference here is that Rockefeller’s family owned the center, whereas Gov. Le Pew does not own his state’s labor department building; the people of Maine do. And Gov. Le Pew should not be acting like a Nelson Fucking Rockefeller — he should be acting like a governor who was elected to do the most amount of good for the most amount of people.

*The New York Times on this news story notes that “LePage has repeatedly clashed with labor unions since his inauguration in January. He is pushing for a higher retirement age for public employees and for ‘right-to-work’ legislation that would allow union members to stop paying dues or fees.”

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I’m a PROUD left-wing ‘censor’

I love the Internet. I still believe that the Internet is the best way for the average citizen to get his or her voice heard. True, the sheer volume of citizen content on the Internet — and, of course, the huge corporate presence on the Internet — make it incredibly difficult for any one citizen to get a large audience, but the alternative to the Internet is the way that it used to be: mostly corporately owned and controlled mass/mainstream media putting out virtually all media content, most of it in the one-way communication form of television.

If nothing else, citizen media force the mass/mainstream media to address those issues that the citizens — rather than only the mass/mainstream media’s corporate overlords — want addressed.

In their infancy, blogs were mostly ignored by the mass/mainstream media, as blogs weren’t considered a threat, but no more. Anything that grows legs and takes off in the blogosphere is going to make it into the mass/mainstream media, and these days, sooner rather than later.

And once blogs proved to be successful, of course the capitalist swine decided to jump on board and co-opt blogging. Recently at a major chain bookstore I saw a book on blogging for business purposes and I wanted to barf, since I’ve always believed that blogs were meant to topple the man, not to be used by the man in his ongoing conquest of us wage slaves in the capitalist slavery system that so many of us slaves, being thoroughly brainwashed, actually call “freedom.”

But opening up the forum to anyone — anyone — has its problems.

On one hand is the common but misguided belief that a blogger should allow anyone to leave anything on his or her blog’s comments section — and that to do otherwise is “censorship.”

The legal definition of censorship, actually, is when a governmental entity puts controls on speech. There is no right to leave anything on anyone’s blog — indeed, a blogger may turn off the comments function altogether at any time. But few would call that censorship, and those who would are just dipshits.

I have three main types of comments trolls, and the older and crankier that I get, the more I’m just prone to delete their comments, which don’t add whatsoever to the enlightenment of the subject matter at hand. Their predictable protests of “censorship” don’t deter me. I can’t simply hit a button to delete them, but I can simply hit a button to delete their bullshit.

First there is the Common Troll. This person is just miserable and leaves what I call “drive-by” comments on blogs. He or she (it’s almost always a he, though) probably doesn’t have very many people to shit and piss upon in his life, so he shits and pisses upon people online, because it’s anonymous and thus safe. He probably never would have the balls to treat people like this in person. Because in reality he’s just a fucking coward.

The Common Troll usually leaves no more than a sentence or two, and, because the Common Troll is not bright, often his comment doesn’t even make any fucking sense. And usually his comments are rife with misspellings. (Ted Rall had it right when he once commented that the future belongs to those who can spell.)

On Open Salon, strangely, the Common Trolls usually are stupid white men of baby-boomer age or older (you can tell by their avatars, which are photos of themselves, and they virtually never are attractive). These old Common Trolls, having nothing better to do, jump online with the youngsters to “prove” that they’re still “youthful” too, and they leave comments that are in the spirit of “You damned kids get off of my lawn!”

It’s unfortunate that medical science has enabled people to live longer and longer, with an emphasis on the quantity of people’s lifespans instead of on the quality of people.

Seriously — it’s fine if someone doesn’t like a post of mine, but to leave a juvenile personal attack that doesn’t contribute whatsoever to the topic at hand? I don’t get that. I can’t imagine just trolling blogs and leaving personal attacks. I have much better things to do with my time. (If I am going to engage in anything like a personal attack, I at least also am going to address the topic at hand; there will be some substance in my comment.)

Then there are the Proselytizer Trolls. They apparently think that if they go around and around with you just enough, they’re going to convert you to their fucked-up belief system (or, at the very least, “prove” you “wrong”). Either they’re going to convert you to their wingnuttery or they’re going to convert you to their “Christo”fascism (or both, since the two are so intertwined).

The Proselytizer Trolls are “nice” at first, but gradually, when it’s clear to them that what they believe are just brilliant “arguments” in support of their “cause” aren’t going to move you an inch, then they usually get verbally abusive, showing their true colors.

For whatever reason(s), I get most of my Proselytizer Trolls on my WordPress and AlterNet blogs. The way I usually handle Proselytizer Trolls is to tell them, after we have gone around and around to no avail, that I am ending the discussion, as it is going nowhere and as they’ve had more than their fair say, and that any further comments of theirs on the post I will delete. And then I follow through on that promise.

If I didn’t do it that way, I can see these losers going pointlessly back and forth with me infuckingdefinitely.

Then there are the Spam Trolls. I refer not to the apparently automatically generated spam that we bloggers get in our comments sections on occasion (hopefully filtered out, such as WordPress does), but to those who leave comments on blogs primarily in order to promote their own gig, usually their own blog. They’ll give a passing mention of the post on which they’re commenting, usually, and then go right into promoting their own gig/blog.

Most bloggers figured out long ago that this is a major breech of “blogiquette,” and so Spam Trolls (as I have defined them) are rare.

There are Combination Trolls.

This dipshit, a Combination Troll, tried to leave this dipshit comment (this is an unaltered copy and paste of his own words) on my post about the bullshit computer-generated images of what the corpse of Jesus Christ supposedly looked like, based upon the fraudulent Shroud of Turin:

Wouldn’t Jesus relates have washed the blood off, you’re an idiot running at the mouth. Abrasion and lacerations, such the extent Jesus suffered would be open wounds that would still secret blood.

This guy calls me an “idiot,” yet writes “Jesus” instead of the possessive “Jesus'”; spells “relatives” as “relates”; uses a run-on sentence right off; misuses the comma in his second sentence; and spells “secrete” as “secret.” Really, if you don’t have a grasp of your mother tongue, how can you have any credibility?

But forgiving his illiteracy, if you look at the photo that I referred to and that he was commenting on —

BIG REVEAL: Information

— that clearly appears to be surface blood that just wasn’t washed off, not blood that would “secret” later. I blame it on the artist/artists just not having paid attention to realistic detail.

So, as is common for a troll, this Combo Troll not only can’t write correct English, but his “argument” is whack.

Now, WordPress is set up so that a first-time comment is not automatically posted. Only after at least one comment has been approved by the blogger can a person leave more comments on a WordPress blog without those comments first having to be screened by the blogger.

Now, I’m at the Internet too much, probably, but I’m not at it 24/7, so it can take some time before I screen a first-time comment on my WordPress blog. But this dipshit Combo Troll apparently believed that I have it set up so that his dipshit first-time comment wouldn’t immediately be posted to my blog, because his second attempted comment was this one:

Awaiting moderation, just like a loud mouth liberal to want to censor opinions.

So here he is, calling (in another run-on sentence, and it’s “loud-mouthed liberal”) what is beyond my control — the fact that the WordPress program automatically subjects all first-time comments to the blogger’s moderation — my “censorship.” Oh, and it’s not just my “censorship.” It’s “liberal” “censorship.” (You know, vast left-wing conspiracy, socialism, tyranny, blah blah blah…)

So of course I approved neither of his comments. I spammed them instead, because spam essentially is what they are (were…).

The first comment I probably would have approved and responded to, had he not then immediately and incorrectly accused me of “censorship” because his ignorant comment didn’t show up on my blog immediately and because he is ignorant of how WordPress works.

I just don’t owe anything to assholes like this Combo Troll, who gives his e-mail address as josephjgates@gmail.com, by the way.

Let’s talk about “liberal” “censorship,” though.

Fact is, the right wing has engaged in censorship, unabashedly, forever. And most of the right wing’s censorship is fucking structural, in that because the corporations own and control most of the mass media outlets, there’s no fucking way that their plutocratic owners and controllers are going to allow anti-corporate messages to get out there. No, it’s quite the status quo, baby, because the status quo has been pretty fucking good for the plutocrats.

Even censorship as it is commonly conceived (structural censorship is quite real, but because it’s structural, most Americans don’t notice it any more than fish notice the water that engulfs them) isn’t a problem when the right-wingers do it, but should the left do anything that has even a whiff of a hint of “censorship,” the wingnuts are the first to cry “censorship” foul.

But the truth is, the more that the left and the right become polarized, and the more hell-bent on Armageddon the wingnuts become — to the point that they seriously would consider handing over the Big Red Button to Sarah Palin-Quayle — the friendlier to the censorship of the right wing I’m getting.

The right wing in the United States of America and its corporately owned and controlled media propaganda machine helped George W. Bush steal the White House in late 2000 and were complicit in the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjustified launch of its Vietraq War by acting as cheerleaders for the “shock and awe” instead of as journalists. (Yes, an “embedded” reporter is in bed with someone, and it’s not in bed with us common citizens who need unbiased, critical, accurate information in order to make our democracy — or what we call a democracy, anyway — function.)

FOX “News” and several individuals on the far right, including Sarah “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” Palin-Quayle and Glenn Beck, have incited death threats against and the hurling of epithets, spittle and bricks at Democratic lawmakers who voted for a “socialist!” health-care overhaul.

At what point does an individual or group of individuals pass from legally protected free speech to illegal incitement of violence? And cannot free speech meant to promote freedom and democracy be perverted and abused in order to establish right-wing fascism, such as in the case of FOX “News”?*

And a central if not the central idea behind opposition to “censorship” seems to be the woefully misguided belief that all opinions and ideas are of equal merit and quality. Under this thinking, an opinion is an opinion and an idea is an idea, and the opinion or idea of a highly intelligent, educated individual is no better than the opinion or idea of an uneducated dimwit.

That absolutely is untrue.  

Take the recent media coverage of Palin-Quayle’s criticism of President Barack Obama’s handling of nuclear arms policy.

OK, first off, Sarah Fucking Palin-Quayle doesn’t understand how the system works. She and John McCainosaurus lost the election in November 2008. Lost it. Lost it by seven percentage points — a significant margin.

Fifty-three percent of Americans voting in November 2008 chose Barack Obama to be in charge of the nation’s nuclear arms policy. Fifty-three percent of the popular vote is higher than George W. Bush got in 2000 or in 2004 (election fraud committed by the Repugnicans in both of those presidential elections aside).

Sarah Palin-Quayle is a fucking loser. She fucking lost. But to hear her tell it, she fucking won. Indeed, Emmy-Award-winning Tina Fey’s recent impersonation of Palin-Quayle on “Saturday Night Live” — in which Fey-as-Palin-Quayle identifies herself as having “won the silver medal in last year’s vice-presidential election” — seems to be an accurate statement of how Palin-Quayle views herself.

When Palin-Quayle criticized Obama’s nuclear arms policy — comparing nuclear arms brinkmanship to a schoolyard fight, which is so fucking clever, except, of course, that a schoolyard fight never ends up in the nuclear annihilation of the entire fucking planet (but I guess that we have to forgive the simple-minded Palin-Quayle for having to make complicated things simple for her simple-minded followers) — she remarked that a “community organizer” doesn’t know anything about nuclear arms policy.

Of course, Palin-Quayle conveniently left out the fact that before 53 percent of the American voters elected Obama as president of the United States, more than who ever “elected” George W. Bush, Obama not only was a U.S. senator but he also was a professor of law at the University of Chicago for 12 years (and please tell me what, exactly, is “wrong” with having been a “community organizer,” because I still don’t know) —  and that while Obama was an evil “community organizer,” she was a Miss Alaska beauty pageant contestant. (Um, I am guessing that she didn’t dote on “world peace” during her beauty pageants…)

So let me rephrase the question this way: Would you prefer a former University of Chicago law professor or a former Alaska state beauty pageant contestant to be in charge of the Big Red Button?

Um, yeah…

Not all opinions and ideas — and not all politicians — are equal. Some are superior to others, some are inferior to others.

And it’s the inferior ones that can completely destroy our nation, and if I had to choose between the total ruination of the nation at the hands of the right wing and the “censorship” of the right wing in order to prevent that ruination from coming to fruition, I’d pick the latter, hands down.

As Abraham Lincoln knew during the nation’s first civil war, and as is becoming clearer as the nation’s second civil war approaches, desperate times call for desperate measures.

*This happened in Venezuela in April 2002 — the right-wing media there used the airwaves to lie about President Hugo Chavez having stepped down when, in fact, he had not stepped down but had been the victim of a short-lived right-wing coup — and it can happen here in the United States too, and, as I have written recently, I don’t fully blame President Chavez for having clamped down on the right-wingers in his nation, because they gladly would try another fascistic takeover if they could get away with it.

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Propaganda begins at home

The controversy du jour is this (from POLITICO):

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”

The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked – in an interview and in a follow-up phone call — that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.

The AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”

The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to the AP.

Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as secretary of defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed.”

“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”

The four-paragraph letter concluded, “Sincerely,” then had Gates’ signature. 

The photo, first transmitted Thursday morning and repeated Friday morning, carries the warning, “EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT.”

The caption says: “In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard is tended to by fellow U.S. Marines after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade during a firefight against the Taliban in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was transported by helicopter to Camp Leatherneck where he later died of his wounds.” …

The AP reported that it “waited until after Bernard’s burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures.” …

The AP photograph — which, ironically, now will be viewed by more people than it otherwise would have been because Bush regime holdover Gates has made it into an issue — actually isn’t all that graphic, not by today’s standards. Here it is:

Associated Press photo

You see some carnage in the image, but you’ve seen much worse in a Quentin Tarantino movie.

But this is the only kind of U.S. military picture that you’re supposed to see, you see:

This undated photo provided Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 by the US ...

Associated Press photo

That’s a picture of Joshua Bernard before he was sent to fight a questionable war in Afghanistan.

In his anti-free-speech letter to the AP — oh, yes, it is about constitutional rights and constitutional law — Gates described Bernard as a “maimed and stricken child” (emphasis mine).

Um, why are we sending such young people — so young that even the secretary of defense refers to one of them as a “child” — to fight old rich stupid cowardly white men’s wars?

And whose fault is Bernard’s death? Is it the fault of The Associated Press for simply showing an image of his death, or is it the fault of those evil men, who put corporate profits far above human life, who sent him to Afghanistan in the first place?

The Obama administration isn’t proving to be much better on free and open speech and on transparency than was the unelected Bush regime, which prohibited the media even from taking images of closed caskets containing American war dead. First the Obama administration blocked the release of more images of the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors abuses, and now this, Gates’ attempt at censorship in order to keep U.S. military recruitment propaganda intact.

But it’s only propaganda when someone else does it. The White House never engages in the dastardly practice of propaganda, of lying to the American people, even if only by omission, such as by blocking the release of images that aren’t politically helpful.

Again, you’re supposed to see only the before military pictures, the happy military pictures, the “Top Gun”-like pictures, the pictures that are good for U.S. military recruitment, and never the after pictures, because the after pictures aren’t good for the military-industrial complex. Pictures of maimed 21-year-olds aren’t good for military recruitment, you see, and they might just make the American taxpayers revolt against what is being done in their name with their tax dollars. (Yeah, I know, Americans having a revolution funny…)

Why block the image of Bernard’s death? To be able to continue the same insanity that will cause the deaths of even more of our young people.

Sure, every young person who joins the U.S. military knows, intellectually — abstractly — that he or she could get killed. But knowing something abstractly and seeing something with your own two eyes — those are very different things. Gates and his ilk know this.

But they can’t state the truth, which is that images of wartime carnage aren’t good for U.S. military recruitment and make the American people rethink the whole war thing.

So they have to lie, they have to hide behind the families of the young people who are put through the meat grinder that is the U.S. war machine, and they have to hide behind the troops, saying that the release of images that aren’t good for the military industrial complex harms the families of the fallen and even harms the troops.

The unelected Bush regime routinely hid behind the troops — Orwellianly asserted that those who opposed the Vietraq War were against and/or threatened U.S. troops, even though it was the unelected Bush regime, not anti-war activists, who sent our troops to their wholly unnecessary deaths in the sands of Vietraq for the war profiteering of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and the other war-profiteering subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp — and now here is Gates hiding behind Bernard’s family.

The Associated Press and the rest of the media are guilty only of not showing us enough images of the carnage that is going on in the name of we, the people.

Gates should go. The American people elected a Democratic president and here is a Repugnican “president’s” secretary of defense held over from the unelected Bush regime’s bogus wars. I think that President Obama retained Gates primarily in order to try to prove that Obama isn’t a pussified commander in chief. Ironically, though, Obama’s retention of Gates proves exactly that Obama is a pussified commander in chief, that he puts what some fucktards think above doing the right thing, which is to dump Bush regime holdover Gates.

And the only purpose of prohibiting images of what war really looks like is to be able to continue to dupe our young people, like Joshua Bernard — our children, as even Gates calls them — into dying for the profits of the evil filthy rich white men who send our children to die in their place for their spoils of war, wars which are paid for by us, the American taxpayers, who aren’t even guaranteed adequate health care — or even allowed to see the images of what our tax dollars are paying for.

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