I was going to write another article today about a different topic, but I backed down because I didn’t think I could deliver the kind of fiery, forceful, unmitigated argument it would need to be without risking getting banned from social media and blogging platforms.
The article I was planning on writing, which you’ll just have to imagine now, would have been titled “ ‘Assange Can Leave Whenever He Wants!’ No, Idiot, He Can’t.” The feature image was going to be a screen shot of a blue-checkmarked empire loyalist named Greg Olear tweeting the infuriatingly dopey argument that Assange is free to just waltz out the embassy doors whenever he wants, so therefore he isn’t actually being imprisoned by an Orwellian power establishment for publishing authentic documents about powerful people. Never mind the fact that you can say exactly the same thing about literally anyone under political asylum; they are all free to leave the political asylum they’ve been granted at any time, and pointing this out is just describing the thing that political asylum is. Never mind the fact that a UN panel ruled that Assange is being arbitrarily detained by the threat of imprisonment. Never mind that the same US government which tortured Chelsea Manning is currently openly pursuing Assange’s arrest because of his publications, making the assertion that he’s “free to leave” the same as saying he’s “free” to jump off a cliff. People don’t want to believe that their government imprisons journalists, so whenever Assange is in the news you see this argument making the rounds.
It would have been a firecracker of an article, but when it came time to write it, I backed down. I’d generally rather scrap an article than write something tepid and boring that won’t make any impact, so the risk of losing access to my platforms outweighed my desire to write what I’d planned on writing.
Internet Censorship Just Took An Unprecedented Leap Forward, And Hardly Anyone Noticed
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 13, 2018
I’ve been self-censoring more and more lately, especially since the latest round of coordinated cross-platform silencing of multiple alternative media outlets the other day. Back in August I had my Twitter account temporarily deleted when I said the world will be better off without John McCain and a bunch of #Resistance accounts mass reported me; Twitter cited “abusive behavior” as its justification. The only reason my account was restored was because there was a large objection from many high-profile journalists and activists who understand the dangers of internet censorship, and I’m not willing to gamble that I’d get that lucky should something similar happen again. Being able to disrupt establishment narratives on a high-traffic website like Twitter outweighs the benefits of speaking in an unmitigated way.
And that ultimately is precisely the point. If the social engineers can make an example of a few dissident voices in the public eye, everyone else will rein in their own speech and behavior to avoid the same fate. The overall effect of this phenomenon is actually far more effective in suppressing dissident speech than the overt censorship is by itself, because self-censorship actually silences exponentially more anti-establishment opinions. For every one voice you crack down on overtly, a thousand more silence themselves out of self-preservation, not saying things they would otherwise say and not doing things they would otherwise do.
Obviously a perfectly normal and sane response to having your funding and media accolades criticized. pic.twitter.com/VsuQRZjPJn
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 13, 2018
Meanwhile empire loyalists know that they can consistently get away with saying anything they want with total impunity. The other day for example I criticized the fawning media accolades that professional Atlantic Council propagandist Eliot Higgins has been receiving lately, and he responded by calling me “Grotbags”, an obese witch character from a nineties children’s television show. The joke being, you see, that I am overweight, and I am also a woman, so I am therefore similar to the character Grotbags. Ha ha ha. Eliot has been repeating this hilarious joke for months with zero consequences. He also made headlines back in June with his repeated public invitation for people who disagree with him on Twitter to suck his balls, also with zero consequences.
After my August Twitter suspension a #Resistance account publicly doxxed me, posting my home address, phone number and other information. I didn’t make a public ordeal out of it at the time because I obviously didn’t want to draw attention to it, but I did report it because I wanted it deleted. I was not expecting Twitter Support to reject my report, especially after they had me jump through a bunch of hoops to prove that I did in fact live where the doxxer was saying I lived, but they did.
“We understand that you might come across content on Twitter that you dislike or find offensive,” Twitter wrote back. “However, after investigating the reported content we found it was not in violation of Twitter’s private information policy. As a result, it won’t be removed at this time.”
I see this routinely across all platforms; some accounts act without any fear of consequences, others seem primed for hair-trigger suspension. The bias is distinctly slanted in the favor of those who support CIA/CNN narratives and attack anyone who speaks out of alignment with the agendas of the US-centralized empire.
So while we are mitigating our speech more and more, the Eliot Higginses of the new media environment consistently get away with all manner of abusive behavior without any repercussions. We’re fighting a media war in which we are not just outnumbered and outgunned, but are increasingly forced to fight with one arm tied behind our backs. The only thing we have going for us at this point is that authenticity is attractive and oligarchic funding can’t buy creativity or inspiration.
So anyway, there’s my confession that I have been caving to self-censorship to avoid being de-platformed. Rather than denying it, I think it’s best that we all admit to it when we do it and call it what it is, because it’s an unseen part of the people’s media rebellion that is generally overlooked and under-appreciated. I haven’t really figured out what to do about it beyond that, but in my experience drawing the light of attention to these things is always a good idea.