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Internet Censorship Will Bring Total Mental Darkness to US

Fred Reed in “Cometh the Censor” has some grave predictions about eventual and total internet censorship:

I see with no surprise that Washington is stepping up its campaign to censor the internet. It had to come, and will succeed.  It will put paid forever to America’s flirtation with freedom.

The country was never really a democracy, meaning a polity in which final power rested with the people. The voters have always been too remote from the levers of power to have much influence.

Yet for a brief window of time there actually was freedom of a sort. With the censorship of the net—it will be called “regulation”—the last hope of retaining former liberty will expire.

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For a sunny few years, local freedom rested substantially on principle, a notion inconceivable now. The Thomas Jeffersons, George Washingtons, and Robert E. Lees genuinely believed in freedom, and worried about the coming of tyranny. Justices of the Supreme Court often upheld the tenets of the Bill of Rights. As human affairs go—poorly, as a rule—it was impressive.

As time went by, however, it became clear that incapacity, not principle, was the only reliable brake on the rise of dictatorship. In 1950, the government could put a mail cover on anyone, quite possibly illegally if the FBI were involved, but steaming envelopes open required time, effort, and manpower. Mass surveillance was impossible, and so didn’t happen. Without surveillance, there can be no control.

For a long time it was due to principle that freedom of the press remained, no matter how much the government hated it. During the war in Vietnam, “underground” papers, which of course published openly, were virulently critical of the government. The mainstream media of the time published shocking photographs of the war, much to the fury of the Pentagon. The courts allowed it.

Today, that has changed. Washington has learned to avoid dissent from its wars by using a volunteer army of men about whom no one of influence cares.

The use of “drones” further reduces public interest, and today the major media, owned by corporations aligned with arms manufacturers and manned by intimidated reporters, hide the results on the battlefield.

For practical purposes, today’s press is an arm of government.

The old checks and balances, however modest in their effects, have withered. ...

The Supreme Court is now a branch office of Madame Tussaud’s, Congress a two-headed corpse, the Constitution a scrap of moldering parchment remembered only by hopeless romantics, and Washington a sandbox of unaccountable hacks inbred to the point of hemophilia.

Obama has discovered that he can do almost anything, calling it an executive order, and no one will dare challenge him.

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The obvious reality that having the government read every email, record every telephone conversation, monitor every financial transaction and so on is a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment bothers neither the Supremes nor, heaven knows, the President.

It is clearly unconstitutional, but we do not live in constitutional times.

Governments aggregate power. They do not relinquish it, short of revolution.

Today the internet is the only free press we have, all that stands against total control of information. Consider how relentlessly the media impose political correctness, ...  The wars are buried and serious criticism of Washington suppressed.

That leaves the net, only the net, without which we would know nothing.

Which is why it must be and will be censored, sooner if Washington can get away with it and later if not. The tactics are predictable. First, “hate speech” will be banned. The government will tell us whom we can hate and whom we cannot.

“Hatred” will be vaguely defined so that one will never be sure when one is engaging in it and, since it will be prosecutable, one will have to be very careful.

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The next step probably will be to block links to foreign sites deemed to transgress.

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... Our increasingly characterless young, raised to ignorance and Appropriate Thought by government schools, will question nothing. They will have no way of knowing that there is anything to question.

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Mental darkness facilitates authoritarianism, and darkness we have.  

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...One sure thing is that, once the internet is gelded, there will be no hope at all. And the assault has begun.

[cross-posted on open salon]

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