#altleft

Zucker feasted on your consent to be a sucker

Whatever the outcome of this hearing, much of the data collected was willingly offered by Facebook users. It was they who told people where they took vacation, the restaurant they ate or birthday they celebrated. It was they who adorned their avatar with a transparent French or rainbow flag as a back drop after another terrorist attack or to show support for same sex marriage. It was they who clicked the check box to agree to the “terms and conditions” immediately without reading it. Is that Zuckerberg’s fault? Questions however must be asked with respect to the ability to access microphones and cameras unbeknownst to users. How flagrantly was privacy law violated beyond that agreed by users?

For as much as Zuckerberg might look an evil violator of privacy laws (he may yet be proved to be so), if one wants real anonymity, social media is the last place to find it. It is doubtful anyone posts happy snaps on social media as a pure storage back up device. Many people crave attention and more than ever their self-actualisation stage in the ‘hierarchy of needs’ is driven by likes and shares rather than the Abraham Maslow’s original theorem of 75 years ago. The higher the ratio of “selfies” would probably be highly correlated to attention deficit disorder. Protesting the use of the data provided is a grossly naive assumption if not borderline negligent. Tucked away in the fine print of the words and conditions would surely have FB gaining their complete consent.

Ted Cruz took it to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on whether the social media giant ‘censors conservative’ news. He replied, “Silicon Valley is an extremely left-leaning place.While denying that he knows the political affiliations of the 15~20,000 staff who police content he said the group does its best to remove things that are considered hateful (e.g.hate speech, terrorism), hurtful or distasteful (e.g. nudity). It was brought to Zuckerberg’s attention that black conservatives (and Trump supporters) Diamond & Silk had their page blocked with 1.2 million followers on grounds of  “being unsafe to the community”. In any event, Zuckerberg deflected many of the questions in his testimony on grounds of the size of the organization but admitted not enough was done to police itself. Power corrupts…? Absolutely…?

Which brings the whole argument surrounding ‘free speech’ and social media sites exercising subjective political bias. It was only several years back that openly gay shock-jock Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for causing ‘offence’ to a Ghostbusters actress. Yet what is offence? Where is the line drawn? What offends one might not offend another. However the censor would seemingly be able to use his or her subjective opinions, values and biases which makes it pretty clear what the outcome will be. President Trump learned that when a disgruntled Twitter employee temporarily suspended his account. Do not be surprised when we’re simply told to “get with the times” and accept the party line. Resistance is futile. It is the simplest way to shut down sensible debate.

Anyone active on social media is well aware of the risks of being targeted, trolled or attacked for expressing differing views. However do users require, much less want to submit to the machinations of the thought police? Shouldn’t they be free to choose what they view or pages they subscribe to? Indeed hate speech (not to be confused with difference of opinion) has no place but the majority of users are likely to be able to make that assessment without it having been arbitrarily made for them.

Then again, surely as a publicly listed corporation Facebook can decide what it wants to do with its site and let participants in the free market (who use it for no charge) decide for themselves that the obvious bias forces them to seek social media platforms elsewhere. Twitter share price was badly thumped for its blocking of certain groups and its share price is around 1/3rd the peak. It’s overall followers have fluctuated in the 316-330mn range since Q4 2016. The market works. It is taking Facebook’s shareprice to task on the grounds it will suffer for treating its users as mugs. Perhaps a look at activity post the hearings will show just how many mugs are still as active as before despite the threats to abandon the evil Zuck. The share price will respond accordingly.

It begs the question as to why a more conservative outfit hasn’t decided to make a Facebook equivalent which does not censor outside of clear violations of hate speech. Surely offering a replicated platform that didn’t censor free speech would be a massive winner. Users would also sign up to a simple (and SHORT) legal agreement that there is a risk of being offended and to commit to accepting it. Where clear violations of hate speech (e.g. threats of murder, terrorism etc.) are found such things can be reported to the authorities (with terms and conditions EXPLICITLY warning of such repucussions for violating easy to understand rules). Then again maybe Zuckerberg is right. Silicon Valley is indeed an extremely left-leaning [alt-left?] place! So this is why conservatives are behind the 8-ball on a free speech social media platform.

The sad reality is that social media is policed by the left and authorities seem keen to exploit the powers that provides. The examples are too many. Controversial conservatives have been blocked, banned and restricted for the most spurious of reasons. Diamond & Silk are hardly a danger to society. It is almost comical to think that.  Yet aren’t the subscription rates/followers of particular sites indicative of the ‘moods’ of people? Could it be that black, conservative and Trump supporter must be mutually exclusive terms in the eyes of the left’s identikit forcing the Facebook apparatchiks to enforce a subjective shutdown? If a public explanation was provided it would probably just say, “trust our objectivity’. Whaaaat?

At some stage if enough people feel they are being played around with they will choose of their own volition to leave and seek their social media thrills on other platforms. Or will they? It maybe too late. Blatant exploitation of social media by governments looks like an obvious trend. If we are only too willing to give up our data and cede any visibility of the inner circle’s terms of use of it we are on a slippery slope of our own making. Think about how your mobile device allows you to be tracked whenever and however. It can turn your camera or microphone on. It can triangulate your whereabouts anywhere across the world. What you’ve read, listened to and watched. Where are the privacy laws surrounding this? Is your local rep fighting in your corner? Probably not.

Could private conversations with a lawyer (client-attorney privilege) be bugged and used as evidence? Don’t laugh. As an aerospace analyst many moons ago, teams of specialists with anti-bugging devices trawled through the suites of the aircraft manufacturers’ chalets to ensure the opposition didn’t get wind of negotiations with airlines they were both competing to win large orders from. Illegal in the extreme but seemingly exercised by all parties. It was an unwritten rule.

However social media censorship hides deeper problems. It is also increasingly a tool to shut down debate and people like London Mayor Sadiq Khan has met with social media execs to collude on cracking down on ‘hate speech’. Surely policing spurious claims of hate speech is a lesser issue to the immediate threat faced by a capitol which saw its murder rate surpass that of New York. Not so. This is the dangerous turn in social media. Not whether our data is used for targeted advertising for cheap flights but used to pillory, interrogate and shut down innocents. After all social media has a half-life of infinity.

Take the controversial figure Tommy Robinson in England. The UK authorities and media wish us to believe he is an unhinged far right wing bigoted racist thug. Yet despite all of the times he has been jailed (for mostly trumped up charges), silenced and muzzled for publicising what he sees as a major problem in his community (i.e. radical Islam), the growth in followers continues to rise on his Facebook page (706,000). Maybe the authorities should keep tabs on them? Arrest them on suspicion of potentially causing hate crimes. Surely they are cut from the same cloth as Tommy? Afterall it is better to arrest a comedian for teaching a dog to do a Nazi salute to annoy his partner as it is less controversial to the state than tackling real issues. Perhaps authorities should pay attention to why Robinson’s following is so large? It is irrelevant whether one finds his viewpoints offensive or not, a majority of over half a million clearly don’t. He is no saint and would be the first to admit it. Still the authorities are trying everything to shut him down. Social media is being used as a watchdog.

Robinson has two best selling books –  ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Mohammad’s Koran: Why Muslims kill for Islam’. Is that not evidence that there are more people than the authorities would care to admit to that actually concur with his assessment? Maybe some want to read it out of curiosity? However when many of those same people see an undercover scoop done by the left leaning publicly funded Channel 4 on the inner workings of one of England’s most conservative mosques, praised by politicians as they true face of a peaceful religion. Even though the mosque had promised to clamp down on radical imams, the documentary revealed that despite assurances to government authorities, teachers still encourage students to believe that the only remedy for gays and apostates is to be killed. So maybe Robinson’s followers aren’t as fringe or minor in number as we would be made to believe? With the widespread outing of child grooming gangs across the UK, maybe Brits have had enough of the political hand wringing over politically correct discourse. The more the movement is pushed underground the harder it will be to stop vigilantism. We’ve already seen signs of it emerging. Think of the Guardian Angels in NY during the crime waves in the 1979.

What the Zuckerberg testimony brings to the surface is yet another example made clear to the public of the two tier dispensing of free speech. What worries the public more is that justice seems to be operating under the exact same framework. What the Channel 4 programme exposed with respect to blatant hate speech is incontrovertible. Yet will authorities arrest, charge and jail them as they would a Tommy Robinson? Not a chance. To encourage the murder of people that aren’t part of an ideology can’t be viewed as anything other than a willful threat.  Will the judiciary demand that scholars have their pages scrubbed from social media?

The shoes are on the wrong foot. Earlier this year, Austrian conservative Martin Sellner and his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone were arrested on arrival in the UK, detained and deported. Sellner for wanting to deliver a speech at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park (later delivered by Robinson) and Pettibone for wanting to interview Tommy Robinson (which he later conducted in Vienna). Neither look in the least bit dangerous. In this case, social media backfired on the state. In both cases, the public once again saw the double standards and the pervasive political posturing to beat the ‘controllable’ element into submission. Just as it is easier for the police to fine speeding motorists than actively pursue solid leads on catching grooming gangs the public rightly grows increasingly livid. Social media is being used more widely as a policing tool, with negative connotations. It isn’t just being used to foil terror plots but stomp on the rights of the average citizen.

Still there is some sympathy for Zuckerberg in that many people volunteered their information. If it was used in ways that violated ethical and more importantly legal rights it only goes to prove that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. To that end, can we really expect lawmakers to cramp their own style when Zuckerberg has only highlighted how powerful the information he possesses can be used to sucker us more than they already do. That is the real crime we are seemingly becoming powerless to stop. Talk about the real Big Brother!

Why the KKK is being killed by free speech

Why is the KKK losing to free speech? Daryl Davis is why. We’ll get to him a bit later. Even before the terrible events of Charlottesville the movement to remove statues of Confederate figures has grown. A list of states looking to do so can be found here. It so happens on the same subject, a poll was taken by MilitaryTimes on whether 10 of the forts (Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard) throughout the US and one naval vessel (the submarines Robert E Lee, Dixon, Jackson and Huntley have all been decommissioned. The guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville is still in service named after the greatest victory of General Lee) named after Confederate soldiers/battles be changed. The result from 8,000 polled so far is 71% in the No camp. Whatever the arguments for and against it would seem the majority of Americans are prepared to accept the history. One could question why the US military decided to name things after a former enemy of the United States in the first place? If you read the detailed histories of the ships named after Confederate commanders they symbolize their military skill and leadership not their defence of slavery.

Monument destruction is not new. We only need go back to the 1990s when Ukraine started to demolish the 5,500 monuments of Vladimir Lenin that were scattered around the country, except those with a WW2 significance. Basically the idea was Ukrainians wished to show their disgust at communist rule but honour those who bravely fought for their freedom. Look at how many statues of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa have been torn down since Saddam fell.

The Civil War and the emancipation of slaves is deeply etched in American history. 620,000 died in the conflict. Interestingly in an 1866 letter to fellow Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser, General Robert E. Lee wrote, “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt … would have the effect of … continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties.”

Robert E.Lee’s great grandson, Robert E.Lee V said, “We have to be able to have that conversation around the symbols of the Confederacy without all of the hatred and the violence…if they choose to take those statues down, fine. Maybe it’s appropriate to have them in museums or to put them in some sort of historical context in that regard.”

That is the point which is no doubt upsetting certain groups. They feel their ‘free speech’ (hate speech to some) is being violated. The 1st Amendment is what it is. No matter how one may feel about the views of such extremist groups, the question of legality rears its ugly head. There is no law against carrying a Nazi or KKK flag as abhorrent and offensive as the action is. It is vulgar and gets all the shock value it seeks to gain. As much as one might think such a flag bearer getting clocked on the head had what was coming to him, can we honestly say violence will sew seeds of unity?

Charlottesville City tried to revoke the Unite the Right’s permit it had issued for the rally to be held in Emancipation Park, so it could move the protestors a mile away to McIntire Park, with the claim of more open space. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Charlottesville and a federal judge ruled that the initial permit was to be honoured. To police the 500 right wing protesters expected to attend, first responders outnumbered them two to one to ensure public safety. However it seems the police were only intervening when violence broke out. Instead of making sure Anti-fa and the nationalists never saw each other, law enforcement was standing passively by, waiting for violence to erupt so that they could declare an emergency and clear the area. We don’t need to work out the rest when two armed groups that detest each other clash. What did people expect? Had Anti-fa not been there, can we assume the protest would have been vile but peaceful? It is highly possible. Once again they were legally entitled to be there regardless of what people may think about their toxic views. As soon as people try to shut down their legal rights, a whole new can of worms will be opened. The counter-protestors achieve the complete opposite of what they set out to do.

To put the shoe on the other foot. If Anti-fa, which specializes in shutting down speech it doesn’t agree with, was banned from protesting we wouldn’t hear the end of it. Even if Anti-fa had a permit to protest in Charlottesville, why on earth would any city grant two groups so diametrically opposed the opportunity to vent on the same day? That is like leaving Bambi in a cage full of hungry wolves. The outcome was obvious.

ACLU Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said, “The situation that occurred was preventable, and our lawsuit challenging the City to act constitutionally did not cause it. … All we did was ask the City to live up to the requirements of the Constitution. That it failed to do so is on the City, not us.”

In reality the protest is over clumps of granite, concrete and bronze. Some see the history of white nationalists, who protest at their demolition, as reason enough to prevent their rights. It is true some of the groups they are part of have committed terrible acts in the century following the end of the Civil War. Some argue it hasn’t ended. Now we are now witnessing the tit-for-tat stupidity of wanting to pull down MLK Jr statues or remove the name plaque from George Washington’s statue! What next? Should the Lincoln Memorial be dynamited? Of course not.

The problem is people aren’t listening. The accusation is that all white nationalists are racists and bigoted. I happen to be white and proud of my country. Does that make me a white nationalist? Is patriotism a bad thing? Does that make me a Nazi? In Australia the number of groups out to shame those who are white is growing. The City of Yarra Council (CoYC) voted this week to ditch Australia Day because they view it as the day the British invaded Aboriginal lands. Despite many Aboriginal leaders expressing the view that Australia Day should be one of inclusiveness, unity and looking forward, the CoYC pushes division by rigging a poll by using activists to get the result to justify their socialist hand-ringing. They want to shame people who had no control over events of 230 years ago. Instead of dealing with rubbish collection and ensuring public restrooms are kept clean, the CoYC thinks it speaks for the majority when it doesn’t. It promotes a grievance culture that only looks backward.

Take African American Daryl Davis who has converted over 200 people to leave the KKK by allowing them to express their views. He says, “People say, “Daryl, how can you have this stuff (KKK memorabilia)? Why don’t you burn it?” I say as shameful as it is you don’t burn our history regardless of the good, the bad and the ugly. And the Ku Klux Klan is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet.” Davis goes on to say with respect to free speech, “Give that person a platform. Let these people air their views and people will reciprocate…I never set out to convert anybody…they all converted themselves.”

There in lies the beauty of free speech. If one allows people to peacefully protest within the limits of the law and give them an unfettered ability to express themselves, no matter how crackpot their beliefs, they have no way to complain that they’ve been victimized. Unite the Right had a pretty lame turnout – 500 people. Their actions, were they able to practice them under the banner of freedoms provided by the constitution, would have done little to enamour them to the wider audience they want to reach. They looked ridiculous.

The flip side breeds resentment and makes it worse in the long run. Anti-fa’s actions to gag people and treat them with contempt pushes the problem underground making it harder to control. Worse than that these wounds fester in a manner which tends to lead to knee jerk actions as the pressure inside causes raw emotion to override common sense. That is what we got in Charlottesville.

Countless arguments have been made wanting to ban white nationalists from protesting. If people dislike the laws that protect these extremists then they should campaign to ‘amend’ the 1st Amendment to curtail that activity. However they should be prepared to have their own freedoms crimped as well. Laws should never be unjust.

We also hear the term Nazi bandied around like confetti. Were all Kriegsmarine sailors, Wehrmacht soldiers and Luftwaffe pilots hardened Nazis? It raises a true story of a highly decorated Messerschmitt Bf-109 pilot, Franz Stigler, who escorted a stricken US B-17F bomber (on its maiden mission) piloted by Charlie Brown back over the Channel so the injured air crew might survive. Stigler not only risked being shot down himself but potentially faced court martial and execution for aiding and abetting the enemy. The two men shared a great friendship over 18 years after reuniting in 1990. It is a truly heartwarming story. It’s proof to the rest of us that something great done now can change our lives much, much later. Daryl Davis is a modern day Franz Stigler who proves common sense can prevail in testing times.

.