#censorship

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!

Alternative for Sweden (AfS) is established

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It seems that several members of the conservative anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (SD) have splintered to form the Alternative for Sweden (AfS) (video here). The party was founded a few weeks ago by Gustav Kasselstrand, a former member of the SD which saw its support slip to 14.8% in November 2017, compared to 18.4% percent in June, according to the Swedish Statistics Office. Although in March 2018, Sentio poll has the SD at 23% (from 21.9%), a Demoskop poll at 18.6% (15.4% in Feb) and SiFo poll at 15.9%.

The government, comprised of the Social Democrats and Greens, had a 36.4% approval rating, compared with 35.6% in the June poll. The AfS thinks that the SD has become too compromising and see the fall in the polls as reason to break away and follow in the footsteps of the rise and rise of Germany’s AfD.

SD party leader Jimmie Åkesson said in Feb 2018 that the party is its own worst enemy…“Our biggest problem is that we have not been able to build real credibility...”
going on to say it was uncertain whether SD would benefit from “…moving further to the right on immigration issues because parties like the Social Democrats and Moderates have snatched our politics within the area [just like Rutte in The Netherlands adopting policies of Geert Wilder’s Freedom Party at the Dutch election last year]…The next term of office will be crucial for us to establish ourselves as a government alternative…We must compromise and be pragmatic

Even at its current level of support, the Sweden Democrats would still have enough seats to block either the centre-left or centre-right blocs from forming government after the upcoming September 2018 election.

The SD saw surging support several years ago on what they saw was politically correct limp-wristed responses to growing migrant crime. In Malmo, Deputy Police Commissioner Mats Karlsson said in response to multiple explosions that occur in the city on a regular basis, “Our dilemma is that we can never guarantee anything for sure. Evidently there are individuals who have hand grenades and they often resort to violence over things that may seem very banal to you or I – a conflict over an ex-girlfriend or a little brother wanting to outperform his big brother…It’s bad enough when they use guns, because they’ve got such poor aim, but grenades are really worrying. They have a 360-degree reach.”

As CM has made the point for years, whether one likes the direction of right wing politics or not, yet more nationalist parties are feeling the seeds of discontent within their own constituencies and offering a platform to parties that don’t seem to be listening. On Sept 9th, Swedes will get their democratic say. Austria, Germany, Holland, Italy, The Netherlands and France have all seen large shifts toward anti-immigrant/eurosceptic parties in recent elections. It isn’t a coincidence with the EU at the helm.

2+2=5

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It is no surprise that The Guardian has published a review like this. It is yet another reason why it still begs for donations at the end of every article. Instead of thinking the content might be the problem the paper still thinks it’s readers “just haven’t come around yet”.  It’s consistent with leftist thinking.

Buckmaster writes,

Designed to appeal to US audiences first and foremost, and subsequently exploiting Australia’s inferiority complex, Crocodile Dundee confirmed false preconceptions Americans had (and perhaps still have) about Australia and Australians. These movies constructed a conservative fantasy, where white hetero males do all the hard work and are justly rewarded, and where everybody else, including “the sheilas”, “the Aborigines” and “the gays”, understand their place in the pecking order – which is somewhere below people like Dundee.”

Doesn’t the $700mn that the Crocodile Dundee franchise earned speak volumes of is popularity? Was it a surprise to see Tourism Australia make Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) it’s pin up boy to tell Yanks he’ll “put another shrimp on the barbie”? The Guardian should take note.  Is it that many people see beyond all of these stereotypes because of the comedy within it? Why would people pay to watch a comedy film if it must walk on egg shells over every potential grievance? Maybe it would please Buckmaster if signs lit up telling audiences when they should applaud and boo? That way we could be indoctrinated inside the theatre. Perhaps filmmakers should pool all revenues at the box office and divide them evenly so those that didn’t do very well get equal pay?

Will The Guardian protest in ways that force the film content approval boards to edit out any “insensitive comments” against minorities? Jerry Seinfeld used to make fun of our differences all the time. One episode saw Jerry asking a mailman who happened to be of Chinese origin whether he knew where a Chinese restaurant was. “Do you think because I’m Chinese that I know where the Chinese restaurant is?” “No I thought you’d know because you’re a mailman” Two perspectives hidden in the comedy. If Jerry Seinfeld wasn’t funny he wouldn’t have been paid millions per episode. The viewers spoke and the network listened.

The problem with the left is that they can’t laugh at themselves let alone life. Most good humour is achieved by making fun of people. Ricky Gervais made a whole comedy series ‘The Office’ which poked fun of the horrible boss most of us had encountered while tackling all the issues around race, gender, sexual orientation, office romances, hierarchies and the politics inside the workplace. It was so funny because the viewer could laugh at the truth behind the storyline as they could rattle off names of their own colleagues who were just like the characters.

But no, humour must be surgically removed by the state. Rules must be put in place to protect people that aren’t necessarily asking for it.  Were Aborigines outraged after the first Crocodile Dundee? No. Should they and other minorities that supposedly had their feelings hurt retroactively seek compensation from Paul Hogan? Should he be dragged in front of the Australian Human Rights Commission?

What Buckmaster overlooks is the hypocrisy of Hollywood. As the #METOO scandal broke, celebrities might have worn black but so short of material were most of the dress makers one would be hard pressed to see it as a legitimate protest against sexual harassment. That’s ok though as their acceptance speeches spoke of gender pay gaps and all the other champagne socialist causes. That’s the difference. Because they support the leftist causes that’s alright even though half of those in the room are perfect examples of ignoring causes until it affects them. Surprise surprise to see the ratings of Hollywood award ceremonies  plummet. Ringing any bells Mr Buckmaster?

So to  Buckmaster’s  hope that the next Croc Dundee film removes the very things that made the franchise such a hit. Why not just let the box office tell the story of what people are prepared to pay for? People can make up their own minds on what they’re offended by. They don’t need the state to control language and thought. Look at all the howls of protest from the left about Tommy Robinson being a hateful racist bigot. Then look to why he has two #1 best selling books on Amazon? Could it be more people actually agree with him but keep quiet to avoid endless tirades from the left? Then they wonder why Trump won. In a sense the president is a Crocodile Dundee. He portrays himself as a silverback who grabs crotches and throws caution to the wind at political correctness.

2+2=5

Title IX – 2000% jump in sexual violence at US colleges in a decade but the stats reveal much more

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US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been in the firing line as the media interpret her words to defend both sides in discrimination cases as code for wanting to roll back Title IX. Title IX was introduced in 1972 prohibiting sex discrimination in all education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. The law itself does not mention sexual violence, but its interpretation by the courts puts the onus on schools to make sure they address it should such claims be filed. Let’s get this straight from the beginning, sexual violence in any form is inexcusable. According to the Office for Civil Rights (which is part of the Dept of Education) in the last decade, sexual violence claims in tertiary educational institutions have soared 2000%. Seems an extraordinary growth rate. In absolute numbers sexual violence on US campuses numbered 177 reported cases in 2016. In 2016 there were 20.4mn students in colleges in the US or 8.7 sexual assaults per 1,000,000 students or 0.00087%.

In FY 2016, sex discrimination claims comprised 46% (7,747) of all complaints received in the year, as compared to 28% (2,939) in FY 2015. The majority of Title IX complaints received in 2016 (6,251) were led by a single complainant alleging discrimination in schools’ athletics programs. Complaints involving discrimination based on disability status comprised 36% (5,936) of all complaints this year; race or national origin discrimination complaints comprised 15% (2,439). Age based discrimination was 3% (581).

In Fig 7 above OCR’s staffing level has consistently declined over the life of the agency even though complaint volume has significantly increased. OCR’s staffing level at the end of FY 2016 was 563 (FTE), marginally above the all-time low in staff levels since 1980, when the Department of Education separated from what had until then been the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The number of staff in OCR today is almost 12% below its staffing level 10 years ago (640); about 29% below its staffing level 20 years ago (788); and more than 50% below its staffing level 34 years ago (1,148).

In FY 2013, OCR received 9,950 complaints and resolved 10,128 total cases. In FY 2016, OCR received 16,720 complaints and resolved 8,625 cases. Estimates are than FY 1985, OCR received just 2,199 complaints—nearly 87% fewer than what OCR now receives in a typical year. Even examining the last several years, from FY 2011 to FY 2016, annual complaint receipts increased by more than 113% and 188% since FY2006.

While not condoning any form of discrimination (whether sex, race, gender or any other form) does it not strike one as rather odd that the figures have jumped so high in such a short period? Most of these laws are over 40 years old. Has racism or sex discrimination all of a sudden jumped from the woodwork?

The 2016 OCR paper states clearly, “Finally, with this year’s annual report, we mark the end of eight productive years in the Obama Administration of securing equal educational opportunity for students. While numbers alone can never tell the full story, the 76,000 complaints we handled, the 66,000 cases we resolved, the more than 5,400 resolution agreements we reached, and the 34 policy guidance documents we issued between 2009 and 2016 speak volumes about ongoing student need and this agency’s service to our school communities.”

This statement almost reads as a failure. Surely the mark of a successful OCR would be to see a reduction in the number of claims. It almost reads as if the OCR wants a higher number of claims to justify its importance. Is it really rational to think that students became 113% more harrassed than 5 years prior? Considering that 80% of sex discrimination claims were made with respect to equal opportunities in athletics, most sports are split by gender – track & field, soccer, American football, boxing etc. Note these 6251 claims weren’t about sexual assault but sex discrimination. Was this possibly an issue of transgender students complaining that they weren’t allowed to play sport for teams that now reflect their gender identity?

If one reads the media one could be forgiven for thinking that most of the Title IX issues were sexual assault related.  They are not. As DeVos made clear, processes at colleges in dealing with sexual violence are often inadequate and there needs to a commitment to ensuring the evidence backs the claims. Do people really have a problem with being innocent before proven guilty?

Let us be clear. The defence of civil rights is just. However the global shift towards public grievance and identity politics is borne out by these statistics. Obama allocated an extra $131 million in 2016 to the OCR to help hire another 210 workers. They’ve hired 19 so far.  We live in a world where Google is censoring what it sees as ‘inappropriate’. We have UC Berkeley deciding to enforce a 50% limit to attendance to a lecture by Ben Shapiro. What we are looking at here should concern people. Safe spaces, trigger warnings and micro aggressions are all terms that have spawned in recent years. Is it any wonder that claims to offices like the OCR are skyrocketing. Why get ahead through hard work, diligence and  exceptional ethics when you can get to the front of the line by complaining you were hard done by. Too easy!