Censorship

Opinion

Censorship:

Some ideas and thoughts on censorship, and possible effects of it:

One way to censor is to refuse to investigate things, which, while logical, is also deceitful, if the person or organisation to whom the crime is complained of, is aware or has reason to believe the claimant or victim is right.

 

Does a court, such as an international legal or any criminal court, actually have a legal obligation to investigate? If it does, then if that court refused to investigate, and had reason to believe a crime was going on, would it be being deceitful? It seems to me that it could be argued that the court is not the same as 'doing a favor' : the court is there to investigate. That is what it is for. It is a court.

 

So here is one situation: a court hears a request, listens to it, and decides, for example, what they will do. On the basis of the evidence supplied to them they evaluate the evidence, then reject it, but all the time knew that what the person claiming was actually true, or had reason to believe it was.  Would that court be doing what it says it does? Similarly, a lawyer. If they knew what the person claiming of was true, and had reason to believe it was, and they only considered the facts put before them, but all the while, knew or had reason to believe the person had a case and was right, and they ignored this evidence, would they be being unfair to the client? 

 

So: If it is accepted (and it may not be, of course) that a court, such as an international justice court of any sort, has some legal or even moral obligation to investigate a claim,  or to at least consider the case of a person and not as a 'favor',  can it then also be argued that a court that does what is described above has, in effect, used censorship?  

 

To me, censorship sounds such a mild word in some ways, but it is not. Here are some ideas and thoughts on censorship, how it can be done, how it could be used by a variety of organisations, and possible effects of it.

 

Torture, and censorship:

I think that there are various methods of censorship and some of them can be argued as torture or using torture, If used, they would break international and national laws and agreements on what is acceptable or legal, or it could be argued they do, I am sure:

1. There are various methods of censoring: one is to 'pace' : to try to wheedle and extract information without committing to asking for it. To use 'levers' and suggestion to gradually get information out of a person, all the while pretending they are doing nothing at all. It is a very manipulative tactic. It prevents making a commitment to a victim or complainant who might be complaining of a crime or some problem. Why would anyone do this? To censor.

 

What this can lead to, and what this can involve: A corrupt situation could easily develop in which a person is tortured, monitored, and information extracted out of them from people who know the person. These people may already know the information, but can't say how they know.  A good example is a person who is a spy. They spy on others or on an individual.. They already know certain things, and don't actually need the information, but they can't admit how they got it. It needs to be extracted from the individual or group on whom they are spying, in some verbal or written way, so they can then say they got it by being given it, and not by spying.

 

2. Another method of censoring is to assert the claimant or victim is 'informing' and to use a 'collusion' argument to censor them. This applies particualrly in cases of people who might suspect harassment, spying, or various forms of intimidation. The tactic used is to try to get the person to collude with the harassor, spy, or intimidator in some way. Once they do, innuendo (or even open statements) begins to occur to the effect that the claimant or victim has no longer any argument: It is suggested to them that it is their fault, and that they are colluding, so they then can't claim against the other person, group or government that they are the victim of a crime. 

 

By suggesting the claimant or victim is 'an informer' or 'informing' or 'an informant', a few things can happen:

i) an attempt to try to 'block' communication by suggesting 'informing' as a defence.

ii) An attempt to excuse failure to investigate by implying that there is a 'defence', and the 'defence' is: that the claimant or victim is or was 'informing':

How this works: the claimant or victim complains of a crime: the person to whom they complain does nothing. But later, the person, (or group) they complained to suggests the claimant or victim is guilty by implying it is not their fault for not investigating, but the claimant's fault for colluding with them in some way. To achieve this, they force collusion by various methods by throwing it in the claimant's face so it can't be ignored. It's a particularly interesting defence this one. It's like saying:

'Why are you ... (by the way I like your blouse...) asking me this as I know nothing about you (by the way, your clothes are nice today...) and as I told you, I don't think your legal argument is very good, but if I need information I will ask you, it's nice to meet you,  and thank you for your time.'

 

How is the claimant or victim supposed to react to this? It's very manipulative. This is how the 'informing' defence could be used to prevent accusations that a court or a lawyer, for example, did not investigate. It could be much more sophisticated than this: such as text appearing on a website a person clicks on after they have written notes for a story that then appears on  the same website they look at, which happens to be the website of the lawyer they have just contacted to ask for help with corruption.

 

One really nasty part of this, which can make it worse, would  be if the person who is doing the forced collusion knows or has reason to believe that the person to whom they are forcing collusion on, has no alternative. The claimant or victim can't just go and get another lawyer, or there is no other court, or no other person they can contact.

 

The collusion and 'informing' defence could be used by : a media organisation , a journalist, a lawyer, a doctor, or any citizen.

 

A government could do it too: a claimaint or victim asks them for help with a crime, say, and then the government tries to dump collusion on the claimant or victim, or tries to lure them into dealing with them in some way. If the person then interacts with this government, they  can then be accused of 'collusion', instead of the blame being on the failure of the governent to investigate it when they were told.

 

So for a person, court, organisation, government, or anyone at all to try to use: 'informing' as a defence can be a very nasty thing for a person who thinks this is being done or has reason to suspect it is. It can be censorship.

 

What could happen then? Allegations of paranoia. Possibly even suggestions that the person 'hates' others, and 'does not trust' others, and 'is a danger to others'. A web of defences and excuses for failure to investigate a reported problem or crime can in this way be built up by a government, a court, an organisation, or even a health professional.

 

The person then is trapped and it is only their word that this is happenning. They are complaining to the very people who are doing it themselves. What are they going to do? They have nowhere to go.

 

Do they call them liars?

 

3. The [what I call] 'paranoid defence' and forcing a person to complain,  so as to use it: A tactic is to try to use what could be termed 'the paranoid defence' to tie the person up in knots by making it impossible for them not to complain, then: when they do: they are told they are paranoid, think everyone is out to get them, don't trust anyone, and so on.

 

What could happen then: An implied argument, with various suggestions. For example: A media organisation might use  'the paranoid defence' to censor.  Themes could be introduced such as: journalists are at risk and must be protected....then, stories are published that are unnecessary. Blatently flagging things such as where journalists work, how many work in a room, photos of the building....This information is then unnecessarily given to the public, and published.

 

Then: themes of persecution begin. People are 'out to get' journalists, and gradually a suppression effect is built up through subtle manoevering of the way things are described. Extremist language is used: Or, other situations could occur: Journalists who complain about human rights abuses in society are 'activists' not journalists, which might allow them to be considered 'aggressive' by connotation.  The language changes, and it gets emotive, dramatic...

Then: it could be implied that society itself is at risk, that the community itself is at risk, and humanity is a community.

 

4. Another method of censorship?  failure to mention certain things about a justice system, until it is too late. This form of censorship uses legal aggression and its use could be seen in corrupt societies that pretend to be democracies but are in fact nothing more than police states. For example: a failure to tell a citizen how the justice system really works: such as: giving the impression that the system is 'innocent till proven guilty', but actually behaving as if it is 'guilty till proven innocent'. This would be deceit. It would be to mislead a citizen, deliberately, and breaking a legal agreement implied in that citizen's residence in the country. It is censorship in that the person is censored legally, and possibly physically: laws are applied to them that take away their freedom, laws they did not know existed. They are censored in that they can't complain of, because the country will not admit it's justice system.

 

5. Trying to force a person to complain about someone else is another tactic: one person 'throws themself into the fray' so another person will be forced to say something. When they do, they are told something like: 'we're very worried about your behaviour, and it is showing signs of increasing paranoia, and we are concerned'. The tactic is to flag their inhumanity - but do it anyway. One example is to flag the process of 'sending to coventry' or restricting freedom of association, or in other ways the process of cutting off a person's communication:  They don't want to admit it, so they flag it. They appear to be being 'blatent', and 'mean' and they 'play the bastard' .  This can be a tactic that is merely face-saving for a person or group that wants to cut off communication but has not got the courage to say that they do.  Maybe In the eyes of others, they want to look good. They don't want to look like a bunch of intellectual cowards so they use things like 'covers', 'human shields' or 'playing the bastard'

 

This then is the danger of using torture or 'pacing' to extract information, and how it can be done to censor. In peacetime, it is illegal and in wartime it is often considered illegal. In both situations, the use of it might be able to be dismissed in a court as evidence not acceptable if obtained under torture. It is, I think, banned under various articles of the Geneva convention in wartime. But, on a lesser scale, torture can exist in peacetime, such as by using the lesser tactic of 'pacing'  to extract information: while it is not 'torture; as such, it could be said to be also unfair, manipulative, and psychologically deceitful.

 

Some might even consider this tactic to be rather cowardly. 

 

What is the alternative?  A legal system that does not bend to the demands of others and prevents torture and 'pacing' to get information. This  prevents vendetta justice, pacing, torturing, and other forms of thuggery where citizens are allowed, sometimes with judicial approval, to harass others, which is where censorship can get frightening.

 

My argument is that: The claimant or victim must know before they more to or live in a country what it's legal system is. It is not okay to deceive them, then tell them later what kind of country they are living in, or have travelled to.  They should be allowed to sue the government for not telling them. So they should be told exactly how the legal system works: what is it's judicial system, it's sytem of interrogation, its courts and it's ways of dealing with complaints about various things?

 

A question that could be used to define it: 'If you had known what kind of legal system you were living in, would you still have chosen to live in this country or not? ' If the answer is: 'No, of course not!' then that should be some indication of the level to which the citizen has been fraudulently misled.

 

So, for a country to not declare it's judicial system openly and honestly and in detail to citizens and travellers to it, to me, is a serious thing. The person has made a commitment to that country in living in it: they have invested money, bought a house, paid tax, maybe gone to it's universities and it is expected that the country has not lied about it's judicial system to them. That is the very basis upon which they have made an agreement with the government, surely: as a citizen, as a taxpayer: that they know what country they are living in. That when the police and government tell them: 'you have the right to privacy': that they actually do, that when they tell them: 'you are equal to others in law',  that they actually are. That this is not lies.

 

So, why is censorship such a concern?

Censorship should be very carefully observed. It should not be ignored as the methods of it are often illegal, and are often a form of cruelty in itself, and what it can lead to is worse. Censorship can start gradually and increase and turn into a form of paranoia that spreads though society, until even the society itself shows indications of paranoia.

 

Written by Katrina Wood,  2013.

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