“I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humour and when I die I expect to find him laughing”.
So goes the refrain to the Depeche Mode song Blasphemous Rumours, but such a statement could easily apply to anyone attempting to take this year’s World Press Freedom Day seriously. This year’s World Press Freedom Day comes less than twenty-four hours after Julian Assange’s lawyers were forced to tell a judge in London that Assange rejects any attempts to extradite him to the United States over his prolific journalism. This hearing itself came just under forty-eight hours after another London judge sentenced Assange to nearly a year in prison due to a technicality that is so obviously politicised, one would have to be wearing a tin foil hat in order to believe otherwise.
Then, to add insult to injury, several outspoken US based commentators and journalists were banned from Facebook whilst it became apparent that the old mainstream media was briefed as to what was happening hours before the penny dropped.
And yet today, dishonest elitist shills of all sorts will be lining up to praise what for them is the abstract and even quaint concept of press freedom while both prosecuting and persecuting those who dare to use press freedom for the purpose it was intended to be used. It goes without saying that free speech laws were not designed to protect polite speech or speech (however robust) in favour of the established elites. Such speech is permitted and indeed encouraged in every country in the world, including in the most repressive totalitarian states.
But what differentiates both the letter and spirit of America’s first amendment and similar laws from the restrictive atmospheres in open dictatorships is that the first amendment legally permits all forms of free speech no matter how rude, crude, embarrassing or offensive. But while the first amendment is perfect in theory, it is increasingly ignored in practice. If this were not the case, Julian Assange could visit the United States as a free man and could even publish in the United States as a free man. Instead, if Assange does go to the United States (something that looks almost certain), it will be so that he can face a show trial in a secret kangaroo court that will either sentence him to death or a torturous life before bars in the most appalling conditions imaginable.
For those who have not upset the elite as much as Assange, the penalties for speaking one’s mind are not as harsh but they are still devastating. Corporate entities that monopolise social media platforms in the way that Mussolini couldn’t even manage to monopolise the public square are actively working with their partners in the old and increasingly discredited corporate media to silence any and all voices that deviate from their outdated version of what the centre ground of western policies ought to be. To be sure, such private entities have become monopolies in the classic legal sense and must be treated as such. Furthermore, social media should be regulated like a public utility that cannot deprive one of service on the basis of one’s political views or political affiliations.
Sadly, no major political forces in any western nation are calling for such a sensible rollback of the censorship happy monopolies, the owners of which themselves flaunt their close relations with the owners and producers of mainstream media content. Such relations likely constitute a corporate conspiracy and in a saner time, these relations would have been investigated accordingly.
Politics and society have moved on from the mores and ideologies of the corporate mainstream media but like any declining empire, these corporate Caesars of the media-intelligence complex refuse to end their reign with dignity. Instead, those who dare to offer opinions which conflict with that of mainstream media are labelled as liars under the Orwellian regime of so-called “fact checking” – a totally bogus term designed to discredit those that see the world in a way that is even slightly different from the orthodoxy of the political and media elites. When that doesn’t work free speakers are labelled dangerous, extreme, disgusting or even perverts. Because no one could deny the factual accuracy behind Julian Assange’s publications, they instead invented rumours that he hurled faeces at the walls of the Ecuadorian embassy and prior to that, they smeared him as a sex manic. These overtly politicised lies could only be believed if one fails to see that the first world countries of the west are now behaving in exactly the same way in which one would imagine the most violent third world dictator to be capable of doing.
And thus on this World Press Freedom Day, the rules are simple. If one kisses the feet of the elite, one might be able to suck from the teat of the elite – at least until one is deemed to be past one’s sell-by date. By contrast, if one offers facts which embarrass the elite, one will be lied about, have one’s character assassinated, be physically tortured, imprisoned and likely killed as is the case with Julian Assange. Similarly, if one offers robust and articulate opinions that undermine the prevailing narrative of the elite, one will be called a fake, a liar, a robot, a foreign agent, a sick pervert or even a terrorist. This is the sad reality of free speech on this World Press Freedom Day.
As Idi Amin is thought to have said: “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech“. When compared with Julian Assange’s persecutors, Amin appears downright relaxed.