The purpose of this page is first, to link to things that censors have tried to ban,
and more generally to show how the Internet can be used to render such bans impotent.
Please do not think that I agree with (or am even particularly interested in) all the things below.
I'm just anti-censorship.
I do not accept that any other adult has the right to tell me what I can and cannot look at.
It may be (and I certainly hope) that the Internet will finally put an end to this power that adults have wielded over other adults
since the very dawn of mass culture.
Freedom of speech. (Some of my books.)
If these books are not all legal in your society, then there is something wrong with your society.
"Take that article down. In Index it's disgraceful"
by Frank Fisher:
"What on earth has gone wrong at Index?
A publication that once vociferously defended Salman Rushdie now parrots the same sentiments
you hear from Muslims and so-called liberals on every talkboard:
"I don't condone his murder, but he asked for it ..."
... Please take that article down. If Rohan wants to applaud a murder
and support religious censorship, then let him find a more appropriate place to do it.
In Index, it's disgraceful."
Censor and sensibility
by Nick Cohen, 12 December 2004:
"What was most telling was Index's treatment of
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who worked with van Gogh
on the film. I can remember when she would have been a liberal heroine.
In the 20th century, feminists had a little success in persuading Western liberals that women should be treated
as independent creatures whose intelligence ought to be respected. But these small gains can go out of the window
when brown-skinned women contradict the party line that religious fundamentalism is all the fault of poverty
or racism or Bush or Israel and isn't an autonomous totalitarian ideology with a logic of its own.
Jayasekera dismissed Ali as if she was some silly geisha girl."
they cancelled a discussion on Islam
when Islamic fundies
kicked up a fuss that counter-jihad writer
was going to speak.
The ALA said they would organise a new discussion on Islam
without a counter-jihad voice.
sued the historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel in 1996,
the judge to declare in his ruling in 2000:
"The charges which I have found to be substantially true include the charges that
Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented
and manipulated historical evidence; ... that he is an active Holocaust denier;
that he is anti-semitic and racist and that he associates with right wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism."
So I've no sympathy for his speech.
I might even support not letting him visit one's country.
But to arrest him or ban his writing is a step too far.
I am appalled that he was arrested in 2005 in Austria and actually
jailed for 1 year.
This is not what a free society does.
Deborah Lipstadt, to her great credit,
after all he put her through, agrees.
She did not want to see him jailed (or even convicted) for his speech.
PC speech codes don't just stop with neo-Nazis or Holocaust denial.
PC people would ban all speech they dislike.
See the incredible case of
where these interesting, amusing and entirely non-racist
(in fact, highly anti-racist)
were held to be somehow illegal in Australia:
"Hate speech" about gays - Attempts to make religious attacks on homosexuality illegal:
Now I support sexual freedom for consenting adults.
I even regard tolerance of homosexuality as a litmus test of a free society.
And I agree that
the Bible is hate-speech.
But to make it illegal?
This is tyranny.
Canada prosecuted Christian conservative protester
for "hate speech" against gays.
The Canadian Supreme Court upheld Whatcott's prosecution.
Bruce Bawer, 1 Mar 2013, mourns the loss of free speech.
He is himself gay but, importantly, is a liberal
(unlike the Canadian Supreme Court).
"the lie that “hate speech,” in some way, silences its targets. No, “hate speech” doesn’t silence – the prosecution of “hate speech” does."
In May 2017, they made the error of inviting "anti-troll expert" Vian Tahir to curate @sweden.
a huge list of "hate" accounts,
that were then blocked by @sweden.
The Swedish Institute unwisely
these accounts were linked to things like neo-Nazism and incitement to violence.
Inevitably, the "hate" list turned out to be something rather sinister.
Why Do Only Conservatives Require Campus Security?
by Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Calt Harris
- "The incipient threat of violence on the university makes it unique in North American life. Minority views can be espoused without intimidation in the media, in political forums
and even in corporations."
Dissident Arab Gets the Treatment
by Ahmad Al-Qloushi, January 6, 2005.
An America-loving (and Israel-loving!) Kuwaiti Arab Muslim
comes to the US to study, and is attacked by his lefty professor
for his support for America.
.. came in to liberate us and asked for nothing in return. I love this country for the freedom
it provides and for rescuing Kuwait's liberty in the first Gulf War.
12 Years later, America once again has selflessly protected my country and my people by removing Saddam Hussein."
"I have since learned that mine is not an isolated case.
Many students in American universities are being indoctrinated and silenced by biased professors who hate America.
America saved my life and the lives of my family. How can I not speak out?"
Thomas E. Klocek,
fired by DePaul University
for supposedly being "disrespectful" to ignorant anti-Israel students.
For many reasons (self-selection also being one)
the politics and humanities departments of western universities
have a clear left-wing bias.
What can (or should) be done about this is another matter.
But there is no harm in pointing it out.
This is a revealing article.
It is about complaints in Israel about the left-wing bias of Ben Gurion university.
The Irish Times (of course) takes a sceptical view of these right-wing complainers.
It lists many quotes from their critics,
yet never bothers to quote the group themselves.
And then the Irish Times casually admits that their accusations are true!
"Prof David Newman, the newly appointed dean of Ben-Gurion's faculty of humanities and social sciences,
... described the accusations of left-wing bias as "very far from the truth". Accusations from the right in Israel against alleged left-wing bias in Israeli universities are nothing new. Most academics identify with the progressive wing in Israeli politics, and this was one of the key arguments used by Israelis opposing the campaign abroad for a boycott of Israeli universities."
Students hate free speech:
a group of students from the Muslim Student Union, repeatedly shout down a speech by the
Israeli ambassador to the United States at the University of California, Irvine,
in Feb 2010.
It is typical of the far left that they think free speech means stopping others from speaking,
and forcing everyone to listen to their inane views.
The Muslim Student Union was
explicit about stopping free speech.
Their internal email
the goal of the protest was to "send the speaker a message" and show him that
"he can't just go to a campus and say whatever he wants."
The "Irvine 11" were convicted in court in Sept 2011 of suppressing free speech.
They got community service, probation and fines.
As I say,
I'm a libertarian or a classic liberal, not a conservative.
I believe in hard work and responsibility,
but I see no reason why consenting adults cannot
do anything they like.
It's your life.
It's not for the state to tell you what to do.
You can have fun,
but similarly it's not for the state to save you from yourself.
You can have fun,
provided you take responsibility for your own choices.
Starting in the 1990s, the Internet
has made porn for the first time
mainstream, free and easy to find.
Some high-brow, some low-brow.
Some tasteful, professional and artistic, some amateur and ugly.
Is this a good thing or bad thing for society and for human relations?
I don't know.
But the basic evolutionary drives that led to it are never going away.
We are evolved animals,
and so porn will always be a part of human culture.
The porn issue is over, and the censors have lost.
And if you don't like pornography, don't look at those sites.
Is that so hard?
Children, children, children, children. Sigh.
OK, let's talk about children.
You do realise this is all just an excuse, though.
There are people out there who want to prevent adults communicating with other adults.
But since the Enlightenment and the idea of free speech and human rights, they have had to restructure their attack.
They used to talk about corrupting the sensitive minds of their wives or their servants
and the lower classes.
But that's not allowed any more.
So they talk about children. We must protect children from pornography.
Therefore all adult communications must be reduced to a level suitable for a child.
You do realise this is all just an excuse?
There are many answers to protecting children from indecency.
Firstly, you assume we all agree it's bad for children/teens to see pornography.
Well it's not so simple.
If the child's not interested, then, well, they just won't be interested.
If they are interested - in the teenage years - then is it so bad if they see it?
But let's leave that aside.
Let's grant you the right to decide what your children can see.
The point is that you can do this
without bothering anybody else.
You buy a whitelist filter
that allows access only to 10,000 hand-picked child-friendly sites.
You can't type in URLs, you can't follow links to new or unknown sites.
You can only wander round the space of hand-picked sites.
The Internet can be awash with pornography, but the child can never see it.
It may seem restrictive to block all sites by default, but the parent can add hand-picked ones as the need arises.
It may seem that such a filter spoils the serendipitous nature of the web, but not so,
you can turn off the filter when you're present, and wander the web with your child.
You can censor yourself without bothering others.
The technology exists, so leave everyone else alone.
You're still here? You're complaining that little Johnny has managed
to hack his own Internet access.
That he's disabled the filters, written his own browser?
If he's smart enough to do all those things,
I think the days of you controlling what he looks at are coming to an end.
I am in favour of the sexual revolution,
as are (it might surprise you) many on the right.
"I will not criticize the power of pictures and words to arouse;
to arouse passions or ideas, erections or damp panties, fears,
curiosities, unarticulated yearnings and odd realizations.
Sexual speech, not MacKinnon's speech,
is the most repressed and disdained kind of expression in our world,
and MacKinnon is no rebel or radical to attack it."
- Susie Bright
replying to pro-censorship campaigner
Drug use should be legal.
Adults want to mess with their bodies and minds - always have, always will.
It's science's job to make it interesting and safe.
It's not the government's job to enforce someone's idea of a religious or moral code of behaviour.
We lock up in jail
people who take drugs even if they harm nobody and are leading productive lives.
This can only be based not on public health
but on the idea that one adult can tell another adult what to do in his private life.
Just as bad as all the innocents in prison
is that the drug laws,
just as alcohol prohibition did,
have created a vast, violent underworld which would vanish if drugs were legal.
Think of all the muggings and burglaries that would stop
if the poor could afford their habits.
History will judge
War on Drugs as both the great denial of civil liberties
in the West in our age
and simultaneously the major unnecessary cause of crime.
Note that I do not take drugs myself, except alcohol.
In fact, I live a very abstemious life.
But any supporter of liberal democracy
must oppose the drug war,
whatever their personal lifestyle.
by Mick Marlow
is banned in the UK,
and the author has been jailed for writing the book.
With the banning of books now, what more evidence do we need that the War on Drugs
is an offence against liberty and civilized democracy?
Can be used when local DNS servers are down
but remote ones are ok.
Anonymous web publishing:
The world of
shows how it is now possible to reach a global audience
while still remaining anonymous.
Some anonymous authors have millions of readers,
yet no one knows who they are.
Free web publishing services
mean that even the website host may not know who you are.
And your website can be hosted in another country (as mine is).
In many cases this gives real protection from your country's laws.
For example, American courts will not co-operate with demands from Iran to shut down
pro-democracy dissident websites.
suggested that one could anonymously post web pages to usenet
which refer to each other via message-id,
thereby creating an anonymous "floating" web server within
We live in strange times.
Social media firms have enormous power to censor people on their platforms.
Which is, sort of, their right.
You can publish elsewhere on the Internet.
And yet, because of their dominance, this is in effect like censoring people's opinions from society.
Social media companies started abusing their power in 2016.
The big firms - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube - all abuse their power now.
They have killed the 1990s dream of free speech Internet.
Censorship by big tech firms is probably
the dominant form of censorship in the West now.
Software exists to allow you filter sites,
without bothering anyone who wants to see the site,
or the site owner.
I am completely in support of personal, voluntary filters,
and much more technology is needed in this area.
People do want some control over what they see.
For example, I would set up my TV to filter out
celebrities, the royal family, reality TV,
religion, astrology, and anything New Age,
music and sport.
Then I could TV surf more happily.
You could set up your machine to filter out pornography, say, if that's the kind of thing that bothers you.
So long as I'm not forced to use your machine, I don't care.
The Eternity Service
by Ross Anderson
discusses the fragility of the web model, where a document's persistence depends on the author's survival.
In practice, not much of interest on the web really vanishes without eventually turning up somewhere else.
But the constantly-changing URLs, and the need to often return to search engines to re-find something,
mean documents can be lost in practice, even if they still exist in theory somewhere out there.
What we need are permanent URLs,
that we can be confident will still be around in 10 years time, or even 50 years.
Who is going to provide the documents themselves on a permanent basis?
It is the job of large
libraries of course.
When are libraries throughout the world going to wake up and offer free, regularly-archived, mirror services for web publications?
With multiple distributed, permanently-available, permanent-URL mirror sites.
After all, what is a library for?
The Wayback Machine
re-creates the Web of any period from 1996 onwards.
It converts the links to point to a Wayback Machine
copy if possible,
so that links take you to the page you would have seen back then.
Then you can travel round the Web as if it was 1996 all over again.
But the 1993 Web is gone forever.
Just like the
is gone forever.
A few essays I like,
from the exciting moment when the Internet exploded:
The Age of Paine
by Jon Katz, Wired magazine, May 1995.
Thomas Paine's vision of what the media should be.
Who would ever want to go back to the pre-Internet world?
Here is the
Encyclopaedia Britannica 1974 edition on
Izmir in Turkey.
Now there is a lot to be said for the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
and there are major disadvantages to Wikipedia.
But consider what is now online.
In Wikipedia there is not just an article but
category on Izmir
with many sub-articles
And for images
there is an entire Wikimedia Commons
category on Izmir
with many sub-categories.
Far, far more information and images than any Encyclopaedia could give.
Not to mention the millions of other
And I chose this page because the information on it is defective.
Presumably written by some Turkish or pro-Turkish academics,
fails to note the most important event in modern Izmir
- the slaughter by the Turks of the Christians of Izmir in 1922
(the city was majority Christian before then).
In contrast, Wikipedia covers this topic in
a massive, detailed entry.
Far from being "heavily damaged in the fighting",
Izmir was set on fire by the Turks after it surrendered.
The army of Ataturk burnt the city, and killed and expelled the Christians.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica entry is a lie.
On Wikipedia, similar lies
can hide in
but it is hard for them to survive in the
The Internet truly has liberated us
to go beyond what is in our books.
The end of Google, 2018. Google started
in the 1990s
because other search engines were biased and did not show the most important hits at the top,
but had other criteria.
In the 2010s,
Google decided to start censoring results it does not agree with,
and as a result its search engine is becoming useless.
Here is a search for "jihad" on a Chrome incognito window in Aug 2018,
and the most important site in the world on the topic,
Jihad Watch, is on page 12.
Since a million people link to Jihad Watch,
it must be put on page 12 deliberately by Google because they do not like it.
Well Google, it's been a nice 20 year run, but it is time for a new search engine now.
Google may die.
But the Internet goes on.
I signed the
Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
when it came out in 1996, and I have a lot of sympathy for it.
When a group of people have constructed a new world,
as we did,
it is shocking when government,
once it finds out about that world,
threatens to destroy it,
as government and media did once they discovered
the Internet around 1995.
But things worked out differently.
Western governments did not destroy our world.
They mainly allowed it to flourish.
And the real threat to our world
- the real people introducing censorship where once there was none
- are the
social media companies.
Big tech are the censors now.
Who I block on Twitter:
I will debate almost anyone.
I love ideas.
I will not debate (and will block) people who:
(a) target my job,
(b) target my appearance, or:
(c) libel me.
Also, since 2016, abusive reporting has become a thing.
I was targeted with abusive reporting by
an Israel-hater pretending to be "Jewish".
So I now also block:
(d) any account that even hints that it reports its enemies,
(e) any Israel-hater that claims to be Jewish.
It is just self-defence.