No Minister

Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Social Media and its Standards

with 3 comments

There’s an increasing focus being brought to bear on the connections between the US Administration and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter (with search giant Google likely in the mix as well).

But this sort of partisanship is not new, with the most egregious along with burying the Hunter Biden story in 2020 to help get Joe Elected. It’s actually worse than the “Fact Checking” industry that works with Facebook and company.

The thing is that this partisanship is merely an outgrowth of the progressive ideology that drives these outfits nowadays and shows in non-political cases:

As reported by The Daily Wire, Twitter in March 2021 moved to dismiss a child pornography lawsuit by claiming protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is a section of Title 47 of the U.S. Code enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act, which generally provides immunity for website platforms with respect to third-party content.

As noted by Daily Wire, the victim, named “John Doe,” said the company refused to remove pornographic images and videos of him and another teen because the platform “didn’t find a violation of our policies.”

As reported in early 2021, in another lawsuit against Twitter, a young boy who was solicited and recruited for sex trafficking alleged that he was also forced to endure his own sexual abuse content on Twitter, even after attempts were made to remove the objectionable content.

That’s quite a different approach to the one they take to political and ideological causes they oppose; those they’re more than happy to remove from their platforms, citing how hosting might hurt them, or simply saying that it’s their right as a private company.

Then there was the case of YouTuber Shane Dawson – who boasted more than 20 million followers –

.. booted from the platform in 2020 after old videos surfaced in which he made racial slurs, portrayed racial stereotypes, and told jokes about pedophilia. In 2019, an audio snippet from his 2015 podcast Shane and Friends also emerged online, in which he joked about sexually abusing his cat.

After all of the above (and worse), Dawson triumphantly returned to YouTube in October 2021 after predicting he would, 16 months after being unceremoniously shown the door.

All of that filth led journalist Lara Logan – a woman who knows something about sexual assault – to say earlier this year that she’d had enough, even if it would hurt her journalist outreach to readers.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs convened on Wednesday to hear from current and former social media executives. The hearing was called to address the impact of social media on homeland security consistent with Biden administration talking points — you know, “white supremacist, conspiracy related, and anti-government violence’” That is a quote from committee chairman Gary Peters’s opening statement.

After watching this I’d say that Section 230 is headed for the scrapheap if the GOP win the Presidency, Senate and House in 2024 – and that’s assuming Facebook doesn’t start getting hit with 1st Amendment lawsuits on the now established basis that they’re acting as agents of the US Government.

Of course the old MSM are still at it with ever-lowering standards, with ABC News pushing its gun control agenda by interviewing the recently released John Hinckley Jr on the subject. Yes, you should know that name because he’s the guy who tried to assassinate President Reagan in 1981, while also leaving another person with brain damage, confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, plus Secret Service agents suffering life-long gun shot injuries as well:

As a thought experiment, imagine if Fox News brought on someone who tried to assassinate Barack Obama so they could talk about how pro-life they now are. How do you think the press would react to that? The answer is that they’d lose their ever-loving minds, not only freaking out that the would-be assassin was given a platform, but they’d also use it as proof that the pro-life movement is poisoned.

Remember, this is the same liberal press that wants to expel anyone who has come within 50 feet of Donald Trump from polite society. But if you try to kill a GOP president, then you can get an interview with ABC News and talk about the wonders of gun control.

Good to know that it’s not just viewers, listeners and readers that are giving the MSM the boot but other corporations as well.

Two further bits of recent news on this topic.

First, the Fifth Circuit Court has upheld a Texas law that says that any social media platform with over 50 million subscribers may not indulge in censorship people outside of some narrowly defined limits. So no more bullshit about claiming that you’ve “violated the terms of the contract” with the likes of Facebook. The law as stymied by an injunction from a lower court but Circuit court booted that and got stuck into the self-contradiction that lies at the heart of section 230:

Section 230 undercuts both of the Platforms’ arguments for holding that their censorship of users is protected speech. Recall that they rely on two key arguments: first, they suggest the user-submitted content they host is their speech; and second, they argue they are publishers akin to a newspaper. Section 230, however, instructs courts not to treat the Platforms as “the publisher or speaker” of the user-submitted content they host. Id. § 230(c)(1). And those are the exact two categories the Platforms invoke to support their First Amendment argument. So if § 230(c)(1) is constitutional, how can a court recognize the Platforms as First-Amendment-protected speakers or publishers of the content they host?

I’m sure this is headed for the Supreme Court with appeals, but at this stage I’d say it’s a race to see whether Congress or the Court kills section 230 first.

Second is this, PayPal, Venmo, and Google Cut off Group Fighting to Protect Children From Groomers:

Gays Against Groomers are “a coalition of gays against the sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization of children,” as they describe themselves in their Twitter profile. Now, one would think that most Americans would be supportive of fighting against the sexualization and indoctrination of children.

But fighting against such things now appears to be against the liberal narrative.

The group announced that they had been banned from Venmo and Paypal because they supposedly violated their user agreements. This can largely cut them off from the ability to financially operate.

You can watch one of the founders of Gays Against Groomers being interviewed here by Tucker Carlson (and boy I’ll bet that burns a lot of the Left).

“I needed to know what was going on”

with 4 comments

This morning I attended an excellent, informative business breakfast in Auckland where the guest speaker was former Commissioner of Police, Mike Bush. He gave an erudite account of how management of a police force, and particularly being in charge of major disasters, bears a lot of similarity with business planning.

One of his examples of planning and control was the Christchurch mosque attack in March 2019. He described how at Police National HQ there was a planning room of a very decent size, where they would head to in the event of a major operation. As news broke of Tarrant’s mayhem, off they went to plan the response.

One of the first things he asked for was for the live Facebook coverage of the carnage to be displayed on the big screen. He simply explained that he had to know what was going on, in order for him, and the police in general, to be able to respond, and what better way to know what was happening than to watch it live, despite how distressing it was to everyone watching. But he reiterated, as distressing as it was, he explained again, “I needed to know what was going on”. The correct response was only possible if he knew what was being said and done.

Of course, when the madness ended, and the shock and sadness was setting in, we all still needed to know what went on so that, as a country, we could plan, respond and educate ourselves to ensure it never happened again. Yet, Tarrant’s manifesto was banned and de-platformed.

I have a book on my bookshelf simple called “Hitler”. It is a biography of the murderous tyrant written by English author, Ian Kershaw. I am creeping my way through it, mostly due to lack of time rather than lack of enthusiasm. There are some graphic accounts of the man’s evil thinking – it is, so far, exceptionally informative.

Last night on the news was a story about how some so-called “extremists” are attempting to gain entry to elected positions at the local body elections and how their views should be given no air time. On Newstalk ZB this afternoon, host Simon Barnett took a call from someone defending not only these “extremists” right to stand, but demanding it. He explained that only by hearing what they have to say, and what they stand for, can society decide it’s wrong and not vote for them. Barnett got agitated. He questioned the caller about someone who proffered homophobic or Islamophobic views and essentially said this speech should be banned, and this pretend person should be prevented from standing if espousing such hatred.

Yes, he was serious.

I was discussing last night’s news story with my wife. I said to her, in a somewhat angry state because she was tending to take the side of the “banners”, that it is impossible to educate children on right and wrong unless and until we hear the views of the “extremists”. How is it possible to know Hitler’s views are repulsive, and his actions abhorrent, unless both are written about and taught? How can I explain to my make believe young son that what Hitler did all those years ago, and what Tarrant did and said in 2019, was evil, wrong and repulsive unless there is an open debate around such views and actions and I/we can teach our children how wrong this is? Simply put, we cannot.

This is why the cancel culture is going to ruin the very outcome those pushing the culture cancel want.

If we, as a country/society, allow this to continue we will succumb to a pile of State-fed propaganda, or misinformation. Sean Plunket came across it yesterday:

I agree with Lucia Maria in this post. I have been writing on political blogs since about 2004, so 18 years or so. I have studied politics and watched it since about 1996. I have never experienced the degradation of a free society more than I have in the last 2-3 years: I think this is the most serious issue facing this country.

Unless we have politicians in this country willing to promote and advocate for extremists to espouse their views, we will end up with a society of violence by extremists.

As Mike Bush put it this morning, in order to plan and respond for the future, “We need to know what is going on”. I expand that to what is being said.

Written by Nick K

September 6, 2022 at 10:09 pm

Where did Wokeness come from?

with 5 comments

Is the title of an interesting article at the City-Journal website by one Theodore Kupfer.

It may have started in the USA, but its roots are varied.

He reviews the leading theories, which I’ll summarise here:

  • Idealist
    the offspring of long-gestating intellectual trends”.
  • Psychological
    Either a quasi-religion “filling a spiritual vacuum in American life” or “a byproduct of the infantilization of young Americans”.
  • Materialist
    “woke capital” finding money making opportunities in fads like ESG or “woke labor”“a glut of well-educated but insecure white-collar workers use their control over corporate resources to push a political agenda that they not only agree with but also depend upon for job security”.
  • Legalist
    “Civil rights laws intended to combat discrimination growing cancerously into a set of legal doctrines that actively promote it.”

Kupfer doesn’t think that any of these has sufficient explanatory power by itself, which I agree with. It’s all of them:

Left with a set of theories that don’t seem to work on their own but complement each other well, one could embrace a synthesis: a perfect-storm view, in which all these different phenomena happen at once.

Thus, a certain brand of overprotective parent raised a generation of kids susceptible, in an era of declining religiosity, to morally urgent ideologies.

The theory-suffused academy was happy to supply such an ideology, which these kids took up with gusto upon arriving on campus, despite its evident shortcomings.

When they graduated and started entering the white-collar work force, litigation-averse corporations – already seasoned in adjusting their behavior to comply with civil rights laws – happily indulged the political demands of this socially engaged class of workers.

And, thanks to the immense cultural power of well-educated Americans and the economic power of large companies, that ideology became increasingly visible, and eventually all but inescapable.

And as I often say, theories, fads and trends that emerge in America spread elsewhere fast, at least in the Western world. I already made reference to this in a comment on my own post about the slowly growing pushback by gays and lesbians against the Trans movement, which comment was to this link:

Shame on the British Police (again: see Will be I arrested now, or later?).

Also see this article in the British Spectator, Why are lesbians no longer welcome at Pride:

Whilst Pride became populated with floats carrying drag queens resplendent in tassels, glitter and sequins, with rollerskating nuns following behind, lesbians sought to continue to remind the world that there were real issues to be fought, such as women losing their children to violent men because of anti-lesbian bigotry in the family courts; compulsory heterosexuality and the pressure to marry men and have babies, and a total lack of understanding that women have the right to control our own sexuality.

Lesbians have had enough, as we saw from the Cardiff parade yesterday. If gay men wish to turn what used to be an honourable protest march into nothing more than a street party, and include kinksters and cross dressers in the rainbow flag, that’s up to them, but lesbians have a lot of work left to do.

As Angela Wild, a founder member of GTLO told me, they protested the march to highlight the appalling treatment of lesbians by the queer-identified crowd, and the climate of sexual coercion that lesbian have to navigate daily. ‘The way we were treated, both by the LGBT crowd and the police who refused to let us march and failed to protect us is a clear reflection of the current anti-lesbian image brought by trans activists,’ says Wild.”

Welcome to Straight World, sweetie – or should I say “Cis-gendered” World – including all the standard agitprop strategies and tactics you’ve employed for decades now. Something, something Ouroboros.

The New York Times goes full retard

with 6 comments

Nobody, not even the stupidest fucking Liberals, should still read the cretinous New York Times, let alone buy or subscribe to them after seeing that in the story.

Although I have to admit that I can see a number of links between Leftism and Islam, starting with the fact that the bastards never sleep and never rest in the pursuit of their ideological objectives.

Ever.

You may be tempted to say that the NYT are propaganda merchants rather than cretins, since they must surely know that Islamic belief, with it’s powerful sense of insult, is the only motive in this attack, the Iranian State Islamists having made that quite clear right from the start in 1988 when they put a price on Rushdie’s head. I think it’s about $US 3 million now.

But I regard it as cretinous to continue to run such propaganda about the fault does not lie with Islam, when you have such blatant proof before our own eyes that it is. The NYT is actually destroying their own narrative by trying so desperately to cling to it.

I read The Satanic Verses decades ago and only once. My main memory is of the opening sequence where the two Indian protagonists are falling from 30,000 feet over the English Channel after their hijacked plane explodes and one of them is getting pissed off at the other singing Bollywood songs on the way down.

The book is magical realism!

I also recall one little aside where the father of one of them compares his son’s girlfriend to the hottie of The Flintstones“that little Wilma bibi”.

At best you could say that it was lightly mocking parts of the Koran, which – not knowing the latter – I could not see at the time, even though I was well aware of the controversy at the time. Even when I had it explained to me later it still seemed like a big, fat nothing, but then I’m not a religious fanatic.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 14, 2022 at 12:10 am

The Crunge

with one comment

More like cringe, as you watch the following piece of silliness – which plays off yet another strange piece of Biden behaviour from a few months ago.

The event was at some school and Biden just aimlessly wandered off to who knows where even as his wife, the First Lady, made a little speech.

So this Twitter user decided to have a little fun with it, given that Biden sticks a huge ice cream in his face every chance he gets…

… and then found that this was being FACT-CHECKED by Twitter to reveal to you that it was “Manipulated Media” (see the reference at the bottom). They did that because – and I know you’ll be shocked to discover this – it turns out, there wasn’t actually ice cream truck music playing at the scene!

OMG! But don’t just take Twitter’s word for it; take Reuters’, who put their Top Men on fact-checking duty as well.
Top.
Men.

Rather than OMG, how about FFS? Late night Democrat suck hole “comedians” like Steven Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and all the rest of that crowd tell a bunch of unfunny “jokes” with false premises – which are “factually untrue,” in fact-checking terms – every frigging night, and those get pushed by Twitter and FaceBook users all the time with zero fact checks.

The Democrat activists and supporters and MSM (but I repeat myself) are that desperate to protect Biden and that lacking in a sense of humour. So when a truly vomit-inducing, butt-kissing article appeared by one Tom Nichols in The Atlantic, titled (“Leave Joe Biden Alone”), and a series of satirical Atlantic headlines started whizzing around the Interwebby….

… they also got fact-checked by AP, Reuters, Twitter and others. You’d think the false name would have been a tipoff.

Which led to further mockery, of course.

As silly as the fact check efforts are, the unfunny part is that these false labelings of stories or even jokes as “misinformation”, designed to protect the Biden Administration, then becomes the justification for the social media monopolists of Twitter and Facebook to collude with them and use the SUPPRESS and LIMIT buttons in their algorithms to bury a story. That’s how it worked with the NY Post revelations on the Hunter Biden story, and that’s how it works on stories every day. Twitter and company keep trying to pretend this trying to be objective instead of what it is – a code of censorship at the behest of the Democrat Party in government.

And still the Right wing will defend “Muh Private Corporations” like these against anti-trust legislation in the name of the Free Speech Rights Of Private Business to have the right to refuse content they don’t approve of. At least in the USA, that argument collapses when it becomes clear that they’re acting at the directions of the government.

This all happened as the Biden Administration emerged from a week of trying to gaslight everybody about how America is not in a recession because having two quarters of GDP shrinking is not technically a recession – even though that’s been the accepted definition by everybody for a century now – and I mean every politician, journalist, economist and Bob’s Uncle.

These people are so confident that they can change reality by changing the meaning of words and terms – after the success of “gay marriage”, “pregnant men”, “men with periods”, “women”, vaccine definitions and the rest – that they think they can do it in the realm of economics. And to be fair, they did manage to get more than a few people onboard for this farcical effort, including many MSM sites and even a Nobel Prize-Winning economist.

But the following analysis makes a very important point; they know the Internet has got them cold on their bullshit, but they just don’t care anymore because this about allegiance and loyalty rather than persuasion.

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep calling out their double standards and not let them control memory and history, as did Orwell’s Big Brother.

Finally, since this is all fairly sickening, here’s a story from a time of more honourable and decent people, like WWII military nurse, June Wandrey. I’m sure that people like her still exist, but they are slowly being crushed out of existence.

Fake news you can trust

with 4 comments

That’s the slogan of the great satire site, The Babylon Bee.

And they just landed two great shots on The Powers That Be and how their political and ideological bigotries drive their ScientificTM decisions.

CDC Declares Gay Orgies An ‘Essential Activity.

Also…

Government That Shut Down Businesses, Parks, Schools, Beaches, And Churches For 2 Years Says There’s Nothing We Can Do To Stop A Disease Spread By Gay Sex.

Meanwhile I see that the little American gargoyle celebrating 50+ years as a medical bureaucrat and having never practiced medicine, is now bringing to bear all the Sir Humphrey skills that have helped him not just survive but thrive in the US Federal government since 1968, to the point that he’s the highest paid Federal government official.

“First of all, I didn’t recommend locking anything down, you’re asking me questions, you’re talking about — the CDC’s the public agency that uses their epidemiologists and their science-based approach to make recommendations,”

He didn’t? Wow. He must have been one of those strong believers in the ScienceTM that saw the majority of epidemiologists, prior to 2020, dismiss the idea of locking down the healthy population to prevent a pandemic.

Oh wait!

That’s from October 2020.

“When it became clear that we had community spread in the country … I recommended to the president that we shut the country down. That was a very difficult decision, because I knew it would have serious economic consequences, which it did.

“There was no way to stop the explosive spread that we knew would occur if we didn’t do that…. And unfortunately, since we actually did not shut down completely – the way China did, the way Korea did, the way Taiwan did – we actually did see spread even though we shut down.

But it could have been worse – like if he’d been as much a fanatic as our own Professor’s Baker, Hendy, Wiles and Health Director Bloomfield. Aside from not being paid anywhere near as much I bet he’s jealous of New Zealand:

“Had we known back then the insidious nature of spread in the community, there would have been much more of an alarm and there would have been much much more stringent restrictions in the sense of very very heavy encouraging people to wear masks, physical distancing and what have you” 

Very, very, heavy encouraging? That’s quite a euphemistic phrase for what it would actually have been in America. It would have meant having the Police jumping on you if you went to the beach, with handcuffs, pepper spray, batons and horses, as per Australia and New Zealand.

I think these people should read Thomas Sowell’s seven features of totalitarianism and make the comparisons to the actions of Western governments circa 2020/21.

This is not the first time Fauci has changed his tune, offering changing – and opposing – positions on both vaccine mandates and masks. On the latter, Fauci privately acknowledged that typical drugstore masks are “not really effective,” and he said in a March 2020 interview that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

Being that he’s a very old man I guess he has no idea that the Interwebby is forever. The silver lining here – especially with 2000+ C-19 dead and rising fast in New Zealand, mainly people aged 70+ – is that now we can talk about stuff like this without having to listening to cretins screaming about how we hate ScienceTM and love killing grannies.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 2, 2022 at 6:00 am

“We create our own reality”

with 4 comments

That’s a famous quote from early in the War on Terror, taken from an advisor to GW Bush, the very key advisor Karl Rove (aka “Turd Blossom” as labeled by Bush himself). Rove would later dispute the quote and given that it was a NYTimes Magazine reporter, Ron Suskind, who extracted it there’s a very real possibility that it’s as much bullshit as the famous Vietnam War-era “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” quote from New Zealand’s own Peter Arnett.

The full Rove quote:

”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” 

The Left had a lot of fun with that, somehow missing the fact that to a large extent, that’s exactly what Rove, Bush and company would go on to do, the real blowback only arriving years later and coming in the form not of more Jihadi terrorists but Donald Trump and his tens of millions of American voters.

And of course the Left were never in a position to lay claim to a solid understanding of reality anyway, and even less so nowadays:

Hawley: Why are you using the term “person with a capacity for pregnancy” instead of “woman?”

Bridges: “Your line of questioning is transphobic and opens trans people to violence.”

Hawley: “You’re saying I’m opening up people to violence by saying women can have pregnancies?”

The thing is that the Left is really pleased with the responses of Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges:

If you check in on Twitter today, the left is uniformly thrilled that UC Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges has put a couple of white Republican Senators in their place. Seriously, they are over the moon about this performance, especially for her exchange with Sen. Josh Hawley.

Not just square, old, conservative White GOP Senators either, but Black, female singers like … Macy Gray:

…who defended the traditional definition of woman (versus transgender revisionism) on British TV the other day, and told her critics to stuff it. But then

Wonder how they got to her and forced her to confess? It’s chilling, isn’t it? Macy Gray is a big star, a Grammy winner, even. They broke her in a day or so. We all know what she really thinks … and we all see her humiliation. Actually, I hope that we are only seeing humiliation here. The scary thing would be is if she accepted what Orwell called “the Party’s final, most essential command”: that she should stop believing the evidence of her own eyes.

Going back to the previous article I saw this among the various Twitter clips collected:

The argument that words are violence went from a few small elite colleges to appearing in a US Senate hearing in what, eight years?

Which will be the basis of “hate speech” laws that will be enacted here in NZ, as they have been in places like Great Britain.

About the only good news out of this is that the likes of Macy Gray could be broken so quickly because all her life she’s cruised with the “in-crowd”, surfing on the leading edge of all their causes while she sold them her music, and that the Woke Left will, like the French Revolution, devour itself (and appears to be in the process of doing so).

Having said that I go back to Rove’s quote – “We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” – and note that the likes of Professor Bridges absolutely see themselves as doing that, as they always have in their Whiggish view of history.

This quote from feminist Bari Weiss is right on the money too:

Disinvitation—now called deplatforming—has become a regular feature of American life as the politics of censoriousness, forced conformity and ideological obedience have taken hold…

These incidents are not discreet little firestorms. They are deeply interconnected. They are the result of a zealous and profoundly illiberal ideology that has infiltrated our largest companies, our media, our universities, our medical schools, our law schools, our hospitals, our local governments, our elementary schools. Our friendships. Our families. Our language…

[T]his is a revolution of culture. A revolution of ideas.

For far too long, it resisted description. The revolution’s proponents went from pretending it didn’t exist and insisting that those who suggested it did were wearing tinfoil hats . . . to declaring it was here, and it was excellent, and that if you didn’t get on board you were a bigot and a bad person.

The other day my wife got an email from an old friend of hers. The friend’s note was like a missive from the Soviet Union in that it demanded that my wife prove her purity of politics by disavowing . . . me. This is not the first time she or I has been asked to do something of this nature.

A politics that forces its adherents to put their most intimate relationships to a litmus test is a politics of totalitarianism.

Changing messages on China

with 40 comments

A couple of years ago on this blog one commentator complained about my “tiresome China bashing”, the implication being that, as with so many other things, I was not in the middle of the crowd on this issue and needed to get with the program.

Part of this was the argument that Trump’s approach to China had been an aberration and that things would return to the Clinton-Bush-Obama normality of ever-increasing trade between the USA and China, together with ever more involvement of China in the USA across many spheres.

It turns out that it wasn’t just Trump: he was merely one of the first to raise the issue. Since Biden’s election it’s become apparent that the anti-China brigade is bi-partisan between Democrats and the GOP and although not well organised, exists in greater numbers than previously believed.

And it would appear that the feeling is spreading fast in, of all places, Hollywood, with the release of the movie Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise’s sequel to the massive and iconic 80’s hit movie.

In a 2021 post, Hollywood’s ugly cost of catering to China, I noted a story that had been running since a 2019 trailer for Top Gun: Maverick had shown the Japanese and Taiwanese flags being pulled from Cruise’s 1986 fight jacket so as not to offend the valuable Chinese market. The movie was then held up for two years because of the ongoing pandemic, with Cruise in particular insisting to the production company Paramount, that it not be released to streaming as some other big movies had been.

My, but things have changed in just two years. Apparently the Taiwanese audiences were cheering when they saw this.

That also means this was edited late in post-production, which is not a cheap process even in the era of CGI, and certainly not something you do on a whim. The producers, Paramount, are sending a message:

To the joy of Taiwanese audiences hitting the theaters this week, Top Gun: Maverick features a prominent shot of the Japanese and Taiwanese flags—national symbols that were scrubbed from a 2019 trailer.

The flags were initially replaced by random symbols, drawing sharp criticism as an example of Hollywood caving in to China’s political demands. But in a rare U-turn, which has yet to be explained, they have reappeared in the film’s worldwide release.

“It is unprecedented,” Ho Siu Bun, a film critic in Hong Kong, told VICE World News. “Major film studios have never been shy about pandering to the Chinese market. And even if it is a simple scene, editing is very costly. So no one knows why they changed it back.”

The message was received according to the Wall Street Journal, with no less a reaction than the huge Chinese tech and gaming company Tencent, whose involvement had been an agreement that Paramount had boasted about during production in 2018.

The reason: Tencent executives backed out of the $170 million Paramount Pictures production after they grew concerned that Communist Party officials in Beijing would be angry about the company’s affiliation with a movie celebrating the American military, according to people familiar with the matter.

Association with a pro-American story grew radioactive as relations between the U.S. and China devolved, the people added. The about-face turned “Top Gun: Maverick” from a movie that once symbolized deepening ties between China and Hollywood into a fresh example of the broader tensions forming between the U.S. and China.

Excellent news. Aside from anything else, recent Hollywood blockbusters have bombed in China despite all the groveling and Tencent has lost out on a movie that has already grossed $US 150 million domestically on Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer and the blockbuster movie season. It promises to do huge business in the coming weeks and is already Cruise’s biggest opening weekend in his career.

Sure, you can say that it’s just a movie, but given the way Hollywood so relentlessly followed other American businesses in kowtowing to China, and given the cultural impact and money involved this is perhaps the biggest public signpost to date of changing Western approaches to The Heavenly Kingdom.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 30, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Two must-read articles from Karl du Fresne

with 3 comments

Readers will be well aware that my attitude towards the MSM is that that they are, at best, shallow and useless in their reporting and “analysis”, and at worst combine that with massive ideological bias to the Left as well as the occasional bouts of outright partisanship towards, in the case of New Zealand, the Greens, Labour, or the Maori party, depending on how well each of them is doing in supporting a Left wing agenda.

The read I have on the NZ MSM at present is that, as Chris Trotter and Martyn Bradbury have often pointed out, they’ve sold their souls for capitalist money and the “neo-liberal” status quo established since 1984, in exchange for pushing every other piece of Leftist wank. I think those two gentlemen are nostalgic screamers because, at least in the environmentalist world of combating AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) they may get want they want eventually from their rather despised New Left comrades with a return of state ownership or more likely, a regulatory and tax regime that makes a mockery of the term “private enterprise”. Whether the Leftists in the MSM know where the AGW process will lead or not doesn’t really matter, but I suspect that many “reporters” do and are keen on using it to get back to the supposed Nirvana created by the First Labour Government.

As such it’s important that blogs support eachother, so here are two articles by Karl du Fresne that need as much exposure as possible:

  1. Squeeze your eyes shut, cross your fingers and hope

This post deals with the steadily growing catastrophe that is Three Waters and the Health re-structuring.

Carterton District Council, one of the smallest in the country (population 9700), expects to spend $850,000 preparing for Three Waters over the next two years. The council’s chief executive says the plan has imposed an “enormous” programme of work that the council’s not resourced to cope with it. Mayor Greg Laing describes the process as “absolutely appalling”.

The Times-Age quotes the Department of Internal Affairs as saying funding will be provided to cover transition costs, but it’s obvious that councils haven’t seen any of the money and don’t know when they will. In any case, South Wairarapa’s mayor Alex Beijen, who presides over a district with a population of only 11,000 (and one that’s already financially stretched to breaking point), says resourcing will be a big challenge even with extra government money.

I laughed at one of the comments where the guy sent a Letter To The Editor concisely pointing some of the problems and found his points about rents and royalties had been excised. Standard censoring of disinformation; I don’t know why he bothered but others made the point that this why blogs and other social media (to an extent, given their own censorship) are important while the MSM dies.

The healthcare problem has been hidden by C-19 Kabuki Theatre and Three Waters but if anything it’s more frightening:

As Powell points out, “With only 40 working days to go, DHBs have no more information on what will replace them on 1 July than they had on 21 April last year when the health minister announced their abolition.” You can read his damning appraisal here.

This all sounds familiar, the same as other SNAFU’s this government has made in the last few years; ill-defined plans; falling behind schedule; last-second scrambles to do something. I really hope I and my family don’t fall sick in any way for the next couple of years.

2. The Free Speech Union meeting that earned a trigger warning from Salient

This is Karl catching up on Victoria University’s response to his talk On the threats to free speech, that was delivered a while ago at the university, courtesy of the Free Speech Union.

It seems that the students have been triggered by a speech that none of them apparently attended and have used the student newspaper, Salient, to express their outrage; Karl points out that it’s prefaced with a trigger warning advising, in bold type: 

This article examines some of the racist, transphobic, sexist, and otherwise harmful content discussed at the event in question. Please exercise caution when reading.

Frightening.

You can read the sad, pathetic details of the objections to his speech and while I and a lot of other students never took much notice of such things at varsity – where the Left-wing student radicals dominated such talk via the student unions and their varsity newspapers – it’s clear that such people have much greater influence, some might say control, over their varsities than they did forty or even twenty years ago.

For me, one comment showed how far things have gone:

As a Victoria lecturer and a member of FSU (so I would prefer to be anonymous), I am sad to say this is exactly what I expect from our students. Students nowadays are extremely lazy; most of them don’t even bother to attend lectures. Critical thinking and meaningful debates are just not things under their radars. I don’t blame students but the university administration. The university administration is a bunch of failed academics who do not really care about education and research. All they care is their position and would do everything possible to pander students in order to get money from the government. As a lecturer, our constant pressure from the university is how to make students happy and get more of them, not how to train better citizens of the future.

An unexpected result of the 1990’s reforms of university is that there are a lot of people there who should not be, given their lack of brains, and that the incentives for them to go and the incentives of the universities to get bums on seats, are screwed up. Perhaps if student loans were tied directly to the universities so that they’re on the hook for payment recovery, the universities would be pushed harder to teach productive courses and “train better citizens” in real critical thinking.

Really quite atrocious

with 20 comments

The world gets sillier with each passing day.

The ridiculous creature you’ve just watched is now the head of a new part of the US Department of Homeland Security, the Disinformation Governance Board.

What a coincidence that this announcement comes just days after Elon Musk buying Twitter and the Liberal world setting its hair on fire as a result.

The Department of Homeland Security is setting up a new board designed to counter misinformation related to homeland security, with a focus specifically on Russia and irregular migration. The board will be called the “Disinformation Governance Board,” and will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz.

And there it is right out of the gate, “irregular migration”. So we won’t be able to say “open borders” any longer? Or “illegal aliens”, (even though that’s the legal term) without the ban hammer coming down, or worse.

I’m going to call it the Ministry of Truth from here on because that’s entirely appropriate.

Ms Jankowicz herself writes:

Now that I’ve got it: a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.

That sounds like exactly the opposite of what this board is designed for. It’s purpose will be to stamp out information that the Biden administration doesn’t like, censor any thoughts that run counter to the MSM narrative of the day, and “fact-check” points of view deemed “inappropriate.”

The thing is that she herself is a peddler of disinformation as, for example, the 2020 claim that Hunter Biden’s business records were a Russian plant. In fact she was still pushing this as of March 2021.

Amazing how all those “natsec experts” were completely wrong, although that’s being generous as I think they just flat-out lied: they’ll probably gets jobs working for her at the Ministry of Truth. Hmmm… DGB… that acronym rings a bell.

It was the claim that it was Russian Disinformation that was the actual disinformation — partisan Democrat Deep State disinformation. As the new Disinformation Czarina, she should, of course, be eager to apologise for her previous disinformation. What are the odds?

I see some back-peddling going on with the Biden Administration now claiming that work on this started on Trump’s watch in 2020. Oh really? When during 2020 did this “work” begin? What exactly was that “work,” of which the current bureau is a merely a “continuation”? Did Trump ever hear about it? Did the Trump administration ever appoint an Executive Director of a Ministry of Truth?

Actually it’s fun to imagine the Liberal world’s reaction if Trump had done this. It would have made the Musk meltdown look like nothing.

But then something like this was always on the cards with the DHS. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks twenty years ago I figured that President GW Bush would tear down the CIA, FBI and other “intelligence” agencies that had so clearly failed and then re-build them into something fit for purpose. But instead, as a typical Moderate, Centrist Right Winger – the sort who loves Big Government almost as much as the Left does – he simply created yet another giant bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security and draped it over the top of the existing failures, supposedly to tie them together better.

Claims from the Right and Left that making the National Security state even bigger posed future dangers to the freedom of Americans was ignored in the heat of 9/11 emotions. The Right – admittedly mainly Libertarians – saw it as just another example of how bigger government creates bigger problems in the future, mainly because it further empowers those who love state power for its own sake in controlling individuals. The Left had traditionally felt uneasy about the NatSec state – until recently it seems, now that there’s a chance it can be weaponised against Right Wing enemies.

As silly as Ms Jankowicz appears, this is deadly serious. That joking meme of GW is no joke when you read official shit from the DHS like their March 2021 report, ‘Internal Review of Domestic Violent Extremism.’:

A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”

The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.”

This is what DHS is now all about, exactly as its critics predicted two decades ago, and this new Board is simply another drawing back of the covers to reveal the machinery underneath. What’s next?

It’s probably easier going after “domestic violent extremists” than after the people that were originally supposed to be the focus of DHS: people like Nidal Hassan, Omar Mateen, Fahreed Skyhook and his concubine and at least a dozen or so other attackers as well as plots that were only foiled by sheer dumb luck rather than by the DHS/FBI.

It’s appropriate to leave you with this interesting article: Would censorship have stopped the rise of the Nazis? The short answer is no!

Weimar Germany had laws banning hateful speech (particularly hateful speech directed at Jews), and top Nazis including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch and Julius Streicher actually were sentenced to prison time for violating them. The efforts of the Weimar Republic to suppress the speech of the Nazis are so well known in academic circles that one professor has described the idea that speech restrictions would have stopped the Nazis as “the Weimar Fallacy.” 

Meh – I couldn’t leave it on such a grim note, so here’s the original silliness, featuring what is generally agreed to be one of the worst fake accents on film, courtesy of American actor Dick Van Dyke as a Cockney chimney sweep.