By Louis P. Burns aka Lugh © 2008. All rights reserved.
I would be very interested in members of Sensitize © participating in this discussion or possibly debate with an aim to clearly defining censorship and all that it is or represents. So, if any of you have ever felt yourselves silenced by a larger group because you hold or believe in a different view on any topic you care to mention, this may be the very thread for you to direct any opinions or thoughts you may have on the matter. The aim of this thread on Sensitize © is to explore all that censorship is in a friendly and productive way so try and keep insults to a minimum. That does not mean you cannot argue or express anger at continuing censorship if it frustrates you or if you have been on the recieving end of censorship. The point here being that you may have a valid point that you are addressing. It is worth stating that this does not mean you can make threats of violence towards other people posting to here without my asking you to clarify what you mean.
Censorship can take many forms. You may be an artist, filmaker or writer who rather than gaining support and recognition for your craft, skills and work have been told it is too controversial therefore won't be getting displayed, published or reviewed. You could have been a political prisoner living under a military regime or in a government state of oppression and jailed for nothing more than asking why there are oppressive measures in place. You might have been a combattant against such military regimes and been imprisoned for nothing more than self-defence. Perhaps you are a female who has been treated differently or denied access to equality because the males around you have decided that no matter how individual or talented you are, you are still a woman and must behave in a way they believe women should. You may be a bisexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered person who has been shunned in society for simply expressing yourself or your love for your partner. You might have questioned or spoken out against a religious doctrine and been silenced for it under the crazy notion that your 'god' might be offended. You might be someone from an ethnic group or race who has been turned down for employment because the manager believes your working in their environment may annoy or infuriate the rest of the workforce. I'm almost certain that as this thread develops and censorship is discussed other examples will come into view.
Currently there are massive campaigns against the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq. People have been kidnapped from these countries and flown, under a system known as 'extraordinary rendition', to American detention centres and prisons like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. They have been battered, beaten, denied access to legal representation, force-fed, murdered, shackled in chains and tortured by intelligence officers and soldiers because they have become the suspects of religious extremism or fanaticism against the British and U.S. administration and governments since the 9/11 attacks in New York. It may be a fair comment at this point to say that neither Afghanistan or Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks, but George W. Bush needed re-elected and they became a convenient target in his campaign to be re-elected and his contempt for anything non - American and used to boost his 'popularity'. He truly is the figurehead of censorship and neo/new fascism in the world and an exceedingly dangerous dictator. Interestingly enough, he too uses censorship to darken the names of anyone opposed to him and one clear example that springs immediately to mind is or was the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Another would be Osama Bin Laden.
Censorship is nothing new. The British under the Conservative government led by the war criminal Margaret Thatcher in the latter part of the 20th century enforced a media blackout on anyone identifying as or representing Irish Republicans. In effect her government silenced over one third of Northern Ireland's population and perhaps all of the Irish Republic's population simply because she thought they were a danger to all things 'British.' So censorship is a tool used by those 'in power' to maintain their power.
Before this thread develops I would like to acknowledge an activist, civil and human rights campaigner, comedian and author. His name is Mark Thomas and he has worked tirelessly to address and overthrow many of the liberties censorship has destroyed or set about ruining. Up until the summer of last year I was an active member of his online forum sited here; http://www.markthomasinfo.com/forum/log ... efault.asp and topics like censorship were discussed by several members, myself included. Whether Mark has any control over the content on the forum or the members' posting to it isn't as yet clear to me but the administrator, a man called Jeff Jenkins aka Plucker kicked me out for daring to insinuate that another member was behaving like a representative of the English nationalist, fascist and racist British political party known as the BNP. The BNP are affiliated to Combat 18 and the National Front both of whom are terrorist groups who have been involved in several hate crimes against anyone non - British. I'm not going to deny that I did say a member on the forum was behaving like a member of the BNP, but it was after that same member implied that I was a terrorist. I'm sure anyone from Ireland, especially Northern Ireland where I come from, who lived under the brutal military regime of Margaret Thatcher will know that being called a terrorist is perhaps the most offensive thing that could be said about them. The anger in me about all of this spilled over on to the Mark Thomas mailing list or the 'List', and I was further subjected to more of the same and by several other people, some of whom may have been members of the forum. It is however highly important to point out that Mark Thomas and his crew are activists with a very unique approach to and brand of campaigning. They carry out publicity stunts and use the media to highlight injustices like censorship while ridiculing authoritarian doctrines or dictatorships. They are also well aware that I am a trained performer and community arts activist, and possibly thought I would run with them in a campaign to address the entire nature of censorship. At least, I sincerely hope this is the case and I was not really on the recieving end of censorship, fascism or racism, because that would mean my having to make it all public knowledge including the email exchanges and very possibly ruin every good deed Mark and his crew have ever done. So Mark, if you ever get to read this or wish to comment, can you please clarify that what happened to me was one of you and your crew's pranks / stunts and that none of it was meant to do harm but was an exercise and exploration in defining censorship? Thanks...
By Louis P. Burns aka Lugh © 2008. All rights reserved.
sometimes i still wonder about it all
the news reports on the television
poor souls shot dead while resisting arrest
or escaping the menacing clutch of police
who all too frequently discharged weapons
rather than calm or pacify people
a suspect device found by kids at play
defused or made safe, whatever that meant
doors booted in by british soldiers at night
folk we knew dragged away for questioning
some jailed for years or never seen again
tears rolling down the faces of their mothers
- hunger strikes, blanket protests, shit on walls
media blackouts, censorship, chaos, death.