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Defining Censorship...

Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:14 pm
by Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
Defining Censorship...
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; ... 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...

under occupation
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.

Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:54 pm
by Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
Do any of our literary members have a creative work about censorship that they would like to share?

Cheers :) ...

Update: Censorship at the Mark Thomas Info website

Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:19 pm
by Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
Update: Censorship at the Mark Thomas Info website
By Louis P. Burns aka Lugh © 2008. All rights reserved.

On the Mark Thomas Info website's homepage sited here there are hyperlinks to their forum sited here and one to their favourite websites or links page sited here. On that webpage there is a banner/picture link to Irrepressible Info which is an external site from anything to do with the previous 3 webpages but is part of an Amnesty International campaign. Amnesty International through the Irrepressible Info campaign aim to allow people a voice on external websites and free from military or other oppressive forces that attempt to censor or silence them.

The Irrepressible Info campaign appealed directly to me as a writer but, and it's a big 'but'; I find it somewhat sickening that I discovered this link through the Mark Thomas Info website given how the forum administrators of that website, a man known to me as Jeff Jenkins aka Plucker and another known to me as Simon Brickhill aka Psikottix + certain other regulars posters on there actually behaved. Both of these administrators are/were members of Sensitize © and at any time they are welcome to sign into here and explain why I was banned from their forum last year. They may even be in a position to explain why I have also recently been denied access to post to the Mark Thomas Mailing List as recently as 16 days ago.

Alan Fisher aka the_leander was also a member on Sensitize © until I booted the sickening little slag. As was Joanne Chapman aka jo / Pino. These two individuals in particular seemed to think it ok to accuse me (on the Mark Thomas Info website forum) of the very serious crime of terrorism. Another went as far as saying I personally called him and his family murderers simply because he comes from a military / naval or 'services' background and because I spoke out about a clip on YouTube that revealed some British soldiers brutally beating some young kids in Basra, Iraq. I most certainly did not call him or his family members 'murderers' and I challenge him to reveal any evidence he may think he has to the contrary for example links to pages or screenshots of pages on the Mark Thomas Info forum where they should exist. As for jo, she's just a lippy bigot, but even she is welcome to explain her offensive accusations / actions towards me. Not only are they welcome to post any comment explaining any of this, but other members of both the forum and Mark Thomas Mailing List are welcome to join Sensitize © and give their account of why they either joined in on the attacks or why many of them (good and honourable) kept out of the whole situation? I can, if called upon present several examples of some of the nastier emails I recieved to my main Gmail account from Alan as well as many others from people who lumped themselves together with him through misguided friendship in some instances, and then abused me further and derided almost every post I made, both to the forum and mailing list. They can scream 'Data Protection Act' until they are blue in the face. Two points on that:

    1) To get anywhere legally they would have to admit these emails (which I encountered via the Mark Thomas Mailing List) exist and that they are familiar with or sent these same offensive emails and continued, despite being asked not to, or to explain themselves and their offensive (indeed fascist) comments by other subscribers of/to the Mark Thomas Mailing List. In doing so of course they would incidently reveal themselves to be guilty of the more serious crimes of cyber-bullying / and possibly cyber-hate towards anyone with an opposing perspective or voice against the British army/government or its continued brutality around the world (well documented).

    2) I identify as an Irish citizen/person. I am not subject to the same ridiculous British laws governing them and I am prepared to 'ride-the-storm-out on this point.
But, to be fair, I won't quote any of these offensive emails for now which only actually become crimes of any sort by me if I quote them innacurately, therefore libel.

I also wish to bring this to the attention of Amnesty International who I hope in turn will address / investigate the matter. My reasons apart from being a published and respected writer both among my peers in England, Ireland and America and recently acknowledged in a book soon to be released in the UK are the obvious anxieties, frustrations and to a certain extent the emotional pain I have had to endure at the hands of a few bigots and censors who frequently derided and insulted me, either on the forum which was fully endorsed and approved of by the Mark Thomas Info forum's administrator; Jeff Jenkins aka Plucker (he did nothing to stop it), or the Mark Thomas Mailing List. The catalyst and my civil/human rights to speak out against oppressive military regimes like the British army + their various governments over the years were breached several times. My requesting Amnesty International intervene here has been inspired by this;- ... page=15310

and this;- ... page=15310

Both of those links are easily accessed if one chooses to through the Irrepressible Info link on the Links pages of the Mark Thomas Info website and are about Irish writers and their bid to address creatively; the dangers of censorship and breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The second link is to; Irish poet, writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature - Seamus Heaney's submission called - Poetic Redress. Here is a quote from it and I apologise sincerely if I have broken any copyright laws but this is important to writers everywhere and especially any poor writer who thinks Mark Thomas can help break the deadlock of censorship:

Seamus Heaney on Amnesty International's website - Poetic Redress wrote:Flouted though the Articles have been and continue to be, their vulnerability should perhaps be regarded as an earnest of their ultimate value. If, for example, an effort were to be made to enforce them by the exercise of military power - as in the effort to enforce "democracy" on Iraq - it would not only end in failure but would discredit utterly the very concept of human rights. They would be stigmatised as the attributes of an imperium rather than an inherent endowment of the species.

It is this vulnerable yet spiritually inviolate quality which makes them attractive not only to the wronged and the oppressed of the Earth, but to writers and poets as well. The Universal Declaration is not a sure-fire panacea for the world's ills; it is more geared to effect what I once called "the redress of poetry" than to intervene like a superpower. This idea of redress I discovered first in Simone Weil's book, Gravity and Grace , where she observes that if we know the way society is unbalanced, we must do what we can to add weight to the lighter side of the scale. The Universal Declaration, it seems to me, adds this kind of weight and contributes thereby to the maintenance of an equilibrium - never entirely achieved - between the rights and wrongs.

Writers and poets are also capable of adding this kind of weight, as will be evident in the work of contributors to the series which this newspaper is organising in the weeks ahead. I expect, however, that when they are faced with the direct speech of the Declaration, many of them will proceed indirectly. They too will want to conjure up work that functions as a counterweight to the given actuality of the world. The writings they place in the scale may only be imagined, but if the imagining is credible, if it persuades us to suspend our disbelief, it will be part of the redress that human dignity, human rights, human reason, human consciousness all desire and deserve.

It is also a fact, however, that when it comes to creating work in support of a morally laudable cause or in response to an uplifting theme, writers and poets face a difficulty peculiar to their calling. They are not like speakers at a podium or preachers in a pulpit. Because of the artistic imperative they obey, they must do more than utter a commendable sentiment. They must make a thing of words, construct "a verbal contraption".

It is not enough for creative writers to be what Osip Mandelstam once called "purveyors of the paraphrasable meaning", even if they happen to be paraphrasing the Universal Declaration; not enough merely to repeat what Joyce called "the big words", even words like "dignity" and "conscience"; not enough to have the will doing the work of the imagination. Some kind of turn or twist or swerve, some shift in the mind or the medium has to occur, some little startle of insight or originality that may prompt the composition of a short lyric or the invention of an entire world - as in Animal Farm ."

Judging from this, and my own identity as an activist, human rights campaigner and writer, it would appear I have been banned, censored and frequently insulted by people on the Mark Thomas Info website forum and Mailing List because I spoke out about British soldiers beating up children in their own country* (Iraq) and drew a parallel with that and how they behaved for years here in Northern Ireland. In effect I have been punished for being humanitarian. It would appear only people identifying as 'British' can speak out about such butchery on the Mark Thomas Info forum. Anyone non-British can't. That is fascism and indeed censorship, possibly racist as well.

I don't know which is more insulting or offensive quite frankly. Being banned from the Mark Thomas Info website forum, or the knowledge that I was banned by people working/posting to a forum and mailing list owned by a man supposedly working to ensure things like this don't happen (Mark Thomas). Hypothetically, one could easily draw the conclusion that he doesn't really care about anything, is a liar and only into activist campaigning for the glory of being seen to be on the side of fair play and the revenue gained from book sales. However, I still hold a fading hope that this is not the case, even though Mark Thomas has done nothing to counter-measure the damage some of his forum admin, forum members, mailing list contributors and friends did to me. Nor has he addressed why they found/thought their activities and comments were acceptable. It was in fact; bullying, censorship, cyber/hate criminality and most definitely a breach of my civil and human rights to continue to work as a writer online (a progression of my career as a published writer).

I am morally bound and responsible to state that Mark Thomas and his admin staff on the Mark Thomas Info forum and mailing list deserve to be revealed, because if they are not sincere activists and human rights campaigners opposed to censorship, then they are a wedge between real action against censorship, human rights violations and progress towards lasting change / equality / freedom of speech and the upholding of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mark Thomas, his forum admin team and anyone else who thinks they can are welcome to join Sensitize ©** and try to censor me or treat me like they did on the Mark Thomas Info forum and mailing list, but they will have to explain why they thought their actions either justifiable or legal to a much bigger crowd and support base than I believe they could ever muster.

Any attempt to have this post withdrawn or this community and its forums deleted will not only be affecting me, but the careers and livelihoods of many other published and respected working writers.

* I spoke out against these barbaric savages beating children and whoever that person is doing the voiceover and compared their hatred to the hatred they enforced on many people living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Please note, you may have to open a YouTube account and verify you are over 18 years old.

** By joining Sensitize you are stating you are 18 years old or over and have read our Guidelines page prior to joining.

Hyperlinks in this post are to; ... efault.asp

links are to;- ... page=15310 ... page=15310

Very sincerely,

Is Mark Thomas a Censor and Liar? Confused. Derry...

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:02 pm
by Louis P. Burns aka Lugh
Is Mark Thomas a Censor and Liar? Confused. Derry...

Mark Thomas in an article on the Indiemedia UK website wrote:Freedom of speech might not give us the right to
shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, but it does give
us the right to shout "Heard it!" during Hamlet's "to
be or not to be" soliloquy. As the political activist
Abbie Hoffman observed, freedom of speech is the right
to shout "Theatre!" in a crowded fire. And had he been
alive and present when Bush spoke through a bullhorn
in the rubble of the twin towers, he'd have had the
perfect moment in which to shout it.

Many may quote Voltaire, but what they really mean is:
"I vaguely agree with your values and will be prepared
to sign a petition and possibly wear a badge for your
right to say it."

Generally it is assumed that issues regarding freedom
of speech occur abroad. We might even be aware of the
odd case, like the comedians U Pa Pa Lay and U Lu Zaw
in Burma, jailed for five years in March 1996 for
performing satirical sketches. However, although the
nearest we get to the repression of comedians in this
country is the biannual removal of Jim Davidson's
driving licence, we are still an illiberal nation when
it comes to free speech.

The 1997 Gandalf trial in the UK received little
attention in the press and, subsequently, little
support outside the activist community. Three men were
charged with conspiracy to incite criminal damage
under the Criminal Justice Act. They were found guilty
and each was sentenced to three years. They served
four and a half months before being freed on appeal.
So what evidence did the Crown Prosecution Service
come up with? In an occasional magazine called Green
Anarchist, writers had reported on various acts of
civil disobedience

The prosecution argued that this kind of reporting
encouraged others to commit criminal damage. Such
logic, which insists that reporters of conflict or
disruption are to blame for further violence, can only
lead us to conclude that Rageh Omaar is to blame for
the invasion of Iraq.

In Britain, we rarely support free speech for
ideologies we do not agree with. The New Statesman (18
October) did offer some decent press coverage of the
latest assault on freedom of speech and press. This
involved the Indymedia website -the most significant
step taken in journalism since Rupert Murdoch moved
his printing plants to Wapping. The site is run by
volunteers and, for its content, it relies entirely on
contributions by ordinary people, the citizens of
whatevercountry where it is running. "Don't hate the
media, be it!" is its slogan. It challenges people to
tell their own stories and repont on events. One of
the best examples of Indymedia in action in the UK
came during last year's arms fair in Docklands when
up-to-the-minute reports, photos and footage provided
a running commentary on the protests taking place at
the fair.

A very last resource

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:25 pm
by Salvador Oria
I've read the previous postings with interest... partial truths and wishful thinking cannot actually describe the dreadful operations performed by certain country rulers, their 'security' men, or by some of their supporting clique of beasts. :evil:

To my humble opinion, censorhip is the very last resource that coward, cruel or incompetent rulers, or a mixture of these heinous attributes, impose their societies' media to get away with government sins against democracy, once all other criteria proved useless, say keep VAT inspectors 'living' at the offender's premises; scrutinise the offenders' past life to disclose to public whatever findings are discovered; put a light to offenders' homes in the middle of one subzero winter night, preferably with its sleeping occupants inside or, as a last resource, physically eliminating by sword and mantle, or via a prepared 'accident', whatever remaining chunk of oppositon they may have, that had obviously passed unscathed all previous instances. When neither of the above prove useful, these rulers close the book and try with another book describing the deeds of a short-moustached German corporal of the late thirties and very early fourties who, apparently, had a fearful collection of easy recipes which he used to keep all German citizens at first, and later half the world's, under his high, bloodstained black patent leather boots.

We're used to watch the performance of these 'tactics' in Argentina, and it is perhaps the deep knowledge we've learnt about our rulers' foul play that 'my humble opinion' should I've rather given its true name, i.e. Dreadful Experience Of A Common Citizen.

Cheers :P