“Cowards of the Pen” Censor Dissent, Prepare World’s Couch Potatoes for WWIII Fryolator

As we have been surfing the net, we obviously often come across news articles that are just begging us to post a comment in the comments section.  The commentary is either going nowhere or there are a series of witty stupid one-liners where some intelligent discussion should appear.  So we try to encourage a broader discussion by letting people know that:

1) the capitalist regime is not “the best of all possible worlds” nor must we suffer it to continue to exist and;

2) by explaining how we workers might all get together and create societies far more egalitarian and fun for ourselves and future generations to enjoy by abolishing the capitalist system worldwide and replacing the current regime of warring capitalist nation states with peaceful, egalitarian workers republics.

The pro-capitalist media is supposed to uphold standards of openness and freedom of expression which, we are endlessly told, does not exist in “communist” countries like China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea.  However, in reality, the capitalist news media censors itself and the commentaries it allows to appear on their websites in order to keep the “news” and the parameters of its discussion well within limits which the bourgeoisie finds to be “acceptable”.  This is elementary knowledge for Marxists like us, and is why we speak of the press utilizing the scientific terminology developed by the Marxist movement over the past 150 years, which strips away all the thick greasepaint capitalism uses to hide its true, hideous reality.  That’s why we don’t speak of the “mainstream media” or “MSM” as the pro-capitalist liberals and right-wing anti-MSMers do: we call it out as the “capitalist press” or “bourgeois press”, because that’s what it is.  The major media outlets in capitalist countries, being owned by capitalists, are not “objective” but espouse the political, economic and social philosophy of the capitalist class itself.

That’s why even such supposedly upstanding news organizations like Reuters censor our posts when we submit them to their websites.  They would prefer that the very name of socialism or communism never be uttered on their sites, unless it is to disparage those philosophies and everyone who has ever or who does today have anything good to say about socialism.

Late last year, we submitted the following comment to a Reuters news story carried on their own website on December 12th under the title  “North Korea launches rocket, raising nuclear arms stakes” :

“Congratulations to North Korea on their successful satellite launch!  Here’s hoping that this will give the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys in Japan and Seoul reason to back down off their war provocations on the Korean peninsula.  But we doubt it.
“The billionaires’ bought-and-paid-for capitalist press pretends that the missile programs of North Korea pose a major threat to ‘world peace’ while the U.S. military operates in 173 countries and slaughters civilians from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq and threatens to destroy Iran and North Korea with the US’ MASSIVE nuclear arsenal.
“The possession of nuclear weapons by small states like Iran and North Korea has been made a matter of life or death by the very real and continual nuclear blackmail being waged against these states and all the world’s nations by the ACTUAL ‘biggest threat to world peace’: the blood-soaked capitalist class of the United States, guilty of genocide of the Native Americans, the death of hundreds of thousands of Africans in the slave trade, 300 years of slavery by which the ‘great families’ of the US made their fortunes, and their bloody wars to steal northern Mexico, to seize Cuba, to murder the Philippine nationalists in the 1890s, to back up brutal military dictatorships throughout Central and South America, the napalming of ‘every village in North Korea’ during the Korean War – and other crimes too numerous to fit the space given here.  Only a workers revolution in the United States which disarms this ruthless capitalist class can begin the process by which the world can truly enjoy peace for the first time.
US/NATO: Hands off North Korea!  Workers of the World, Unite!”

We waited for an hour or so to see our comment duly posted on the Reuters site while other peoples’ comments, made long after ours, were posted, one after the other.  Irritated, but not at all surprised by this, we wrote to the Reuters editorial staff to ask if we had somehow fallen afoul of their “comments policy” and if so, what could we do to correct the situation?  They assigned us #23036 to our complaint and pretended that they would get back to us.

Here is the response from Reuters:

[From:] Karen Pastor, Thomson Reuters

December 12, 2012 02:58 pm
User photo
Iwpchi
  • Hello:It would appear that there was no specific reason why this comment was censored by your moderators, since you responded to our inquiry with a boilerplate answer. If this is not the case, please explain why our comment was not posted on your site; otherwise we will have to assume that it was censored for its political content.Thanks,Independent Workers Party of Chicago
December 13, 2012 08:53 pm
User photo
Karen Pastor

Thomson Reuters
  • Hello,According to our editorial team, we can’t find it. It’s nowhere in our system.
    Please try again.Regards,
    Reuters.com Team
December 20, 2012 08:11 am
****************
And, in fact, it turns out that the article we posted our comment to as well as our comment has been sent “down the memory hole”, because it is nowhere to be found on the Reuters website!

Really, what is there for them to explain?  Our comment violated several financial and ideological underpinnings of their business and their friends’ businesses, not to mention providing a searing indictment of the world’s most powerful capitalist ruling class, and so, it had to be, and was, dutifully censored by Reuters’ very own quisling employees who care more for their own job security than they do for those highly touted principles of the “free press” they were taught in the capitalists’ own journalism schools.  See how that works?

If you still don’t get it, check out the “comments policy” explanation given by Dean Wright, written back on 27 Sept. 2010 when he still worked at Reuters:

“Toward a More Thoughtful Conversation on Stories”

“Visitors to this space may recall that I wrote this summer about the issues Reuters and other news organizations face in dealing with reader comments on stories.

“I’ve become increasingly concerned about the quality of discourse in comments on news stories on Reuters.com and on other major news sites.  On some stories,  the “conversation”  has been little more than  partisans slinging invective at each other under  the cloak of anonymity.  I believe our time-challenged, professional readers want to see a more rewarding conversation—and my colleagues who lead Reuters.com are introducing a new process for comments that I believe will help bring that about.  […]  Let me introduce Richard Baum, Reuters Global Editor for Consumer Media, to tell you about the new process:

[Richard Baum continues:]

“Like many major news publishers, we’ve agonized over how to balance our enthusiasm for reader comments on stories with our belief that few people would benefit from a free-for-all. Most of our readers respect our request for comments that “advance the story,” by submitting relevant anecdotes, links and data or by challenging our reporting when they think we’ve fallen short of our editorial standards. It’s rewarding, sometimes even exhilarating, to see the way our audience builds on our coverage.

“Where we struggle is with comments that we believe contribute nothing useful to the conversation. I’m not talking about obscenities and spam — we have software that aims to block the publication of those — but something more subjective. Most of our readers are business professionals who value their time highly. [emphasis added – IWPCHI] We believe they want comments that are as rewarding to read as they are to write. The challenge is how we deliver that experience in a way that doesn’t delay the publication of good comments nor use up resources that might be better deployed on other parts of the site.

[…] Here are some examples of the type of comments that fall foul of our moderators:
– racism and other hate language that isn’t caught by our software filters
– obscene words with letters substituted to get around the software filters
– semi-literate spelling; we’re not looking for perfection, but people shouldn’t have to struggle to determine the meaning
– uncivil behavior towards other commentators; debate is welcome, schoolyard taunts are not
– incitement to violence
– comments that have nothing to do with the story
– comments that have been pasted across multiple stories
– comments that are unusually long, unless they’re very well written
– excessive use of capital letters

“Some of the guidelines for our moderators are hard to define precisely.  [You mean to say: utterly subjective? – IWPCHI] Mocking of public people can be fair sport, for example, but a moderator that has just approved 30 comments calling someone an idiot can rightly decide that there’s little incremental value in publishing the 31st. When we block comments of this nature, it’s because of issues of repetition, taste or legal risk, not political bias.

“Until recently, our moderation process involved editors going through a basket of all incoming comments, publishing the ones that met our standards and blocking the others. (It’s a binary decision: we don’t have the resources to edit comments.)

“This was unsatisfactory because it delayed the publication of good comments, especially overnight and at weekends when our staffing is lighter.

“Our new process grants a kind of VIP status on people who have had comments approved previously. When you register to comment on Reuters.com, our moderation software tags you as a new user. Your comments go through the same moderation process as before, but every time we approve a comment, you score a point.

“Once you’ve reached a certain number of points, you become a recognized user. Congratulations: your comments will be published instantly from now on. Our editors will still review your comments after they’ve been published and will remove them if they don’t meet our standards. When that happens, you’ll lose points. Lose enough points and you’ll revert to new user status.

“The highest scoring commentators will be classified as expert users, earning additional privileges that we’ll implement in future. You can see approval statistics for each reader on public profile pages like this, accessed by clicking on the name next to a comment.

“It’s not a perfect system, but we believe it’s a foundation for facilitating a civil and rewarding discussion that’s open to the widest range of people. Let me know what you think.”

Here’s what some Reuters readers “thought” about that statement:

************

Mar 3, 2012
6:45 pm UTC

This is a typical elitist attitude towards writing and publication. Censorship at its most foul. If we don’t like what you say then we won’t publish it. I guess the 1st ammendment is only for them.

*************
Mar 4, 2012
10:53 am UTC

I took the time and agreed to share my yahoo information with rueters in order to post and I’m looked down upoon because its my first comment. gee I hope I earn enough points so I can state my opion. sorry that new commenters aren’t worthy, maybe if we only use your website and build up enough comments on articles that we don’t really care about we will have enough points to be able to make a comment, great system hope it works out for you.

****************

Mar 5, 2012
10:00 am UTC

“Most of our readers are business professionals who value their time highly. We believe they want comments that are as rewarding to read as they are to write.” Well let me ask you this: How much “time” does it take a bussiness proffessional [sic – IWPCHI] to NOT read a comment, to simply skip over it if they are not interested? As you may have gathered by the majority of comments – no one here is buying your lame excuses for censoring the comments section. The only fair thing to do is allow all comments (with the exception of spam, and profanity maybe) or do away with the comments section all together.

***************

Mar 5, 2012
2:40 pm UTC

A VIP preference for commenting smacks of censorship. It’s one thing to eliminate comments that are not tasteful but when it’s clear the comment is civil and informed -why the delay? In the end you’ll end up loosing some of the most interesting people
who come to your site.

[End of examples – IWPCHI]

Well, of course, it’s not about providing an open discussion at all: it’s about providing an environment that their most important readers – “business professionals” – with a product that they will enjoy reading.  Everyone else can take their commentary elsewhere.  Very democratic, eh?

We had the exact same thing happen to us today on the website of “The Independent”, a major bourgeois press newspaper from London.  We wasted our time jumping through the hoops to sign up for permission to comment to a thing called “Disqus”, filed our comment and… waited all day in vain to see it posted.  (The article is entitled  “North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-il ‘died in fit of rage over dam that had sprung a leak'”.  The discussion focused around US/NATO-sponsored “Axis of Evil” propaganda over the economic crisis and famine that took place in North Korea in the mid-to-late 1990s after the USSR collapsed and aid to NK was cut off by the repulsive, pro-capitalist Yeltsin regime.  Our comment was:

“Perhaps before you all argue over how it occurred, you should take a look at the Wikipedia article on the  “North Korean famine”. It turns out that the famine was in fact caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union – a historic betrayal of the workers of the USSR and the world by the Stalinist leadership of the USSR – as well as a series of unprecedented massive floods which combined to wipe out North Korean agriculture. On top of that, add the US/NATO countries’ sanctions and you have the North Korean regime – due to circumstances mostly far beyond its control – faced with a very dire situation leading to a tragic outcome.  No nation could pass through economic crises of that magnitude without very serious consequences resulting therefrom.

“As far as the hyperbolic statement that ‘1,000,000 people’ ‘starved to death’ due to this famine: the death toll is simply not known by anyone but the North Koreans. Wikipedia says that figures bandied about range from as few as 200,000 to 3.5 million; but no matter how many people died, the famine was an enormous tragedy for a very heroic country which has suffered tremendously at the hands of Japanese and (later) US imperialism since the 1930s, through absolutely no fault of its own. North Korea has never threatened the US in any way and it does not threaten the US or any other country today – except perhaps South Korea, which, lest we forget, it remains officially at war with.  North Korea, like any other country, has every right to defend itself against military attacks from anyone; but they have a particularly strong case for the right to defend themselves by any means necessary from attacks originating from the two nations which have repeatedly actually slaughtered millions of Korean and Chinese civilians over the past three-quarters of a century: the Japanese and the United States – and the US puppet regime in South Korea.  The US – which hypocritically pretends to mourn for every “poor North Korean” who died in the ’90s famine – ruthlessly butchered hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians, “North” and “South” during the Korean War.  Look up “The Bridge at No Gun Ri” for US soldiers first-hand accounts of how they were ordered to kill civilians in that brutal “forgotten” war.  That was just one of the many war crimes committed by the US against North Korea.  US Generals bragged about how they had napalmed every single village in North Korea from Seoul to the Chinese border, burning hundreds of thousands of civilians to death in the process.  So let’s not hear any more of this tripe about how much the “democracies” of the West care about the quality of civilian life in North Korea.

“It it a far too common practice to ‘forget’ the war crimes committed by one’s ‘own’ country, but never to hesitate to throw around the most outrageous and unfounded accusations against ‘enemy’ countries.

“Read Bruce Cumings’ excellent books ‘North Korea: Another Country’ and ‘The Korean War: A History’
for a very balanced account of recent Korean history and the massive war crimes committed by the Japanese and US against all of Korea from 1931 to the present day.
Independent Workers Party of Chicago
iwpchi.wordpress.com”

Once again, a reasoned, pro-North Korean opinion is effectively censored by the staff of “The Independent”, simply by either deleting the comment or by posting it, perhaps, hours later when the conversation has effectively ended and/or the number of comments has reached such an astronomically high number that it is pointless to even try to read them all.  Censorship accomplished!  Congratulations!  The message is: “The capitalist world is the best of all possible worlds, and there are no alternatives to it!  Obey your masters and  their laws and you will enjoy eternal joy in heaven after you are dead!”

This is why access to the Internet is so important, and why the long-running  US government assault on privacy is so important: by scaring the populace into believing that everything they say or do or read on the Internet will be reviewable at any time by the police agents of the capitalist class and will be used against the workers, the US government hopes that it can scare people away from websites like this one – or at least keep them from having the courage to “like” or comment on these types of sites.

And it works, too, doesn’t it?  It apparently works on most of you who read this blog!  Our website has had several thousand visitors since we established it last spring – and we have a grand total of 34 comments in eight months!

Your ability to speak and think freely is being taken away from you; or, rather, you, by refusing to demand your rights and by refusing to exercise those you do still have, are wantonly abandoning your rights to the capitalist wolves who wish to turn you into an obedient debt peon, because it’s easier to give up your rights than it is to defend them.    And you have no right to surrender these rights without a fight, because your ancestors fought and died for them… and if you won’t defend your rights starting RIGHT NOW, your children and grandchildren will have to fight and die to regain those rights you so slavishly surrender today.   There is no way for you to avoid responsibility for this, sisters and brothers.  If you continue to sit on the sidelines of this battle, watching people like the  Anarchist youth that were sent to jail last year for standing up for YOUR rights get railroaded; if you will sit there like a couch potato and watch WikiLeaks get destroyed by the capitalist state that wants to keep its many crimes hidden from your view;  if you will sit there like a good little consumer and watch Bradley Manning get tortured and then jailed for decades for daring to tell YOU the TRUTH about the US capitalists’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; if you will go to work like a good little wage slave every day and keep your head down and ignore what’s happening to your fellow Chicagoan, Jeremy Hammond, facing decades in jail for the “crime” of exposing how private companies are making billions of dollars by undermining workers organizations fighting for YOUR rights – the number of cases like these have been steadily rising while you’ve been evading your responsibilities, “brothers and sisters”! –  then most assuredly your children and grandchildren will be forced to fight for their lives against a US police state so monstrous it would make George Orwell gasp for air.  And when your children and grandchildren trace back the origins of that police state to YOU and your MULISH INDIFFERENCE to the massive human suffering that took place while your generation was in power… well let’s just say that whenever the subject comes up they will express their tremendous contempt of their cowardly ancestors who bequeathed them such a world and such a monumental struggle and leave it at that.

The time during which this dystopian future can be not just avoided but turned around and a world worthy of bringing children into can be created to replace it is running out quickly.  You’d better get your ass of those couches, potatoes, before they all catch fire under your sorry asses and you become just a few  hundred million burnt french fries in the WWIII Fryolator – which is exactly where we are ALL headed if we workers don’t get off our asses and GET BUSY ORGANIZING OURSELVES to overthrow the capitalist system!

Clicking on the “Like” button is not enough!  Retweeting a post from a revolutionary workers’ website is not enough!  Honking the horn on your mobile couch in impotent faux “solidarity” as you and a car full of your potato-friends zip past a demonstration of worker-activists is NOT ENOUGH!  You must commit yourselves, your lives and your money to this goal of a more just egalitarian society for yourselves and your children or IT WILL NOT COME TO PASS!  Get involved, NOW!

IWPCHI

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