“Sorry, but this account has been banned from posting comments”
- Reuters (17APR2012)
Note: This posting an an additional week. An excerpt from an e-mail in response appears below as well as a comment that we ourselves posted on the edition of 03MAY2012 of The Wall Street Journal.)
euphemism: (noun) a mild or less direct word substituted for one that is harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
censor: (noun) an official who examines material that is to be published and suppresses parts considered offensive or a threat to security; (verb) to suppress or remove unacceptable parts of a book, film, etc.
- Oxford University Dictionary
As America evolves into what many view as the New America . . . an America characterized by increasing political, economic, and social tyranny, euphemisms become increasingly commonplace. Take the issue of censorship, for example.
Traditionally, Americans have viewed censors and their work skeptically. So, what’s a censor to do? Simple . . . invoke a euphemism; call censors by another, less threatening name, such as “moderators”.
Yet, to paraphrase Shakespeare, would not a sewer by any other name smell as foul? Not to worry. Given that the now-censored item will not appear, who’s to know that it has been censored . . . unless, perchance, someone publicizes the censorship?
Such appears to be the case with Reuters. The organization bills itself as an informational service. Its web-site claims to offer readers the opportunity to comment on the various postings, including under a section entitled “Opinion”. Reuters, thereby, projects the appearance of allowing freedom of expression, presumably within reasonable limits, to readers who wish to comment on the postings. A question arises, however. Is the appearance ingenuous or disingenuous?
Over time, one reader has attempted to comment on different Reuters-hosted postings, including blogs . . . sometimes successfully, sometimes not. None contained profanity. None contained obscenity. While perhaps provocative and critical, none contained name-calling. None incited to violence. None included “hate language”. All adhered to common decency.(1)
Some comments were allowed. Some were censored.
Eventually, the reader accumulated a “score” that exceeded the censors’ allowable limit. Poof! Banned by Reuters.
Admittedly, Reuters is a private organization. Accordingly, it rightfully can and does censor anything that its officers want to censor.
Yet, Reuters purports to supply news-based information that conforms reasonably to the truth. That it would censor the same kind of comments that other, major news-organizations allow raises a second question. To what extent does Reuters censor or manipulate the news-based information that it offers?
Take, for example, the news about Israel. On the Internet, Reuters has been castigated for allegedly adopting a biased, unfounded, and hateful stance towards the Jewish state . . . a stance that violates the same standard that it imposes upon its readers’ comments.(2)
As for other, similar readers banned by Reuters, should they regard the banishments as insults or compliments? Whatever the case, a third question arises. Does such censorship say less about those and more about Reuters?
Censorship is, as they say, a tickly bender. It is especially problematic when practiced by informational organizations such as Reuters, in which case readers can vote with their feet, so to speak. It is dangerous when practiced by governments, in which case citizens likely have fewer and less powerful options.
Yet, what would be the consequences of creating a social context in which no censorship exists, at all? Would it be a world in which you’d want to live? If not, a fourth question arises. When to censor the censors(www.inescapableconsequences.com)?
1) The following are contents of the last three comments submitted by said reader and “moderated” by Reuters :
A) Comment in reply to a posting about “stress tests” applied to banks:
Few people, including most psychiatrists, can discriminate between stress and strain; thereby, incorrectly using the two terms interchangeably. The term to which Mr. Currie refers actually is strain not stress. Remember, words are important; words can kill.
In physical science, stress is any force that changes an object. Strain is the change.
The issue in question is, given application of a specified stress to a bank, what strain does it generate? The answer is, Who knows?
Why? Because to believe the strain announced, you must believe politicians’ and bureaucrats’ pronouncements.
“Why not?” you might ask.
“Remember Dexia!” one might answer.
Context and consequences. Governmental politicians and bureaucrats provide the economic context in which private bankers operate.
The consequential goal for politicians is to have gotten re-elected. That for bureaucrats is to have protected and promoted their bureaucracy. That for bankers is to have remained in business and to have maximized profits. Now, given the context and consequences, can you predict their respective behaviors regarding so-called Stress Tests.
The ultimate message? 1) Specify context and consequences. 2) Trust no one … especially politicians and bureaucrats … oh yes, and lawyers. (15MAR2012)
B) Comment in reply to a posting about Electronic Medical Records:
As the old saying goes, the future is hard to predict. Furthermore, what seems obvious, often ain’t.
Take Continuing Medical Education (CME), for example. Politicians forcing physicians to certify a minimal number of hours per annum of medical education supplied by approved purveyors created a new industry consuming physicians’ time and money. Yet, who could argue with the concept?
Well, the consequences haven’t met expectations. There’s not a shred of evidence that CME has led to improved human efficiency with regard to medical care. Still, it continues.
Can we generalize that finding to Electronic Medical Records (EMR’s)? Who knows?
In some areas, such as legible prescriptions, EMR’s do seem to improve efficiency. The question, nevertheless, remains, Will the overall benefits outweigh the liabilities? No one knows. Ultimately, the answer will be found in assessing the long-term consequences of employing the dual-edge tool of EMR’s with regard to human efficiency in its broadest sense. (08MAR2012)
C) Comment in reply to a posting by Mr. And Mrs. Welch about Dr. Ron Paul’s candidacy:
Contrary to Mr. and Mrs. Welch’s implication, the consequence of Don Quixote’s mission was not to leave a trail of destructive madness but to leave a trail of people the better for having had their lives touched by his, even Sancho Panza. Perhaps, something of the same can be said for Dr. Paul. Can the same be said for Jack Welch?
As the Welches predict, Dr. Paul may fail to be elected president, but, unlike every other candidate, he speaks what he believes and acts accordingly. Whether one agrees with the Doctor’s position on every issue, one likely would admit that he is not a tool of the Big Government-Big Business-Big Media troika. Can the same be said for Jack Welch?
The Welches easily may dismiss Dr. Paul’s chances, but they can’t dismiss as easily the issues that he addresses without equivocation. No, the Doctor won’t lie to get elected. No, he won’t change his message to suit each crowd along the way. Yes, he has consistent principles. Can the same be said for Jack Welch?
One might not agree with Dr. Paul on every point. So? If elected, given his scientific background gained in becoming a physician, should he employ the Scientific Method to resolve problematic issues, he could make the kind of president whom this nation hasn’t seen since Cal Coolidge in 1928. Can the same be said for Jack Welch?
What the Welches preach seems to be pragmatic politics as usual; however, it’s not what this country needs. Dr. Paul comes a lot closer to filling that bill than does any other, current candidate or the incumbent himself. Too bad for the USA that the voters likely will listen to the sort of advice that the Welches blithely belch forth, likely will vote for a pragmatic politician whom the Welches admire for his sharp practices, and definitely will suffer the inescapable consequences of that behavior while the Welches enjoy the comforts bestowed by the kind of people whom they promote. (29JAN2012)
E-mail from a reader: I re-read your Reuter’s Censoring Post, including your
response to the Jack Welch post. That’s what got you censored. He is one powerful Con Man. In Satyajit Das’s recent book, “Extreme Money”, he exposes Jack Welch, as a master manipulator and I’m sure that one email from him to Reuter’s would have cut you off.
2) Ironically, the organization was founded by Baron De Reuter (1816–1899), born a Germanic Jew named Israel Beer Josafat whose father was a rabbi but who himself, after emigrating to England, converted to Christianity, adopting the name Reuter.
The following is a posting from the edition of 03MAY2012 of The Wall Street Journal:
“He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future.”
- George Orwell
Censorship is growing. Just today in the WSJ (page A3), an article reports on attempted governmental censorship of scientific publications; an ominous sign.
Censorship always is a tickly bender. When private companies practice it, often under the euphemism of “moderating”, their doing so is suspect. When governments do it, usually under the euphemism of protecting “national security”, their doing so always is dangerous and often self-serving.
The basic issue in these proceedings may be less the questionable actions of the Murdochs along with a few of their employees and more the repressive actions of politicians along with their many bureaucrats, actions that threaten not only individual privacy but liberty itself. As it has been noted many times, the price of that liberty is eternal vigilance.