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8/1/18: ERROR 451 NOT FOUND

Ron Patton | August 1, 2018
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Back in 1995, we had a board meeting at the radio station I worked for about how radio would have to make a giant leap into becoming multimedia. This meant the radio hosts of the future would have to also become publishers of content, and also be camera ready for video on a new format called the internet.

We were told that the business model of radio and television broadcast would change and that not only would I be doing radio broadcasts, I would have to maintain what was called a cyber store front, which is now called a website. I was also told the website itself would have to have content, meaning that not only was I supposed to do a radio show, but I was to create interesting blogs and other content in order to get the attention of the listeners.

At the time, it was estimated that at least 40 percent of my listeners had internet capabilities and most of the content we generated was only seen and heard with attachments that had to run on formats like Real Audio and even then, the downloads would take long periods of time before it was completely downloaded to a listener’s computer.

By 1998, I created a pre-recorded segment for a format called Earthmail. Earthmail, in its infancy, was actually the precursor to what we now call the Mp3.

I produced a segment called Earthmail at Ground Zero that was sent out via e-mail to 6000 subscribers. It was a way to reach out to listeners and potential listeners all over the world.

During a short period of time, power to run these small segments increased and so did the demand. I was being heard in England, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Japan and China.

That was until I was informed that the segments were no longer allowed to be heard in China because of government censorship laws. I was alarmed to hear that internet journalists and others creating content had been jailed for their political views.

By the year 2000, China had the most extensive internet limits in the world due to a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations.

Amnesty International stated that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world,” and Paris-based Reporters Without Borders stated in 2010 and 2012 that “China is the world’s biggest prison for netizens.” The offences of which they were accused included communicating with groups abroad, signing online petitions, and calling for reform and an end to corruption in their government.

Most of the journalist and netizens were jailed for merely expressing their political dissent against corrupt politicians.

Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig predicted the internet would follow in China’s digital footsteps and become an apparatus that tracks our every move, erasing important aspects of privacy and free speech in our social and political lives.

“Left to itself,” he said, “cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control.” A skeptical reviewer scoffed: “Lessig doesn’t offer much proof that a Soviet-style loss of privacy and freedom is on its way.”

If that critic has a job I would be surprised. It appears that Lessig was a visionary as he was able to figure out that if there is any policing of the internet in any form anywhere – it would become the cyber equivalent of the Stasi.

Eighteen years later, it’s clear that the digital world born in freedom has evolved into a creature of control. Post-Snowden, we know the scale of NSA surveillance. We know we’re being watched.

But equally, we might consider that the employee who decides what does and doesn’t go on Facebook for its 1.79 billion active users is the most powerful censor in the world.

Obviously, this wasn’t a problem years ago because Facebook was not in the crosshairs of political censorship and the railroading of the internet smells of Chinese style censorship.

The gradual Chinese takeover of all things Internet is again a concern for those of us who are active aggregators of content or for those of us who are active on social media sites.

For years, China has exerted digital control with a system of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which allows authorities to limit what people see online. To broaden its censorship efforts, Beijing is venturing outside the Great Firewall and paying more attention to what its citizens are saying on non-Chinese apps and services.

As part of that shift, Beijing has at times pressured foreign companies like Google and Facebook, which are both blocked in China, to take down certain content. At other times, it has bypassed foreign companies entirely and instead directly pushed users of global social media to encourage self-censorship.

This type of activity seems to be a very real internet version of Fahrenheit 451 written by Ray Bradbury.

Collective cultural memory suggests that Fahrenheit 451 is about censoring books, mainly because of plot elements involving book burning, and the fact that book memorization is treated as a sign of rebellion, and also probably all the times Ray Bradbury himself talked about McCarthyism, and how the burning of books in Nazi Germany inspired the story.

However, Bradbury was really obsessed with the encroachment of technology, especially television, on the tradition of the written word. Bradbury positions the burning of books as a symptom of what’s happened to society, not the cause — he’s much more interested in a future where we see the erosion of critical thinking and imagination caused by society’s consumption of media and falling prey to its brainwashing and programming.

In the story, the government is not the villain – we are!

The people were encouraged to censor and police each other, much like what is being done in China and unfortunately this is also being done in the United States.

People today are being 451’ed – taken down in a mob like frenzy by people who believe that they are part of some master morality club.

Bradbury makes clear that the censoring of books wasn’t imposed on the people of his future dystopia by a brutal totalitarian government, but rather by the people themselves, as they sought to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and disturbing concepts.

Lately, the internet has become a place where you go to a website or look for content and you seem to be getting more 404 error’s saying that the content no longer exists.

However, if your browser ever returns a 451 Error, it means that the material you’re seeking has been censored by a government in some way. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) approved this addition to the HTTP protocol in 2015. It should be noted that sites can be forced to display a standard 404 through legal means, so this is by no means a reliable way of telling how much of the world’s information is being blocked.

Perhaps it is time to start a 451 movement against such censorship and utilize knowledge and critical thinking in order to stop internet companies from censoring political speech because of its controversial content.

What is happening to social media and You tube is a draconian attempt at reshaping our social behavior into patterns reminiscent of the total surveillance culture of the medieval village, East Germany under the Stasi, or the dirty war in South America.

The thought police controlling social media are now attempting to shape the culture into a socialist model and are removing any dissent against this ideology.

In an increasingly online everyday life, our use of social media has become a medium for normalizing the acceptability of intrusion and behavioral modification.

The social media’s thought police would sooner censor conspiracy theory than remove from its format those who encourage eating Tide pods and now the new craze is jumping out of cars.

There is no consistency in what the firewall will accept as harmful.

It is also encouraging people to be a vast network of informants against ourselves.

Once again – the people are conducting the 451 attacks – not the government.

Recently, Guardians of The Galaxy film director James Gunn was fired by Disney over some tweets he made years ago that were distasteful and offensive.

He was slated to not only fill out the rest of that series but perhaps take over the entire Marvel franchise after the final Avengers film. Now he’s out of a job over decade-old disgusting tweets he made while working for Troma.

I worked with James after he made the film, Tromeo and Juliet; he made an appearance in Toxic Avenger 4 where I provide the voice for the title character.

James was a straight up guy who like most film directors have a dark sense of humor — at times it was off-putting and shocking; however, Tre Parker and Matt Stone from Southpark had the same sick sense of humor when I met them in Park City at Troma Fest. They too have a Troma film called Cannibal the Musical—imagine that, a musical about a cannibal, and from there they receive accolades and awards for the musical Book of Mormon, which some believe has some really twisted and sacrilegious humor in it .

Humor is subjective – and using old tweets as a weapon to try and destroy someone is a cheap shot.

As far as James Gunn’s old tweets, he apologized for them years ago.

If everyone who worked in films lost their jobs for saying loathsome things, there would be a lot of people that would lose their jobs including every major comedian.

Which brings us to an old controversy with Rosanne Barr. She was fired for her politics obviously because we all knew what Roseanne was like; we all knew about her brash humor and again, it was a perceived racist Tweet that got her fired from ABC.

Roseanne was 451’ed by her employer because the media generated a hate campaign against her because of perceived racist statements – the people 451’ed her not the government.

Trying to get people fired based on perspectives that don’t actually impact their work is presenting a more and more serious problem for society. Social media and the liberal thought police are now adopting this mob mentality where people appear to be gleeful in trying to scalp people for past misdeeds – not allowing for the possibility that they have already apologized for what they have done and not allowing for forgiveness.

Finally, there is the case of Alex Jones. He is probably the one man who has been 451’ed the most across the board. The left-leaning media is enjoying the opportunity to destroy him and Infowars.

YouTube also took a blow at Jones, removing four videos from Jones’s Infowars channel because according to them they violated “longstanding policies against child endangerment and hate speech.”

It appears that every news source that I have read about Alex has called him a racist, hate monger, liar, and purveyor of fake news.

But no sooner had Facebook and YouTube pulled Infowars, content police and Spotify users noticed that the audio streaming platform was continuing to host episodes of Infowars.

Users also voiced concerns and spoke out about the show. One Twitter user claimed that Spotify told her if her idea submission to remove the show got at least 100 votes, the company would look into it.

700 users said they would prefer that his shows be pulled.

Jones was then 451’ed by the people, not the government.

Again this is what Bradbury saw in our future – people who try destroying other people that present uncomfortable thoughts and disturbing concepts.

It is the new version of Fahrenheit 451.

Fredrich Nietzsche called what is happening the, “Master and Slave morality.”

Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values things like kindness, empathy, and sympathy. Master morality weighs actions on good or bad consequences unlike slave morality, which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions.

The Liberal Resistance and the Neo-Con statists now believe that they should implement a master morality that most of them do not adhere to.

Meanwhile the slaves who have kindness, empathy, and sympathy are trampled and destroyed.

Jesus said, “Let he without sin cast the first stone,” and Confucius knew that most people who cast stones live in fragile glass houses.

Retaliation-and-revenge-mentality is what destroys social structures and leads to civil war.

If lessons are learned, then forgiveness should at least be considered.

This 451 outrage machine needs to be shutdown or there will be more people 451’ed by the thought police and no one will come out unscathed.

This fake outrage is destroying social cohesion and is counterintuitive – it is the precursor to the social credit system that is being implemented in China.

As individuals, we behave on a spectrum of complicity with the demise of our privacy. We know Twitter is broadcasting. We’re generally naive about the limits to our visibility and history on Facebook.

The disturbing part is that we already know nothing’s private because the corporate oligarchs and government can get it anyway. And the cherry on top is that we are paying for our surveillance out of our own pockets.

The government no longer needs to censor when they have their own attack dogs doing the censoring for them.

We develop a mob-like attitude when we see people fall victim to having their past e-mails, tweets, and even opinions exposed as fodder for hate, and there is no room for forgiveness, and no room for anyone to be anything but a human being.

People in the Silicon Valley thought police act like unelected tyrants. They demand free speech to suit them but impose de facto censorship, surveillance and behavioral correction on us.

No privacy for us and barely any scrutiny of them. The barons who own the digital kingdom that most of us inhabit declare themselves libertarians but not when our liberties are at stake.

George Orwell once made the statement: “Circus Dogs jump and do somersaults when the trainer cracks his whip. But the really well-trained dog is the one that jumps and does somersaults when there is no whip.”

The citizens who claim to have master morality are now the thought police.

They are the well-trained dogs that have tasted blood and want more. We are now basing social credit on political ideology – the Chinese model for an oppressive government is so close I can taste it, but only now as later I will be told that I can’t open my big mouth.

Written by Ron Patton

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