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Music of Censorship: “Burning Books Instead of Putting Out Fires?”
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Music of Censorship: “Burning Books Instead of Putting Out Fires?”

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In previous articles, the topic of media censorship, both overt and self-imposed, has been discussed. The censorship issue does not stop there - aside from the larger and legitimate issue of intellectual property rights, there is also the issue of “petty music censorship” and how that is part of a larger scheme of things—heralding a wide range of things to come.

One recent example comes to mind. Last year, for April Fool’s day, I posted an obviously photoshopped picture of an elephant carrying a lion cub in its trunk, the mother lion walking beside the elephant. A few days ago, a bit delayed, Facebook sends me a notification that my post has been verified as “fake”.

Youtube is also playing censorship games, removing content that is not politically expedient. It is highly likely this has been directed by third parties. They've recently hired a team of censors in the Philippines who have just seconds - per newly-uploaded video - to decide whether to allow it to remain or be blocked. They also have a bot that goes through videos to detect music - even music that just incidentally appears in the background. 

For instance, if someone turns on the radio in a home video, and the radio is playing music that happens to be one of several million songs in their database that's copyrighted by a major record company, the entire video may possibly be banned. Some companies allow an ad to play over the video; some may remove the audio completely, while others will ban the video outright.

Music censorship comes from major record companies (mainly based in California) complaining about too much music on YouTube and not enough money being paid to them for the privilege. However, Youtube has reacted to these companies very stupidly: it’s punishing average people for uploading home videos that just happen to catch music in the background. That is, in my humble opinion, just taking it too far.  

Youtube is also taking on language that it “deems” inappropriate and acting as the modern day BIG Brother. It appears determined to silence opposing voices, a claim which it and its peers, Facebook and Google, all adamantly deny.

What about all the rap music that is so very offensive to many?

Snarling snake oil salesmen

Naturally YouTube, Facebook and others can find the most notorious of examples to support their case, such as the snarling snake oil salesmen, Alex Jones and his team of Infowars warriors, who are more into selling overpriced health pills than getting across the message they claim to be standing up for. 

Naturally these victims declare this is media censorship, and what can we say - it is! But we must tolerate the extremes under the US Constitution to guarantee legitimate free speech. At least that is what we should have learned from the case of Jerry Farwell vs. Larry Flint – and an essay on why Farwell was the asshole of the month and a parody of his first time with his mother in an outhouse in rural Virginia.

Taking it too far

As Alex Jones and team try to defend themselves, Apple, Spotify, Facebook and Google/Youtube have all purged Infowars/Alex Jones. Whereby many would agree that his programs are over-the-top, the greater debate is how far will the providers go in protecting us naïve and stupid consumers of information?

But is he really being called to account, as we are lead to believe by such flagship media outlets as the NYT?  Naturally Jones is not into truth, but neither can the same be said of the MSM over Iraq, and more recent targets such as Iran—and much of what they claim is real news.

Yes, the NYT is right when it describes Jones as having built a career on what are more often than not baseless conspiracy theories, angry nativist rants and end-of-days fear mongering. But is Alex Jones really “being called to account” or is he just a useful idiot for more widespread and serve media censorship? 

Who is really behind this, and why?

I suspect all this is the work of BIG Brother, and not designed to protect people but only safeguard special interests. It is a good practice run with music and Alex Jones, but where will it stop?  Much of what is happening is known by most of us, at least those who notice that things are not what they once were, and the world is being divided into two camps.

One just needs to look to open sources – people speaking from their experience, other friends’ experience, articles they have read and what other friends have referenced. The world is reverting to Fahrenheit 451 – and one day I wonder if people, in not so many years, will naively be asking if Google and other social media were once in the business of openly sharing diverse views, controversial opinions. 

This question compares to the one in Fahrenheit 451, “is it true that a long time ago firemen put out fires and not burned books?”

Oh what a strange idea!

Google tries to walk a line, and according to various media reports, “has been in contact with members of religious communities to discuss getting the balance right between censorship and open discussion. It has received various feedback, for example, from the editor of a prominent Jewish newspaper, who advised the tech giant that other than simply blocking videos that discuss disturbing subjects, it would be better to debate and defeat them openly.”

But still the censorship continues, and more and more are finding it a “strange idea” to even consider that anything is wrong with that.  The First Amendment is going the way of the Bill of Rights and other protective rights guaranteed to Americans. 

Finally, in the bigger picture of things, laws and self-righteous censorship protect only special interests. As for music censorship, I have seen the censors rile people up with propaganda claiming they are protecting the artists & songwriters, but I suspect it would be impossible to find an artist or songwriter who has been paid more due to these new censorship tactics. 

Any money saved or diverted goes to BIG BUSINESS and rarely, if ever, does it trickle down to those who produced the intellectual property. As for censorship, the worse censorship of all is self-censorship, when we are fearful to share our opinions or like or dislike the opinions of others.

We are already there folks!

Author: Jeffrey Silverman