No Censorship

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society & Its Pathologies / Social Order / DeCentral / Deschool /
@ K. late 1990s

No Censorship versus Meretricious Communications Spam

Freedom of speech was as conspicuously absent from Napoleon’s republic as it was from Stalin’s iron state. In the United States we say we have freedom of speech. Similar beliefs reign in England. I’ll bet the majority of kleptocracies hold citizens the bulk of whom believe that they have freedom of thought, of expression. In all cases there will be distinctions between “liberty” and “license”: free expression doesn’t extend to yelling fire in a crowded theater. There’s always some flaw in the generalization. But we make them anyway. So do I. (Though I also bet that the people of the Kalahari desert, some of the recently discovered tribes of New Guinea, any non-kleptocratic peoples, don’t waste their time with such problems: just think what they think and say what they say, worrying about gods and taboos, not men and laws.)

In the United States the Constitution “guarantees” a “citizen” the “right” to say what he likes without fear of being locked up by thought police. In no way does this protect the speaker from being tarred and feathered by his shocked neighbors. The public will always find a way to protect its homeostasis: and the law will back whoever it senses is paying it. Thus, the speaker may not be arrested by any uniformed thought police; he will just be thoroughly stymied by the un-uniformed thought police.

(I increasingly practice freedom of thought and expression. I increasingly find no hearers. (And I get beaten up too, the law always finding a way not to notice.))

Anyone can write something. Anyone can offer it for publication. But no one is forced to publish it. Published, no one is forced to read it. Reading it, no one is forced to comprehend it. If you have the resources, you can publish it yourself. You can distribute it. You can give it away. You can pay people to take it. But if you have anything important to say, you are not likely to also have the resources to publish it. Van Gogh and John Keats populate fractions of any society: under other names of course.

A publisher printing a book undertakes considerable investment. In a culture where profit is everything (or “the only thing” as Vince Lombardi put it), why take risks?

In founding FLEX I saw not only that 1970 mainframes could handle data for learning resources, peer matching, and feedback digests, not only that all public data could be similarly stored, cross-referenced, retrieved, and distributed, I saw that any document, any artifact, could be digitally coded, stored, retrieved, and distributed. Thus: any document could be published.

At last: a cheap form of publishing. Now, FLEX never said that everything published should be promoted; just stored and indexed. Who ever wanted access could have it at minimal cost. Finally: a way around the double-talk of censorship laws and the double-standard of publishers for profit.

A further word: FLEX believed that everyone should be entitled to a cheap ad. It vehemently believed that all such ads should be plain text: and facts only. Just the facts, please, Ma’am. Joe Blow could register with FLEX. General Motors could register with FLEX. Columbia University could register with FLEX. All get the same size ad, same pitch size, same font type, same basic black. This had nothing to do with whether or not they could also obliterate the universe with a neon bill board: but not through FLEX. I believed that if all information were in one bank, people would come to see that there was no reason to go to any other bank. Keep your data here at cost; or pay through the nose there. People should come to prefer the inexpensive unabridged dictionary to the fancy abridged version.

I could see little evidence that this was understood in 1970. I see little evidence that it’s understood now. What we got instead was twice as many commercials on TV, gouge-you-and-gouge-more cable services, … and the no-end-to-the-obsolescence internet.

Come in from another tack. Most of my writing used to come to me in skit form: bare dialogues, ironic little scenes. I have never seen evidence that my literature ever saw better than isolated understandings: and few of those. FLEX never got to the mainframes. pk never got to publish his stuff at cost (till I found a way to get IS and Here, I try plain expository prose. Hell, Shaw worked the language both ways. Say what you mean: say it straight. This morning I wake up with another little skit in my head. Ditto yesterday. I wrote that skit as straight notes for a skit: expository / creative. I’ll do the same here. Then tie it with the above.

The bad guys have invaded your good guys. You’re lucky enough to be found useful as a runner between outposts. Chief A gives you a message for Chief B: the raiders are sneaking up from the far bank of Our Creek. You run to Chief B. “Chief B: message from Chief A: the raiders are sneaking up from the far bank of Our Creek.” If Chief B doesn’t listen, listen and then do something, Our Creek will soon be Their Creek.

Simple? Understandable? Obvious? Sure. Let’s add one more.

God, you’re in love. You write her a letter. You tell her. You ask her to please respond. You enclose an SSAE. You watch your own mailbox. You pant.

Simple? Understandable? Common? Only in our myths. What really happens is, you run to Chief B. He’s listening to his Walkman. He’s wired for VR. “Huh? What? Wait a minute.” The raiders don’t have VR and now its Their Creek. The postman looks at your letter. Sees that you didn’t use the four digit zip code extension. He puts your letter back into his pack to punish you with a twenty-four hour delay. The next day his stuffs your letter into her mail box. She opens her mail box. Four dozen junk mails are wedged around your letter. She opens the biggest of them. Publishers Clearing House guarantees the she, Your Lady Love, of 123 Main Street, Anywhere, USA 01001-(no extension) wins $30,000,000 if she just reads the enclosed fourteen pages of hysteria … By page eight, she realizes that the “check” is a scam, sifts fast through the other irresistible offers, never sees your dinky little ordinary envelope and throws the whole caboodle in the trash.

No important, no personal messages can get through all the spam.

Now I think maybe I was wrong. Maybe “communications” shouldn’t be facilitated. Maybe the proper use of main frames was banks selling your name to insurance companies. Everyone know who and where you are (even though in contrast to FLEX you never volunteered to be public). Everyone know who and where you are: except the post office, of course. Maybe the avant garde thing should be to end all publishing, to throttle all speech, for all thought to abort.

When I find time to come back here I’ll say something about respectable school curricula as being spam: read Shakespeare or the Bible all day, study French … and then you won’t have time to write yourself, hear the insects, the birds, or God.

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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