Economic censorship

This blog post revisits a topic I started writing about long ago in the 1980s. Back then, Al Gore thought the flavor of the week was social conservative on the heels of the Reagan Revolution, and so he pimped out his crazy wife Tipper on a scheme to put obscene content warning stickers on music.

The idea was that these little stickers would warn us that the music we were about to purchase contained excessively sexual, profane, Satanic, violent or drug promoting themes. The illusion was that this would aid parents, who were only too happy to ignore whatever Junior was listening to in his bedroom.

In reality, the result was a whole lot of brouhaha that went nowhere. The right cheered and the left claimed it was the new Hitler. In the meantime, record stores began demanding IDs in advance of purchase, regardless of the visual appearance of the purchaser.

As might be predicted, the ensuing drama lasted for another couple years until everyone forget and ran on to a new trend. Parents went back to griping about what the kids listened to and doing nothing to interrupt it. Kids went back to buying music, letting it program their brains, and then the next craze.

But as they say, watch an experienced gambler. One hand does something that attracts your attention while the other covertly makes the move you should be worrying about. Those who desire to manipulate mass opinion learned a lot from the Parents Music Resource Center debacle (for that’s what it was called).

What they learned is this: if you want to censor something, the dumbest move you can make is to make a law. Don’t bother — instead, gather 500 of your closest friends and start making calls. Call the record labels and the record stores. Threaten lawsuits, threaten boycotts, but even more, find a good taboo.

For example, no one cares these days about sex, drugs and Satan. Permissiveness allows our controllers even greater power. First, it breaks down social standards except those taught in schools as political dogma.

Next, it means everyone is doing something wrong at all times, which provides probable cause, which then gets investigators into the door with a warrant. If you know your target likes drugs, piracy, illegal porn or weapons, it’s easy to get him or her booked into the system and turn them informant.

A good taboo is something that is politically offensive, meaning that it is perceived by many people as threatening their way of life. The biggest ones are Communism, pedophilia and racism. If you accuse any person of these, it’s considered proof that they are Hitler or worse.

After all, we fought wars for universal equality. The Communists were against freedom, hated Coca-Cola and were probably closet racists too. Every one of the pillars of belief upon which we build this great nation is against Communism, pedophilia (think of the children!) and racism.

These lessons came to bear in the next half-decade when political correctness took over. It took over not because the new generation wanted it, but because the Baby Boomers had finally gotten old enough to run departments. The hippie revolution was underway in its second phase, that of adulthood.

It rubbed us the wrong way the same way any stodgy adult “you must do this” proclamation did, but also because these people wanted us to re-live their lives and in doing so, forget our own. What also unnerved us was how effective economic censorship was.

If you wanted something destroyed, accuse it of Communism, pedophilia or racism. Call up the employers of those who supported it; they got fired. Call advertisers; ads went away, and it went bankrupt. Protest in front of stores or list them as racist Communist sympathizers, and they went out of business.

A new tool of great power was in the hands of those who disagreed with ideas. All groups could use it; all you needed were enough cash-spending followers to cause economic damage, and you had virtual control over what could be seen, heard, bought or sold.

The best part was that it was not censorship. Censorship we are told implies a government or some other with singular power preventing freedom of the press or speech. Economic censorship allows you to publish whatever you want, but anyone caught with it loses their job and so no one pays attention to it.

It’s not just America. In any liberal democracy, we don’t need censorship: we simply determine that your ideas should be unpopular, and we spread the word through media, and soon consumer pressure hides the offensive material from sight.

Over the weekend, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said that Buchanan was not allowed on the air indefinitely after the release of his latest book, and has not decided whether to allow the commentator to return.

The book, Suicide of a Superpower, brought to MSNBC calls from several civil rights groups and the Anti-Defamation League to drop Buchanan for its incendiary racial and anti-Semitic remarks, among which are, according to the Times, claims that America is being damaged “ethnically, culturally, morally, politically” by the rise in minority populations and the lament that the “European and Christian core of our country is shrinking.” Griffin described the ideas in the book as not being “really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC.” – Mediaite

We’ve gone from banning Satanic drug-addicted hyper-sexual heavy metal and obscene hip-hop to chasing down the political enemies of the State, and busting them for offending us by violating the moral norms of our society. How bitter, calcified, antiquated and unstable.

Yet it remains popular because we get our cake and eat it, too. We have free speech, and we also get rid of any ideas that interrupt the constant pursuit of pleasures of the self. This way, we can maintain the pleasant anesthetized feeling that everything is just fine… until the end, of course.

12 Comments

  1. Days of Broken Arrows says:

    Nice piece. Keep in mind that “racism” in this world is mostly about verbal slips and “gotcha!” moments.

    Bill Clinton is responsible for more minorities going to prison that anyone, since he presided over the country when it began militarizing police forces and putting away more citizens than ever due to draconian drug laws. Clinton is not considered racist for his actions, yet Buchanan is for his words. You figure people might think prison is worse than name calling (stick and stones and all that) but evidently not.

    1. ‘ “racism” in this world is mostly about verbal slips and “gotcha!” moments.’

      Couldn’t have put it better. It’s an easier path to one-upmanship to call a man out on his words than on his actions. Nobody ever explains how an ‘off’ statement is necessarily a slippery step to Nazi Germany. I think next time you’re having a one-on-one with some posturing ‘intellectual’ who’s into their no-holds-barred deconstructivism, call them out on their thoughtless medieval-style witchhunt behaviour.

  2. ferret says:

    Good article, thanks for posting.

    I’m not sure why, while reading, I was thinking about the economic competition. This economic sensorship is a really effective and efficient tool for destroying a competitor.

    Competition is about winning. The strongest and smartest wins.
    And the process of constant competition ensures the energetic state of Capitalist economics, makes it productive, which is good.

    If a competitor wins due to the better ability of manipulating mass media, thanks to employing better lawyers, advertisers, politicians, etc., that means, this competitor is the strongest one. He deserves what he wins, no matter by what means.

    To put any moral or whatever limitations on the healthy process of Capitalist competition would be unnatural. Competition in economics is also a part of ongoing natural selection; it is not based on sentiments. If a competitor was destroyed by labeling pedophilia or racism, it is just fine.

    The Capitalist ideology assumes competition in politics too. It is also a part of the natural selection and is normal. Employing economic sensorship in politics is as natural as anything else: the strongest should win, all means are good for “chasing down the political enemies of the State”.

    Any attempt of regulating even just the means of competition in economics and politics already would undermine the base of Capitalism, inevitably leading to socialist-like relations in economics. It would be better to accept the rules and participate in the game using the same tricks.

    To compete, one should be smart and careful, in order not to be caught for racism or pedophilia. And one should be attacking rather than complaining about the competitor’s methods of competition. Complaining is for losers.
    Though losers are also needed for natural selection, otherwise there would be nothing to select from, only one winner.

    1. Bert says:

      If you like competition you should favor someone who makes a better product or provides a better service instead of someone that uses slander to remove competition.

      Also, it is often not competitors that do the slandering, but third parties with ideological or fund raising interests. They are removing a choice to retain their relevance, and they win through deceit. Why support that?

      1. ferret says:

        “If you like competition you should favor…”

        It’s not about myself (or oneself). My favoring of a better product or services is less influental in Capitalist competition than variety of other things.

        “…instead of someone that uses slander to remove competition”

        This slander is a part of the competition process, it makes it more efficient.
        Competition in economics is about making profit, not about merely producing better product. About profit, not about a good name. The goal is profit, and all means that help are good.

        “Also, it is often not competitors that do the slandering, but third parties with ideological or fund raising interests. They are removing a choice to retain their relevance, and they win through deceit. Why support that?”

        These third parties are competing, and they are competing within the Capitalist society. While they are not pursuing profit directly, they are fighting for power, which in its turn results in profit for their masters.

        Why support that? Actually, there is no need to support, it’s self-sufficient and consistent with the Capitalist society. We don’t have anything better at the moment to consider; why should I support something ese?

  3. Bert says:

    If you support parasites you get more of them. A corporation or political party good at slander is of no value to society, especially as it destroys higher quality competitors. We should favor profit for excellent products and services, not slander and sabotage.

    1. ferret says:

      “We should favor profit for excellent products and services”

      Can you give me an example of favoring profit?

      1. crow says:

        English As A Second Language :)
        It is not ‘favouring profit’, it is ‘favouring (profit for) excellent products and services‘.

        1. ferret says:

          I see now.
          If it was “favoring excellent products and services”, I would never ask for an example.

    2. Decimator says:

      Bert I’m not sure your getting the whole point. They both must exist. There is no good with out bad or bad with out good. The parasites offer you a contrast by which you gauge your own morality, culture, and desire for superior products. As for now, they are winning the battle. Our culture has moral standing that is laying down. We buy substandard crap because we want it NOW and we want more than the other guy. Also, we don’t want to part with any money for it, so you get what you ask for, crap. When was the last time anybody went to purchase a product, and the seller told them that they wouldn’t sell it to them because, ” your not worthy of my product”. That is what will have to happen for you to have really quality products. The problem is that your sales would be few, altough your profit may be great. Profit is king. Chinese proverb states that if you sell to the rich you will live with the poor and if you sell to the poor you will live with the rich. So, as soon as you get rid of all the poor you’ll have what you want.

      The other consideration one must have is, Why do I want this high quality item? Will it increase my profitability? can it increase my survivability? Will I have some thing better than the Jones? The first two questions are the only questions that are of any count. If one has to even ask the third, they don’t have a use for the product. If one decides they must have an item based on whether others have it, then they should buy Crap because it doesn’t matter anyway. If you want an item that is cheaply made and you want it in a quality version, build it, thats what I do. My son wanted an air rifle one day and proceeds to tell me all about the one he wanted. Expensive, hell yes. To the tune of $2600 US. I found an airgun club and arranged for him to shoot one of these rifles. He shot several and none of them lived up to his expectations. All of the rifles he fired that day ranged in price $400-$2600. Every one of them had something that didn’t work for him, so I asked him if he wanted to make one. He said yes, and we did. I now have a 10yr old that has a pellet gun that he shoots beer can with out to 115yrds. We have had 4 serious buyers offer him money for it and he said no. One buyer offered him $3500 for this toy and he said no. The man wanted it for his boy and asked my son why in the world he wouldn’t sell it for that kind of money. My son tells him,” he can’t shoot good enough to have this rifle, but my dad might build him one.” I asked him later why he wouldn’t part with it and he told me, ” because we built it together dad and it took a whole year, thats a lot of time.

      You get it?

  4. no mittens olease says:

    Rather than “obscene hip-hop,” let’s call it what it is – music that encourages hatred of whites and denigration of females. Shouldn’t be a need to censor. If this was a just world (heh), this tripe would be as acceptable as KKK songs on the radio. But some folks are okay to demean and some are not, as we all know.

  5. [...] Economic censorship Jan 15th, 2012 by Brett Stevens. [...]

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