The Left’s shift from opposing censorship to shutting down speech

Karl du Fresne wrote in the Dominion Post: The snarling and hissing of the illiberal Left

…in the censorship battles of the 1960s and 70s, it was the liberal Left that led the push for freedom to choose what people could see, read and hear.

Ultimately they won the battle against the moral conservatives. But at some point in the intervening decades, something strange began to happen.

The New Zealand Left executed a gradual 180-degree turn. Now it’s the Left who are the self-appointed censors, mobilising to shut down any ideas and opinions that offend them.

It’s not just ‘the left’ who do this, it’s not uncommon to see people from the right trying to censor dissenting and alternate views (like at Whale Oil), and shut down opinions they don’t agree with (like in comments at Kiwiblog0, it’s not all of the Left, but it is a marked turnaround on the left.

The old term “liberal Left” has become a contradiction, because many of the strident voices on the Left are frighteningly illiberal – not on questions of sexual morality, where anything is now permissible, but on matters of politics, culture and ideology. Their antennae twitch constantly, acutely alert for imagined evidence of racism, misogyny and homophobia.

This is especially true of the social media generation, who block their ears, drum their feet on the floor and hum loudly to block out any idea or opinion that upsets them.

More than that, they often actively try to discredit, shut down and drive away opinions and ideas they don’t like – this is common on Twitter – or people they decide aren’t left enough regardless of their views, common at The Standard.

It is sometimes tried here too, but I strongly discourage it.

The threat to freedom of speech and opinion no longer comes from bossy government agencies…but from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where digital lynch mobs indulge in snarling, hissing gang-ups against anyone who challenges leftist orthodoxy.

And campaigns and petition are organised to try punish people who say things that aren’t considered ‘acceptable’.

Public discourse has reached the point where almost any mildly right-of-centre opinion is liable to bring forth frenzied denunciations and calls for the offender to be silenced, fired or boycotted. The silly, melodramatic term “hate speech” has come to mean anything that upsets someone.

New Zealand has so far largely been spared the extremes of intolerance shown on overseas university campuses, where violent protests force the abandonment of lectures by anyone the Left doesn’t like.

Could it happen here? Of course it could. Only last year, University of Auckland students tried to exclude a pro-life group from campus activities, Yet 50 years ago, New Zealand student newspapers were at the cutting edge of demands for free speech.

When universities have an intolerance of freedom of speech then we have a significant problem.

I wonder what the old-school liberal Left make of all this. It took generations for New Zealand to mature into a tolerant, liberal democracy and now it sometimes looks as if we’ve not only slammed on the brakes, but engaged reverse gear.

Is it a mix of a new generation, plus the power of social media and ease of abuse?

This has been discussed at Reddit, with an ironic ‘best’ comment from ‘bigfuckingdealm8’:

What a pile of hot stinking rubbish, congratulations.

‘green_marks’:

Should we count your post as snarling and hissing?

HerbertMcSherbert tries some balance:

There’s a case to be made that discussion gets shut down that shouldn’t be, but it’s delusional to claim it’s only associated with one side of the political spectrum. Just recently in NZ any discussion of immigration numbers or foreign house buying has been shouted down by the right as “xenophobia!” Likewise, the conservative right often drives censorship – even up to what consenting adults are allowed to do in their own home.

I’d also agree that in some parts of more extreme leftist circles there are problems with censoring speech or ideas.

I’d agree, but universities are not (or should not be) “extreme leftist circles”.

 

Whale Oil on censorship

A post by Spanish Bride at Whale Oil criticises Radio NZ for censorship.

SHHHH DON’T MENTION WHALEOIL, CHECKPOINT CENSORSHIP GOES FULL RETARD

There is moderation and then there is censorship. By my definition moderation removes abuse or threatening comments. Sometimes it removes comments that break the rules of the forum. Censorship, on the other hand, is removing views that you do not want seen no matter how polite, logical, or well argued they may be.

Last night I put a comment on the Checkpoint Facebook page  that was critical of the lack of moderation. I was not alone in my criticism as others did the same. This morning my comment has been removed and theirs has been allowed to stay.

Funny. In other words moderation is what Whale Oil does but when others do it to them it’s censorship.

The way I see it RNZ/Checkpoint have two choices. They can either clean up their moderation and moderate properly, or they can go down the road of censorship and remove the critics. The ball is in their court. Considering that they are state-funded by a democratically elected government, I suggest that they choose the first option.

That is dripping with irony, given what Whale Oil has done to “remove the critics”.

In comments:

WhaleOilCensorshipRNZ1

SB is claiming that as a state funded media they should take her criticism on board and “make the needed changes”.

And Belt chimes in with a reminder of WO style “moderation”.  And follows up:

WhaleOilCensorshipRNZ2

At least that one was shown as deleted with an explanation rather than just disappearing.

I’m sure Radio NZ will work out how to deal with comments on their Facebook pages. I doubt they will look to WO for an example to model themselves on.

WO #3: irony and hypocrisy on ‘free speech’

This is the first in a series of posts addressing claims at Whale Oil   that Google are ISIS friendly, that makes varying claims about why Google Ads ceased on Whale Oil for part of yesterday and then resumed again, that tries to raise donations to fund the ongoing operation of the blog, and that makes highly ironic claims about freedom of speech and censorship.

REVEALED: WHY WHALEOIL ISN’T RUNNING GOOGLE ADS ANY LONGER [UPDATED 5PM]

On October 29, Whaleoil published The only solution is to kill them before they kill us, an article covering how ISIS and other Islamic adherents bent on throwing gays off building and subjugating women are to be met by preemptive force to protect our way of life and freedoms, such as they are.

This set off a small but vocal part of Social Media.  No surprise:  exactly the same people who are always busy trying to damage Whaleoil in some way.   This time a petition was created to request the Human Rights Commission take Whaleoil to court for “hate speech“.   And as you’d expect, this was promoted by other blogs and even some main stream media journalists.  (Oh the irony).

This third post is about oh the irony of “Oh the irony”.

In this post a number of claims and comments about free speech, which are highly ironic and hypocritical given the the history of banning and censoring on Whale Oil and their involvement in trying to smear and shut up critics.

From the original post:

But our critics didn’t leave it there.  They have also been busy placing pressure on our advertisers.  

They can not just disagree with our position, we must be silenced.   The irony of fighting for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and so on, by denying someone you disagree with those rights is remarkable.

Fighting for freedom of speech? Yeah, wrong.

And:

At these times, the community that is Whaleoil stands up against the bullying from those who want Whaleoil broken and to disappear.

It’s common for bullies to claim they are the victims of bullying when confronted.

More from comments, first their “featured comment”:

I don’t always agree with Cam’s views but freedom of speech is vital.

Obviously Don’s favourable comment was allowed by Whale Oil’s heavy handed censorship.

Also:

These plonkers are nothing but bullies, I don’t like bullies. I’ll put a bit in the kitty.

Someone frequenting Whale Oil who doesn’t like bullies – only the bullies they disagree with.

In reply to a comment by Pete Belt:

Which is of course censorship…by Google…who it appears are ISIS sympathisers.

Did Slater type that with a straight face? Perhaps he believes that attacks on free speech only matter when it’s his speech that’s being attacked.

He’s got the right to say whatever he likes, and to hold any opinion he likes.

All I want is for us to be left alone to do the same.

Except Belt doesn’t leave opinions he doesn’t want on Whale Oil.

We stand, we have a voice, and freedom to have that voice. Let’s keep it that way. Donation done.

‘We’ is those who have not been banned by Belt. There have been many claims that people who have donated to Whale Oil in the past have been censored and banned.

It wasn’t confined to that post, the very next post yesterday, by Spanish Bride, was Silencing Free Speech isn’t the same as changing people’s minds. This has ironic gems like:

They don’t realise that creating a hostile environment for debate enables them to intimidate and silence but it does not mean that they have changed anyone’s mind.

Many readers of Your NZ will see the high levels of irony and hypocrisy in this.

For anyone who hasn’t seen Whale Oil in action someone sent me some screen shots from Whale Oil yesterday that you won’t find there now.

1.

WOBH

2.

WOBH_2

3.

WOBH_3

4.

WOBH_4

It’s common for awkward questions and unwelcome opinions to disappear from Whale Oil, and for unwelcome contributors to be blocked and banned.

Now of course Slater and Belt can censor and ban as much as they like on their own blog.

But when they claim to be champions of free speech and criticise the censorship of others when they censor and ban as much as they do they deserve strong criticism of their double standards and their hypocrisy.

Belt said in his post’s update yesterday:

The Google Bot is even more merciless than I am as a moderator.

I hear many complaints about Belt’s ‘moderation’ – more like censorship, message control and propaganda enforcement – and few about the Google bot.

Free speech is as much a feature of Whale Oil as clean politics and honest disclosure – it’s a sad joke.

Related posts:

Police versus The Daily Blog, free speech and censorhip

A clash between bloggers and business, with claims of heavy handed attempts at censorship – from a blog renowned for censoring comments.

On Thursday Martyn Bradbury posted overdramatically The NZ Police would like to have a word with me.

In this media landscape where progressive voices challenging authority get strangled off on a near monthly basis, hearing that the NZ Police are suddenly looking for you gives one a slight cold shiver up your spine.

I’ve just been contacted by friends that the NZ Police are keen to speak to me*. A Detective no less. I’ve been asked to meet with the Police tomorrow at midday to discuss this blog by John Minto.

Mr Talley and his rich friends certainly seem to have a lot of pull to be able to get Detective’s to contact blogs wanting a chat about negative coverage.

I will state here so there is no confusion, I will not censor or remove John’s blog from this site.

I  won’t be intimidated or threatened or pushed around by monied industries who make workers lives a misery.

I will explain that in polite language to the Police tomorrow.

If you don’t hear from me after midday Friday, I’m guessing it will be because I’m under arrest.

Welcome to the new world of intimidation.

Welcome to Bradbury’s same old dramatics.

He refers to another Daily Blog post, by John Minto, where he refers to someone as “butcher of meat and workers” and repeat’s a Mike Treen comment accusing a company of being “reactionary corporate murderers”.

And Minto calls on a boycott campaign.

Consumer products from South Africa were targeted. Companies importing South African wine were picketed and normal business disrupted while people were urged to boycott the likes of South African guavas and dried apricots.

Consumer boycotts themselves are difficult to make economically effective but coupled with a little bit of creative shopping their effect can be dramatically multiplied.

People would go into supermarkets with their car key and quietly puncture the bags of dried apricots and scratch the labels on the wine bottles to make them unsaleable. People would also take packets of dried apricots from the shelf into their supermarket trollies and deposit them at the bottom of the deep freeze under the frozen peas.

Small acts of civil disobedience like this are an appropriate response to the vicious attacks on workers’ rights.

So the aim is to sabotage products with an aim to sabotage a company. I don’t know how valid their complaints against the company – Talleys – is but this looks a bit like the campaign against TV3 for reducing current affairs by canning the John Campbell show. Sabotaging TV3 would significant;y reduce television diversity and coverage of current affairs.

Then yesterday Bradbury poisted again: NZ Police request Minto blog be removed or censored 

I have spoken with the Detective handling this case. He has asked me to remove or censor John Minto’s civil disobedience blog for public safety reasons.

I asked under what law the Police were asking me to do this and the Detective replied no law, they were just asking me to do so.

I asked if there had been an official complaint, the Detective said no, the blog had just ‘come to their attention’. I asked if the Police regularly monitored blogs to see if they were breaking laws he said no but this one had.

The Detective again asked if I would remove or censor the blog, I told him that no I would not as the principle of free speech was one I took seriously.

The Detective said I would be contacted next week.

Talley’s is a company with a well known track record for maiming their own workers, adopting hunger to starve 5000 kids as a negotiating tactic and Union busting work conditions. The only public safety issues here are the way Talley’s treat their workers, not activists intent on resisting the cruelty Talley’s operates under.

The Police should be arresting Talley’s, not demanding I censor blogs.

If Minto, Treen, Bradbury and accomplices manage to drive Talleys under that puts more than 5,000 people’s jobs at risk. Those workers may not appreciate campaigns against their livelihood.

From what Bradbury has said the Police didn’t ‘demand’, he describes it elsewhere in his post as ‘requested’ and ‘asked me’.

Involving the Police in trying to moderate blog posts does seem heavy handed by presumably someone associated with Talleys.

But the accusations and language used by Treen, Minto and Bradbury are quite extreme and could be legally actionable.

Many of the comments on both posts are also extreme.

One comment, by unionist and ex Labour MP Darien Fenton is more calm and chilling.

Next thing you’ll get a legal letter threatening you with defamation. So will John. You can add it to the pile they’ve already sent to the MWU.

There seems to be a flurry of threatening legal action to try and shut down commentary, with Colin Craig still promising multiple defamation actions and Jordan Williams yesterday actually filing against Craig.

There’s serious issues here involving free speech rights and responsibilities.

People with the financial or legal means of challenging online speech could be reasonably protecting themselves from damaging and false accusations. Or they could be using an imbalance of power to threaten and intimidate to clamp down free expression.

And people like Minto, Treen and Bradbury could be bravely holding corporates and rich and powerful people to account. Or they could be maliciously trying to damage businesses and threaten jobs.

It could be a mix of all of those things.

I don’t think taking conflict to extremes wil do either side any favours.

What should Talleys do when they don’t like the ‘free speech’ of Minto and Bradbury at The Daily Blog?

They could do what many people do on blogs – respond in comments and state their own case. They could also submit a right of reply. But Bradbury and the Daily Blog are notorious for filtering comments – that’s their own way of censoring.

Which makes “The Police should be arresting Talley’s, not demanding I censor blogs” rather ironic.

Bradbury is standing up against enforced editing, fair enough for that, but censors his blog himself, I’ve experienced that myseklf and many others have claimed comments submitted to The Daily Blog never get pass moderation.

On a supporting post at The Standard – Williams sues Craig and Bomber takes on Police – this comes uip in comments:

Mike the Savage One 10

Again, I tried commenting on TDB, from a different computer, again, it is blocked, that site has been seized by the cops, I bet, perhaps with GCSB assisting.

All Progressives out there, this is damned SERIOUS, we are being ATTACKED by state authorities, this is NO joke!

  • The Fairy Godmother 10.1

    No comments on this topic on the DB since 2:53 so I guess the site may have stopped comments due to legal advice. That’s my pick.

  • Anne 10.2

    They have a technical problem MtSO. It’s been going on for about a week now. Comments are ending up somewhere in space.

It’s been going on since The Daily Blog started – comments often end up “somewhere in space”.

Talleys are understandably annoyed at comments made about them which may be defamatory.

Bradbury is understandably annoyed at the Police becoming involved in asking for the editing of posts. But complaining about attempts at ‘censorship’ when he is renowned as a heavy handed censor himself is more then a little hypocritical.

Free speech is being drowned out here by a cacophony of extreme action and extreme overreaction.

Daily Blog suppression of criticism

The Daily Blog has suppressed this comment:

Daily Blog MandelaIt no longer shows as ‘In Moderation’ and hasn’t appeared on the comments thread. It was in response to Martyn Bradbury’s post John Key shouldn’t be going to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

About:

The Daily Blog Editor, Martyn Bradbury says one of the primary objectives of the blog will be to widen political debate in the lead up to the 2014 New Zealand election.

You can’t widen political debate if blog moderation doesn’t allow reasonable comment. Bradbury is well known for blocking views he doesn’t like.

More details in Martyn Bradbury fails Mandela 101.

The Daily Blog forum flop

The Daily Blog has an impressive list of authors – 44 are listed on their front page. Some are well known political commentators, and there’s blog creator Martyn Bradbury too.

There can be some interesting posts, although the layout can make tracking what’s new a bit difficult at times.

About The Daily Blog

The Daily Blog Unites Top Left-Wing Political Commentators and Progressive Opinion Shapers.

Launched on Friday 1 March, 2013, the ‘TheDailyBlog.co.nz’ unites over 42 of the country’s leading left-wing commentators and progressive opinion shapers to provide the other side of the story on today’s news, media and political agendas.

It’s done fairly well in three months, sneaking in to the top five in the monthly blog rank, although they seem to be taking readership from the biggest left wing blog, The Standard.

With content it seems successful, although I find I have to browse through the volume to find articles of interest.

But as a forum of debate it seems to be lagging. Comments seem to be a secondary consideration. It’s not easy following discussions in various threads, the blog is not well designed for easy comment navigation.

The Daily Blog Editor, Martyn Bradbury says one of the primary objectives of the blog will be to widen political debate in the lead up to the 2014 New Zealand election.

I was able to comment there from the start, although even if you are registered all comments have to go in the moderation queue before being released by blog moderators. This means there’s a lag in comments appearing, which can discourage discussion. That seems to be proving the case at The Daily Blog.

I posted a comment yesterday which was critical but reasonable. After a few minutes it appear to be released and public – it appeared on the Your Comments list of recent posts. But next time I looked it had disappeared. There was no warning or notification.

This is the worst sort of moderation, silent censorship. Not only does the comment author know why their comment has been dumped. Other readers have no idea who is able to comment and who is being blocked or censored.

I wasn’t certain that yesterday’s deletion was a one of glitch or not so I tried a test today. I posted this comment on How & why Dunne resigned is nowhere as important as what he was trying to reveal

Daily Blog Censor

That was a deliberately non-controversial comment for a Green/Mana leaning blog.

The first problem from this was that it went into moderation and nothing happened for one hour fifteen minutes. This sort of very slow response is a killer for active discussion.

Then the comment disappear into the censor’s trash.

So it looks like The Daily Blog is another left wing blog resorting to draconian moderation to control who gets to say what. 

The old story applies – those who run blogs can choose who comments and what comments they will allow to appear.

But a blog being promoted as the best thing on the left this is pathetic.

The comment section of the blog can’t be trusted to be a fair discussion.

So it joins Red Alert (Labour’s failed attempt at online discussion that has been strangled by extreme moderation) and The Standard as forums that can’t be trusted as fair forums.

Note:

  • Red Alert and now seemingly The Daily Blog practice silent censorship. If Bradbury can explain what is happening I will post that here.
  • The Standard practices at times very uneven moderation, especially when it’s Basil Fawlty moderator in chief lprent is involved, but at least the moderators there give clear warnings and explanations of edits and bans, apart from the occasional times that lbasil is especially grumpy.

This is sad. I know that the moderating practices of these blogs frequently discourages participation in political debate. That’s not good for modern democracy.

There is still no prominent left wing blog that provides an open and fair forum. That’s bad.

The Standard and Labour authoritarism and censorship

Labour message control and manipulation of comments and commenters at The Standard took a new turn yesterday when ‘moderator’-in-chief lprent (Lynn Prentice) overrode how one of the blog authors dealt with a dig at them – deletion of some subsequent comments and warnings to desist – and banned commenter Morrissey for four weeks.

And later the ban was doubled – seemingly as an afterthought and due to the actions of someone else.

It started when commenter Morrissey posted a dig at the author (QOT) of a post on Wednesday evening –

QOT initially responded…

Tell you what, I’ll give Morrissey a little warning, but leave this one up there. And bookmark it for future reference.

But this evolved during the day to…

[QoT: I invite others to refrain from responding to Morrissey on this thread henceforth.]

…and then a final warning followed by a banning…

[QoT: Morrissey, your hurt feelings because I don’t like your hero’s contemptible actions do not make your comments relevant to this thread. This thread is not going to devolve into another circlejerk about Julian fucking Assange. Stick to the topic or fuck off. Final warning.]

[lprent: too slight – as in I can’t see ANY relevance. Looks like a deliberate hijack to me targeted off topic to attack one of my authors. Whilst QoT is having fun, I’m not. 4 week ban to discourage any repitition of this behaviour. ]

The banning is not unusual at The Standard (although lprent has been lately displaying increasing signs that his iron fingers run what is purportedly a ‘collective’ of authors).

Also in what is a trademark of Standard moderator ‘braveness’ after Morrissey was banned a number of his comments were deleted and replaced with attacks and attempts at ridicule – QOT knew she could do this without being challenged by someone she had banned.

She may have learned this from  the blog master lprent who often attacks people where he knows they can’t respond.

But wait, there’s more

But remarkably, when a friend of Morrisey posted a supporting comment, not only were they censored and banned for four weeks as well, but Morrisey’s ban was doubled – for something that may have had nothing to do with him.

And oddly this severed head was displayed at the entrance to yesterday’s (10th January) ‘Open Mic’ (the name of their supposed open forum is becoming a tad ironic).

Kiki 1
6 January 2013 at 10:10 pm

Morrissey: “I Shall Return”

[deleted]

As the French would say, quelle hypocrisie. Certainly, I am not without fault, but surely we should all be worried that someone as crude and vicious as QOT is able to set herself up as some kind of moral arbiter.

This message has been solicited and published by me as an act of support for my colleague and friend Morrissey.

[lprent: Oh piss off. The policy is clear on self-martyrdom offences

Abusing the sysop or post writers on their own site – including telling us how to run our site or what we should write. This is viewed as self-evident stupidity, and should be added as a category to the Darwin Awards.

Morrissey was acting like a complete arsehole. But he isn’t the only one who can do that.

Oh and see that other nice self-martyrdom offence….

Generally wasting a moderators time is just not a good idea. We’re there to deal with isolated problems. People persistently sucking up our voluntary time won’t like the results.

Since you’re such a friend then please explain to him that you just got a two month ban and collected him another another month. I’m uninterested in people acting like complete fuckwits and wasting my time.

Besides, after he e-mailed with some pathetic idea about what constitutes “defamation”, I had another look at the first comment he left for QoT on her post. Seeing it again just got me even more irritated with the pretentious dildo. ]

  •  karol 1.2

    As an aside: I’m just puzzled by the date on the above comment.

    •  bad12 1.2.1

      Ah it might be a warning to ALL, could have sworn when i looked this morning that the first 3 comments were from ‘Jenny’,

      Course if your in the ‘chair’ you probably get to move things about…

Yes, the first comments were originally from Jenny but the banning has been presumably moved from an earlier thread, and promoted to the top of yesterday’s general forum thread. It looks like the date has been tweaked to achieve this.

This does appear to be a warning that not only is criticism of blog authors severely frowned on, but showing any support of banned commenters is a banning offence – and people can be banned (in this case a ban was doubled) because of the actions of others.

The Standard collective appears to be becoming ruled by an increasingly authoritarian ‘leader’.

This has parallels in the Labour Party.

Labour and The Standard integrity

Labour’s Red Alert blog is best known for it’s suppression of unwanted comment. It has become a farce, with a handful of regular commenters rolling a few tumbleweeds. Many people (including Labour Party members) report being banned.

Last month several commenters at The Standard said they would cease commenting due to pressure from Clare Curran to stop criticisng David Shearer.

This created a flurry of indignation at attempts at Labour censorship at The Standard. And there have been accusations that while the Labour membership voted at their recent conference for more democratic processes in the party it appears tha David Shearer and his caucus supporters are asserting more authority from the top.

It’s quite ironic that in parallel more heavy handed banning, censorship and ‘behaviour modification’ plus much more obvious displays of draconian leadership are apparent at The Standard.

Not just the leader and the sysop

This mode of message control and messenger targeting runs deeper than party leader and blog sysop.

Some participants a The Standard often join in the ‘moderation’. Weka pointed out early in the banning thread:

Also of note is that you’ve forgotten that it’s against ts rules to attack authors esp in their own threads.

In the same thread the accusations of misogny aimed at Morrissey expanded:

Populuxe1 3.4

Antisemitic, misogynistic, what next?

 felixviper 3.4.1

I’d wager he’s not all that keen on gay dudes either, but it’s just a hunch.

Populuxe1 3.4.1.1

I sensed as much – see you all in the death camp, guys.

 Morrissey 3.4.1.1.1

Another swing and a miss. You’re not clever enough to do this, my friend. You just look desperate.

I admit my nasty little message to QOT was unacceptable, but you are going way out on a limb. You know, I’m sure, that there’s a special place in Hell for Malicious Liars.

felixviper

Nah, I don’t think I’m far off the mark. The various strains of bigotry tend to be found in close proximity to one another.

It is also against the rules at The Standard to flame and provoke, but some regular trolls there have a free licence to harrass with virtual impunity. Malicious liars? ‘Felix’ has a longstanding habit of unsubstantiated accusations to try and manoevre people he chooses to eliminate from discussions into bans.

And this continues on another thread…

felixviper 9.1
11 January 2013 at 12:51 am

Oh look, another creepy stalker turning up just to leave off-topic sexist abuse for QoT.

It’s like this morning all over again.

Another day, another victim in the sights.

Labouring under free speech

Parties can allow or (try to) suppress free speech and discussion as much as they like. Their party, their rules.

Or as seems to be the case, their leader, their dictation of who can speak about what.

Blogs can censor and ban as much as they like, and they can encourage or attack a diversity of comments as much as they like.

Or as seems to be the case, his blog, his dictation of who can speak about what.

The Standard and Red Alert are widely seen as the online forums associated with the Labour Party. Red Alert is run by Labour MPs, The Standard is run by Labour Party members, and Labour has directly interfered with commenting there.

Both blogs seem to be mirroring Labour leadership in authoritarian behaviour enforcement, censorship and message control.

Updates on Curran clusterfuck

I’ll add relevant information as it comes out, the flow is growing.

The Standard:

http://ideologicallyimpure.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/i-thought-no-one-read-blogs-anyway/
http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/gagging-membership.html
http://tumeke.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/labour-to-censor-mps-from-blogosphere.html
http://www.recessmonkey.org.nz/2012/12/07/stopwhinging/

Curran needs to answer gagging accusations

Viper Anne

I will give you an example that happened a few months ago. The MP in question ‘outed’ one of The Standard’s most well known (and highly regarded) commenters… on Red Alert. I doubt the person in question was too phased because he’s never made any attempt to hide his real identity anyway. What I’m saying is: she has a history of this kind of silly behaviour.

Tumeke: Ruthless Labour’s new purge of the blogs

Just viping

Muzza, you seem to be saying a) What’s so special about Colonial Viper?
and b) you question the importance to CV of his pseudonymity, and believe you have a right to know his reasons and have the right to judge whether his reasons are “valid.”

You do get that CV is a commenter on a blog, and you have no right to know anything about his “real” life? Any more than I have a right to any information about yours. That CV has been silenced (albeit temporarily I hope) by Labour management shows his right to privacy is very important to him. And CV is one of us.

And we know, because it has been discussed here extensively, that some, maybe many, would not be able to participate at all, or would have their right to freedom of speech significantly curtailed without this protection.

Labour management is silencing dissent by bullying its own members (who are, it’s worth noting, its (unpaid) workforce). If you don’t see this as important enough to warrant a rallying of support from this community, and/or don’t see CV as ‘important” enough, I’d be kind of interested in your criteria.

Who would be important enough?
What would be important enough?

Grant Hay

What kind person stops posting their passionately held opinions just because a chinless wonder in the Labour hierarchy goes on a “witch-hunt”. They dont actually burn witches any more and the ruling faction doesn’t have the powers of a witch-finder pursuivant.

If Labour’s activist base is more concerned with membership of a dysfunctional party which ceased representing the working class decades ago, rather than the right to freedom of expression, then there truly is no hope for reclaiming the party from the clique that hijacked it in the first place.

Viper73

I know I’ve ragged on the looney lefties in the past (and deservedly so) but this would be one of the most (if not most) dumb-ass things counter-productive things I’ve ever heard an MP propose…

Whats an electorate MP get a year, $150 grand or something and this is what it produces?!?!?

What next, every right wing blogger gets put in prison for dissension?

colonial locus

Maintainable

What the heck are you talking about. Threatening to expose someone when they’ve used a pseudonym to debate on blogs is bullying at best and blackmail at worst.
This issue is not “political theatre”, nor is it just “harassment”, it is both a personal attack on an individual’s rights, and total contempt for the premise which gives bloggers the freedom to question the means and ends of those in power without having their livelihood threatened by bullies.

Outed

What kind of word is that? To me it suggests that you equate the threat of damaging someone by releasing their private information to an inevitable act of ‘bringing something out into the open’ And do you really think CV would be receiving this degree of support if it were purely based on “Following vague details” Over the last two days reliable contributors have corroborated information that blackmail/bullying is happening

David from Chch — December 9, 2012 @ 10:35 am

I for one stopped supporting Labour before the 2008 election when I realised that they were no longer interested in listening to their ‘grass roots’ supporters. I made comments on a couple of issues, and was told quite bluntly that I was wrong in a very dismissive way. No engagement, no discussion – simple dismissal.

So I am not surprised at the events of the past few years. I am surprised that Labour are doing as well as they are. The Greens have become the real opposition party. Now often their stands are simply silly, BUT they are out there and engaging with the issues and you know where they stand, even if you disagree with them.

Paul — December 9, 2012 @ 11:42 am

Ditto, Have experienced the same: How does Labour do so well? Labour Caucus need some old heads cleaned out!!!

I’ve actually had this same experience – they (MPS) weren’t interested in input of ideas, they wanted political servants.

Someone testing whether they can post at Red Alert with an innocuous comment but a provactive pseudonym.

Neo colonial viper says:

Not looking pretty for poor NZ. Time for a solid policy platform from labour over the next year or so and take it to the tories

Now continued on a new post: More blogs, more details on Labour gagging

Labour social media censorship

I’ve had mixed experiences on the Labour MP’s blog, Red Alert. Sometimes comments disappear into a big red hole, never to be seen again.

This started happening a few weeks ago so I didn’t try posting there again until recently.

David Clark, my local electorate MP, posted his weekly By The Numbers.

I noticed an innaccurate attack on Peter Dunne so I commented with a clarification. That led to a few exchanges and I was able to respond several times.

Then comments were made repeating false accusations, including:

al1ens says:

Fact is, before the election, Dunne said he wouldn’t support the sale of the assets.

That’s false, as I had already pointed out and linked to proof of it. I tried to respond to refute, but my comments started disappearing into the Big Red Hole. I tried a simple text comment that shouldn’t be picked up by spam detection. I waited. Nothing appeared.

Other people were able to continue commenting, such as a diatribe at me including mild insults:

bbfloyd says:

@little pete… thanks go to you, and moneyk for confirming every statement i’ve been forced to make regarding that excuse for a political party….

etc

I have tried responding, but my comments disappear as soon as I Submit the comment.

This is very poor form from Red Alert. Common blog protocol is to warn if comments are unacceptable, and advise of any edits, deletions or bans.

But this amounts to what appears to be silent censorship. If that’s the case it’s very dishonest behaviour.

And it is more concerning that I can’t comment on a blog by my own Member of Parliament (who noticeably has not partipated in the forum after making his initial accusations.

I’ll email David, and also Clare Curran who is also a local MP and has an active involvement in Red Alert, and seek clarification. There may be a simple explanation.

Dim-Post mistrust

Having now given my version of my apparent banning from The Dim-Post in Rhinocrates and Dim-Post set straight I want to express my disappointment, reluctantly, at Dim-Post as a whole. It’s a popular blog and has had a history of some worthwhile satirical, humouous  and serious posts. Dim-Post seems to be widely respected but I can’t share that respect.

This has come up again because it was brought to my attention that there was a discussion about me there on Thursday in, ironically, Talkback bait.  This included:

42. Comment by Gregor W — May 10, 2012 @ 9:30 am

Pete George owns 25% of a thread narrative without even being here.
Amazing.

Yes, I find that amazing too.

I haven’t posted at Dim-Post since February when my comments started to “disappear” on a thread attacking me. I was the target of of an admitted campaign to “hound me off”, and that hounding appears to have been eventually supported by me being blocked from commenting.

I admit at times I push the boundaries on blogs (as well as sometimes posting too much). I’ve had temporary bans at The Standard and Red Alert – but at both It was made clear why I was banned and for how long. I have also been warned clearly at both, and have been warned at Trade Me forums (politically motivated complaints).

Occassionally previously on Dim-Post my comments had silently disappeared. I thought that was a bit concerning but said nothing about it. After being apparently banned after being the target of a deliberate attempt to “hound me” off Dim-Post I was bemused – and concerned. I’ve mentioned it in passing several times but I thought that was fading.

But the subject has been raised again by others, on the Dim-Post on Thursday, and at The Standard a couple of times including here. As already mentioned, I give my side of this story in Rhinocrates and Dim-Post set straight. That can, with some justification, could be labelled as crying over old milk.

But there’s a bigger issue.

Can Dim-Post be trusted?

In a way I think it’s sad to bring this up but I think it’s important.

Others may think it’s no big deal for me to have been blocked a bit at Dim-Post, especially if they don’t like my style. But if some of my posts have disappeared – in one instance to support another side of a an argument, one that was deliberately attacking me – who else gets blocked, and how many other comments disappear?

There’s no way of knowing if I’m then only who’s been censored at Dim-Post.

Anyone who runs a blog can run it however they like, it’s their’s to do as they wish with. But the other big New Zealand blogs, like Whaleoil, Kiwiblog and The Standard have statements about conditions and rules.

Dim-Post has nothing.  No About, no policy or rules are apparent at all. And I’ve never seen any comment or explanation about editing or blocking comments, or of banning. There is no way to tell if I’ve been then only recipeint of silent censorship or not.

Why is this a problem?

There is no way of knowing if the comments are a fair presdentation of views expressed. In my case commenters were arguing against me and criticisng me when I had no chance of responding.

It’s impossible to know if debates are fair and free, or hobbled.

I think that raises serious doubts about the trustworthiness of what can be read in the comments. The integrity of the comments have to be questioned. I think for a major blog this is unsatisfactory.

I expect to be attacked and criticised in some forums for raising this, but I hope that those that can see the wider picture will also understand these concerns.

The comments section of Dim-Post has lost my trust.

Note: I am in no way questioning the integrity of posts on Dim-Post, they are clearly authored by danylmc, widely known to be Danyl Mclauchlan, who for his posts seems to be widely respected. But while site moderation is presumably Danyl’s responsibility there is nothing I’ve seen that confirms this.