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Facebook and Google Balance Booming Business with Censorship Pressure in Vietnam – The Information

When Facebook and Google want to strike ad deals in Vietnam, salespeople in Singapore get on a plane and fly to major cities like Ho Chi Minh City. They rent out rooms in five-star hotels for meetings with small retailers looking to sell around the world or big brands wanting to reach Vietnamese consumers. Vietnam is the most important market in Southeast Asia for both Google and Facebook, but neither company has any full-time employees stationed there.

Thats because Vietnam is governed by an authoritarian communist regime that imposes strict censorship of online content such as social-media posts and user-generated videos critical of the government. While Facebook and Google comply with the governments requests for removing or restricting content, people stationed in the country would be vulnerable to pressure for information about the identity of users posting content, said people familiar with both businesses. According to these people, the companies worry that staffers could be arrested or the offices raided, and even route advertising fees through subsidiaries in Ireland and Singapore to avoid Vietnams banking system.

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Facebook and Google Balance Booming Business with Censorship Pressure in Vietnam - The Information

Orban targets theaters, prompting protest against censorship – The Boston Globe

Several thousand people gathered in central Budapest on Monday to protest the planned measures, according to the Index.hu news website. Speakers at the demonstration included the capitals recently-elected opposition mayor.

I was an actor already in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when the communist regime ruled, Judit Pogany said in a video post by famous actors and directors. I never thought that after 30 years of democracy Id start feeling the way I did back then.

Orban has mostly won turf wars to extend his influence over education, scientific research, and parts of the legal system. Hes now fighting a European Union probe over the erosion of the rule-of-law during his nearly decade in power.

The latest battle over culture comes after Orban suffered a setback in Octobers municipal election, when his party won overall but lost control of four out of the five largest cities, including Budapest.

Following the ballot, he moved to squeeze the opposition mayors control over the capitals budget and submitted a draft law that seeks to broaden the role of the Constitutional Court, which is stacked with his appointees.

His lawmakers are also expected to back a proposals to restrict the rights of independent lawmakers, including his most outspoken critics. All the measures are expected to win approval, given the ruling Fidesz partys supermajority in the legislature.

As the EU has largely failed to derail Orbans centralization of power over the past 10 years, its unlikely that will change, according to Eurasia, a political-risk consultancy.

Ultimately, Orbans willingness to negotiate with the EU, partially backtracking on some issues while constantly moving forward with smaller steps seems to have worked for him, Naz Masraff, director for Europe at Eurasia, said in a research note. He will likely continue to use this winning formula.

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Orban targets theaters, prompting protest against censorship - The Boston Globe

Self-censorship is the enemy of creativity – Spiked

As one who is foolish enough to engage with angry strangers on social media, I often find myself cast in the role of a comedian who continually insists that you cant say anything anymore. Not only have I never made this claim, I have never met a single other comedian who has. True, there are a few who express their concerns when the state arrests or imprisons its citizens for making jokes, and there are some who have strong reservations about cancel culture and the impulse to dredge up potentially offensive remarks from the past in order to initiate a public shaming. But on the whole, comedians are not complaining that they are being silenced.

The more immediate threat to artistic expression, comedic or otherwise, takes the form of self-censorship. This is not the same as refining our speech or choosing our battles. Dont we all self-censor for perfectly good reasons of tact, politeness, and taste?, asked the New Yorkers Bob Mankoff of Flemming Rose, the editor who was responsible for the publication of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in 2005. Yes, Rose replied, but there is a difference to be made between tact, politeness, and taste, on the one hand, and self-censorship, on the other. The former is something you impose on yourself voluntarily, or in order to behave in accordance with an etiquette. The latter implies that there is something that you would like to say, but you refrain from saying it because you fear what might happen to you if you do it.

In its most extreme form this fear comes about from the threat of violent repercussions, as in the case of Charlie Hebdo. But for most artists the threat they face is that of limited career prospects in a culture which increasingly insists that art should convey the morally correct message. Timothy Garton Ash sees this as the distinction between the assassins veto and the hecklers veto. An artist whose work is genuinely controversial invariably faces a barrage of voluble criticism online. Of course there is nothing new in this every age has its puritans. But while the gatekeepers of television, radio and live promotion are so willing to capitulate to such demands of conformity from the irredeemably woke, there can be little doubt that our nations artistic health will continue to suffer.

Once artists begin tailoring their work in accordance with how they sense it will be received, their craft invariably deteriorates. The novelist Forrest Reid observed that the writer could choose one of two incompatible aims: He may look upon his work as an art to be practised with sincerity, and in faithfulness to an ideal; or he may regard it as a commercial experiment. For those whose goal is to make money and acquire fame, adherence to what John Stuart Mill described as the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling is nothing to fear. For the true artist, it is a kind of death.

Self-censorship is an individual choice. In this sense, it is far less concerning than censorship by the state or by Silicon Valley tech giants who hold a monopoly on social-media platforms. But in terms of the arts, self-censorship can actually be more damaging, because at least when artists are censored by those in power they often find creative ways to circumvent the problem. Richard Crashaw (1613-1649), for instance, managed to evade state censorship of his explicitly homoerotic poetry by choosing the naked crucified body of Jesus Christ as his subject. Self-censorship, however, stunts the possibility of the artists creative development from its very wellspring.

Artists can never escape the practical demands of the business of living. Theres a reason why some of the most prolific have come from independently wealthy backgrounds. As Oscar Wilde pointed out in his essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism, individuality can only flourish in times of leisure. The Ancient Greeks were able to develop great philosophy, art and literature because they had slaves to take care of all the menial tasks which occupy most peoples existence. Poets and writers enjoyed a Renaissance in Britain in the 16th century because of aristocratic patronage. With arts funding today largely restricted to those who can prove that their work entails some practical benefit to society, the artist faces pressure to ensure that his work is commercially viable.

Of course, it is not in the nature of artists to admit that they are curtailing their own manner of expression in the face of external pressure, which means that the problem is likely to be more widespread than we imagine. The best artists are non-conformists, and the worst artists like to be seen as the best artists. We should do all we can to cultivate a climate in which creative risks are worth taking, and in which eccentricity and missteps will not be punished in the kangaroo courts of social media. An artist who kowtows to the ideological expectations of society can barely be said to be an artist at all. Like RS Thomass toiling farmer, he is merely contributing grimly to the accepted pattern, the embryo music dead in his throat.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. His book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice (written by his alter-ego Titania McGrath) is available on Amazon.

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Self-censorship is the enemy of creativity - Spiked

Ben Shapiro, conservatives blast YouTube policy on harassment: ‘Insanely vague’ – Fox News

Conservative media figuresare deriding a new YouTube policy, arguing it censors free speech and could have a disproportionate impact on right-leaning commentators.

Announced on Wednesday, the policy seemed to come in reaction to a months-long controversy surrounding comedian Steven Crowder and his comments about Vox writer Carlos Maza's sexuality.

Wednesday's announcementtargets harassment and builds onthe platform's hate speech policy announced in June. The new guidelines would prohibit "demeaning language that goes too far" specifically, content that "maliciously insults someonebased on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation."

YOUTUBE FACES MASS BACKLASH AFTER CLAIMING IT ACTED WITHOUT 'POLITICAL BIAS'

The massively popular platform previously demonetized Crowder's videos claiming that he "harmed the broader community" at YouTube but acknowledged they didn't violate the company's standards at the time.

It's unclear how YouTube would determine "malicious" intent but the guidelines indicate it would include, for example, repeatedly using pronouns other than someone's preferred ones.According to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, the policy may seem harmless but actually contains "insanely vague" standards that could result in censoring conservative ideas.

"Read in the most charitable way, this could simply be attempting to get rid of Nazi content, for example," he told Fox News on Wednesday."But the language is far too broad to be restricted this way."

He pointed to potential problems surrounding debates about biology in athletics and individuals who identify as an alternate gender. He also cited videos that call out disparities between Muslims and Christians, as revealed by polling data something Shapiro himself has done in a video posted on YouTube.

YOUTUBE ENDS MONETIZATION OF CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR STEVEN CROWDER'S CHANNEL, SEVER OTHERS AFTER LEFT-WING OUTRAGE

Shapiro added that YouTube's vagueness would continue to harm public trust in the company.

"When YouTube says that they want to 'want to reduce the spread of content that comes right up to the line,'they haven't defined the lineSo now they've written themselves a blank check to ban whatever content they like, calling it 'questionable,'" he said.

"They've now created a set of constantly moving goalposts, and assured us that we ought to trust them. But it's lack of trust in their judgment and understanding that has already created their public perception problems. These new guidelines will exacerbate that problem."

Brandon Straka, the #WalkAway campaign founder who identifies as gay, similarly criticized the policy.

"Though targeted harassment and bullying is something all people should be able to agree has no place in the arena of public discourse, sadly this ideal is rarely upheld when conservative opinions are being targeted by leftist bullying and harassment," he told Fox News.

He also said that YouTube was shifting power away from creators on the platform. "YouTubes policies remove the power from the creator to control their own discussions and engagement, and allow YouTube the freedom to discriminate and the power to control our political and cultural narratives online."

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor similarlyblasted the proposal, suggesting it was reminiscent ofthe dystopian novel "1984."

"This is YouTube anti-free speech loons trying to make the world one giant safe space ... It's insanity and the censors will never be happy until everyone has their speech restricted," he said.

PRAGERU EXEC BLASTS YOUTUBE'S 'LAUGHABLE' CLAIM IT'S POLITICALLY NEUTRAL

Gainor runs MRC'sTechWatch program, which monitors bias from organizations like YouTube. He told Fox Newsthat YouTube's new policy would force them to "go back in time and censor thousands of movies and TVshows."

Crowder did not immediately respond to a request for comment but, prior to the policy's release, he previewed company changes by predicting that a YouTube "purge" was coming.

Crowder's online rival, Maza, apparently wasn't satisfied with the new guidelines either.

After a series of skeptical tweets, Maza said: "YouTube loves to manage PR crises by rolling out vague content policies they don't actually enforce. These policies only work if YouTube is willing to take down its most popular rule-breakers. And there's no reason, so far, to believe that it is."

Google, YouTube's parent company, declined to comment but responded to "purge" concerns byreferringFox News to tweets regarding its terms of service.

Wednesday's backlash was just the latest againstthe tech giant, which has claimed that it doesn't engage in political bias. The group has been the target of complaints from conservative groups like Live Action and PragerU, both of which seek to educate people on hot-button issues like abortion. Google also reportedly removed more than 300 Trump campaign videos, although YouTube's CEO has said political bias isn't built into her algorithms.

Craig Strazzeri, PragerU's chief marketing officer, previously told Fox News that the company was restricting their content simply because they were conservatives.

A PragerU lawsuit from earlier this year charged the company with defrauding the public and obtaining special legal status by wrongly claiming to be a neutral public forum.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

On Wednesday, Strazzeri said YouTube's policy was troubling and would likely limit free speech. It's always been YouTube's strategy to use increasingly vague and broad guidelines as a way to silence conservative voices," he said.

"To YouTube any criticism is now seen as 'harassment'and this is a troubling sign that will lead to more censorship and less free speech online. YouTube should look in the mirror, since they have been harassing us for years and restricting hundreds of our videos."

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Ben Shapiro, conservatives blast YouTube policy on harassment: 'Insanely vague' - Fox News

Anti-war artworks removed in censorship row – The Age

''In a strange way, it's the voices who rail against political correctness that seem to be the first to want to have politically correct speech - in their minds - from an artist who comes from a background which they see as violent or threatening," Abdullah said.

"I wonder if I had a different name or a different religion whether this would have been news at all."

Mr Christensen and former NRL player turned councillor, Martin Bella, led calls for the removal of the two works, For we are young and free and All Let us Rejoice, from a council-run gallery. They were joined by the local RSL which said they feared for the mental health of local servicemen and women.

A spokeswoman for Mr Christensen directed the Herald to an October statement in which the member for Dawson said he was all for free speech and freedom of expression but taxpayers and ratepayers should not subsidise political messages that attacked soldiers. Clr Bella did not respond to questions put by the Herald.

For we are young and free' by Abdul Abdullah, which was pulled down from a Queensland art gallery because they were deemed to be an attack on soldiers. Credit:bdul Abdullah

Tensions got so heated that extra gallery security was needed, the artist received hate mail and poppies were dropped at the gallery entrance.

The tapestries bear Abdullah's signature style of an emoji, cartoonish character or motif over a traditionally painted backdrop. This year the artist was a finalist for the Sulman and Wynne prizes for paintings with similar imagery.

"The smiley face is an emoji I've used in a few different series of works where I've talked about the difference between a person's lived experience and the perception of them and what they project - the difference between how we feel and how we seem," Abdullah said from his studio in St Leonards.

"In the case of these images of the soldiers, there's the dark experience of war and all the turmoil they've experienced but in every case where I've met a soldier they've said they've always had to put on a brave face."

Mr Christensen took issue with the artist's description of soldiers as surrogatesinvolved in "'illiberal, destructive actions in other places'' and that those coming across Australian soldiers in action would see them as an ''existential threat''.

The MP said it was particularly affronting to veterans that the exhibition would have run during Remembrance Day.

After initially defending the artist's right to freedom of expression, Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson announced the work's removal. He declined to respond to the Herald.

Abdullah said he was never asked to explain his intent and he'd be the last person to disrespect servicemen. Two of his great grandfathers fought in Belgium and France in World War I. One grandfather fought in Papua New Guinea in World War II, the other with the British Navy in a submarine torpedoed in the Indian Ocean.

"Whats happened here is so unfair," said Esther Anatolitis, executive director of the National Association of Visual Artists. "Its deeply unfair to the veterans and veterans groups whove been misled on work they never saw by an artist they never met."

Following its opening in Noosa Regional Gallery on Friday, the exhibition Violent Salt is scheduled to travel to Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, but those dates are also in doubt with the mayor Paul Antonio telling local media he did not want Abdullah's works displayed. Staff at Noosa Regional Gallery elected to add kids labels to the interpretation of the touring exhibition including one for Abdullahs works, and a sign at the entrance with a Lifeline number.

Independent curators Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson said that they were surprised and disappointed that Abdullahs embroideries were taken down from the exhibition in Mackay without consulting with them or the artist.

Censorship of the work, they said, and particularly "hostile remarks" leveled towards Abdullah, only demonstrated the value of exhibitions such as Violent Salt.

The show is scheduled to travel to Lake Macquarie City Art gallery in June, then Canberra Contemporary Art Space and Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre in Victoria.

Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald

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Anti-war artworks removed in censorship row - The Age

When a comedian is pro-censorship, I start finding them funny – The Spectator USA

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, made a keynote speech today at ADLs 2019 Never is Now summit, in which he viciously chided the Silicon Valley tech giants for their irresponsible approach to censorship (or rather the lack of it thereof) on their terrifyingly influential social media platforms.

Cohen was at the summit to receive the ADL International Leadership Award, and began by making it clear that throughout his career, the aim of his comedy has been to uncover the insidiously passive acceptance of racism and bigotry that lurks within our society. I have to confess that up until now, I had found his characters Borat and Ali G completely unacceptable because they fall into the socially problematic category of cultural appropriation, but now I know that Cohen is woke as fuck, I shall endeavor to watch his work and make damn well sure I laugh my socks off.

During his 25-minute long speech, Cohen told his enthusiastic audience that he found Mark Zuckerbergs excuse of defending of free expression when refusing to censor his platform utter nonsense. Finally, a mainstream comedian who understands that social media must be regulated. Many people, or as I like to call them bigots, argue that the internet is the primary form of communication for many people these days and that to censor it would be morally wrong. Like a doll with a pull-string, Mark Zuckerberg often spouts shallow platitudes in defense of his multi-billion dollar corporation like: giving more people a voice, and: bringing people together. Incredibly naive and perhaps even sinister phrases considering that a lot of people out there harbor fascistic tendencies and should not be allowed a voice.

Well, on that matter Sacha Baron Cohen had this to say:

The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, however, this does not apply to private businesses like Facebook.

Haha! Take THAT, Nazis! Thanks to a loophole in the Bill or Rights due to James Madisons careless disregard of social media platforms when it was written in 1787, we totally CAN regulate and censor Facebook and Twitter.

After watching Cohens speech I watched a couple of his movies and instead of sitting there with my arms folded, getting ready to jab the off button on my remote the moment anything remotely offensive occurred, I found myself actually enjoying them. Knowing that the man who made them shares my views on free speech and how dangerous it is gave me a new found appreciation of his work. I cannot say that I found his films particularly amusing because humor tends to be something that happens to other people. I did however find myself chuckling at the delicious absurdity of a man who recently called for censorship now appearing on my television screen as a Kazakh journalist encouraging his audience to laugh at the idea that people in Kazakhstan have sex their sisters.

Watching Cohen mercilessly stereotype a character from a little-known country with the knowledge that his entire reason for portraying his most well-known character in this way was to draw attention to the fact that people often stereotype people from little-known countries completely blew my mind. This is Inception-level satire, and his dedication to keeping up this ruse for the best part of two decades has to be admired.

Anyway, now that the man who played Borat has endorsed online regulation and censorship, hopefully more people will get on board with this idea and maybe one day, hate speech on the internet will be a thing of the past. I have to say, his throw the Jew down the well song was delightfully entertaining, Ive been humming it to myself all day!

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When a comedian is pro-censorship, I start finding them funny - The Spectator USA

Cancelation of ‘The Foreigner’ at WC leads to claims of censorship – The Star Democrat

CHESTERTOWN In the time since Washington College canceled two performances of a students Senior Capstone Experience production of The Foreigner, social media has been wrought with concerns of censorship by Washington College.

In an effort to address these concerns, the college hosted a virtual meeting through the platform, Zoom, Wednesday, Nov. 20. According to an email sent Friday, Nov. 15, to those on a college mailing list, the meeting was to be attended by college President Kurt Landgraf, Associate Professor of Theater Brendon Fox and Susie Chase, vice president of advancement, alumni affairs and constituent engagement.

The college community was notified of the plays cancellation through an email sent on behalf of Provost and Dean of the College Patrice DiQuinzio at 12:54 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.

According to that email, the cancellation stemmed from voices in our community who were deeply wounded by certain representations in the play.

The Foreigner, a two-act comedy written by Larry Shue and first performed in 1983, was approved by the colleges Department of Theatre and Dance to serve as the studentsSenior Capstone Experience some time ago, Wendy Clarke, director of college communications, wrote in an email Nov. 19. Performances were scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9.

Clarke wrote the decision to cancel the play was influenced by a combination of factors including some students reaction to the play.

The play includes characters who are members of the Ku Klux Klan and appear on stage in white hoods and robes. Although these characters are very clearly the villains of the story and are vanquished by the plays other characters, their presence within the play was deeply upsetting to some, the email from DiQuinzios office reads notifying the WC community of the plays cancelation.

Clarke wrote that two days before dress rehearsals, Laura Eckelman, associate professor of theater and interim chairman of the theater department, notified the colleges public safety office and counseling services, as well as Sarah Feyerherm, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, in an email that the play included content that could potentially upset some members of the campus community.

Clarke wrote the plays use of KKK robes, fake guns as props and the use of racial and gender slurs led Eckelman to notify DiQuinzio about a possible content warning for the play.

Feyerherm then sent Eckelmans email to staff members who work with student groups on campus Clarke named the Office of Intercultural Affairs which called a meeting Thursday, Nov. 7, to discuss how to ensure that all members of the campus community could be considered.

Clarke wrote that Feyerherm, staff members, Eckelman and Fox were present at that meeting.

With not enough time during the morning meeting to resolve all of the concerns, it was decided to hold an additional meeting and include some of the student voices, Clarke wrote.

That meeting was held the day of a dress rehearsal and included students, staff members who are advisors to minority group on campus, DiQuinzio, Clarke, Feyerherm and Eckelman.

Clarke wrote that the students who attended the meeting were extremely distressed and expressed extreme frustration and hurt that they hadnt been told about the play much earlier, or had been given the opportunity to let their feelings be known until this late in the process.

In an article for the student newspaper The Elm, News Editor Cassy Sottile reported Eckelman said she did not see the plays cancellation as an act of censorship. She called it a course correction made by and with the theatre department.

As an artist and an educator, I believe fervently in the value of theatre as an engine for empathy, a tool for social change, and a vehicle for encouraging difficult conversations, Eckelman said in Sottiles report. But I also feel a personal, social and professional responsibility to treat my neighbors with as much care, respect and compassion as I possibly can.

Clarke wrote that, at this time, Eckelman apologized on behalf of the department for not fully considering the plays potential ramifications and for not seeking student input sooner. Eckelman decided to allow a closed showing for department faculty, so that the students senior thesis could be graded.

(The department) could have done a better job at including constituencies on campus to understand the content of the play and converse about it, Landgraf said in Sottiles report.

Clarke wrote that the decision to cancel the play was not pushed by the college administration over the will of the department of theater and dance, but was made by Eckelman with DiQuinzio and Feryerherm's support.

A post-show discussion panel was intended to be held after the Nov. 8 performance to address the appearance of the KKK members on stage, The Elm report reads.

To address the resulting concerns of censorship for college alumni, an email was sent out from Landgrafs office on Monday, Nov. 11.

According to that email, the play centers on a group of people who feel othered by society in various ways, including premarital pregnancy, neurological differences and age. Through the course of the play, these characters build a community. That safe space is threatened by xenophobic anger and self-proclaimed entitlement of two other characters.

In the climax of the play, the community of disenfranchised protagonists rises up to easily defeat the bigoted antagonists (who reveal themselves as members of the KKK). It is through the portrayal and defeat of these villainous characters that the play conveys its message about the evils of xenophobia, the dangers of othering, and the importance of empathy, the email reads.

According to Landgrafs email, the colleges intent was to prevent further harm to members of our community who already feel marginalized.

However, on social media platforms such as Facebook, college alumni called this act censorship.

Landgrafs email acknowledged those reactions saying censorship is anathema to the core values of Washington College, and this was never our intent.

His email said the college is working to find a way to present the play that enables the campus community to have a productive, thoughtful conversation.

We will work with all of the relevant student groups, staff, faculty, alumni and Board of Visitors and Governors to determine the best way to accomplish this and to find the most constructive path forward, the email states.

Additionally, The Elm reports that Landgraf and Feyerherm attended a Student Government Association senate session on Nov. 12. Landgraf also attended a dinner with SGA officers.

This is not the first time the performances of the play have been met with controversy. According to an article by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader from March 5, Sioux Falls (S.D.) School Districts production of The Foreigner was found to culturally insensitive, the article reads.

According to Clarkes email from Nov. 19, staff at the college are looking into staging a production of The Foreigner in the spring, but what form this will take has not been decided yet.

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Cancelation of 'The Foreigner' at WC leads to claims of censorship - The Star Democrat

Democrats are not "censoring" Donald Trump his increasingly desperate staff is doing that – Salon

On Friday, Donald Trump, with his usual sociopathic levels of impulsiveness,thought it wise to commit another likely impeachable offense in the middle of a hearing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. As former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified to Trump's bizarre, unethical and abusive behavior, he took to Twitter to lambast her in real time, claiming that everywhere she had been posted "turned bad" and personally blaming her for the civil war in Somalia, which is the epitome of a baseless accusation. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the act "witness intimidation".

When asked about it by reporters later that day, during a press conference that was ostensibly about health care pricing, Trump, as is his habit, declared that he's the real victim.

"You know what? I have the right to speak," Trump said, in response to a question that was, by being a question, an invitation to speak.

"I have freedom of speech just as other people do, but theyve taken away the Republicans rights," he continued, as exactly zero people tried to turn off his microphones or shut him up in any other way.

Trump knows his followers love these victim trips so much that they'll simply ignore the fact that Democrats couldn't shut him up if they wanted to. In reality, Democrats don't want to shut Trump up at all. If anything, the opposite is true. Democrats clearly want Trump to keep that motormouth running and those rage-fingers tweeting: The more Trump uses that freedom of speech, the stronger their case for impeachment gets.

"Trump could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told Margaret Brennan of "Face the Nation" in an interview that aired Sunday. The speaker also defined what the word "exculpatory" means for Trump, safely guessing it's not a word he has much experience with.

"He should come to the committee and testify under oath and he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumersaid at a news conference on Sunday, adding that Trump's failure to appear and his insistence that his staff also refuse to testify suggests that he is "afraid" and "hiding."

Indeed, the only people who appear interested in silencing the president are his own staff members. As Axios reported Sunday, "President Trump's public schedule next week is designed to keep him distracted from the televised hearings and to counterprogram Week 2 of those hearings."

Considering that the events on his schedule a Cabinet meeting, a visit to a factory in Texas, an arts awards ceremony are humdrum presidential activities that would barely make the news even in boring times, it's safe to say that the White House staff doesn't really see any of this stuff as "counterprogramming" that will actually distract anybody's attention from the impeachment hearings.

Except for maybe one person's attention. The obvious purpose is to keep Trump busy so he doesn't get into trouble, a management style familiar to any parent of toddlers. Frankly, it's a smart move, as Trump's behavior last Friday showed. Even on Fox Business, which has been fiercely pro-Trump, a host cracked and saidthat his Twitter behavior "makes him look like a big dumb baby" and draws more attention to the hearings than if he could just sit still with his coloring book like a big boy.

Odds that White House staff can use Trump's busy schedule to keep him off the internet completely, however, aren't looking good. Even though tweeting invective at Yovanovitch backfired on Trump Friday, he kept it up over the weekend, lashing out at Jennifer Williams, who is an aide to Vice President Mike Pence and a foreign service officer. Williams will reportedly give testimony about Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is expected to make the already clear extortion scheme even clearer.

Trump's tendency to get even more riled up whenever women criticize him is no doubt a major concern for his staff going into this week. Multiple women not just Williams, but also Laura Cooper,a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, and Fiona Hill, a former Russia specialist at the National Security Council are expected to testify before the Intelligence Committee. That's a lot of women saying stuff about Trump that happens to be both true and damning. Everyone knows that's an especially potent trigger for his ill-advised outbursts.

The big-mouth problem isn't limited to Trump, either. His lawyer, co-conspirator and all-around odious lackey Rudy Giuliani seems not to understand, even though he used to be a federal prosecutor, why suspected criminals invoke their Fifth Amendment rights. Instead, Giuliani's addiction to Twitter and TV cameras means thathe constantly says things that incriminate himself or the president or whoever else is in the line of fire.

SIt's not just Trump who is playing the victim of censorship by Democrats when the real issue is censorship from the White House itself. House Republicans are also getting in on this victimology trip, complaining that the witnesses called so far aren't close enough to the White House to be authoritative about what actually happened, and implying that Democrats are silencing such witnesses.

This is a lie, of course. There's plenty ofdocumentation showing Trump at the center of the extortion plot against Ukraine. But it's a lie wrapped in an even bigger lie, because there are several high-ranking administration officials who were directly involved in the Ukrainian extortion scheme, such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (who has already confessed on TV) and outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry,whose centrality to the scheme was once again confirmed in a recent batch of leaked emails.

These people are right in the middle of things and could speak directly to what the president said and did. Trump has instructed them not to testify. In fact, Trump has tried to preventanyone who has information from testifying, reportedly lambasting Secretary of State Mike Pompeofor failing to do more to block State Department employees from showing up under subpoena.

The censorship isn't coming from the Democrats, who have a red carpet rolled out for anyone and everyone in the Trump administration who wants to talk. It's coming strictly from Trump, his staff and fellow Republicans, all of whom know that the last thing Trump needs is more information reaching the public. Republicans' big problem is that the man they've self-tasked with defending has an irrepressible need to incriminate himself and commit more crimes. So while they're whining about "freedom of speech," Donald Trump refuses to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent.

More:

Democrats are not "censoring" Donald Trump his increasingly desperate staff is doing that - Salon

The right to know: How does censorship affect academics? – Big Think

Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn is a human rights advocate, lawyer, lecturer, writer and founding executive director of Scholars at Risk, an international network of more than 500 higher education institutions and thousands of individuals in 39 countries dedicated to protecting at-risk scholars, promoting academic freedom, and defending everyones freedom to think, question and share ideas.

ROBERT QUINN: The university space is a microcosm in its ideal of what we would like society to be like. People have adequate food, they have adequate housing and they have a chance to develop their capacities and contribute to the meaningful decisions and discourse of their lives. So that's the ideal. And academic freedom is the essence of that. It's what makes it work because there's an opportunity to talk and engage and bring in the voice that previously can't be brought in. And again, this is only when universities operate on the ideal and I get that.

But for me what really got me into this work and keeps me in this work is because it's a microcosm. We don't understand how much our thoughts, our very thoughts and therefore our identities are shaped by implicit permission to think that or ask that or say that. And the battle over academic freedom is essentially the battle over that inner mental space. As an example and it really opened my eyes to it, I was talking to a very senior professor at a U.S. top university who was a sinologist, an expert on China. And she said one of my dilemmas is as I'm late in my career my Ph.D. students come to me and they say I want to work on this topic relating to say Tibet or Taiwan or so forth. Sensitive topics. And she says I have a professional obligation, it's a great topic and it would lead to so much knowledge but I have a professional obligation to warn them that if they do that they may not be able to travel in and out of the country. Their career may be cut short because those are sensitive topics.

And so she said the challenge is we're not only going to lose the particular dissertation topic that that person wanted to work on but we won't get any of the knowledge that the questions would have led to and the questions beyond that. So there's whole zones of knowledge that we never get to because of the intimidation in the early part of the evolution of the chain of thinking. Sort of to borrow from Donald Rumsfeld where he said that the unknown unknowns, right. We simply don't know what we haven't even thought to ask. And that's why attacks on scholars just like attacks on journalists but really especially with the depth that academics can go to, they're very efficient ways for very subtly invisibly shaping. One of our projects that we're just starting now is how do we measure the self-censorship that goes on. When they come and haul away the professor in the office next to yours to prison that affects whether you're going to publish the next article. How do we measure that.

I call it the self-censorship is the dark matter of the academic freedom universe. It's all over the place and that we can't see it. Creativity comes in because creativity needs space. It needs freedom. We have a holiday card we sent around once that said new ideas begin with a safe place to think. They can be catalyzed by pressure. They can be catalyzed by bad experiences. We all know that. That can spark things as we respond to those things. But at the end of the day it needs space and time and legitimacy to go with it. So that's how I think they're connected.

One in particular really strikes me which is a scholar from Syria, a very established scholar in the dramatic arts. She described a moment that I think encapsulates why so many of these scholars are so impressive and so courageous. She describes the secret police coming to her classroom and at the door of the classroom saying give me so and so, a student who is in her class. So they're going to take away a student. The secret police are going to take him away to prison. She says no. She says you can't have him. For the next hour-and-a-half he's mine. And that just encapsulates the courage for her to do that just blows me away. Just absolutely blows me away.

Another scholar also happens to be from Syria. He describes he's been in exile for a while. He gets into exile but he keeps doing his advocacy work. He got targeted because he started doing reports on secret detentions in prison in Syria and torture by the regime. This is before the civil war. And he described sitting in front of his computer in exile so still trying to have an effect for the people of Syria. Having written the next article that's going to go up on the website and pausing before he hits enter because he knows if it's published they might bring in his mother or his brother for interrogation. Yet he does it anyhow because he knows that they know that this is more important. But living with that and living with the guilt of that and living with the pressure of that. So many of our scholars do that and they feel like they're the lucky ones. The ones who got out of Iraq because scholars are being assassinated in Iraq.

We had one scholar years ago she was from Aceh, Indonesia which is a very sort of more, well not rural but more remote part of Indonesia at the time. And at the time there was a lot of conflict there. She was literally on a death list by the government. The military was going to kill her if they found her so she had to flee the country. Then the tsunami hit if you remember the tsunami hit Indonesia. She went back despite being on the death list and did what scholars do. She started writing reports about the relief agencies and how they were trying to help and exposed that the relief agencies were not meeting the needs of women in Indonesia because they were passing out all the relief through men. And so she started submitting these reports to the UN and changed the way that they were distributing aid and just changed the content, literally the content of the relief materials that were being provided to make sure women were being provided for. So these are the individuals that we end up talking to. It's not just the people who stand up directly against governments. It's usually people just standing up for truth and for people.

Another one was a professor from Tunisia who worked on public health. So why would a professor for public health get in trouble? Well his research was on infant mortality so why do professors research infant mortality? Because they don't want babies to die. Why does he get in trouble? Because it turned out that the government statistics on infant mortality were saying everything is fine. And the fact is that infant mortality was much higher than the dictatorship was saying it was. So by putting that out he's saying the dictatorship is lying. He's exposing the fact that the government doesn't know how to take care of its own people. And so what do they do? They have him fired as a professor. Ultimately they put him in prison and so forth and so on. Now, sometimes we get happy endings. In that particular case the dictatorship falls. He ends up coming back to the country after being in exile and elected president of the country. So these are extraordinary people. They have extraordinary courage. It's really a privilege for us to be able to serve them.

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The right to know: How does censorship affect academics? - Big Think

Even with the best intentions, censoring books is dangerous – The Aggie

Censorship of ideas will always have unintended consequences

Banned Books Week is an annual campaign in which libraries, schools, bookstores and other institutions rally to show their support for books that have been censored and banned for often irrational reasons. There seems to be a very clear understanding that banning books tends to do more harm than good. Almost all the classics have been subject to censorship, even the greatest of the Great American Reads.

My interest in looking at banned books and censorship was renewed for two reasons. This past month, journalist Ronan Farrow came out with Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. This book has been at the top of my to-read list since it was announced. Catch and Kill isnt just a detailed account of Farrows experience reporting the Harvey Weinstein story for The New Yorker, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, but also a window into the nefarious structural systems that have allowed for powerful figures such as Harvery Weinstein to remain in the public sphere with impunity.

Then, Amazon Australia and other major Australian booksellers blocked the sale of Catch and Kill for all the wrong reasons.

Dylan Howard, the Chief Content Officer for American Media, is prominently featured in Catch in Kill for his close alliance with Weinstein. Howards lawyers had sent letters to Australian booksellers warning them that if they sold this book, they would also face the same legal actions as the publishers for the defamatory imputations contained within the book.

At the outset, this is an affront to democracy and the free press. This book was written and published with tight scrutiny for factual accuracy and the utmost journalistic integrity. But what I didnt understand is why there was a threat to pursue legal action to get a book banned, and why there were booksellers who complied with this demand.

Censorship and banning books are all too common among schools, parent groups and organizations looking to keep certain concepts or ideas away from children. The list ranges from Animal Farm to the Harry Potter series. The most frequent justifications for banning such books are alarmist at best and malicious censorship of unique ideas at worst.

I have always been a staunch supporter of maintaining open access to banned books in order to assure the free and open flow of words, thoughts and ideas in a democratic society. But I recently came across a new trend in which books are being banned for the purpose of inclusivity and to ensure that children wont read material that could potentially be upsetting.

This may seem like an understandable reason to keep certain books away from children, but censorship is never that simple. Banning books because they might touch upon some difficult themes, or because they might contain damning information, is just another form of regressive censorship.

It seems we live in a time when we have become much more concerned about the content kids and young adults consume, especially online and through different forms of media. But unlike social media posts, books are written to foster an open and frank conversation about real-life experiences so that we may understand, process and accept the raw realities of life as a part of the human experience.

Books are meant to be openly discussed and contested in order to spark the kind of intellectual curiosity that allows for us to gain an understanding of the world in which we live. Even with the most misguided and perhaps even reprehensible content, books dont have the same sort of virality that we see on social media. They can be openly debated and aired out in a way that isnt possible with social media.

I can understand the instinct that is often the drive behind banning certain books, but even if done with the best of intentions, censorship still carries unintended consequences. Often, most of the books facing censorship are the ones with diverse characters and stories.

Books, no matter how egregious they may be, deserve to be circulated. In being circulated, readers are afforded the basic freedom to judge the value of a book and its meaning for themselves.

Written by: Simran Kalkat skkalkat@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie

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Even with the best intentions, censoring books is dangerous - The Aggie

Will the U.S. Follow East Germany on Self-Censorship? – National Review

A pedestrian walks past segments of the East Side Gallery, the largest remaining part of the former Berlin Wall, in Berlin, Germany, September 19, 2019. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters)The Democratic Republic was an authoritarian state whose history holds lessons for todays America.

The modern German state the vibrant liberal democracy at the heart of a prosperous and peaceful Europe is one of the marvels of the 21st century, an embodiment of the triumph of liberalism and individual freedoms over tyranny. This openness and liberalism is not without its challenges, especially immigration, but German democracy is remarkably resilient and its society remarkably open and welcoming, especially in contrast to its history.

This political and social triumph is largely an American achievement. In West Germany, we and our allies did not create an emasculated puppet-Germany, as the Soviet Union sought to do in their vassal state in the east. Instead, we set out to create a Germany that was free to become even stronger than it had been when it turned on the world. Behind this creation of a strong, free Germany was a belief in the Enlightenment value of individual freedoms and a belief that basing a government and society on these universal ideals would inoculate the state against a return to tyranny.

The East German state ironically named the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was a sort of photo-negative version of the West: a paranoid and unfree society secured in a penitentiary state with absolute control of the media, commerce, and civil discourse, and what people could and could not say. This control was made possible through a myriad of government bodies, civic institutions, and citizen-volunteers that together ensured compliance through fear and suspicion. The apparatus included the infamous secret police (Stasi) and its informant networks, with an estimated 180,000 informal collaborators. Even children unwittingly betrayed their parents, spouses informed on spouses, and membership in the Free German Youth and party loyalty were prerequisites for attending university.

For many in the East, life was easy if one accepted (or pretended to accept) the party ideology, joined the Free German Youth, and visibly participated in parades or events that celebrated the successes of the GDR. But the system allowed little room for individual expression, much less for open criticism or dissent, leading to self-censorship at the most basic level. Open dissent from the party line was criminal. Even if a dissident avoided imprisonment at Hohenschnhausen or other prisons, one risked receiving disadvantage or, worse, losing the ability to work in a chosen professional field, Berufsverbot, if one was too outspoken.

Rolf Mainz, who lost his job days after leaving the Socialist Unity Party, might have been able to carry on with life outside of his profession, despite being shamed and unfulfilled.Yet he took an unimaginable risk in writing a letter to the editorof the West GermanDie Zeit. This got him sentenced to Brandenburg-Grden prison, where he and his brother were held under inhumane conditions. After an occupational ban, as Mr. Mainz wrote, The delinquent either stops or he does not keep still. If he keeps still, the states eye rests on him with reduced benevolence, serving as a living example of deterrence.

Mainz and other dissidents who went public knew the steep price they would pay, losing what little freedom they had. Yet they did it anyway, because they longed for the freedoms that Americans enjoyed and had fostered in the West, where people had the potential to live as a part of a free society.

Thirty years on, their dissent seems like a distant sacrifice. Commemorations and observances of the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification focus on what has changed in Germany, especially in the East, as it has been incorporated into the modern German state that the United States helped give birth to. But perhaps an equally important focus would be on what has changed in the United States over that period. What would East German dissidents make of todays American society?

No doubt they would be troubled by the social and political divisions. But I suspect they would be able to see past the fray that dominates the news and point to a more subtle change, where the freedoms that inspired them through decades of oppression are now being questioned. To be sure, todays American campuses and boardrooms are not the GDR, but the bias response teams, the self-censorship, the speech codes, the virtue signaling, cancel culture, and the expectation of uniformity of opinion have alarming parallels in their effect on individual freedoms and how they are used to shape society, language, and thinking. It is the absolutist inability to tolerate dissent from the expected uniform opinion that former President Obama called out in his brief yet remarkable comments last week, denouncing cancel culture. He surely recognizes the incompatibility in a free society of such illiberalism and intolerance.

Its not the specific acts of curtailment or censorship that are most troubling, since they are minor compared to those of the GDR and can be challenged in public opinion, lawmaking, and the courts. What would be most troubling to East German dissidents about America today is the fact that our liberal civil society would visit these changes on itself curtailing its own freedoms through intimidation and shaming of individual expression. They might recognize that bad ideas often have their origin in good intentions of protecting vulnerable groups, but would warn us that curbing individual liberties no matter how obnoxiously they are exercised is a dangerous turn for a free society.

As we celebrate the triumph of the freedom we helped create in Germany, we should consider what lessons about freedom Germany might, in turn, provide us.

Continued here:

Will the U.S. Follow East Germany on Self-Censorship? - National Review

Tougher Than Leather: The Tom of Finland Foundation’s Fight Against Censorship Continues Into the Social Media Age – L.A. Weekly

When it comes to sex and social media, the line between appropriate and potentially offensive has been murky, inconsistent and, more and more often, seemingly discriminatory. Were in uncharted waters with this relatively new technology, but many, especially in the LGBTQ community and sex industry, fear that were heading down a slippery slope that risks setting us back, countering the cultural progress weve made in acceptance of and attitudes about sexuality.

Just this past summer, Facebook and Instagram limited users from posting the eggplant and peach emojis in reference to sexual statements via an update to their Community Standards guidelines, and the past year has seen the fight for sexual expression go into high gear as users find themselves in Facebook jail, or limited by an Instagram suspension, due to content that someone or more likely, some algorithm, at the platform thinks too provocative.

Which brings us to Tom of Finland. For those unfamiliar, the Tom of Finland Foundation is a non-profit that has worked towards protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art for the last quarter century. The foundation was started in 1984 by Touko Laaksonen, better known by his pseudonym Tom of Finland, an erotic illustrator from Helsinki (originally from Kaarina, Finland). Tom of Finlands work as an artist and his work with his nonprofit were instrumental in shaping 20th-century gay culture and his impact is still being felt today. ToF has been active on social media since its beginnings, and its content has not changed, but last month the foundation saw its account banned from Instagram. It was reactivated within 18 hours after public outcry, but there remains a lack of clarity about why it happened to begin with.

(Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation)

Though Instagrams guidelines state that, nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, the Free the Nipple movement, backed by several celebrities on and off the platform, has been pointing out IGs inconsistencies for a few years now. Breastfeeding and mastectomy shots have been allowed which is progress but the sexism inherent in allowing shirtless male images versus female is still present. The way the platform has handled LGBTQ content is even more problematic, and while the outright banning ToF suffered was a big setback, its mobilizing the community, as well as the queer artists associated with it. That Tom of Finland is ready to fight on the frontlines against censorship is not new; its what the art itself is and always has been all about.

Laaksonen never went to art school, instead moving to Helsinki when he was 19 to start a career in advertising. He came of age fighting in the Finnish army, defending his country against the Soviets during World War II. (His fellow soldiers uniforms would end up playing a big role in his artwork and in defining his style).

Tom drew loving couples and groups engaged in intense scenes all sex positive, says S.R. Sharp, the Tom of Finland Foundations vice president and curator for the last couple of decades. He drew a world so desirable that we started dressing like it, playing like it living like it.

(Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation)

In fact, Tom of Finlands drawings went hand in hand with the emergence of the gay leather scene in Londons undergound in the 50s and 60s. Tom was certainly there. He was associated and friends with one of the early physique photographers who captured a lot of the leather scene, says Sharp. Im not going to say he was the creator, [but] I will say he was part of it. And because he rendered leather so well and he captured it so well in drawings, I think his work became iconically associated with [its] beginnings.

Laaksonen viewed his homosexuality as a non-issue, and wanted to normalize it for everyone else in his community at a time when being gay was literally a crime. In those days, a gay man was made to feel nothing but shame about his feelings and his sexuality. I wanted my drawings to counteract that, to show gay men being happy and positive about who they were, the 71-year-old explained before he died in 1991 from an emphysema-induced stroke. I didnt sit down to think this all out carefully. But I knew right from the start that my men were going to be proud and happy men, he added.

Indeed, Toms Men as they came to be known, were pretty much the first sex-positive modern art figures depicting the LGBTQ community. No doubt many have seen Toms artwork (or a rip-off of it) in a gay bar or in a gay magazine either one of Toms famous strapping beefcakes, with bulging muscles, big boots, a visor hat and leather, or a mixture of civilian clothes uniforms. And of course, everything about them is big and unapologetically bold, including their genitals.

(Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation)

Tom went on to give us revolutionary images he was a liberator. He saw no reason queer men had to fit into the small compartment that society allowed us, says Sharp. We were made lesser than Tom gave us a new vocabulary of who we could be. We could be soldiers, cops, bikers everything they wouldnt let us be. We could be strong, we could be powerful he leveled the straight/queer playing field. For as much as he gave homosexuals positive roles models, the heteronormative sphere now could view us as, well, equal.

Tom of Finland was a part of the sexual revolution and the counterculture. His art made people feel OK to fantasize and not fit a social standard of get married, have kids, grow old, die, concurs Danny Fuentes of Lethal Amounts, an L.A. art gallery with similar ethos. Tom of Finland started getting published in the mid-50s in underground zines and rags because gay was outlawed in most places. A culture of its own had to be created in order to hide it from the rest of the world that wanted to harm those that identified as gay in the 50s. Sometimes its hard for people to contextualize how outrageous it was to depict two police officers or bikers or military men being homosexual and still masculine.

While Toms artwork was no doubt innovative, its fair to question if his men unwittingly promoted the heteronormative image of what a man and masculinity should be. For a gay man who is on the more feminine end of the spectrum, could Toms work just be seen as reinforcing toxic masculinity and setting an impossible and unrelatable standard for more feminine gay men? Sharp doesnt think so. I think toxic is only when you actually are putting down, demeaning or [lessening] other people. So in other words, masculinity is only achieved by that definition, by suppressing, by demoralizing, by demeaning other people, he says.

(Courtesy Tom of Finland Foundation)

Laaksonen gave up his job in advertising so that he could devote himself to his art full time in 1973. The landmark 1962 Supreme Court case MANual Enterprises, Inc. v. Day essentially legalized the mailing of male pornographic materials a decade prior, and allowed him the freedom to publish and exhibit his work on a larger scale. In the early 80s, he came to L.A. at the invitation of Durk Dehner, a gay businessman, film director and publisher. Together they started the Tom of Finland Company so that they could publish approved copies of Toms graphic novels and curtail all the bootlegs that were going around. Tom ended up living in L.A. for half of every year for the rest of his life, and each time he came, he would bring more materials with him: drawings, letters, uniforms, his stamp collection. As a means of archiving, they established the Tom of Finland Foundation in 1984, with Laaksonens actual house, located in Echo Park, serving as headquarters. It now functions as part museum, part event space and a safe place for the LGBTQ community.

After completely cataloging Toms materials, they focused their attention on other artists, giving them support and a space for their works to be shown via art and culture festivals, drawing sessions, and emerging artist competitions. They added an artist-in-residency program, screenings and most recently, a summer music program too.

The Tom House in Echo Park (Henning von Berg).

Rick Castro is one such artist. The foundation formed a strong relationship with the photographer, a third-generation Angeleno from Monterey Park. Working in the wardrobe industry for 15 years before focusing on photography in the mid-80s, Castros work is known for its strong social statements and pushing boundaries. His explorations of various fetish cultures have gotten a lot of attention in particular.

I personally always identified with fetish, even before I could actually call it that. My draw was [from] BDSM to leather to fetish to that kind of erotic esoteric, which to me goes beyond gay, its like your own kind of personal interest, says Castro. So thats what I started to document with my images.

The photographer, whos worked with performance art legend Vaginal Davis (their film Fertile Latoya Jackson was just screened as part of the acclaimed queer film series Dirty Looks), co-directed and co-wrote the feature film Hustler White (1996) with Bruce LaBruce, and a film about plushies and furries (currently available on World of Wonders WOW Presents Plus) also and had his own gallery in Hollywood called Antebellum, which still maintains a popular blog. Castro has been a major proponent of fetish culture in the gay community and beyond for decades and has known Dehner for many years since he published his first book with him in the early 90s. Hes also shown his work at Tom of Finland events and, more recently, helped produce their art fairs and holds salons at Toms House, with anti-censorship as a recurring theme.

I think that the connection for the Tom of Finland Foundation, what its become, what its evolved into now is just the place where a lot of people feel safe to express what they dont think they could express in mainstream everyday life, so it gives them a space to have fantasy, says Castro.

In April of this year, Castro had one of his first solo shows at the Tom of Finland House, a retrospective called Rick Castro: Fetish King. LGBTQ outlet The Advocate advanced the exhibit and posted the article with several images from the show. The more risqu photos required users to press a button confirming they were old enough to view the content; however, when The Advocate posted the story on Castros Facebook page, they suspended his account for 30 days. The image Facebook objected to featured two lucha libre wrestlers on top of each other, fully clothed.

(Courtesy Rick Castro)

The Advocate offered to take down the image but Castro strongly objected. There was not nudity. It was definitely homoerotic, but it was no more homoerotic than a Madonna video, Castro said. It was very obvious that because it was two men, thats why it was removed. If you look at this stuff thats for heteronormative images, and you look at the exact same thing that a homoerotic might publish, the homoerotic is removed, the heteronormative is still there for the viewing.

Castro says the hypocrisy shown by Facebook and Instagram (which it owns) goes to a much deeper, insidious kind of chapter that were in. I think its really important to fight back, insists Castro. He decided to write a statement about the Facebook fiasco, which The Advocate published as well, along with a (fully clothed) image of the artist sitting on a bench in Chinatown. When that piece was shared on Facebook by friends, Castro and the outlet itself, it was deemed a violation by Facebook, leading to another 30 day ban. Now Im banned for 60 days, meaning I cant promote my show on social media, recalls Castro. His curator and gallerist both tried posting the article too, only to be banned along with him. Even Sharp tried posting the piece on Castros behalf and was also blocked.

When L.A. Weekly learned of the censorship, it sought to investigate. After culture editor Lina Lecaro reached out to Facebook about the situation, Facebooks reps reviewed it and determined they were in the wrong, eventually issuing an apology. But by then it was too late the exhibit was already over. By the way, since this whole debacle, Facebook has not removed me, Castro notes. Ive been able to post whatever I want there, but on Instagram theyre removing a lot of my images with the same kind of dire warning.

Tom of Finland Art Fair (The Cobrasnake)

Theyre perverting us. Its the most perverting thing to ask us to self-censor. I mean, thats the most obscene thing about it, they want us to start thinking the way they think, Sharp says of Facebook and Instagrams inconsistent policies. So its very deep and very troubling and they are making deviants out of whats innocent. Social media rules are impossible to understand. They make no sense and theyre updating them constantly and not telling you theyre updated.

As for the foundations banishment from Instagram, the image that was apparently the final straw was from an art catalogue for a Denmark art show Tom was included in one celebrating the end of a ban on visual pornography in that country. Yes, its ironic.

According to Instagram, nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, but it obviously wasnt in this case. In response, Sharp and Castro presented a panel in October at their art festival, How Do We Communicate On/With Social Media. They invited reps from Facebook and Instagram to join the artists, activists, educators and lawyers on the panel. Neither accepted but Instagram did say they would include ToF in an upcoming West Coast discussion that it hosts on posting guidelines for nudity and art. They had one in New York last month with artists and art workers. It sounds like they want to progress on their policies, Sharp said hopefully.

Read this cover story in this weeks print edition.

In light of Mark Zuckerbergs recent hands-off approach concerning political content, some of which the platform concedes is dishonest, its policing of sexual content feels even more distasteful. While social media platforms should have the freedom to shape their own communities, they should not force-feed us what they think is sexually appropriate. Of course, the way to change policy, be it the government or a big corporation, is to put our money where our mouths are. The alternative is self-censorship, which Sharp sees as the antithesis of what freedom of expression is all about.

To censor is to kill off the voice of a person, echoes Fuentes, who recently co-presented an art show with ToF from trans icon Genesis P-Orridge. Art as a whole should never be censored, I still think art is our societys last sacred thing and I stand with [the] Tom of Finland Foundation in trying to keep art dangerous, provocative and even disturbing, but above all keep the conversation open and ongoing.

And doing so means involving everyone, beyond the gay, fetish or punk communities, which of course social media makes possible. An unwritten mission of ours is to make art and beauty a part of your life, says Sharp. Despite its recent struggles, the group has continued to do just that. Though the internet didnt exist when Touko Laaksonen created his original images, the fight for them to be seen then versus now isnt that different. And as long as the foundation continues to fulfill its official mission statement, freedom wins. It reads, Tom of Finland Foundation shall continue to encourage the work of erotic visual artists regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, sexual identity, medium of expression or any other censoring criteria.

Tom Of Finland and Lethal Amounts present Sex Cells X Daddywood Fundraiser at Precinct DTLA, 357 S. Broadway; Fri., Nov. 17, 9 p.m. (A portion of the proceeds will go to the Tom Of Finland Foundation for the preservation of erotic art). Info here.

Opening reception for the Foundations next artist-in-residence, Bas Koster, takes place Sun., Nov. 24. More info on Toms Blog. Follow Tom of Finland on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read more from the original source:

Tougher Than Leather: The Tom of Finland Foundation's Fight Against Censorship Continues Into the Social Media Age - L.A. Weekly

Sara Lee Responds to SNL’s Sexually Charged Sketch, Reverses Instagram Censorship: ‘We Are Taking It in Stride’ – Yahoo Entertainment

Click here to read the full article.

Despite briefly hiding Instagram comments after appearing in a sexually charged Saturday Night Live sketch, the Sara Lee Corporation says it is taking the SNL fame in stride.

On the NBC series Nov. 16 episode, host Harry Styles appeared in a Sara Lee-centric skit in which he played Dillan, a social media manager who was called into a meeting to discuss off-brand activity on the companys Instagram account. Dillan had used the @SaraLeeBread handle to leave sexually suggestive comments on multiple posts, including Wreck me daddy and Destroy me king on a Nick Jonas photo.

More from TVLine

In a statement to the New York Post on Sunday, Sara Lees parent company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, said, We didnt participate in creating the skit and its content doesnt align with Sara Lee Breads brand. But we all know SNL pushes the envelope for laughs and we are taking it in stride.

After the episode aired, though, the actual @SaraLeeBread Instagram account was flooded with comments referencing the sketch, including multiple Wreck me daddy replies to the companys latest post. On Sunday afternoon, comments on the post had been hidden, prompting SNL cast member Bowen Yang to call out the company for its censorship.

Sara Lee disabling and deleting IG comments, he tweeted. Wow they really could have been THE bread for f*gs.

As of Monday morning, however, comments on the post have returned, and Bimbo Bakeries USA explained the social media strategy in a separate statement.

We didnt delete any comments but did temporarily hide them until we could read through and understand what happened, the company told HuffPost. All comments are now visible, and we will be monitoring for any that violate Instagram standards.

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Sara Lee Responds to SNL's Sexually Charged Sketch, Reverses Instagram Censorship: 'We Are Taking It in Stride' - Yahoo Entertainment

MENstruation: A full analysis of censorship on television networks – The Gateway

Ellie McCartneyCONTRIBUTOR

The networks ABC, CBS, BBC and others are censoring Thinxs MENstruation ad depicting men having their periods.

The ad features all ages of men experiencing their periods in all sorts of everyday situations, such as puberty, intimacy and in public places like school, at work and in public bathrooms.

What scenes are being censored from the ad?Thinx has been asked by several television networks to cut out two scenes from their ad including the bloodstain and tampon scenes, according to the New York Posts source.

Until these two graphic scenes are removed from the ad, television networks like CBS have banned the advertisement.

Why are tampon strings and bloodstains considered graphic?Although in most cases a little white string or bloodstain wouldnt offend most people, there are others who feel strongly about the ad being banned from television.

In fact, One Million Moms (OMM) has started a protest against the ad because its confusing gender roles for children.

To address these different opinions in society, networks like CBS had to consider how the ad would affect their audience. The Federal Communications Commission states that if a viewer believes an advertisement to be offensive, viewers can file a complaint to that network or station.

So, in this case, networks like ABC and others are trying to predict the ramifications of broadcasting the ad for all members of their audience to avoid protests and complaints.

The message behind the Thinx marketing campaignNot only was Thinx, looking to address a taboo topic involving menstruation, but they also recognized the impact they could have on those struggling to afford these hygiene products.

In fact, Thinx teamed up with a nonprofit organization, known as PERIOD, to combat the stigma women face and the poverty surrounding 1 in 5 teens struggling to afford feminine hygiene products.

Rebecca Weis, a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha said that she appreciates that Thinx is trying to end the stigma.

Even as a woman today, when Im in a restaurant and I need to change my tampon, I do feel like I have to put it in my sleeve or hide it, Weis said. Why should we be ashamed?

At first, the MENstruation ad made me smile. Not because it was funny or because men were experiencing their periods, but because of its accuracy. As a woman I experience these frustrations every month.

It was refreshing to me to see the ad before it was censored because it showed that organizations like Thinx and their partner, PERIOD, were addressing the stigma behind menstruation.

To me, the idea behind the ad was a strike of transparency thats needed to make a social change.

After all, if everyone had to go through it maybe, just maybe, they would understand its a part of life. Instead of being grossed out or shamed for having our periods, we could share our frustrations and bond over them.

Like Thinx said at the end of their ad, If we all had them, maybe wed be more comfortable with them.

Thats why, to me, the ad shouldnt have to be censored to be broadcasted on television because its a part of life for all women of all ages.

Where can you find the MENstruation ad now?Through the evolution of Thinx original ad, the ad was later accepted on all networks with the exclusion of the blood stain and tampon string scenes.

The ad will be aired 15 to 30 seconds for eight weeks in the United States across 18 networks.

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MENstruation: A full analysis of censorship on television networks - The Gateway

Inside the "Reckless" World of In-Flight Movie Censoring – InsideHook

(Photo by Bob Riha/WireImage)

Last week, after edited versions of Booksmart and Rocketman on their flights caused an uproar for omitting key same-sex love scenes, Delta announced that it will restore the scenes and implement a new process for managing its in-flight entertainment.

That process for most airlines currently consists of working with studios and third-party companies on edited versions of films (read more about that here). But as one editor who has been doing this type of work for 30 years and worked for nearly every major studio in Hollywood tells InsideHook, corners are often cut to save money, and the Booksmart and Rocketman controversies are just two instances of a widespread problem in the industry.

The studios, outside of the creative groups, are full of people who have zero interest in or understanding of the creative process, the editor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, explains. They are pushing widgets. Decisions get made for cost reasons instead of creative reasons, and the creative execs and producers have moved on in most cases and take little interest in post-theatrical sales other than the number in the profit column of course.Compromises are made in the name of cost. The scene has nudity AND a key story element? Cut it! This has been my fight for 30 years, to find creative ways to protect the story and the original intent of the filmmaker while working under very strict budget restraints.

According to the Directors Guild of America (DGA) contract, studios are required to contact the director of a film to run edits by them in these instances, but that doesnt always happen (as evidenced by director Olivia Wildes reaction to the Booksmart cuts). As the editor we spoke to, who well call E, notes, getting a director involved in the process means more time and money, and studios will often skirt that responsibility.

People dont put a ton of efforts into contacting the directors even though theyre legally obligated to, so what they might do is send a letter which expires in five days, E explains. They send a little letter to the publicist or their agency, and then that gets lost and then somebody doesnt read it or doesnt contact the director. So now the director, after five days, their option to be involved is expired. And when you have a director involved, the director always complicates the process because the director wants to see whats happening.

This is a studio requirement in article 7 of the DGA contract and is often ignored, they add. The DGA needs to take a stronger stance on this topic, and the directors need to always be involved in the fight to protect their film from unnecessary and often arbitrary edit requests. They will often find an editor at the major studios eager to pick up the sword and fight with them.

E has tried to keep up the fight against unnecessary censorship throughout their career, and its a battle that has actually gotten easier in recent years. Airlines, those used to be really big money sales, and theyre not anymore, they explain. It used to be that you would create an airline edit that would show overhead, it would sell for like several millions of dollars. Now, the amount of money that the airlines pay is so little that often those fights are easier to win.

In the past, studios would make an edit suitable for all audiences that would be screened overhead in the main cabin as well as a seatback edit, where the guidelines of whats acceptable are much more liberal. Generally speaking, E says, only nudity and extreme violence as well as visual profanity from the subtitles get edited out for seatback displays in an effort to limit what a child might accidentally see over someones shoulder.

However, certain international airlines have their own sensitivities (Middle Eastern airlines, E says, are criminally strict, and the Chinese dont allow any depiction or mention of ghosts), and some companies will combine these into the one edited version they offer in an effort to cut costs resulting in situations like the Booksmart one.

Sometimes theyll give us specific requests like, Yeah, we dont want to see the women kissing or love scenes. We dont want to talk about gay stuff because you know, thats illegal in our country,' they say. That does happen from time to time. Paramount should have said, No problem, we will create a specific version for you. Its gonna take the editor 15 minutes to cut that out and then well just deliver another file to you. Itll cost us about a thousand dollars. But what they did possibly say is, Well just include that in the edit so that we only have to do this once. And that to me is the biggest crime of all. I mean, its like, how dare you destroy a film for a couple thousand bucks?

Ultimately, E says they hope that the attention that the Delta controversy received will create an ongoing conversation about how in-flight movies get edited.

It kind of illuminates a really big problem in this industry,and so thats something that would be great if it doesnt just kind of fizzle away, if it becomes a big thing that kind of opens up the can of worms that really makes people look at how this shits done and its done recklessly, man, they say. I mean, its like theres people that just dont follow the rules. They look at this stuff not like its a piece of art, but like its nothing. There are people that just have no care. Like, could you imagine if a museum that needs to restore a van Gogh, you know, just sends it out to a third party? Its like, no, you care for that. You know, you care for the product you take care of because it is a piece of creative art thats out in the world. You dont just give it to the cheapest guy, and thats what these people are doing.

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Inside the "Reckless" World of In-Flight Movie Censoring - InsideHook

Disney Plus Censors Gravity Falls, The Simpsons – Pirates and Princesses

Censorship was a primary concern for potential subscribers to Disney Plus since it was announced, with many of Disneys older cartoons and live-action movies and television shows having scenes and imagery that Disney might not think are appropriate in current year.

While Song of the South will likely never see a release on Disney Plus, other movies like Dumbo have been left intact albeit with a content warning.

As users have had more time to poke around Disney Plus, its surprised many that some newer series have been altered as well, with some edits being made and controversial episodes dropped entirely.

Gravity Falls, a popular Disney XD cartoon series, has been on the receiving end of Disneys censorship blade. The series ended only a couple of years ago, but the character of Grunkle Stan has had the symbol removed from his fez in the first part of Season 1.

This didnt sit well with show creator Alex Hirsch, who took to Twitter to call Disney out.

The symbol was supposed to be a fish, but also resembled a crescent moon. Likely it was designed to reflect the symbol of The Shriners, which features a crescent moon shape.

The image changed on Grunkle Stans fez changed in later episodes, to one resembling a clam or fish.

The rumor is that the original version was too close to the flag of the Nation of Islam or the flag of Turkey, and that it was never broadcast with that symbol in some countries overseas. Apparently the Disney Plus version of Gravity Falls is the same edited version that ran abroad.

One of the biggest selling points of Disney Plus was access to every episode of Foxs The Simpsons.

However, its not every episode, and some episodes have been formatted to fit your screen in such a way as to cut out visual jokes.

According to Fast Company, the episode Stark Raving Dad is missing from Disney Plus due to HBOs controversial Leaving Neverland series.

In Stark Raving Dad, Homer is mistakenly sent to a mental institution, where he befriends a man who claims to be Michael Jackson. Its eventually revealed that hes an impostor who admits to speaking like Jackson because it made people happy. Stark Raving Dad was actually pulled from broadcast circulation earlier this year following HBOs documentaryLeaving Neverland, whichchronicles the allegations of child abuse against Jackson. That would explain why Disney chose not to include the episode on Disney Plus.

I guess we shouldnt expect a revival of Captain EO in the parks anytime soon, then?

In addition to dropping the Jackson episode, Simpsons fans are incensed that even though Disney promised to make the earlier episodes available in their native 4:3 aspect ratio, they instead dumped them in a cropped 16:9 format. The cropping has cut some of the visual jokes.

Due to the backlash, Disney has addressed the aspect ratio issue

We presentedThe Simpsonsin 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons. Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options. As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) ofThe Simpsonsavailable in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series.

However, theres no clarification as to what early 2020 means. Also, there is no addressing the pulled episode episode Stark Raving Dad.

We expect more hiccups as Disney Plus tries to find its footing. While other streaming services might get a pass for a learning curve, Disney Plus is under the microscope given thats its Disney and that the company is seemingly betting the farm on the platform.

Check out this video for more on the Disney Plus censorship issue (language warning.)

[Source: Fast Company]

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Disney Plus Censors Gravity Falls, The Simpsons - Pirates and Princesses

Russian internet censorship could come the U.S. – Inverse

Russia strictly censors content on the internet and Russian President Vladimir Putin is actually trying to take control of Russias internet completely. As with any authoritarian regime, Russia especially loves to censor criticism of its leaders, which is often labeled as extremism. That might sound like a problem that only affects Russians, but a new study claims it could be a blueprint for censorship in the U.S.

The study, from the University of Michigan, claims that the U.S. repealing net neutrality rules could allow internet service providers (ISPs) to censor parts of the internet much as Russia does. To understand this issue, the researchers analyzed over 1,000 privately owned ISPs that are regulated by the Russian government.

Russias internet isnt technically state-controlled, as you see in a country like China, so it would seem itd be more difficult to censor content on this kind of decentralized network. However, Russia has been quite successful at censoring content despite ISPs being privately controlled. Something similar could take place in other countries where the internet is decentralized, like the United States.

Roya Ensafi, a U-M computer science and engineering assistant professor who helped conduct this study, said in a statement that Russia has essentially forced private companies to do the censoring for them.

Russia has broken the mold of what we traditionally consider censorship, she said. Theyve essentially outsourced censorship to the thousands of privately owned ISPs operate in the country, requiring them to ban certain content without specifying exactly how. This creates a patchwork of blocking strategies that is quite effective and very difficult for users to circumvent.

One could imagine a president like Donald Trump, who is known for strong-arming private companies to get what he wants and doesnt care for the First Amendment, pressuring ISPs to get rid of certain kinds of content he finds objectionable. Any future president could do this since we dont have net neutrality protections anymore. You can thank Trump and douchebag FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for that.

Russia passed a sovereign internet bill earlier this year that was signed by President Putin. This new law gives the Russian government the ability to take control of its internet completely by forcing ISPs in the country to install devices on their servers that are controlled by the Russian government for the purpose of censoring content.

The pieces of equipment being installed at hundreds [of] Russian ISPs cost a few thousand dollars eacha negligible amount of money for almost any government, Ensafi said. Theyve created a very effective system using inexpensive commodity equipment. And it could be easily exported to any country with a similar internet structurecountries like the United States or Portugal or Brazil or England.

See also: What Is the Save the Internet Act? The New Plan to Restore Net Neutrality

The study claims nearly 200,000 domains have been blocked under Russian censorship, and many more will be blocked in the not-too-distant future. The researchers warn that journalists, activists and citizens need to be vigilant so a similar situation doesnt arise in the United States and other more democratic countries. Once you lose a right, you dont tend to get it back.

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Russian internet censorship could come the U.S. - Inverse

Campus censorship: a tyranny of the minority – Spiked

Most students are weary of the excesses of the social-justice movement.

A new study by the Policy Exchange think-tank has revealed that fewer than half of university students in the UK consistently support freedom of speech. According to the findings, 41 per cent agreed with Cambridge Universitys decision to rescind Jordan Petersons fellowship, as opposed to 31 per cent who disagreed. A similar result emerged when they were asked whether Cardiff University was right to overrule the activists who sought to have Germaine Greer disinvited for her supposedly transphobic views. Forty-four per cent opposed the universitys intervention whereas 35 per cent supported it. The study is being taken as evidence that intolerance of diverse opinions is a growing concern in our higher-education institutions.

The study also focuses on the political discrimination faced by those with unfashionable opinions. Students who support Brexit, the study finds, are unlikely to express their views openly. Both students and academics seem to be prone to what the economist Timur Kuran has called preference falsification, whereby ones true opinion is withheld in favour of a more socially acceptable declaration. This is why the authors of the Policy Exchange report emphasise the dangers of a culture of conformity.

Although this would seem to corroborate the general perception that free speech is under threat on university campuses, the authors emphasise that there remains a noteworthy constituency of students who support free speech. This has certainly been my own experience of speaking on campuses. Recently, a student-run politics society invited me to give a talk on the relationship between contemporary politics and satire and, in the subsequent Q&A, the issue of No Platforming was raised. Some had reservations about the idea of unfettered free speech, and one or two argued that there was a sound case for this kind of censorship. But on the whole I found the students to be open-minded and eager for debate.

The same cannot be said for the academic staff of the politics department, not one of whom turned up. I later discovered that they had refused even to publicise the event on the grounds that a talk which was likely to be antagonistic to woke culture would be a violation of their departmental ethos of promoting diversity. Quite how a discussion about satire would in any way represent a threat to diversity is difficult to fathom. But it was clear enough that they were unwilling to have their ideological worldview challenged.

My experiences have persuaded me that in order to combat the culture of conformity in universities, we need to take a top-down approach. With faculty members so blind to the need for alternative voices, is it any wonder that some students are beginning to follow suit? Free speech is increasingly perceived as the domain of the right, so it is hardly surprising that academics are failing to defend what should be a non-partisan principle. A recent study by the Adam Smith Institute found that fewer than 12 per cent of UK academics consider themselves to be conservative. This lack of diversity should trouble all of us, irrespective of our political leanings.

As for the students, it is now undeniable that on most campuses there exists a small body of activists most notably those who seek positions in students unions who are hostile to alternative ways of thinking and who like to conflate speech with violence. However, there is every reason to believe that most young people are weary of the excesses of the social-justice movement. And as I have argued previously, it is unwise to dismiss an entire generation as snowflakes on the basis of the illiberal antics of the minority.

The problem lies with the rise of a new kind of identity politics, one in which ones sense of self-worth is inextricably bound up with a particular worldview. In such circumstances, a political disagreement can represent an acute threat to ones emotional wellbeing. To be disabused of a long-held conviction can prompt what is known as an identity quake, by which ones core beliefs are suddenly destabilised. Some students, in other words, perceive the very process of education as carrying with it the possibility of a traumatic disruption of the certainties that are key to their identity. This explains the hysterical response of one Yale undergraduate who berated her professor in a now famous viral video. It is not about creating an intellectual space!, she is heard to scream. It is not! Do you understand that? Its about creating a home here.

It should go without saying that the university experience is not about reinforcing existing beliefs, but subjecting them to scrutiny. In spite of the more alarmist headlines that this recent Policy Exchange report has generated, most students are still keen to be challenged. At the same time, they are living through a time in which they are repeatedly assured that their emotional needs must take precedence over all other considerations. It is important that faculty and students alike feel able to discuss unpopular ideas and to question the status quo. In order to achieve this we need to break down this culture of conformity and initiate practical policies to defend academic freedom, and that means reaffirming the purpose of higher education itself.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. His book Woke: A Guide to Social Justice (written by his alter-ego Titania McGrath) is available on Amazon.

To enquire about republishing spikeds content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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Campus censorship: a tyranny of the minority - Spiked

TOTO: Disney, Netflix Wave White Flag On International Censorship – The Daily Wire

LeBron James got caught cozying up to China in the most embarrassing of ways a few weeks back. Turns out hes got some competition on the cozying up front from two of the biggest companies in Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar scolded Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey for supporting Hong Kong protesters, dubbing Morey misinformed and not educated. A massive public backlash ensued.

The derisive chant Shut Up and Dribble made a sudden comeback.

Much less has been made of two similar comments tied to authoritarian regimes.

Netflix, the worlds biggest streaming company (for now), got in trouble with one of its politically charged originals. The companys far-left talker Patriot Act starring Hasan Minhaj aired a segment critical of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his ties to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this year.

The streaming giant yanked the episode in question from its Saudi feed at the countrys urging. Recently, CEO Reed Hastings defended the decision.

Were not in the news business, he said during an event sponsored by The New York Times. Were not trying to do truth to power. Were trying to entertain.

We can accomplish a lot more by being entertainment and influence the conversation about the way people live, rather than being another news channel, he added.

Netflix seemed less interested in entertaining when it got into bed with the Obamas on a multi-million dollar production deal. Or when Hastings added former Obama official Susan Rice to the companys Board of Directors.

And what about Netflix threatening to pull productions out of Georgia after the state passed strict new legislation targeting abortion procedures?

That doesnt mention the streamers hard-left content catalog, featuring uber-woke talent like Chelsea Handler, the aforementioned Minaj, David Letterman and, briefly, Michelle Wolf.

Standing up to authoritarian regimes isnt of particular interest to Team Disney, either. The House that Mickey Built gains plenty from showing its product in Chinese movie theaters. That allows gargantuan hits like Avengers: Endgame to be gargantuan-er.

So its not shocking to hear Disney echo similar talking points.

The Hollywood Reporter recently invited seven major studio chiefs to weigh in on a number of critical issues, from the changing digital landscape to our current superhero fixation.

Alan Horn, chief creative officer and co-chairman of Disney, joined in the conversation which eventually steered toward China. THR brought up the imbroglio revolving around the studios live-action version of Mulan. That films star, Yifei Liu, shared her support for the Hong Kong protests, causing a LeBron-sized outcry.

How did Horn react?

My feeling is free speech is an important component of our society, and folks ought to be able to say what they want to say.

So far, so good.

We try to be nonpolitical. There is always an issue somewhere in the world, and China happens to be a very, very big market, but its not the only market where there have been issues. The only thing I have said to the folks that work with me is to keep in mind that when you speak, [the media will quote you]. And that carries with it a certain responsibility. Be sensible and think before you speak. Especially on social media.

The conversation then shifted to the Fast & Furious franchise, one of Hollywoods hottest properties. The roundtable moderator asks if the series could have a Chinese villain at some point. Universals Donna Langley offers this answer:

We run a business. We have to be sensitive to important markets.

That would be a no.

These revelations dont address the other ways studios appease Chinese censors, from adding positive Asian characters to win over foreign censors to ensuring no plot points interfere with the nations flawless image.

The international markets certainly complicate business decisions in the 21st century. Movie studios know a stateside flop can turn into a profit leader if select foreign markets rally to their side.

There are few easy answers in our increasingly global age. Still, its hard to process the non-stop lectures and finger-wagging from Hollywood Inc. and the aforementioned comments.

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TOTO: Disney, Netflix Wave White Flag On International Censorship - The Daily Wire


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