Author Topic: Nearly 1 in 4 US Writers Has Self-Censored For Fear of Government Surveillance  (Read 2783 times)

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Offline Elaine Davis

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I found this article while surfing the web and thought I would post it for the sake of interest. As I read this, I wondered how far people will go to silence themselves, their freedom of expression to keep a government afloat at the expense of what will eventually be their own mental health. Just thoughts. =) Oh, and my RANT is located at the bottom. =)

Nearly 1 in 4 US Writers Has Self-Censored For Fear of Government Surveillance

 by Rania Khalek on December 4, 2013

A recently released survey of American writers conducted by PEN America Center in October found that government surveillance is having a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

PEN surveyed over 500 US writers about the impact of NSA surveillance revelations on their work and found that self-censorship is rampant due to anxieties about being spied on. Those surveyed admitted to purposely steering clear of writing, speaking about and even researching certain topics. Subjects being avoided relate to military affairs, the Middle East and North Africa, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages, and criticism of the US government, all issues in desperate need of sunlight. But self-censorship guarantees that investigative journalism on topics such as these will be hampered.  

From the report:
  • 28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so;
  • 24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it;
  • 16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it;
  • 16% have refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspicious, and another 12% have seriously considered it;
  • 13% have taken extra steps to disguise or cover their digital footprints, and another 11% have seriously considered it;
  • 3% have declined opportunities to meet (in person, or electronically) people who might be deemed security threats by the government, and another 4% have seriously considered it.
In countries with outright tyrannical regimes, it’s the government that does the censoring, whereas the US government has managed to get writers to do the legwork for them.
In a nation that prides itself on free speech, this should be cause for alarm. So where is the outrage?   

     What ever happened to the days when a person could write, think, and express to others his or her opinion on the government or his or her surroundings without it being taken as a threat to some level of security for someone or something?  It's widespread paranoia. I walk in to the Kum And Go where I live and instant cameras are on me showing all sides of me as I pay for my items. Even as I walk in to that store in this small town, I can just sense the fellows who are working the counters are just looking for a problem to report, sizing people up, trying to be heros for the local cops who are trying to be heros for their government.
Cycle one. Time to start that garden. I smile and I leave the store. I hate going in there.
I hate the cameras and to be honest, I am starting to hate my own cell phone. It holds too many clues to me that can be overinterpreted, underinterpreted and holds no true example of who I am if by my selection of digital selections, I am only interpretable by the downloadable and available bullshit (Oh, there's an expletive) in APP form from some APP lab governed and run by a big dog chasing its own tail. I'd be damned if I weren't already.  My choice of Apps, digital music, and digital anything is no example of me. That's just digital intangible marbles.
     The thing I hate most about electronic surveillance and/or digitalized medias is that even after all the greatness of the invention, the global connection gift it gives us, it ends up changing our beliefs and understandings about our humanity, individuality and eventually our worth because with all the surveillance around it and us, we start to perceive ourselves as a potential threat if we use our 'gift' of the global connection via internet, digital phones, etc., we now have all the chance in the world to say what we think, sugar coat it in the form of a fancy blog or some form and send it wherever we want with the touch of a button. Sending messages becomes so easy, saavy and thus believable. We are more believable with our opinions now because we can say them not to two or three people at once, but many, using the internet as the delivery boy. Nice.
    The answer for our government is to keep us threatened. Scare us out of our jobs, security, and life. Never tell the truth, and never allude to it in a subtle fashion.  Maybe we should actually CENSOR ourselves. Nope. Not today.  Getting rid of the truth anymore is not as simple as wodding up an article, complaint notice, or telling the security guard to send the complainer home or threaten him.  It's a wide open truth space, the net. I can say all the good things I want. I can say anything I want without referring specifically to any individual or organization. Words are a powerful tool. I'll be damned if I ever censor anything today if I did not have to do it twenty years ago. If freedom of speech was not a crime twenty years ago, why would it be now just because there is a new and quickened modem for sending an expression?  The FREEDOM of expression is still the same right in staunchness.
GOD FORBID THE LIGHTS GO OUT and a zillion brains have to be retrained to function in manual reality.

Does anyone else get the idea that the tweets on the WL account are starting to sound a little like someone is bathing in a bird bath, eating bird food & possibly smoking bird * in his own sphere??