We flourish, as writers, as a society, hell, as a species, with our ground fertilized by hard-won freedoms. Often freedoms paid for in blood and treasure.

But always, these are fragile. And – despite the provable fact that we all do better long term for these things being conserved and nurtured… there is always some dim-witted idiot who thinks their personal immediate short-term advantage is best served by abusing these. They think that because it serves their interest NOW, that it’ll never come around to them, and bite them the ass.

And of course, there is collateral damage.

And no. The arrow of history does not point one way, and many ‘new and progressive’ things have been around before. And some of them didn’t work then and probably won’t now. And others worked well and were good for their societies (Like women Medical Doctors in Afghanistan, training alongside male Doctors in the 1960’s , or some of the laws of Ancient Rome) and… are lost again, sometimes for centuries.

Yes, the world has generally become a better place to live. I know there is a current drive to rewrite parts of history to make it fit current mores,  which comes up with things women always being in the military… and conveniently leaving out the fact that, yes, while those few cases did occur, they were exceptionally rare. About 1 in every million rare.

Actually, despite revisionism, the past is not fluid. The future is not certain.

What future we end up with depends rather heavily on what freedoms we conserve.

We – as writers, alive and writing now, have a level of freedom – thanks to technology — undreamed of by ANY previous time.  It’s the scale of reach that is the thing, despite the attempts of publishers, the legacy media, and of course politicians and governments and mega-corporations to restrict the written word to what they want readers to get.  As I said earlier, this is typical short-sighted stupid… but we have a large supply of that as a species. Yes, I know. They all assume they’re serving their best short-term interests, and will always stay in control, and it will never bite them in the ass.

History (not the revisionist version) says otherwise.

Of course there is a lot of collateral damage, from here to there.

And that collateral damage… is us.

We’re seeing new laws against ‘hate-speech’ coming out various countries. “Oh but hate-speech is bad, surely that is good?”

Only if you are foolish enough to assume that the definition of ‘hate-speech’ will not rapidly grow to be: ‘Any speech I disagree with, or find inconvenient, or can’t counter’.  And trust me, sooner or later the purity spiral will see everyone run afoul of this.

An EU court has already ruled that this ‘hate-speech’ as found in one of their countries MUST be censored world-wide. As my grandmother said: “Ugly is not important, but beware stupid.” So, Bravo, EU moronic judges (and ‘moronic’ is meant as a literal description of their logical thinking skills, although, unfortunately it may be insulting. Dear morons, I apologize, I did not mean to belittle you with that comparison). Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, China, Zimbabwe or North Korea for that matter, can now hold you to your own standard. All they need is their court to hold your citizen guilty of hate-speech and they are silenced. A real win. NOT.

And sooner or later that will spread to books, especially e-books, and they will use Amazon (and any other publisher) as their enforcer.

History says these entities will roll over and co-operate. And yes, it will do them no good. But… collateral damage.

Facebook, having recently criticized their Chinese equivalent for censorship, decided that they’d censor posts that contain the name of the individual thought to be so-called ‘whistle-blower’ a CIA operative called Eric Ciaramella, and apply unilateral banishment on some posters.

There is no legal requirement for them or anyone but the panjandrum who jumped through extra hoops to make this complaint an issue to NOT speculate on the name. There is nothing to stop – if the speculation wrong – said panjandrum saying they are wrong.  There is nothing to stop the Star chamber’s chief inquisitor saying they are wrong – if he can do so without lying. Admittedly, that might not convince many people.  There is nothing to stop – if the speculation is wrong – the actual individual stepping forward and showing themselves an honorable man, and sparing this Eric Ciaramella.  The name is widely circulated in almost every bit of media, except the legacy media, who too are doing their bit to censor it.

The only reason for their conduct appears political – to side with one faction they have been shown to favor.  Today that faction (maybe you love them, so you think it is fine)… tomorrow, it may well be someone who hates you or what you write.

Facebook says you can TRUST them to maintain an electronic currency.

But can you trust someone who arbitrarily censors you?

Can you trust someone who can and does make your words vanish on a whim? Who could make your identity vanish? Who can, at will, to please say the Chinese (or Canadian or Equatorial Guinean) panjandrum who told them your speech was hateful or disagreed with some possibly trivial detail of their point of view, make you a non-person (along with the funds – or hard work you invested in building up your own platform to sell books on – that benefitted them, too).

I can’t.

But… just going Luddite won’t work either.

We need to work on making networks OUTSIDE these behemoths control, particularly those selling themselves as free of censorship. (I am attempting to plant myself on MeWe).  Follow people OFF Facebook and Twitter.  Go to their sites, build your own. Build your own mailing lists so even Amazon doesn’t limit you.

At the moment one can still do both. But we all need to work on becoming anti-fragile. And we all need to value these freedoms. Censorship, even if you loathe the speaker, and disagree with every word, is something we need to counter at every turn.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay


  1. New Zealand passed a “Harmful Digital Communications Act” several years ago (under our supposedly more right leaning major political party, ostensibly to protect young & old from “Cyberbullying”, even though those who’d been lobbying & advocating for such an act (& those, cough*MSM*cough who now object when people aren’t charged with violating it) said when the specific legislation in question was being considered that what had been drafted & submitted was too broad & not fit for purpose.

    How broad? Well my, admittedly inexpert & IANAL, understanding is that those journalists who’ve named someone they think should have been charged for offences under it, probably violated it themselves when they specified why they think he should have been charged (actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t technically as guilty of breaching it against the victim, for bringing her into the public eye in the way they did, too)…

    1. A system where everybody is guilty, but some are protected, is exactly the sort of tyranny being sought.
      Riots, terroristic threats and mob violence are all very illegal. But Antifa operates with impunity. And those who defend themselves often find themselves victimized a second time by the government that allowed the violence to occur.

      1. Antifa can vandalize churches, destroy small businesses and assault people in the street, but that’s apparently okay. I guess the Left really doesn’t want a crackdown against their don’t-call-them-fascist goon squad.

      1. I don’t believe it’s going to happen, for the most part the electorate approves of the problematic issues, & that means nearly all our elected politicians, regardless of affiliation do too, it’s just a matter of degree.

  2. Curious is it not how very often the aforementioned Arrow of Time will take on the flight characteristics of that infamous device from down under, the boomerang.

    1. There’s the problem- they have not been taught how the last two wars started, or that any kind of Statism turns tyrannical, or that Marx was the biggest scam artist of all time- none of it.

      And the little bit they do know is absolutely wrong- the beliefs that Nationalism causes wars, that Capitalism causes poverty, and that Free Speech is an incitement to hatred.

  3. “But can you trust someone who arbitrarily censors you?”

    Please. I never trusted any of them at all. Any service that’s “free” means you are the product being sold, not the customer. They’re determined to rig the 2020 US election. We are all collateral damage, too small to be actual targets.

    Our job is A) survive and B) make it so expensive for these assholes that they either go bankrupt or stop doing it.

    You guys remember MySpace? Biggest thing in social media ten years ago. Still alive now, as a crappy media promotion site. This time next year, Farcebook could follow it down the drain. Apple and Google could become the next Motorola and IBM.

    Paper tigers. They look big, but they are fragile.

  4. British and Australian censorship laws are why one of the Cat Among Dragon books is only available to Canadian and US markets. The bad guys are Islamists who are a smoke-screen for the real bad guys. That’s enough to trigger UK and Australian defamation-of-Religion (actually defamation of Islam) laws, so I opted not to release it in places where I could get sued.

    1. And TXRed, that why they declare borders to have no meaning. Your ‘hate-speech’ outside their country, they still claim must be censored. Next that will include you being punished, possibly extradited.

  5. My trust that I will not be arbitrarily and capriciously censored here is one of the reasons I even consider commenting in the first place.

    1. We have… EVENTUALLY told three people they’re not welcome. Out of several 100 K of unique visitors. All three were compulsive liars, whose whole purpose was to destroy our platform, and our freedom of speech. All three were given enormous leeway, repeated warnings, and we are not a large dominant platform. They are free to continue their activity (they are not silenced) and do.

  6. If I was a writer…

    I’d get together with some like-minded people,

    form an association

    collect some money

    set up a web store

    put links to that store on my web site

    see if i could hire Kovid Goyal – the guy who wrote Calibre – to make a fork that would allow users to download books from the web store on one hand while handling Paypal, Stripe, or other transaction methods for “and then I get paid”

    hire an outfit to maintain the web store as needed

    Alternatively, I’d find a different reader app that has multiplatform support, and offer the same deal there.

    Yeah, there are a bunch of small details, many of them related to ownership and scalability, but the above is the basics.

    1. It may come to that, eventually – if Amazon ever gets a wild hair and starts dumping indy authors.

  7. You’re describing Closed Circle, which is a venture by CJ Cherryh with some other authors. They put up their backlist and they use Calibre for DRM-free books. Their ebooks come as a zipped file with epub, mobi, and PDF formats, similar to what Baen offers.

    I like the concept. Cherryh lets you pay with PayPal, but I’m wary of PayPal just on the author’s side. Hasn’t PayPal also withheld payments from authors and others for similar reasons as Facebook would? I’d rather Cherryh used Stripe or Amazon payments or something where I know that there’s a savvy team of cyber-security people behind the scenes.

    The thing about the zipped file is that it does require a savvier customer; with Amazon you just buy and the book appears on your Kindle; it works similarly with iBooks and iPads. Requiring readers to sideload narrows your customer base. I am having flashbacks to tech support where I’d have to explain to people the difference between an email address and a URL. You’d think the difference would be obvious, but there’s a nontrivial segment of the population for whom it isn’t. Sci-fi writers may have the edge here, in that their target audience might be tech savvy, but it’s not a given.

    1. Some people use PayPal as their bank and leave a lot of money there. It’s probably best not to do that.

  8. One good thing about a lot of Americans is that they want to know what they’re not supposed to say, so they would know what to shout at the top of their lungs.

    1. Well, it’s true. They don’t.

      On the other hand, now that they’re saying they’re not a common carrier the lawfare possibilities are endless.

  9. My now-moribund website was called “The Compleat Iconoclast” for a reason. I sometimes wrote stuff just to be outrageous. For example, “Saddam’s Triumph,” calling for a Roman-inspired triumph down a ticker-tape parade route through NYC, complete with a few battalions of Army and Marines riding in spiffy new ACVs and on foot, dead T-72s being dragged by chains behind Abrams, Iraqi shot-down Migs and a few holey French Super Etendards on flatbeds behind them, a company or so of Iraqi Republican Guard POW’s walking in disarray in the rear, culminating with ol’ Saddam himself walking barefoot behind vehicle full of victorious American generals, the triumph ending with a gallows where Saddam and a few others, Baghdad Bob as an example, would be publicly hung.

    Barbarous? No doubt. But the PPV would be sold out globally, generating enough moolah to pay for the entire DoD for at LEAST a year. But the real genius is what it would do for Jihad recruiting. How would any potential terrorists think that Allah was on their side after a gigantic loss of face like that one?They believe in the “strong horse” after all.

    Before we dismiss this barbarous practice, remember that the Romans had noTV, so marching defeated foes through the streets was the only time most of them would ever see the enemies and their unique weapons they had spent so much time, blood and treasure to defeat.

    I’ll release the series when I have six books done. Four are more or less done, needing only some formatting, covers, and artwork. Then I’ll publish the first, with the other five in two-month intervals. No exasperating G.R.R. Martinish delays.
    Be Forewarned: Each volume will contain events fiendishly concocted to pop circuit breakers for almost everyone. A cornucopia of sax and violins. I expect I will be booed off the stage. Somewhat crestfallen if I am not.

    1. Barbarous? Maybe.

      Likely to have saved lives American, “Allied”, & Other (including “Enemy”), over the decades since? Almost certainly, in huge numbers (I wanted to use “in Job-lots” here, but wasn’t sure it would work), & lets not forget all the money your Government wouldn’t have wasted trying to bring “Love & Peace” to parts east too…

      1. Harry, the post was too long as it was, so I didn’t mention the idea of “Crushing your enemy and rubbing their face in their defeat,” but no freakin’ doubt it would’ve ended up being a net saver of lives for both sides, by forestalling any seminal uprisings in Iraq, and showing the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram, et. al., what the deserts of Radical Islam would be.

      1. I didn’t even mention the fact that the Deplorables would love it, and the SJWs, Democrats, and Progressives (Excuse me for such redundancy), would be driven bonkers. It would be fought as unconstitutional, (cruel and unusual) the rebuttal of which would be the fact that the Constitution only applies to US citizens, not Saddam and his gang.The media would be driven mad in a different way, not wanting to devote airtime and column inches to it, but being forced to, because rating$.

        Airdrop pallets of cheap one – use devices (phones?USB dives?) all over the ME, with the videos hard-coded into them.

        Propaganda fodder for decades.

          1. I said, no spoilers! Besides, the Bananarama girl ain’t the only one.Think Achilles. Will the young man end up a fighter or a lover? Ares/Mars gets a vote also. The boy and his family are a shuttlecock bandied about by two opposing camps.

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