Kit, latest, The web they want
Comments 37

Guardian Editor Weighs in on War on Free Speech

by Kit

This satirical placard, sadly misinterpreted, now hangs above Ms Viner's desk.

This satirical placard, sadly misinterpreted, now hangs above Ms Viner’s desk.

Katherine Viner has waded into fray, waving a battle standard, The Guardian, she says ultra-po-faced, admits to having a “problem with abuse”. She is lying. Their own shoddy statistical analysis says that 1 in 50 comments is removed, which means 98% of Guardian comments are non-abusive. That is no problem.

Of course that implies that every single moderated post on CiF is abusive, which is obviously not the case. That they moderate for opinion and content is well established. Check these moderated comments here, here and here. Just yesterday a reader sent us this comment, which was removed. Hell, we have a whole category devoted to Cif censorship. Do these posts seem “abusive” to you?

The Guardian claim that, of their top ten “abused” authors, 8 are women, 3 are gay and 6 are non-white. This statement, never backed up with evidence, is used by Viner to offer up “proof of what we have long suspected”….that CiF is a hot-bed of racism, homophobia and misogyny…in the 2% of comments that require moderation.

The article is long, rambling, hysterical and self congratulatory. Viner bleats like the sheep chorus from Animal Farm. Free speech baaaaaddddd, censors goooood. It’s thousands of words, and feels like tens of thousands. Ignore it all, the only important passage is this:

As editor, I think we need to act more decisively on what kind of material appears on the Guardian. Those who argue that this is an affront to freedom of speech miss the point. That freedom counts for little if it is used to silence others. When women and minorities don’t feel able to speak their mind for fear of insult, threat or humiliation, no such freedom exists.

Read that back. Let it sink in.

Those who argue that this is an affront to freedom of speech miss the point. That freedom counts for little if it is used to silence others.

Our freedom of speech counts for nothing, because of the huddled unnamed mass of women, ethnic minorities and members of the LGBT community who are just too afraid to speak up against the torrent of abuse that they face 2% of the time. Orwell would be so proud.

Make no mistake, this is a very dangerous time for free speech, and the internet in general. The Guardian is just the first domino waiting to fall.

Since it is now established with “statistics” that freedom of speech is meaningless, we should be happy that they are planning to take it away. First the Guardian will shut down or cripple its comments sections – and then opportunistic, climbing MPs will cite the “destruction of comment sections in newspapers” as reason to impose the legislation that is already written, and just waiting for our permission to pass.

free-speech

They will attack anonymity first, under the guise of reducing threats. Then they will move on “conspiracy theorist” websites that “offer up hate speech” by attacking governments. Or “racists” who criticise Europe or refugee policies. Critics of Israel will be “antisemites”, critics of Hillary Clinton will be “misogynist”, critics of Saudi Arabia will be “Islamophobes” and anyone who dares side against the press consensus on Syria or Ukraine will be “apologising for war crimes” or “spreading Russian propaganda”.

They are trying to make the web they want. It’s important we don’t let them.


37 Comments

  1. Happy Harry says

    @proximity1 Agree with your observations, it is blatantly obvious that the current focus on antisemitism is a smear campaign against Corbyn to distract the public from more serious socio-economic issues affecting the UK prior to Local and Mayoral elections. Of all the problems we have to face at the moment I would suggest antisemitism is about as low down the scale as you can get. I seriously doubt if anyone beyond the navel-gazers in the media are giving this a second thought. It is not an issue to be concerned about next to the NHS, the economy, housing, education (academies!), transport, trade, etc. etc.

    The fact that comments on major political issues in the G are almost always closed tells you all you need to know. With the EU referendum also looming the propaganda above the line will be ramping up so any sensible counter narrative below the line can’t be given any breathing space. In a way I feel sorry for the Graun because I am almost certain its editorial line has been taken over by 5 eyes.

    I would like to see off-guardian do an article on this issue.

    • proximity1 says

      “With the EU referendum also looming the propaganda above the line will be ramping up so any sensible counter narrative below the line can’t be given any breathing space.”

      Quite right. That’s a very good point.

      “In a way I feel sorry for the Graun because I am almost certain its editorial line has been taken over by 5 eyes.”

      Actually, I’d feel more reassured if I could believe that was in fact the case. I worry that The Guardian‘s editors and writers are not being imposed upon–I worry that they subscribe body and soul to this very dark turn in the paper’s character. I worry that they have somehow become willing agents of vile propaganda efforts. How could that happen? I think that a fanatical adherence to woolly-minded political correctness of an evolved and extremely vicious and corrosive kind has blinded the senior editorial management. Only “true believers” in such a dogma could do so much harm so apparently whole-heartedly.

      This is a case of a creature made by Dr. Frankenstein.

      “I would like to see off-guardian do an article on this issue.”

      I add my voice to that call! Yes! Please!

  2. Dayfold says

    Interesting that of the 27 articles currently posted on the Guardian’s ‘opinion’ page, 25 have comments allowed and 5 do not. The five that do not, by Freedland, Cohen, Beaumont, Rawnsley and Hyde, all relate to (are in fact part of) the ‘anti-semitism on the left’ smear campaign. The Guardian clearly don’t want those lies challenged by the readers.

    • proximity1 says

      More than interesting! Thank you for making this observation. I think that the whole phony issue of online (internet “social-‘medium’ ” fora) was conceived at The Guardian during meetings at which executives discussed plans to launch a campaign designed to smear Jeremy Corbyn with trumped up claims of “anti-semitism” as a “problem” which Corbyn is “failing to address.” It was no doubt mentioned that such a smear-campaign would be met with fierce objections and condemnations by readers in their comments “below the line.” To prevent that, an excusing rationale was necessary so that readers’ comments could be preempted. Thus the bogus campaign to “cleanse” the web of online “abuse” which threatens “free speech,” the sanctimonious claims to fight “sexism,” to “make the internet social commentary a place which is ‘safe’ for victims of “bullying.”

      The supreme irony appears to be that this was, it seems to me, all a deliberate prelude to The Guardian‘s own bullying plans: to libel and smear Corbyn’s Labour Party in the weeks just prior to local elections.

      Had there been no such careful operation which resulted in just what you and others observe–the strategic closure of opinion articles to readers’ comments–the entire smear-campaign should have been made out for exactly what it is in the comments of readers.

      The Guardian has now gone beyond doctrinaire stupidity to become Machiavellian in a viciousness that resembles the rest of the disgusting U.K. press.

      • proximity1 says

        Editing error correction:

        “I think that the whole phony issue of online (internet “social-‘medium’ ” fora) bullying was conceived at The Guardian during meetings at which executives discussed plans to launch a campaign designed to smear Jeremy Corbyn”…

      • Dayfold says

        Thanks proximity1. Yes, it occured to me also that the two campaigns were likely orchestrated.

    • Dayfold says

      Sorry, my maths didn’t quite add up there! I meant 22 had comments allowed and 5 did not.

  3. proximity1 says

    Please note a minor error you’ll surely want to correct. I noticed that The Guardian editor, Viner, spells her first name “Katharine” rather than “Katherine.”

  4. proximity1 says

    ‘The last thing I want to do is suspend people from the party. It is not my wish to do that’ … Jeremy Corbyn.

    So why is he allowing his adversaries to play him like a fiddle?

    Could your site address what I call a witch-hunt now in progress at The Guardian? I refer to its apparently deliberate campaign to smear libelously various Labour Party officials and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn with a bogus charge: “antisemitism.” Two members are under a suspension order pending an internal investigation while The Guardian hatchet-job editorial management carves a notch in their smart-phones for each of their victims.

    Lawsuits should be brought against the paper for defamation, libel and conspiracy ti commit slander, libel and defamation.

  5. proximity1 says

    Like a heroin addict craving a “fix,” The Guardian, in its insatiable quest for page-views on its website, is now fomenting a click-bait-driven witch-hunt for so-called “antisemites” within the U.K. Labour Party.

    27 / 04 : Naz Shah: suspended pending an internal investigation.

    28 / 04 : Ken Livingstone : suspended pending an internal investigation– for remarks made while defending Naz Shah from charges of being an antisemite.

  6. mikael says

    Hehe
    I watch the MSM go down in flames and somehow its an childish plesure in watching them chopp of their own limbs, and finaly is right now sawing of the very branch they sitt on.
    I dont read anything anymore if there isnt a comentary feild attaced to it, and somehow, this same Media/MSM dont talk about all the so called “unofficiale quotas/reports” with is the base of their moronic propaganda.
    huh
    This is nothing more than deathratlings from an dying breed of scums screaming for been counted as something, because credibility and acountability have long since gone down the drain, and all they can do is to continue this “war on sanity”.

    Annon, well, it wasnt intended in the beginning, but now, hehe, Im not willing to compromise, and thats because the time is far more “hott” than before, I have had our own Intellegence (muhaha) police force/whatever in my house, one fired an electrochock pistol at our Cat, I can even prove it.
    But, the ID isnt a problem, since all sites downloads the IP you use, and is registred by as done here, so of an criminal offence is comitted, you are already registed the sole differenc is that my real name isnt there, or for that matter others. Well, Im in familly with an old timer that died some years ago, the head huncho of the MSM and other corps for decades, as The board leader and so on, gess whom, and probably an high mason to, Nagel-Eriksen.
    And one hangs in the Stockholm national gallery, in The painting of Carl 12, one of them in that pichture is in the same family tree as the above mentioned name.
    Gott any clearer, hehe, but thats just familly, as an distant relative.

    There are out ther briliant people, and I hope this latest rants upon the medical ind. complex is showing people that by sheer logic and critical think, while scanning their bullshit, reveals everything you need to know, and the second fact, is their gardian of an ind. witch is so rotten it stink even up here in the aritics, and system that have wacked it self spectacullary, the so called “science”.
    To me, its becomed an meer f….. joke.

    I dont bother to coment the rest.

    Fasinating times isnt it, like the medival western world, is rebounsing, with their insane religion called Bankng, AGW, and by some obscure reason we dont talk about the real problem to everything, the imperial banana republic UssA,
    Do notise I dint acuse Jews for anything, other than been blind to their own doom.
    I dont know if pity or symphaty is required when they dont admitt anything about Israel.
    In fact I dont even care, Im simply choke full of their whining and lies, bigotry and exeptionalism to downright pure racism.

    Otherwise have an good day.
    Cheers.

    peace

  7. The Guardian has stacked the deck on this one. Up until about two years ago the outlet’s comments sections were filled with further information on the subjects discussed, and lots of intelligent debate. Often the comments were more informative and better researched than the articles. As can be surmised from the kneejerk reaction, lazy, arrogant and highly-paid journalists don’t like being exposed for the frauds they often are. They responded by demanding an end to intelligent debate.

    The reaction was slow in coming, but once started, swift in its execution.

    The corporate media seems to have steered the word ‘moderate’ far away from its original meaning, as it now is used to describe murderous, gangs of foreign extemists determined to overthrow legitimate leaders. The same applies to Guardian ‘moderators’, who can seem about as moderate as government censors in vicious dictatorships. Comments that obviously involved a great degree of thought and knowledge started being ‘moderated’ on the most spurious grounds. If they didn’t conform to what was obviously a hidden agenda, they were out. As thoughtful comments take some time to write, it was only a matter of time before many regular posters began to get discouraged enough to stop commenting completely.

    Meanwhile, herds of bitter trolls started to make up the difference with irrelevant inanities, which were not only tolerated, but appeared to be welcomed. Endless columns of snide remarks and spiteful bickering became an acceptable norm. That little move was swiftly followed by limiting the number of articles allowing comments. Where they did allow them, the comments became impossible to wade through, as they often numbered well over a thousand. Little wonder that is now being used as an excuse for limiting comments even further, as it was obviously the point.

    So, the final solution is now being imposed. Viner is intent on destroying the whole idea of CiFon the grounds that Guardian’s journalists have feelings. Pity her sympathy doesn’t extend to the readers that keep her modern Titanic afloat.

    Little wonder the Off-Guardian website and comments section is swiftly becoming far more relevant, informative and interesting than its unwitting progenitor. So there is a silver lining, as the corporate media begins to eat itself slowly into oblivion.

    • Brad Benson says

      Your comment reminded me of something I posted at Consortium News about this same subject. I never miss a chance to insult the Guardian whenever I see a reference to it on the mostly American Sites that I visit. My comment, same subject, follows.

      ‘The Guardian’ has virtually wiped out their commentary threads. This began about two years ago after Glenn Greenwald left to join ‘The Intercept’.

      Shortly thereafter, ‘The Guardian’ received a very nasty visit from British Intel. Their editor, Alan Rusbridger was ordered to turn over the Snowden Disks and when he refused was ordered to destroy them in their presence, which he did. He then announced his retirement and eventually went out in 2015.

      In the interim, Rusbridger was replaced by two probable CIA Media Assets that had allegedly been working to establish the Guardian’s new foray into the US Market. The promotion of these two editors was explained as a business move, but it was really a serious move to the right.

      After that, the comments sections on all of the Guardian Articles were heavily ‘moderated’ and long-time Guardian Readers and Commenters began to disappear from their threads. Articles on Israel, when they appeared, were rarely ever opened for comment and, if they were, they were heavily moderated in favor of the Israel Narrative and frequently closed down after just a few hours.

      However, the stories by Luke Harding and Sean Walker on the Ukraine finally brought things to a head in the Guardian Threads. These were so one-sided, inaccurate and full of Official Western Propaganda that The Guardian was faced with a virtual rebellion by its readers.

      There were glowing articles about the neo-Nazi “Azov” Battalion, complete with pictures of a pin-up girl terrorist in front of a vehicle bearing runic insignia used by the former Nazi SS. Instead of moderating the ad hominem attacks on the more articulate writers in their threads, ‘The Guardian’ began banning their critics wholesale.

      To my mind, ‘The Guardian’ is no longer a credible source for information and they certainly have long since lost any ‘lefty’ aspects, which had been the founding principles of the paper since its inception. Today, they are a right wing shell organization that has become a propaganda arm for the British Government.

      But all is not lost! The Guardian’s best thread writers formed their own site ‘Off-Guardian’, which is growing steadily in readership and has just celebrated its first year of successful operation. In fact, they have been so successful that merely linking to an ‘Off-Guardian’ Story can get one banned from ‘The Guardian’.

      https://consortiumnews.com/2016/04/11/sanders-annoys-democratic-establishment/#comment-214438

      • Thanks Brad, I’m a proud contributor here at Off-Guardian. Several of my articles on the Guardian and its journalists can be accessed here. Robert Parry’s Consortium News is an excellent source of information.

        I also have my own blog.

    • Dayfold says

      Bryan Hemming wrote: “Up until about two years ago the outlet’s comments sections were filled with further information on the subjects discussed, and lots of intelligent debate…Meanwhile, herds of bitter trolls started to make up the difference with irrelevant inanities, which were not only tolerated, but appeared to be welcomed. Endless columns of snide remarks and spiteful bickering became an acceptable norm.”

      I think the ‘herds of bitter trolls’ that became so prevalent at Cif are part of the over all strategy to destroy online debate and is surely one of the primary roles of 77th Brigade, or ‘the Queen’s Own Trolls.’ http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade

  8. LES says

    Guardian CiF is finished.
    And The Guardian itself is not far behind.
    They are losing so much money and have alienated their traditional readership.
    The obituary cannot be far behind.

  9. Willem says

    This was Voltaire on freedom of speech, saying: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. That placard should hang above all journalists’ desks. But I am afraid that if you say it or act like it it as a journalist, you will be censored or fired instead. Sometimes I think it’s being worse being a journalist, than being a reader. I mean, we don’t have to read what they are saying. But they have to write to have a living. For us, it’s not 1984 yet (since we have a choice to not listen or read). For them, Winston Smith has become a reality. They can only be helped when readers stop reading their news.

    The statistics from the Graunt that you mention is “funny”. It is similar to -2=14 or divided by 3 is 7. Looks convincing, right?

    Just want to say here (as a matter of freedom of speech), that I really appreciate your website. Very good alternative for reading the Guardian or similar mainstream journals (they are all the same).

  10. CoolKiwi says

    To listen to the Guardian tell it you would think that those who have had their comments deleted by their moderators are all a bunch of abusive, sexist, racist homophobes spouting hatred and intolerance towards minorities. Yet over here at OffGuardian the comments seem to be so overwhelmingly well thought out, reasonable and respectful and yet many of the commenters here are from the ranks of those who have been moderated/censored at the Guardian. This itself is evidence that the “problem” they are having over at CiF/Guardian Comments is not us, it’s them. The editor, the staff and the mods over at The Guardian just can’t abide being used as a forum for ideas which challenge their own editorial line – especially when those comments are well reasoned and not in any way “abusive.”

    • Brad Benson says

      Everyone here has been moderated off of the Guardian, So what did the Guardian do? They decided that it is best to censor all references or links to Off-Guardian.

      In doing so, they have once again protected free speech, while simultaneously defending their readers from all of the losers, perverts, racists, xenophobes, anti-Semites and Putinbots who you see here. Aren’t we a miserable lot? ; ).

  11. Seamus Padraig says

    Friends, these are dark times. When I was a boy, we felt sorry for those poor people over in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China who didn’t have free speech as we did. But decades later, massive media consolidation in the West coupled with a fake war on terror have rendered our so-called ‘unalienable’ rights increasingly meaningless.

    Thank god for excellent websites like Off-Guardian! Until the authorities finally manage to get the internet under their thumb, we at least have a selection of good sources out there where we can get together and exchange information, opinions, and theories without any sort of censorship at all. The internet is a breath of fresh air in stale, musty society; it is our electronic samizdat.

    But like the author of this article, I fear it won’t last: “They will attack anonymity first, under the guise of reducing threats. Then they will move on ‘conspiracy theorist’ websites that ‘offer up hate speech’ by attacking governments.”

    Anne Applebaum wants internet users to have to have IDs in order to comment: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/12/02/the-war-against-the-trolls/

    And Thierry Meyssan informs us that France is getting ready to move against those who traffic in ‘conspiracy theories’: http://www.voltairenet.org/article187030.html

    Dark times indeed.

  12. Happy Harry says

    The Guardian is overestimating its influence. The vast majority of people around the world couldn’t give two hoots about their crappy opinion pieces and feminist/minority agenda, they can see right through them. Their main problem is that over the past 2 or 3 years english speakers from across the web congregated on their site to expose western myths and propaganda – especially in relation to the Russia bashing, Snowden/Assange, Islam, Israel and feminazis; and they didn’t like it. You have no idea how used to peddling their myths British media were before these types of open newspaper forums became available. Very unfortunately for the establishment, being completely free and open meant that Cif was/is also widely read by a whole generation that had been immune to alternative viewpoints and all of a sudden they ended up with a public opinion they simply cannot shape.

    If they ban Cif the contributors will return to other platforms and continue the debate there. Myths will still be exposed and The Guardian will wither and die unless they massively improve their quality, integrity and objectivity, which I can’t see happening. I used to comment a lot and to be honest rarely got moderated, even for some pretty hard hitting comments. When it happened this was usually by the secret service mods on foreign policy/war articles and fascist moderators on silly feminist articles like the Proudman fiasco. I am absolutely certain that Cif is monitored by the spooks and they can and will harass you if you overstep the mark. But it is now blatantly obvious that nobody is buying their bullshit, so there is no need to put up with their “moderation”. The horse has bolted. Even though I haven’t been banned I don’t post anymore.

    Their editor has made it pretty clear that they will move to restrict Cif and possibly make it eponymous. In her own words…

    “Over the next few months, the Guardian will continue to explore, with our readers, the questions and challenges raised by these issues. Should we look at stricter moderation, or more ways of rewarding positive contributions to our site? Should we limit the number of comments we host, or make them a privilege of membership? In a time of challenge to the business model of journalism, moderation is not cheap.”

    There you have it. Nothing to do with abuse. They’re just using that as an excuse to soften us up, given they can’t just do an Erdogan and ban everything.

    • Seamus Padraig says

      “Do an Erdogan” – I love it! Good one, man. You know, someday soon it may become like Turkey, and we’ll return to the days of lèse-majesté laws being invoked when we criticize our own régimes. Sad …

    • It’s stupid! I’m subscribed to a number of online paying news sites. Once upon a time the guardian would have been one, nor now though / screw ’em.

      They’re absolutely clueless when it comes to the net, they were so obsessed with it 20 years ago that they thought giving all the news away would be a good idea! Now look where they are now they think it’s a good idea to restrict their comments!

      Surely all that will happen is sites like this will link the story and then open free comments.

      • shatnersrug,

        I take a contrary view to that expressed by you, namely The Guardian’s management concentrated far too much on its online version and neglected its print version, which was always a good read when I actually subscribed loyally to it.

        In order to strengthen this side of our dialogue, may I invoke Private Eye, which is a satirical publication that exposes much hypocrisy within the UK establishment. If you check its website, the content therein is but a teaser for the print product, which by the way has actually bucked trends within print media by actually increasing overall sales. It funny too, that a few former Editors of The Guardian have been involved with Private Eye.

        The pull of The Guardian’s online publication actually was “Comment is Free’, which was quite a revelation for me given how difficult it was to get a ‘letter’ published to the Editor in its printed version, although Keith Flett was notorious for getting one or two published on a regular basis.

        Essentially, The Guardian’s management took their eye off the ball, focused too much on non-issues or single issues and failed to embrace the commentators on CIF who’s only crime was seeking unbiased and actual reportage, rather than crass propaganda, spin and candy floss articles of little import.

        Thankfully, we have sites like this, which rather proves one’s point, that is a focused, uncluttered web design that focuses on issues, issues usually ignored by the now censorious and propagandist MSM, and which also allows readers to interact with each other via online comments. Welcome to CIF MK2!

        • I don’t think that’s a contrary view to me. I agree, I think they were absolutely obsessed with the Internet, and I loved the print addition, although in light of recent revelations about the journalists I do wonder how much of a line I was happily chowing down.

  13. free speech means NO censorship; climate change is NOT fact, LBGTs are NOT a protected species, Muslims are Genocidal Maniacs, America DOES want to Loot the world, Cameron IS thieving crook, obama IS a coconut, obamas rulers Are fascist pigs ETC. I have spoken.

    • Seamus Padraig says

      “obama IS a coconut”

      Dude, the preferred nomenclature is ‘oreo’, please. A ‘coconut’ is a Hispanic who doesn’t know Spanish. 😉

    • tony lynch says

      I know. You could have added, “I’m not a scientist, but…”

  14. Gridlock says

    There’s no reason to not release the entire dataset of comments, moderated ones included. This would be a huge boon for all sorts of research and would allow third party confirmation of the Guardian’s conclusions. Y’know, the scientific method.

    I’m not holding my breath though.

    • They have been repeatedly asked to hide comments instead of deleting them so that you have to click on them to see them if you want to. Reddit does that with heavily downvoted posts and it works fine. That way the offensive comments are not seen by the people who feel offended by them, the rest of readers can behave like adults and have an open discussion with each other.

      It will never happen and why it will never happen is because we all know what the true motivation behind deleting those comments is.

      Same thing with releasing the dataset — that would show to the whole world what exactly was deleted.

  15. Firefox1977 says

    I’ve had five accounts removed from the Guardian in two days. All I did was point out the hypocrisy of some of their articles. If they wish to shut it down then fine. It shows they can no longer handle the truth.

    • I got banned for the first time last week, apparently due to protesting their censorship too vigorously.

      I then made a new account, mostly stayed away from identity politics topics, and today I woke up to see that I have been banned again, and my latest comments deleted (without even appearing as “comment removed” in the threads) after they had stayed up for 12-24 hours. And most of those were technical comments on science issues. This without even being put on pre-mod first…

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole