"Is free-speech really worth all this hassle?" – Gaby Hinsliff

by Kit
I’ve never written a response to a Gaby Hinsliff column before. I’ve never felt the need. In much the same way that I’ve never written an online review of sliced bread or an essay about cardboard. It’s…there, I suppose, and it does a job, but it’s hardly worth getting excited about.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Mahatma Gandhi

The Manchester bombing was “let happen” by MI5 because of the Conservative party’s disastrous dip in the polls. That was the theory tweeted by Rufus Hound, a comedian. As theories go, and it is still just a theory at this early stage, it’s not at all outlandish. History is full of precedents of power structures making people believe they are under threat in order to secure their position. As Hound succinctly put it, #Reichstagfire.
The bombing, whether real or staged or allowed to happen or planned by MI5, will allow May to talk about strength and stability some more, allow the Tory’s to attack Corbyn on the grounds of being “soft on terrorism”, and distract everyone from the conservative plans to sell everything in the country that isn’t nailed down, arrest anyone that isn’t a member of a golf club, and levy hefty taxes on bedsits, old-age and despair.
If you find yourself reading this and thinking, “Well, I guess that’s possible,” I have some bad news for you: You are a dangerous, delusional moron.
At least, according to Gaby Hinsliff.
Mr Hound posited a theory, one with which Ms Hinsliff disagrees. In a rational world what would follow is a balanced exchange of ideas. Rhetoric, debate, discourse. These are the tools that make a society great, right?
Instead we get roughly 2000 words of insults, innuendo and fallacy. Her defence of Theresa May’s morality is a wondrous example of double-think:

This isn’t just silliness crowned with ill-judged Nazi references. It’s using a public platform to baselessly suggest that loved ones could be alive today had the Tories not been desperate to win an election. Before eventually apologising and deleting the exchange, Hound explained that “I struggle believing our establishment is incapable of great evil” – as if one comedian’s struggle with his own addled beliefs was reason enough to allege complicity in mass murder.

Clearly facts are too burdensome to carry when storming uphill to capture moral high ground, because Hinsliff seems to forget: May’s “complicity” in mass murder does not need to be “alleged”. It is an historical fact.
As an MP, May supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.The final count on the number of dead Iraqi children as a result of that war is still unclear, however most reasonable estimates put it somewhere north of 22. Likewise Libyan children. And Afghan children. And Syrian children. In fact, Theresa May has actually never once voted AGAINST military intervention of any kind.
Theresa May is absolutely FINE with blowing up children, and has never given us any reason think she sees our children as more precious than their children. That Hinsliff can so easily, comfortably, make that distinction says more about her own mind than anything else.
Even if you buy into the (vaguely racist) assumed distinction between children born in Baghdad and children born in Manchester, any defence of May’s morality – or the morality of the conservative party as a whole – begins and ends with their domestic policies. People have died after being deemed “fit for work”. Old, sick, disabled, injured people are denied care and security, while £350 billion pounds is spent on a machine for setting the world on fire.
Any argument based on the assumed morality of power structures is illogical, an example of what they call the Divine Fallacy or the argument to incredulity. An argument based on the morality of this Tory government? That is nothing short of absurd.
Her vaguely directed bile would carry more weight (maybe) if she could at least demonstrate she had even the slightest idea what she was talking about:

Social media is littered with amateur “truthers” who once watched a YouTube video about Noam Chomsky’s theory of false flags, and now see conspiracies lurking under every bed.

I’m not sure what a “professional” truther would be, aren’t all people naturally inclined to want to know the truth? That said, even the most cursory of google searches would have taught her that Noam Chomsky’s “theory of false flags” is that “they don’t really happen and even if they do who cares”.
I realise that, as a journalist, Ms Hinsliff is imbued with a natural contempt for the truth, and I understand that writing a column without researching your ideas is much, much easier, but it’s hardly right she should flaunt it. At least a passing a veneer of competence would make the Guardian’s (increasingly desperate) pleas for money so much more effective.
Bizarrely, she is so incredibly bad at making her argument, she accidentally makes the opposite case:

It’s not unreasonable to think an election fought in the shadow of a terrorist threat could help the traditional party of law and order, and the state did collude with paramilitaries in Northern Ireland; besides, the government’s emergency Cobra committee meets in secret, so can anyone outside the room really know what happened?

This paragraph is just delightfully odd, it seems to be heading towards a “BUT” that never arrives. Hinsliff lays out all the (perfectly reasonable) logic behind suspecting government involvement, and then just leaves an ellipsis on the end, hoping we can come to the “right” conclusions all on our own.
The equivalent of a defense attorney, at a murder trial, beginning his final statement to the jury with:
“Yes, obviously, my client had every reason in the world to want the victim dead, and yes, he has undeniably killed people before. And, true, he can’t account for his whereabouts on the night in question.”
…and then just sitting down without another word.
Apparently, when Hinsliff writes about “reversing the burden of proof”, she means she’s going to start proving herself wrong and saving everybody else the trouble. Very considerate of her.
“But where is all this going?”, you might ask. What, indeed, is her point?

Like mushrooms, conspiracy theories grow in the dark. But mushrooms also need manure, which is where social media comes in.

There it is. Beneath all the rambling about Diana, and the Moon Landings, and Noah Pozner, what we have here is yet another attack on the internet, and the ability of people who lack the “journalistic and regulatory processes” of the mainstream media to say things with which Ms Hinsliff (and her colleagues) are paid to disagree.

The internet’s magical power – that by expanding social circles to millions worldwide it allows the like-minded to find each other, however esoteric their interests – is also its sickness. There is no belief so repellent that it cannot find an echo somewhere online, and feel normalised….Paedophiles are emboldened to learn just how many others secretly fantasise about sex with children, leading one another on to ever more violent obscenities.

This not-so-subtle concomitance of paedohilia and anti-establishment political ideals aside, this is at last an honest expression of a justly held fear. The internet is a threat – as an open network of person-to-person communication, it really sticks in the media’s collective craw. As such, it is blamed and bad mouthed at every corner.
That’s not to say that Rufus Hound was right or wrong. I’m not writing in defence of conspiracy theories per se. Maybe every conspiracy theory is wrong. Maybe Oswald was guilty as hell and physics stopped working on 9/11. Or maybe John Lennon is still alive and Stanley Kubrick directed the moon landings. It’s immaterial. This goes beyond that. This is about free speech, and the right to be wrong.
Unless we stand up for each other’s right to hold, and express opinions – even wrong opinions – then no opinions will ever be safe. Because when they clamp-down on the internet, it won’t be truth that decides what stays and what goes, but political convenience, and unless we defend all of it, none of it is safe.
In the past few months the internet’s lack of regulation has been blamed for Clinton’s loss of the election, for Russia’s “spreading influence” and for the proliferation of “fake news”.
In the past week alone, the Guardian have been running articles on Facebook’s lack of moderation. How they promote child abuse, misogyny and holocaust denial. Already Theresa May has called on tech companies to “do more” to combat online extremism.
They blame it for paedophilia, terrorism, sexism, racism. Drugs are dealt, threats are issued, abuse hurled. The internet is a playground, as David Thorne said, but apparently it’s one of those rusty, graffiti-ridden playgrounds where nice kids shouldn’t go. Tear it down. Pave it over.
Cure society’s ills by making it smaller, more isolated and much, much easier to control.

Maybe I’m just getting middle-aged. But there are weeks when [arguing with conspiracy theorists] seems an inordinately high price to pay for a convenient means of swapping gossip and cat videos.

Isn’t free speech difficult? Isn’t it all just so much hassle? Wouldn’t it be SO much easier if we could just stomp it all out? Yes, obviously, fewer cat videos would be a shame, but think of the benefits – a nice safe world, full of nice safe pre-approved thoughts. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
This sentence does more than give us a fleeting glimpse at the author’s complete lack of imagination, it shows…again…where the establishment’s crosshairs are trained. And it’s on us. At OffGuardian and the hundreds of sites like us. At the minor celebrities tweeting reasonable (but forbidden) thoughts to groups of followers “more than double the circulation of a national broadsheet newspaper”. We’re all talking to each to other now, bypassing the established and approved lines of communication.
And it’s causing no end of trouble.


Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

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Harry Stotle
Reader

Its incredible – Hinsliff is now claiming young people don’t like free speech!
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/millennials-wary-free-speech-who-can-blame-them#comments
She doesn’t say in so in so many words but her latest pro-censorship ouvre strongly implies its the Hinsliffs of this world (or those who share her censorious outlook) who should determine, amongst other things, internet content, or who can or can’t speak at universities.
Needless to say mods are furiously deleting anybody fooiish enough to deviate from the Guardians well beaten path toward full blown group think.

rtj1211
Reader
rtj1211

The aim is to target the young, who are still credulous, malleable and have not yet seen real life contradict media propaganda. The media accepts they have lost the 25-50 age group to the internet, but by 2050, they think they can have re-established totalitarian control, largely through brainwashing at school, control of key search engines and control of major news outlets. The next iteration will be local people spreading local words about local sites, bypassing search engines completely. It will be slower, more decentralised and will cost totalitarians far more to subdue. But try to subdue it, they undoubtedly… Read more »

Laurence James Howell
Reader
Laurence James Howell

Having established beyond reasonable doubt, that the various false flags starting with 911,7/7, Sandy Hook, Boston Bombing, Madrid, London, Paris et al are, in reality, moves on the grand chess board to enable world domination by the elite paedophiles that infest politics on behalf of the moneychangers. Writing truthful articles draws out the obvious and not so obvious players who would denigrate freedom of expression in the interests of ever more security taking away our rights by hoax events. To deny this truth puts the future of mankind in the gutter. The gemantria effect is well explained by Zachary K… Read more »

Seamus Padraig
Reader
Seamus Padraig

Another ringer from Kit! Keep up the good work. This not-so-subtle concomitance of paedohilia and anti-establishment political ideals aside, this is at last an honest expression of a justly held fear. What’s really odd–and a bit scary–in this case is how totally paedophile our establishment is becoming: think of all the movers-and-shakers who associated with Jimmy Savile in England, or with Marc Dutroux in Belgium. And then there are the Pizzagate degenerates in America (still a forbidden subject in the MSM). What is it with paedophiles and power? Is this some kind gang initiation ceremony? A tool for blackmailing politicians… Read more »

Gregory De Wode
Reader

I reccommend giving this a watch / listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XMoejT3lKs

binra
Reader

For those who distrust blind links – and rightly so – the link above is to
Newsbud on the Record: The Podesta Scandal & the Importance of Media Integrity

pimatters
Reader

nice point

StAug
Reader

Sylvie! In my opinion (this is only a guess, obviously), they needed “panic” footage so someone probably started yelling “bomb”… which would certainly work with a bunch of teens, eh? Other scenes of blurry footage show people leaving the arena at a leisurely, post-concert pace (and, yeah: playing with the balloons like they’re beach balls) so I don’t think any kind of panic had hit those people until after most of them were already gone. There are even clips of an announcer with a very chill voice reminding people that there was no need to push too hard to leave… Read more »

StAug
Reader

(hmmm… wait… where is the comment I was responding to? Laugh)

michaelk
Reader
michaelk

The Guardian’s scribes are all for ‘free speech’ as long as people are willing to be ‘advised’ ‘led’ and willing to follow the Guardian’s line. Question, criticize or challenge that moral leadership role, and one is in trouble. The scribes seem obsessed with occupying the virtuous, moral, high-ground on almost everything. They no longer want to merely describe the world and events, but tell their readers how to interpret the world ‘properly.’ If the Guardian’s world view conflicts or is the opposite of what actually happening, the Guardian ignores it and stick stubbornly to their dogmas, regardless. For example, the… Read more »

flybow
Reader
flybow

Just for comedy relief.comment image?oh=e4d14fc269f9d7824971b60436ac1a38&oe=59ADD234

Greg Bacon
Reader

Gabby is just another well-paid mouthpiece for the NWO crowd who want to shepherd us back to only watching CNN/FOX/MSNBC, then spending time viewing Lady Ga Ga or Miley Cyrus videos or gabbing about the latest Kardashian feud or blabbering up some sports contest.
Like Bush the Deranged told Americans after 9/11, don’t worry, we’ll take care of things, you just go out and SHOP.

flybow
Reader
flybow

I’ve always said that there is no such thing as terrorism. All terrorism is state Sponsored/ orchestrated in one way or another. Either by agents of the state doing the things themselves, actually shooting peope or blowing them up. Cambodia,Iraq. Planting bombs, and blaming the locals. The list is a long one. They aso infiltrate, and direct “terrorist” groups. Both the loyalist and rebublican paramitlitaries were so heavily infiltrated, they were essentially run by MI5/MI6. The Red army faction (baader mienhof) was also heavily infiltrated. I could go on, but look for yourself. Webster Tarpley’s book synthetic terror is worth… Read more »

chrisb
Reader
chrisb

Quite the silliest claim I’ve read for a while … “All terrorism is state Sponsored”. Is there really no terrorism in failed states like Somalia in the 90s or Lebanon during the Civil War? Did the rise of paramilitary and guerrilla armies not occur in Colombia because of the weakness of the state? Is the Mafia, an organisation that developed in order to oppose the new state of Italy, a terrorist organisation?

pimatters
Reader

I think he means that ‘All terrorism is sponsored by some state somewhere’. Not necessarily the state that it is perpetrated in. In Columbia, who was financing, weaponising, assisting the params and guerillas. You don’t have to agree with it but it isn’t completely silly. This whole article is the right to say things. You have an equal right to disbelieve them

Ballrog
Reader
Ballrog

I guess he should have said “most terrorism is state sponsored” or rather state induced. You should really read about the history of Somalia and how the Soviet Union and USA fucked up that country. After gaining independence nobody envisioned the most homogeneous country in Africa to become a failed state shit-hole. And do you really believe US had nothing to do with Colombia?? Come on! I will give you half a point for the Italian Mafia but the Italian state was always corrupt as hell and has plenty of skeletons in it’s closet. Some power structures/Institutions are, after all,… Read more »

Dead World Walking
Reader
Dead World Walking

The WWW has become the 1%’s Frankenstein monster.
We all know how that story ended.
The 1% crave ABSOLUTE power.
We all know how that ends too.

StAug
Reader

“That’s not to say that Rufus Hound was right or wrong. I’m not writing in defence of conspiracy theories per se. Maybe every conspiracy theory is wrong. Maybe Oswald was guilty as hell and physics stopped working on 9/11. Or maybe John Lennon is still alive and Stanley Kubrick directed the moon landings. It’s immaterial. This goes beyond that. This is about free speech, and the right to be wrong.” Yes, true (and wink noted), but there’s something to be said for nailing one’s colors to the mast and dispensing with the bet-hedging equivocations that the Sort-of-Conspiracy-Theory-Minded-Left uses in polite… Read more »

Frank
Reader
Frank

”When I entered these Manchester Event debates at the OffG (three days ago?) I assumed that everyone was essentially (even deeply) conversant with the History of stage-managed Crises starting, at least, since 2001.” Go back nearly 100 years and the record would be more accurate. On 7 May 1915, the US passenger Liner – Lusitania – was headed from New York to Liverpool in England. The ship was torpedoed – by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. She sank in 18 minutes 1198 passengers were lost and 761 were rescued. This stirred up the anti-German furore in the… Read more »

StAug
Reader

My favorite keywords relating to the Gulf of Tonkin “incident”: “Jim Morrison”

Doug Colwell
Reader

Yeah, that one got to me too.
As it happens he autographed a coke cup for me when I was 12 years old. Little did I know who he really was.

johnschoneboom
Reader
johnschoneboom

Thanks Kit, well said. It really is the extremely tiresome cliché that just refuses to look in its own hackneyed mirror. The same tired old prima facie dismissals of conspiracy theory, followed by the obligatory acknowledgement of real conspiracies, followed undeterred by contemptuous laughter. The exact same formula since Hofstadter, usually with none of his nuance. Sometimes the only medicine is a little Baudrillard: “Say: This is real, the world is real, the real exists (I have met it) — no one laughs. Say: This is a simulacrum, you are merely a simulacrum, this war is a simulacrum — everyone… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Admin: a mere stylistic point of minor refinement, to make this masterpiece of delectable mordancy absolutely perfect, this one bit only might deserve a moment of your attention: “– then no opinions will never be safe.” This message should self-destruct after you’ve read it. I do apologize for my impertinence. But if free speech is what ‘we’ are all about, on that matter, that really is my opinion . . . 😉

johnschoneboom
Reader
johnschoneboom

You lousy little nitpicker! (Oh, and erm, towards the end, there’s “And its at us” while we’re at it, should be it’s, “it is”, sorry…then it achieves the perfection to which it so nearly already attains…)

Admin
Reader
Admin

Kit’s head is going to explode. He finds it hard to forgive his own typos.

flybow
Reader
flybow

LOL.

Norman Pilon
Reader

I saw that, too, but thought I’d overlook it, limiting myself to the more egregious of the two errors of style (one of which was claimed to be a ‘typos’), so as not to come across as being too much of a nitpicker. My hope was that I would prompt a second proofreading that would quietly catch that, too.
Alas, it wasn’t to be, and it was left to you, Johnschoneboom, to complete the humiliation. Surely the piece does now touch the event horizon of its final and irrevocable perfection?

Admin
Reader
Admin

It was a typo. Our Kit would never be guilty of a double negative 🙂

Willem
Reader
Willem

I am trying to post a comment for days now, but somehow it doesn’t work. So I sent a mail to OffG but am afraid that editors can’t be reached there either (no automatic reply that you received an email).
This probably also doesn’t work….
Anyway, this is my last try.
My post can be erased if you received my mail.

Catte
Reader
Catte

We did get your email. I have no idea why your comment wasn’t published. I can publish it for you. But honestly the situation is getting beyond ridiculous. We’ve had over 150 comments go through today. The ones that don’t seem to be totally arbitrary.

binra
Reader

While it could simply be a glitch in the code – it is worth considering that some kind of interference is operating to degrade the conversation? Youtube replies require manual attribution now and though only a little extra hurdle – it is the politics of nudge – or making defaults that frame or engineer the reaction. In Firefox I find short replies usually go through and show up immediately. Longer posts often -don’t – but if I try then to send via a different browser I get a ‘duplicate comment – looks like you’ve already said that’ – however I… Read more »

Willem
Reader
Willem

Thanks for the reply.
It is not a big deal that it wasn’t published. I will wait for another opportunity. Hopefully more luck next time!

Admin
Reader
Admin

Catte posted your comment for you yesterday.

Willem
Reader
Willem

Even better. Thanks!

aaronmicalowe
Reader
aaronmicalowe

This website is a mess…

Admin
Reader
Admin

You are currently spamming two different threads, and are effectively destroying this site for other users. If you don’t stop immediately your posts will be relegated to the spam folder until you start posting content.

Willem
Reader
Willem

This worked!
Very strange that I can’t post the other comment here.
It only has one link in it….

paulcarline
Reader

She’s wrong. There’s a veritable army of very professional “truthers” out there – many of them with academic credentials. Not that such are needed to separate truth from official fiction in most cases. Anyone with an open mind and a genuine desire for the truth will need no more than 30 minutes (and often much less, if the key facts are laid out) to convince themselves that the official stories of 9/11 and 7/7 (to take just two high-profile examples) are lies. The problem is that people like Hinsliff have neither. What they do have is an unswerving loyalty to… Read more »

aaronmicalowe
Reader
aaronmicalowe

What hassle?

sabelmouse
Reader
sabelmouse

maybe trying to comment on the guardian which is rarely possible on serious subjects and even if, highly fraught.

aaronmicalowe
Reader
aaronmicalowe

I used to take the Guardian comments seriously. One day I sarcastically joked that I had been banned when I hadn’t and got banned. The only person in history of Graun to get banned for pretending to be banned. In the following months since being freed from Grauns nonsense I’ve discovered several things. I have a lot more freedom and more time to be free, and I’ve realised that nothing anyone writes will change anyone’s views anyway. This is just the lie we sell to ourselves every time we attempt to express something. So, why lament something that damaged free… Read more »

binra
Reader

Great comment. Freedom is a quality to meet in. If the environment changes – the ways and forms of expression adapt according to how those changes are interpreted. The idea of impacting change is attractive to the fearful and powerless – and self-inflated and fantasist. I hold that the nature of communication is a synchronicity – or resonance that aligns naturally. No one can tell another what they do not already know or are not in the unfolding willingness to learn or open to. Investing in the ‘dark’ arts of deceit operates a negative alignment of synchronicity – that works… Read more »

Boo Radley
Reader
Boo Radley

Kit, You took the words right out of my mouth.
Rufus Hound will pay dearly for being famous and saying what many around the country is thinking. I doubt we will ever see him on the TV again.

mohandeer
Reader

Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet.

captain Swing
Reader
captain Swing

Hinsliff tends to write opaque, stumbling prose at the best of times. I don’t read her much at all these days. I’ve taken my own action with the MSM. For a start, I don’t read any articles at the Guardian (or anywhere else for that matter) that don’t allow comments. Often, the comments on an article contain more original thought and insight than most of the articles themselves. Some days there is little to read at all, for which I’m thankful. All those safe spaces, all those clunky efforts to control the narrative (You Tell Us/ Readers’ Letters etc) simply… Read more »

George
Reader
George

It’s interesting that the Hinsliff article doesn’t permit comments. It almost looks as if they had given up in advance.

passerby
Reader
passerby

News sites go through three stages:
At first you read the articles, and skip the comments.
Then there comes a time when you skip the articles and read only the comments.
Finally, you stop reading the site and go elsewhere.

pimatters
Reader

can anyone recommend other sites that are as lucid and intelligent as this site to go ‘elsewhere’ to? I have lots of political sites but I like a bit of critical analysis.

binra
Reader

You have the Internet and you have desire, and so you have your own journey of resonance and recognition of value. I see a skim of MSM on various aggregate sites and read the code – that is I read the nature of the narrative control as part of reading the signs of the times – and finding meanings within my own honesty and willingness regardless the manner or nature of the various presentation and packaging. So I recommend cultivating discernment – because any site I might include in my purvey of news and comment is within my discernment. All… Read more »