Every week (or, rather, most weeks, since the coronavirus torpedoed our schedule), we like to highlight three or four stories that go full-Guardian, but don’t require an entire article of refutation.
We encourage reader-participation here, so if you come across something you feel should be included in the next edition either post a link below, or send us an e-mail.
The Guardian’s resident book critic-slash-blogger wants you to wear masks. It’s selfish not to, and someone she apparently knows in Hong Kong wears one all the time, so why shouldn’t we all?
Don’t muddy your heads up with the science, or the hard questions of civil rights and individual sovereignty, just wear the damn mask. Apparently it’s really important.
Jonathan Freedland is the Guardian’s worst of the worst. Everything every other Guardian columnist does, Freedland does more and worse. He is unendingly smug, belligerently dishonest and incredibly hypocritical. Happy to cheer on war one week, and then mournfully chide warmongers the next. To attack “tyrants” who are an enemy to democracy in one breath, and call for massive restrictions of civil liberties without a pause.
This week his problem is with tech giants, most specifically Facebook. He thinks they have too much power…and they aren’t using it. I didn’t completely understand it either.
Basically, he’s attacking free speech. Obviously he doesn’t say that’s what he’s doing, but he’s doing it nonetheless.
Freedland thinks Facebook is giving a platform to people who don’t deserve it, and in turn exposing too many people to “misinformation” and “hate” (the two terms are very much interchangeable apparently).
If Facebook don’t use the power they shouldn’t have to stop people saying things Jonathan doesn’t like, well then World governments should step in and break them up for being a dangerous monopoly:
At the moment, the social media giants enjoy legal protection from such liability in the US. Politicians could change that […] and break the big companies’ “monopolisation of information” by legislating a citizens’ right to donate their own data to smaller organisations […] elected representatives are not powerful enough to do that alone. They’d have to work together, governments across the globe. They’d need the backing of advertisers, withdrawing their pounds and dollars from companies that give a platform to hate.
Of course, if social media companies refuse to “give a platform to hate”, well then they aren’t a dangerous monopoly, and the government can leave them alone.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a threat. Because that’s exactly what it is.
This is what we’ve come to in the Western press. Long screeds of smug prose making offensive and malignant generalisations about huge swaths of the population who have done nothing but disagree with you…and then, without a shred of irony, accusing them of being unreasonable.
It’s not everyone who’d be ballsy enough to try the “Everyone who disagrees with me is wrong, but proving that is a waste of my time!” line of argument, but the Graun’s Environmental editor is here to cast hubris to the wind and give it the old-fashioned college try.
Undeniably certain to get you lots of Twitter shares and Facebook likes (from people who are likewise absolutely positive they’re correct but just don’t have the time to actually prove it), this line of argument is not without drawbacks. Not least of which is perhaps the smallest danger of seeming to come over as a little smug or arrogant to some of the “shills, egomaniacs and fools” who are inclined to disagree with you.
A real cynic might go so far as to suggest bluster and abuse is a cover for a weak argument.
This isn’t about the subject matter. This is about the destruction of ethical debate. The complete disregard for honest discussion, and the attack on the right to disagree.
It is through this undermining of the idea of civilised discourse that propagandists generate a fake “consensus”. Anybody who steps outside this “consensus” is summarily “othered”, de-humanised and dismissed.
It happens all the time.
It happens with climate change, it happened with the Ukrainian coup in 2014, it happened with the Skripal “poisoning” and you can see it happening live with the “pandemic”.
Even those people who should know better, who work in independent media, are not immune. We at OffG have been black-balled by erstwhile colleagues for daring to host articles on both sides of certain issues, and blocked and abused by others for our editorial line on Covid19.
These are anti-rational positions, ones which – right or wrong – poison the fabric of society by eating away at some of the core ideas behind human civilisation: Free expression, mutual respect, and honest argument.
Whatever the subject – whether its climate change, or racism, or Russia or Covid19 – there is NEVER an excuse to exclude people from the debate, to use abuse in place of argument, or to refuse to engage in civilised discourse.
…and we’re back to masks again. Man, they really want people to wear these. Even if you have to make your own out of a handkerchief and an elastic band (both famous for their anti-microbial properties).
Appearing first back in May, and being regularly updated since, the “What kind of mask do I need?” page of the Guardian is a contradictory delight. For starters, never once do they question whether you even need to wear a mask, despite substantial scientific evidence that they do nothing at all. Indeed, until very recently, the WHO was recommending only symptomatic people should wear them. Other papers have basically found they do nothing to halt the spread of the flu.
You can ignore all that, the Guardian sure does. Instead just cut up some of your old t-shirts or strap a kleenex to your face with some hair ties, and – BINGO – you’re virus proof. Just make sure you wash your hands before AND after you cut up that t-shirt that’s been sitting in your dresser for years, with all your other clothes, and tie it to your face.
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