Tag: Censorship


I think Ruben Bolling pretty much nailed my opinion on the misplaced priorities of the latest raft of Obama Administration scandals.

You know what? If an organization has the words "Tea Party" in its name, it's probably a partisan political organization that shouldn't be given tax-exempt status!

So why did the IRS go after groups with "Tea Party" in their names, and not, oh, I don't know, ...
...actually, I really don't know. Finish that sentence for me, everyone who is morally outraged that the IRS looked for "Tea Party" as convenient shorthand for "partisan political organization". What word or phrase should they have been looking for to nail partisan Democratic organizations to the wall in 2010? Name a ubiquitous catchphrase from the 2010 election season that was synonymous with the Democratic Party.

The Tea Party orgs weren't victims of a partisan witch hunt, they were victims of their own success. Democrats weren't targeted because they didn't have their shit together. They didn't have an easy, two-word phrase that was endlessly repeated in the media or associated with nationwide rallies.

The most upsetting thing about the IRS scandal is the prospect that the IRS will now be gun-shy about questioning partisan political organizations about whether they should really be tax-exempt. That's something they really should be doing -- and yes, they should be doing it to both parties. I'm just noting that, in the election cycle in question, one party made it a lot easier on them than the other.

As for Benghazi -- Benghazi was a tragedy. And the Obama Administration gave pretty mixed messages in the days after about whether it was a planned terrorist attack or a spontaneous outburst.

It's entirely possible that the Obama Administration deliberately delayed making a connection to Al Qaeda because it was right before the election. I wouldn't put it past them. And if that happened, then yeah, that's pretty fucking distasteful.

But when the same sons-of-bitches who praised Bush for what great leadership he showed in failing to stop a certain other terrorist attack on a certain other 11th of September, and who praised him for lying about Iraqi WMD's to drag us into war, rant about how the Benghazi talking points are worse than Watergate, well, Darrell Issa can go sit on a rusty rake.

Spying on the AP, on the other hand? Yeah, I can see room for some Watergate comparisons there. Which I suppose is why it's a distant third on the Fox News Obama Scandal Talking Points.

Course, it's kinda hard to act outraged at a governmental war on whistleblowers when you've spent the past three years crying for Julian Assange's head on a platter, but it's not like Fox News has ever let ideological consistency get in the way of cheering for Republicans and deriding Democrats. Trevor Timm at the Freedom of the Press Foundation recently penned an article titled Virtually Everything the Government Did to WikiLeaks is Now Being Done to Mainstream US Reporters; this of course is precisely what Wikileaks' defenders were warning everybody about when this mess started. That's the thing about the First Amendment -- you start carving out tiny exceptions, sooner or later you're going to find out they're not so tiny after all.

So yeah, I'd say the only legitimate scandal here is the one that the Republicans are spending the least amount of time on -- and the only one where nobody's been fired and Obama's said everything went exactly the way it was supposed to.

It would be great if we had a real opposition party; Lord knows we need one. We need politicians who are really willing to stand up to the President's excesses, for the right reasons instead of just to get attention and campaign contributions.

Sometimes I worry that the closest thing we've got in Congress to someone who's really willing to stand up to the President when it matters is Rand Paul. And that thought depresses me so goddamn much I think I'm going to go grab another beer.

Company Hippie

Same situation as yesterday -- sick wife, freelance deadline, plus tomorrow morning I've got to get up early so I can get my car to the tire shop as soon as they open and then get a ride to work. So here's another Zappa article from afka.net that I haven't actually taken the time to read: Understanding The Underground, by Frank himself, published in Record Mirror, January 17, 1970.


Well, I was all set to write a post filled with righteous indignation at Apple's nannying and censoring ways when I read that Saga #12 was banned from being sold through the iOS version of the Comixology app.

But then when I sat down to write it I found that Comixology is now claiming Apple never actually refused it, Comixology chose not to submit it on the assumption that Apple would reject it.

That makes for a bit of a different post.

But a lot of the major points remain.

First of all, the disproportionate market share enjoyed by both Apple and Comixology in the comics market is cause for concern. Monoculture is a bad thing, and when there's only one distribution point for a product -- or two, or three --, that puts the producer and the consumer at the middleman's advantage. And it can amount to censorship. Or price-fixing, or any number of other ills.

Additionally, even if this is Comixology's fuckup, it's the result of Apple's notoriously vague content restrictions. Even if Comixology played it too cautious on this one, there's still the story of what allegedly happened to French publisher Izneo just two weeks ago:

Two weeks ago -- on the eve of the long Easter week-end, the site IDBOOX notes -- the Izneo folks got an order from Apple to remove the "pornographic" content from their app. With no clue as to what Apple would judge to be pornographic, the Izneo folks immediately took down 2,800 of the 4,000 comics in their app, cautiously removing anything that could hint of adult content, including Blake and Mortimer and XIII, both of which are published in print in the U.S. without any fuss. Then they reviewed those comics and put about half of them back, but that still leaves 1,500 titles that aren’t in the app any more. Izneo took quite a financial hit on this; turns out comics featuring "Les jolies filles un peu sexy" are their top sellers. (This story, it should be said, came from an anonymous source.)

And even though that story seems to be apocryphal, stories of Apple's arbitrary app rejection and inconsistent treatment of adult content are legion. The first time I ever browsed the iTunes store, the title of Bitches Brew was censored. In the years since, many developers and publishers have expressed frustration that Apple rejected their submissions and didn't tell them why. And then of course there's Jobs's famous Orwellian "freedom from porn" stance.

Ultimately, I'm an Android user because I don't want a single company to be in charge of content distribution. It's not that I trust Google -- I really don't. I have plenty of complaints about Google; they're invasive, monopolistic, and generally evil and scary. But the bottom line, for me, is that they make it much easier to run whatever software you want on their devices -- and as far as I'm concerned, the choice between Android and iOS doesn't take any choosing at all.

Nightline 1985, Part 3

Finale. Nice point on how Al Gore wasn't lobbying to regulate country music -- in much the same way that, more recently, California's Leland Yee wanted legal regulations of video game violence but not Hollywood film violence, despite FTC research showing that video game ratings are enforced more consistently than film ratings.

And seriously -- Marvin Gaye? That's the sexually explicit musician you want to protect your children from?

Pity about that last cutoff, but good that someone got a tape at all. Thanks again to uploader koolstrike.

Nightline 1985, Part 2

More from Donny Osmond on how G-rated movies don't sell tickets and directors add more adult content specifically to avoid the G rating. (I hear that's the whole reason for the scene in Star Wars where Luke finds Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's charred corpses; prior to that scene being added, the film earned a G.)

And does anyone remember where interviewers could just say "A warning to our affiliates: we're going to go over"? I don't. Obviously live presentations and sporting events can go over time, but I don't remember seeing an interview do it -- aside from The Daily Show's frequent "Watch the rest on the Web!" schtick.

This one cuts off abruptly too, a product of YouTube's old 10-minute time limit.