Since the birth of the modern press in Britain successive governments have persistently crushed the free speech of the powerless through laws and economic barriers. The UK Online Safety Bill is yet another attempt by the government to control the free speech of the powerless on the Internet.
At present the UK government is pushing through the Online Safety Bill. The government claims that this is long overdue to protect children from sexual abuse and predatory grooming online, to protect MPs from threats of violence, in light of Sir David Amess’s murder, and to protect society from hate speech as well as terrorism.
A History Of Censoring The Free Speech Of The Powerless In Britain
One of the most influential books regarding the history of the British press is called, ‘Power Without Responsibility: The Press And Broadcasting In Britain‘, by James Curran and Jean Seaton. It is the fifth edition which was published in 1997, by Routledge.
According to Curran and Seaton, in a reference to the early British press, “…the authorities came to rely increasingly on the newspaper stamp duty and taxes on paper and advertisements as a way of curbing the radical press“. (Pg. 11)
These measures were introduced to deliberately raise the prices of running a newspaper so that only men of wealth would have access to the newspaper market.
In parliament Lord Castlereagh was blunt when he said that “Persons exercising the power of the press should be men of some respectability and power“. (pg. 12)
Contrary to the views of some media historians, the introduction of advertisements to newspapers did not make them independent, it made them dependent on the wealthy businessmen who provided the revenue for their existence.
In a nutshell, this is a basic history of the British press, which shows that successive governments have controlled the voices of the powerless for a long time. It begs the question, have we really ever had freedom of speech? Or are we really just parroting the speech that is allowed by the wealthy classes?
The Internet: The Last Bastion Of Free Speech
The Internet, for all its faults and dangers is the only place where the powerless can get their voices heard. Just like the introduction of the print press in Britain led to an explosion of literacy among the powerless and publications expressing the viewpoints of the powerless, the Internet has led to an explosion of critical thought, through independent media websites, blogs and forums, where people can share ideas, debate, and disagree. Again, the government is becoming afraid of this new power that the masses have at their fingertips and are looking to regulate the Internet to ensure that those exercising the power are the powerful.
Writing for the Politico, a global nonpartisan politics and policy news organisation, launched in Europe in April 2015, Annabelle Dickson says:
“Britain’s proposed new Internet law entails a government power grab with worrying implications for freedom of speech, according to civil liberties groups, academics and the tech industry.
The groups are concerned the proposed Online Safety Bill would hand to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden disproportionate powers in the name of protecting users from “harmful” content.
The Bill will allow him to “modify” a code of practice — the blueprint created by the regulator Ofcom for how tech companies should protect users — to ensure it “reflects government policy.” (New UK internet law raises free speech concerns, say civil liberties campaigners: June 29, 2021)
If you read the Impact Assessment for the online Safety Bill, the government’s real intentions are stated, and it has little to do with protecting children, online racism and the other convenient excuses that they have put forward.
“Internet use is growing and evidence indicates that Covid-19 has increased this even further. While the Internet is a
powerful force for good, illegal and harmful content and activity is widespread online. On the whole, there is a lack of
transparency on the potential for experiencing harm online which makes it more difficult for consumers to make an
informed choice. In addition, an inconsistent approach towards fighting harms has limited the effectiveness of
voluntary efforts to disrupt criminals from using platforms.Therefore, without government intervention, limited
progress will be made at reducing online harms.” (The Online Safety Bill)
The suggestion in the above paragraph is very telling. The government is very worried about the growth of independent information online which challenges its official narrative on the Covid pandemic and they are using the pretext of child sexual abuse, racism and online threats to deceive the public about their real intentions.
Rafe Jennings, writing for the UK Human Rights Blog, states that aspects of the Bill could mean that independent blogs and news organisations could potentially be prosecuted for the content of their news if there “…is a material risk of the content having… a significant adverse physical or psychological impact on an adult of ordinary sensibilities”. (Regulating content on user-to user and search service providers: 2 August, 2021)
The Centre for Global Research, a source that I often quote, is described a a conspiracy theorist website on Wikipedia, despite the fact that many of the individuals that contribute are scientists, doctors, professors and academics. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Chossudovsky#Centre_for_Research_on_Globalization)
The mainstream media on other hand are accepted as trustworthy sources of information despite the fact that In the UK three companies have control of nearly 70 percent of national newspaper circulation, and five companies own about 70 percent of regional newspaper circulation. (Dissecting The Truth In A World Of Misinformation: 23 July, 2016)
It goes back to what Lord Castlereagh said that “Persons exercising the power of the press should be men of some respectability and power“. (pg. 12) Why is their information more reliable than that of Global Research or any other blogger who has a right to express an opinion?
This bill is really about censoring dissenting views, specifically in light of the current anti vaccination protests, but it also is a threat to those who want to challenge present UK crimes overseas.
Anti Colonial Struggles Are A Threat To The UK Government And The West
Britain, Europe and America was built on racist terrorism, plunder and savagery. This is the objective truth. The historical records testifies to what I am saying, and the underdevelopment of the African continent, the Caribbean, South America and many areas in the world etc, is due to the continued terrorist acts of these governments who want to maintain their control of the world’s resources and power structure. These facts are indisputable upon objective analysis.
In the book ‘The New Warlords: From the Gulf to the recolonisation of the Middle East‘, edited by Eddie Abrahams, and published in 1994 by Larkin publications, any pretence that the West’s involvement in the Middle East is about promoting peace is shattered.
US Secretary of State James Baker said, “The economic lifeline of the industrial (ie imperialist) world runs from the Gulf. If you want to sum it up in one word it is jobs.” (pg.22)
In various posts I have exposed the financial motives behind the West’s intervention in the Middle East and Africa. (The Western looting of Libya’s resources begins, The greatest spin story ever told: Obama’s Iraq withdrawal speech, Three Trillion Reasons Why The West Was In Afghanistan.
I have brought attention to the fact that Britain and its allies have helped train and arm the terrorists that they created in the first place. (ISIS: Trained by America, armed by America and now public enemy number one, and The global terrorist network and its links to western intelligence
I have brought attention to the fact that British and western terrorism abroad are responsible for acts of terrorism at home. (Britain’s terrorism abroad comes home brutally on the streets of London).
Any of my posts, including the posts of many other bloggers and independent news groups can be defined as “a material risk of the content having… a significant adverse physical or psychological impact on an adult of ordinary sensibilities”.
In his speech, “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break Silence” given at Riverside Church in New York, April 4, 1967, Reverend Martin Luther King said:
“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government. For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. Look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the country. This is a role our nation has taken, … refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. This is not just”.
Today, King would be considered a terrorist and an extremist.
The great Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the icon of the South African anti Apartheid movement, father of the Black South African nation, and inspiration for revolutionaries worldwide, would be considered a terrorist and extremist, as will any powerless African, Palestinian, Arab, Asian, or European etc, who are oppressed by a wealthy ruling elite.
The famous saying of ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’, needs to be a cornerstone for freedom of speech all over the world. Words are meant to incite action. Words are meant to provoke emotion, and more importantly, words are meant to incite insurrection against oppressive governments. If the UK government finds this a threat, it is because they have millions of African and Asian skeletons in their historical closet, and It is also because they are still commiting crimes today.
The battle for freedom of expression for the powerless continues and unless people of all races and faiths begin to see what governments are up to these crimes will contine and the powerless will remain under the heel of the wealth elites. The choice is ours.
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For further research:
J. Curran & J. Seaton, Power Withour Responsibility: The Press and broadcasting in Britain (New York, Routledge, 1997)
Abrahams. E. The New Warlords: From the Gulf to the recolonisation of the Middle East (Larkin Productions, 1994)