censorship

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Ban on children’s book ‘Same-sex Parents’ backfires down under

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 23/05/2024 - 2:23pm in

City council joins long list of book censorship in Australia

Originally published on Global Voices

Same-sex Parents bookcover

Screenshot: Sky News Australia YouTube video – Same-sex parenting book ban defended by Cumberland City Councillor

When Sydney’s Cumberland City Council placed a ban on the book Same-sex Parents in its eight public libraries, it was bound to cause controversy. In addition, the issue highlighted Australia’s record of historical and current censorship.

There was immediate online outrage. David Tyler, aka Urban Wronski, summed up the negative reactions:

Shannon Molloy is a self-described “God-loving homosexual and senior reporter” at news.com.au. He argued, tongue-in-cheek, that other books in the library such as the Bible and Quran should be banned because of their “extreme themes” and “explicit and graphic” content. He wasn’t just “being facetious”:

It also demonstrates that censorship — which flies in the face of an open and free society and the democratic values we hold dear — is a very slippery slope.

This is an innocent book about same-sex parents, made with love and understanding in mind.

There was also a political backlash to the council vote, including the New South Wales State government. The NSW arts minister, John Graham, even suggested that the libraries could face funding cuts.

City councillor Steve Christou was criticized for not having read the book, even as he led the push for a ban:

Like many attempts at banning material, this has become another instance of the Streisand Effect, where an attempt to suppress something only gets it more attention. A similar situation unfolded in 2023 with the sex education book “Welcome to Sex” in Australia.

In fact, the publishers immediately made ‘Same-sex Parents’ available online for free:

One online petition to reverse the ban had over 40,000, with another exceeding 10,000 signatures before the Cumberland Council overturned its ban in a decisive vote of 12 to 2. Many people on social media, such as Tim Richards on Mastodon, were relieved:

Penni Russon, Senior Lecturer at Monash University, examined some of the history of book banning, highlighting the recent example of “Gender Queer,” a 2019 graphic memoir by US author Maia Kobabe that details the author's experience of coming out as gender fluid (Kobabe uses Spivak pronouns: e, em, eir)

The book has been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of much conservative ire both in Australia and internationally. “Gender Queer” was referred to the Australian Classification Board (ACB), a statutory body “responsible for the classification and censorship of films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia”. It received an Unrestricted (M – Not recommended for readers under 15 years) classification.

It is now subject to court action with conservative activist Bernard Gaynor taking the Federal Minister for Communication and the ACB to the Federal Court over a Review Board decision to uphold the classification.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has a five-part podcast series Banned Books. The fourth episode Gender Queer in Australia concerns Maia Kobabe's memoir.

According to the producer/presenter Sarah L'Estrange, it is “the most banned book in the USA and now it's being challenged in the courts in Australia”. She explores the question, “Has the battlefront of the US book-banning movement arrived in Australia”.

Australia has a long history of banning books, especially before the 1970s. High-profile examples included: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, James Baldwin's Another Country and D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita was banned until 1965 but was smuggled by returning overseas travellers in brown paper covers.

In Visible Archives: Queer and Feminist Visual Culture in the 1980s – review

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/05/2024 - 8:15pm in

Margaret Galvan‘s In Visible Archives explores the political power of archival material in shaping feminist and queer futures. Applying archival studies and comics scholarship to work from the 1980s by visual artists including Alison Bechdel and Nan Goldin, Galvan’s timely book underscores the importance of visibility in ongoing activism and community-building, writes Max Shirley.

In Visible Archives: Queer and Feminist Visual Culture in the 1980s. Margaret Galvan. ‎University of Minnesota Press. 2023.

Archive fever has hit the UK. Tate Britain’s exhibition, Women in Revolt! – which opened in late 2023 and will soon be relocated to Scotland, followed by Manchester – has brought second-wave feminist posters, pamphlets and other radical paraphilia out of the storeroom and into public view. In displays like this, archival material – some of which has gone unseen for over 40 years – is imbued with new life as visitors, activists, and community groups imagine how these items can be (re)used in the ongoing fight for a more equitable future.

Galvan examines how several American visual artists, including the cartoonist Alison Bechdel and photographer Nan Goldin, incorporate activism in their work and create a sense of collectivity.

The political and transformative potential of feminist and queer archives is centre stage in Margaret Galvan’s debut monograph, In Visible Archives: Queer and Feminist Visual Culture in the 1980s. Across five concise chapters, Galvan examines how several American visual artists, including the cartoonist Alison Bechdel and photographer Nan Goldin, incorporate activism in their work and create a sense of collectivity. “All these women’s artworks shaped feminist futures,” Galvan writes, “but how they mobilized image and text together to plant the seeds for future community to bloom has been overlooked” (4).

Galvan locates her monograph in the fields of both archival studies and comics scholarship. Building on the work of Hilary Chute and Ramzi Fawaz, among other theorists, Galvan considers the “multilayered relationships between image and text” and examines how “publication venues frame our readings” of images (6-7). Specifically, Galvan pays close attention to the sequencing of comics, photographic slideshows, exhibition guides and other visual materials. How these cultural artefacts are produced, sequenced, displayed and stored contributes to their political and affective power, as well as their potential to build new communities.

Against a backdrop of the 1980s’ sex/porn wars, the phobic Reagan administration, and the AIDS epidemic, these feminist and queer visual practitioners were alert to ‘the hard-won and narrowly kept conditions of visibility for diverse sexual identities’.

The book’s title, In Visible Archives, embodies the tenuous and paradoxical nature of visibility, which Galvan seeks to underscore. For example, the scholar analyses art that is held in both accessible, established spaces and more precarious locations – some in university archives and campuses, while volunteers in community-based and grassroots spaces tend to other items. Indeed, the women artists featured in the text question the heightened visibility of some bodies over others through their aesthetic work. Against a backdrop of the 1980s’ sex/porn wars, the phobic Reagan administration, and the AIDS epidemic, these feminist and queer visual practitioners were alert to “the hard-won and narrowly kept conditions of visibility for diverse sexual identities” (1-2). Ensuring the continued visibility of minoritarian lives and identities is further echoed in the text’s structure, as Galvan closes each chapter with a short reflection titled “Archives and Afterlives”. These cumulative sections examine the contemporary resonances of queer and feminist art from the late twentieth century and allow Galvan to attend to the important but unfinished business of community-building and political activism.

In the opening three chapters of the book, Galvan focuses her investigation on the work of graphic artists and cartoonists. The first chapter explores the enduring legacy of the 1982 Barnard Conference on Sexuality and the beginning of the Feminist Sex Wars. Galvan considers three graphic artists  – Hannah Alderfer, Beth Jaker, and Marybeth Nelson  – who designed the Barnard Conference’s accompanying handbook, Diary of a Conference on Sexuality. Focusing on its collage aesthetics, Galvan begins to underscore the centrality of the image to her analysis and argues that these three artists empowered women’s sexual identities through a visual form that “embraced rather than censored erotic representations” (49).

Reading across several grassroots and community-based archives […] Galvan demonstrates the importance of archival practices in ensuring the visibility of queer and queer-adjacent communities.

Chapter Two offers a series of close readings of the comics of two formative cartoonists: Lee Marrs and Roberta Gregory. In clear, straightforward prose, Galvan explores the pairs’ foundational and pioneering work in the lesbian comics scene and demonstrates how queer communities and subcultures were built through the publication and circulation of grassroots newspapers and zines, such as Gay Comix. At times in this chapter, the close reading and analysis verges on description, but this is a minor complaint. Alison Bechdel’s long-running series Dykes to Watch Out For is the primary concern of the third chapter – one of the book’s strongest. In this section, Galvan offers an adroit analysis of how Bechdel incorporates activism into her modes of artistic production. Reading across several grassroots and community-based archives – in addition to the collection of Bechdel’s papers at Smith College – Galvan demonstrates the importance of archival practices in ensuring the visibility of queer and queer-adjacent communities.

For the final two chapters of In Visible Archives, Galvan moves away from cartoons to survey the work of the writer Gloria Anzaldúa and the New York-based photographer Nan Goldin. The penultimate chapter attends to the drawings and sketches of Chicana feminist scholar Anzaldúa. Galvan argues for a renewed consideration of how Anzaldúa utilised visual storytelling as part of their educative practice. The final chapter contends with Goldin’s curatorial work in her seminal photobook, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and her 1990 exhibition, Witnesses: Against our Vanishing. Here, Galvan provides an inciteful analysis of how Goldin sequences her photographs and curates the work of others in order to “guard against loss” and preserve communities in the face of the AIDS epidemic (198).

The radical potential of art and the archive is unquestionable. What Galvan ultimately illustrates is the need to keep making art and to keep building community.

As the rights of those most vulnerable in society are unceremoniously stripped in the name of culture wars stoked by right-wing parties and politicians, visibility continues to be of the utmost importance. In Visible Archives is a timely intervention which continues Goldin’s project of guarding against loss. Galvan lucidly demonstrates the importance of community-based archives, activism and art and provides an accessible introduction to the work of several women visual artists of the 1980s. The radical potential of art and the archive is unquestionable. What Galvan ultimately illustrates is the need to keep making art and to keep building community.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Image credit: Susan Sermoneta on Flickr.

Israel bans Al Jazeera as attack on journalism goes domestic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/05/2024 - 10:46pm in

Seizure of broadcasting equipment and blocking of Israeli citizens’ access to website as Israel adds assault on dissenting voices in Gaza to its slaughter of journalists in Gaza

Israel has banned Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera from its territory – and blocked Israeli citizens from accessing the station’s channel and website – as it continues its assault on dissenting voices examining its mass murder of Palestinian civilians. The move comes as global support for Palestinians, and condemnation of Israel’s slaughter and maiming of more than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza, continues to grow and Israel’s usual deceits and tactics to discredit opposition collapses. The ban will last for forty-five days initially, but is likely to keep being renewed.

The station showed a pre-recorded announcement from the head of its Israeli bureau confirming the government censorship – and its final live broadcast from Israeli territory was an interview with a journalist from Israeli paper Haaretz, speaking from his car, who condemned the ban and said it was quite possible he would be arrested when he got home because of the interview.

Israel has murdered well over a hundred journalists in Gaza since 7 October and prevents international journalists from entering the territory, apart from a handful who have been shepherded in and out for propaganda purposes. Now its war on journalism, free speech and truth has gone domestic.

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Fresh audio product: professor canceled for an article, the lingering effects of the slavocracy in the South, the Confederate diaspora

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 26/04/2024 - 11:32pm in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

April 25, 2024 Jodi Dean talks about being suspended from teaching at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for writing an article the administration didn’t like • Keri Leigh Merritt on the lingering effects of antebellum Southern society (article here) • excerpts from an interview first broadcast in June 2023 with Samuel Bazzi, co-author of this paper, on the effects of the white migration out of the South after the Civil War on the recipient areas (from a June 2023 interview)

Fresh audio product: Yanis Varoufakis on being banned in Germany, and on the rise of technofeudalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2024 - 7:31am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

April 18, 2024 Yanis Varoufakis talks about being banned in Germany for supporting the Palestinian cause, and then about the transformation he analyzes in his new book, Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism

Facebook designates Grayzone journalist Kit Klarenberg a ‘dangerous individual’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 2:16pm in

The notoriously intelligence-friendly social media network appears to have imposed a ban on posting a recent report by Kit Klarenberg, and is automatically restricting users who re-publish his work. Multiple Facebook users have reported being banned, or having their posts censored, after sharing an investigation by The Grayzone’s Kit Klarenberg into CIA and MI6 involvement in the creation of ISIS. Readers who post links to the piece on the social network find themselves frozen out of their accounts, on the […]

The post Facebook designates Grayzone journalist Kit Klarenberg a ‘dangerous individual’ first appeared on The Grayzone.

The post Facebook designates Grayzone journalist Kit Klarenberg a ‘dangerous individual’ appeared first on The Grayzone.

Exclusive: Unite bans anti-racist documentary – after first offering to support

‘Resistance Street’ film premieres in London this week – but not in Unite buildings, against the wishes of Unite officers and reps

The Unite union has continued its trend under general secretary Sharon Graham of banning left-wing films and books by blocking showings on its premises of a new documentary by Richard David – despite its equalities directors first offering maximum help.

‘On Resistance Street’ trailer

The film was shot over a two year period in England, Belfast and New York and features renowned musicians, bands, writers and commentators looking at the role music plays in the fight against Fascism and racism. Siobhan Endean, Unite’s equalities director, initially responded to David’s approach:

Thank you for your email that you sent to our Executive Council. My role is working in the field of equalities within unite and I would be very keen to help you as much as I can. You asked for an email address for our general secretary it is [redacted]  I would also be very grateful if you could share a link to your film, and I will see what can be done to support the film.

However, within a short time this willingness to help was withdrawn, prompting the film’s creators to write directly to Sharon Graham:

Dear Sharon,
I am writing to you as the writer-director of the new British feature-length documentary ‘ON RESISTANCE STREET’, which received its sold-out international premiere in Belfast, at the Queen’s Film Theatre on October 19th 2023.

The film was a two year independent production, shot in England, Belfast and New York. It is an in-depth examination of the role which music has played historically in the fight against Fascism, racism, bigotry and Right Wing ideology.

As such it contains contributions from a wide array of musicians, Trade Union leaders, activists, authors, historians and commentators. These include members of The Sex Pistols, Steel Pulse, Aswad, Stiff Little Fingers, The Levellers, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, The Defects and The Outcasts. There are also contributions from contemporary British artists such as the East London based Grime Star Lady Shocker, who performs individually but is also a founder member of the
ground-breaking ‘Female All-stars’ Grime collective.

Other contributors include: Matt Wrack FBU Leader, Weyman Bennett, national co-ordinator of ‘Stand Up to Racism’, Chris Salewicz, biographer of Joe Strummer and Bob Marley, Anti-Fascist author and historian Rick Blackman, feminist historian and author Louise Raw, Clash ‘Rude Boy’ movie star Ray Gange, leading female Black Lives Matter activist Chantelle Lunt, Terri Hooley, founder of ‘Good Vibrations Records in Belfast, Mexico City Trade Union leader Fernando Luna, New York State Union organiser Dan Gniewekei and others.

The film also shows as to how a new Trade Union, was created in Mexico City, with between 3-400 members, this after a year of online video call consultations, between British, American and Mexican members of an online Clash fans group named ‘Clash Fans Against The Right’. The members involved were full-time Union officers in their own countries. That group was founded by myself and Robin Banks, in direct response to Boris Johnson’s ludicrous and deeply cynical claim that The Clash were one of his ”Two favourite bands”, that obscene announcement contained inside an official Conservative Party political broadcast in November 2019.

That social media group has since evolved into a real life Anti-Racism organisation named ‘Resistance Street’, which has staged live music events in London, Liverpool, New York and Belfast over the last two years. These events also featured many political speakers including Trade Union leaders like Matt Wrack. In its third section, ‘On Resistance Street’ traces that evolution and shows how social media can be harnessed and utilised powerfully on behalf of the Left, when people pool their intellectual and creative strengths.

The film was produced by myself and Robin, the lifelong friend of The Clash’s Mick Jones, who was immortalised in the band’s song ”Stay Free”. A song written by Mick himself and about their friendship. Robin and I were both friends of the late Joe Strummer, whose lyrics and quotes appear at various stages of the film.

This letter is sent in direct conjunction with a recent proposal which originated via friends of mine who are Unite Officers and Shop Stewards in Southampton, the city in which UK production was based. This followed another sold-out Southern regional premiere screening at Solent University Film Theatre on November 17th. The proposal was that there would be a special screening of the film for Unite members, Anti-Racism activists and other members of Trade Unions at the Unite-The Union HQ in Southampton.

I have personally attended previous Anti-Racism documentary screenings at the HQ, which were well supported and successfully received, audience-wise. Secondly, it was proposed that following that initial event, this could act as springboard for a series of special screenings in Unite HQ’s across the country.

Both Robin and myself were only too delighted at this proposal, given it had always been our hope that special political screenings could materialise via agreements with Trade Unions.

Many people who have seen ORS, have commented on its in-depth educational value. The film not only chronicles music’s role in this battle as stated, but charts the entire drift towards the political Right in America, Europe and Britain, as we confront the present. As such, the ascendancy of Trump, the Brexit campaign and the British and European Far Right are all documented, with emphasis on the now alarming authoritarian stances of the current Conservative government in Britain.

We emphasise that given our own political convictions formed over a lifetime, we were absolutely perfectly happy to see this screening and the proposed series across the country, take place with us making not a single PENNY of profit from it all.

We have now been informed that this proposal is not possible, in direct relation to a relatively recent motion passed by the Unite-The Union National Executive.

As you are well aware, that motion has forbidden the screening of any documentary films in Unite-The Union buildings, unless they are specifically to do with working conditions, wage disputes and industrial relations.

The officers and Shop Stewards concerned were truly shocked by this motion. So are we. Firstly, such films are few and far between and are only likely to be made if they were commissioned by Unions individually or the TUC.

Secondly and more importantly, this decision was taken without consultation of your regional political education officers, general membership or indeed the Unite-The Union Community section. As such, we believe this amounts to a Stalinist-style decision and one which stands directly at odds with the overall principles and history of Anti-Fascism and Anti-Racism in Britain.

It is a decision which consequently denies workers/members the opportunity to watch a film like this inside a recognised Union environment. It is a decision which raises serious questions concerning your Union’s commitment to Anti-Racism in general and which constitutes a gross act of cultural censorship.

Working class cultural activism and creativity should be an absolutely integral part of any genuine political education programmes. Particularly when it is based inside energies challenging racism in Britain.

The Shop Stewards and officers all voiced that belief and it is one we share and endorse completely. We are of course aware of the furore caused via screenings or potential screenings of the Jeremy Corbyn film ‘The Big Lie’.

We shall not comment further on that, other than to say until we hear differently, we have to assume that this motion was passed as a knee-jerk, supposedly politically expedient reaction, to all that. If you are of the view that there are other bona-fide reasons behind the motion, we would very much like to hear what they are.

In light of all this, we are now requesting the following:

  • That your National Executive convenes to formally re-assess this decision.
  • That in doing so, the Executive democratically consults fully with your regional political education officers and only reaches a final decision after such consultations.

If this does not happen, we believe it makes an utter mockery of their supposed role and programmes. We also believe strongly that there should be further extended consultations with appropriate representatives of Unite The Union-In The Community, this also on a regional basis.

It is our conviction that the current decision cuts right to the heart of supposed ‘democracy’, as related to fundamental ethics and principles of Trade Unionism within ‘Unite-The Union’. We believe this decision should be reversed. We believe that these matters will attract widespread attention and public interest within the public domain. With that in mind, we request a formal response from yourself at the earliest possible point.

In Solidarity.
Richard David
Robin Banks

The pair received a response from Sarah Carpenter, Unite’s newly-promoted (without proper process, according to union insiders) ‘Executive head of operations’. The reply, while anodyne in its language, confirmed that Unite has no intention of reversing its ban – and did not address any of the makers’ concerns about the political motivations behind it:

Dear Richard and Robin,

Thank you for your letter which you sent to the General Secretary on 18 December. The GS is currently involved in industrial disputes and has asked me to respond.

Your letter rightly refers to a decision made by the union’s Executive Committee (made up of lay members, elected democratically by and from the wider membership), which was debated and agreed by them at their meeting in September 2023. This decision was ‘That Unite should not use its premises or resources to show or promote any external films or other content that does not relate to our industrial agenda to support the pay, terms and conditions of our members and/or support existing Unite policies. In this context the Union should be especially careful to avoid appearing to endorse any material which causes unnecessary offence to members.’

This would mean that we cannot show any films unless there is a clear link to our industrial agenda. The film you have produced looks fascinating and I am pleased to see that you have found venues where this can be shown. However, from the information you have sent I do not see that there is a link to our industrial agenda, and so we are not able to use Unite premises or resources to show or promote this film.

Carpenter has been accused, acting on Sharon Graham’s behalf, of threatening a soon-to-retire regional official with the loss of his pension bonus if he did not cool his support for the people of Palestine against Israel’s genocide – and of cancelling showings and readings of films and books showing the pro-Israel lobby’s sabotage of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party and exposing abuse by Starmer’s Labour toward left-wing party members.

Sharon Graham has been alleged by Unite insiders to have:

Her supporters also prevented debate and votes on Gaza at a March meeting of the union’s elected executive.

Apart from the issue of Gaza, her tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in both an employment tribunal for discrimination and a defamation lawsuit brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

‘On Resistance Street’ will receive its London premiere at The Gate Picturehouse Cinema in Notting Hill on
Wednesday April 17th. That will be followed by a short theatrical run across Britain. The film will then feature in a wide number of national and international Film festivals.

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Exclusive: Graham to be subpoena’d to testify in Ogle tribunal if she declines to appear

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/04/2024 - 7:09am in

Latest news from today’s session of discrimination case brought by Irish trade unionist against Unite and Sharon Graham as witnesses again ‘rattle’ union barrister – and former GS Len McCluskey will be called again

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham will be legally summonsed to appear in Dublin at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) discrimination case brought by Irish trade unionist Brendan Ogle against Graham and Unite, if she does not accept an invitation from Ogle’s lawyers. The news was confirmed after an attempt by Unite’s highly-paid barrister Mark Harty, to claim that Graham was not relevant to the case because she is the UK general secretary, was rejected by Adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman after Ogle’s lawyers pointed out that Ireland is a Unite region and Graham has overall responsibility, as well as allegedly telling Irish officials to inform Ogle that there was no place for him.

Ogle is claiming that Unite discriminated against him by sidelining him on his return from cancer treatment – and that he was told that Graham ‘recognises loyalty’ from those who supported her in Unite’s 2021 general secretary election. Ogle, like many Irish figures and branches, supported Graham’s rival, Howard Beckett.

The question of whether a subpoena would be issued to compel Graham to attend was left open at the end of the last three-day session of the case. Harty tried to claim Graham was not relevant to the case and may not be ‘amenable’ to subpoena, as if a legal summons is a matter of whether one feels like being summoned. Graham and her alleged words about getting rid of Ogle have featured prominently in the case so far.

In other news from the tribunal, Irish Unite stalwart James ‘Junior’ Coss gave evidence corroborating Ogle’s account of sitting through the creation of a whiteboard chart about how the union would be organised after his removal, to the evident ire of Harty, whom attendees described as becoming extremely aggressive.

John Douglas, former general secretary of Irish retail union Mandate, also gave evidence in support of Ogle’s case, to a similar reaction from Harty – whose approach in the preceding session in February led to several ‘sidebars’ with Spelman and Ogle’s outraged barrister Mary-Paula Guinness.

Tomorrow’s session of the hearing was postponed after Unite’s lawyers called pro-Graham union employee Therese Maloney in an attempt to rebut former general secretary Len McCluskey’s testimony that he had assured Ogle his job would be kept open. Adjudicator Spelman ruled that McCluskey must be on hand for re-examination before Maloney can testify.

Sharon Graham has previously cancelled appearances in the Republic, avoiding members’ anger and scrutiny over the union’s ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Brendan Ogle. The situation caused such outrage in Ireland that union members picketed Graham’s long-delayed visit to Dublin, Unite’s Community section condemned it as ‘disgusting’ and a whole sector branch threatened to disaffiliate.

Graham’s tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in a defamation lawsuit brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

She has also been alleged by insiders to have:

Her supporters also prevented debate and votes on Gaza at a meeting of the union’s elected executive earlier this month.

Failure to obey a subpoena in employment cases is a prosecutable criminal offence under Ireland’s ‘Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018‘.

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Cartoon: Budget spring books

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/04/2024 - 8:50am in

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Degenerate Art in New Normal Germany

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/03/2024 - 4:24am in

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censorship

One of the first things totalitarians do when they set about transforming a democratic society into whatever type of strictly-regulated, utterly soul-deadening totalitarian dystopia they are trying to transform it into is radically overhaul and remake its culture. You can’t impose your new official ideology on a formerly democratic society with a bunch of artists running around loose, making fun of you and your propaganda. No, you need to get the culture business under control, and dictate what is and isn’t “art,” and what types of art are “harmful to society,” and demonize them, and the artists who created them, and censor them, or otherwise erase them.

The Nazis went about this process in their characteristically ham-fisted fashion …

“In September 1933, the Nazis created the Reich Chamber of Culture. The Chamber oversaw the production of art, music, film, theater, radio, and writing in Germany. The Nazis sought to shape and control every aspect of German society. They believed that art played a critical role in defining a society’s values. In addition, the Nazis believed art could influence a nation’s development. Several top leaders became involved in official efforts on art. They sought to identify and attack ‘dangerous’ artworks as they struggled to define what ‘truly German’ art looked like.” — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

One of the most ham-fisted events in the course of this process of ideological “synchronization” (a process known as “Gleichschaltung” in German) was the Entartete Kunst (“Degenerate Art”) exhibition in Munich in 1937 …

New Normal Germany is not Nazi Germany, so there is no “New Normal Chamber of Culture,” and no new “Degenerate Art” exhibition. The New Normal is a new form of totalitarianism, one which can’t afford to be perceived as totalitarianism, and thus the Gleichschaltung process works a bit differently.

I’m going to use my prosecution as an example, again. I apologize to any regular readers who are sick of hearing me go on about it. I know, I promised not to go all “Late Lenny Bruce,” but the Germans keep providing me with new comedy material. If you’re not one of those regular readers and thus are unfamiliar with the background of my case, you can read about it in The Atlantic, Matt Taibbi’s Racket News, and in various independent media outlets.

The short version is, back in 2022, I posted two Tweets criticizing mask mandates and making fun of Karl Lauterbach, the German Health Minister. Both Tweets included an image from the cover artwork of my latest book, The Rise of The New Normal Reich: Consent Factory Essays, Vol. III (2020-2021).

The German authorities did not appreciate those Tweets, so they (1) had them censored by Twitter, (2) had Amazon ban my book in Germany, and (3) dragged me into criminal court and prosecuted me on trumped-up “hate crime” charges. I was acquitted of those charges at my trial in January, but the Berlin State Prosecutor has appealed the verdict.

The latest bit of comic material the German authorities have provided me with is a copy of the prosecutor’s grounds for the appeal. In it, the Oberstaatsanwältin als Hauptabteilungsleiterin (i.e., “The Senior Public Prosecutor and Department Head”) argues that my Tweets do not express opposition to the Nazis, which … she’s right, they don’t. They express opposition to the mask mandates, and lies of the German authorities, and their violation of the German constitution.

My Tweets do not express my opposition to the Nazis because my Tweets assume opposition to the Nazis. They assume that all decent people understand and take it for granted that the Nazis were … well, Nazis, vicious, sadistic, mass-murdering fascists, with zero respect for democracy and the rule of law, who were obsessed with imposing their fanatically insane ideology on the entire planet. They (i.e., my Tweets) assume that comparing a contemporary group of power-intoxicated, constitution-violating, official-propaganda-spewing psychopaths — for example, the current German authorities — to the Nazis is not exactly a compliment.

The Senior Public Prosecutor and Head of Department, who is clearly not only an expert on the law, and political commentary, but is also an expert on art, and subtlety, and other elements of aesthetics, explains the other problem with my art (i.e., in addition to the problem of opposing the German authorities’ unconstitutional dictates when I should have been opposing the Nazis) in her “Revisionsbegründung” (“Grounds for Appeal”) … too much subtlety, not enough “clarity” and “obviousness.”

Here’s an excerpt from the Revisionsbegründung (translation, clarification, and emphasis mine).

“The general politically-critical presentation [of the Tweets] does not even begin to express opposition to the NSDAP [i.e., the Nazi Party] and its ideology in an equally obvious and unequivocal way.” […] “Ultimately, the representations express that the accused wanted to emphasize his concerns about the measures in the Corona policy by adding the so-called swastika and the implicit reference to National Socialism. The implication is diametrically opposed to the required obviousness and clarity.”

If only someone had told me about the importance of “obviousness” in works of art when I was back in film school or starting out as an avant-garde playwright in New York City, who knows, I could have been somebody! Instead, I got myself all confused by artists like … well, for example, John Heartfield. The title of this 1936 piece is “HAVE NO FEAR – HE’S A VEGETARIAN.”

In light of The Senior Public Prosecutor’s argument, I don’t know what to think about this piece anymore. What was Heartfield trying to say? Was he pro- or anti-Hitler? More importantly, was he pro- or anti-vegetarian?

And what are we supposed to think about this? Is Barbara Kruger pro- or anti-shopping?

And here’s an illustration by Anthony Freda, the artist who designed the cover of my book, and who is clearly suffering from a “clarity and obviousness” deficiency!

Oh, and speaking of inadequate “clarity” and “obviousness,” and the displaying of swastikas on German Twitter, here’s a Tweet by Die Tageszeitung, the big “left” newspaper here in Berlin …

Back in November, my attorney filed a complaint about that Tweet with the Public Prosecutor, as an experiment, just to see how they would respond. Of course, they declined to investigate, and prosecute, and cited the same exceptions to the ban on displaying swastikas that apply in my case, and which the judge also cited when she acquitted me in January.

I asked my attorney to carry out that experiment, because, at the time, I was terribly confused about whether Die Tageszeitung opposed the Nazis, or was trying to promote the Nazis, or what, exactly, all those swastikas and smirking Nazis were doing in a Tweet about “German Muslims” and other “migrant people” and how they think about the Holocaust. In the end, I decided the Twitter operators at Die Tageszeitung were probably working under the same assumption about how people view the Nazis as I was when I posted my two Tweets, i.e., the assumption that the Nazis were bad and that you do not have to reiterate that to the general public each and every time you include a photograph of them, or a swastika, in your social-media artwork.

But, seriously now, as I noted in court, my case has nothing to do with the Nazis or The Senior Public Prosecutor’s understanding of art. It’s part of the crackdown on political dissent that is being carried out, not just here in Germany, but in countries all throughout the West. Yes, it’s particularly fascistic in Germany — if you can read German, here is yet another example of a case like mine, but under a different pretext — and it is absolutely focused on critics of the official Covid narrative and the Covid restrictions, but it isn’t focused exclusively on us. If you can set aside your allegiance to whatever side of whatever you have pledged it to, and have a look at what is coming down the pipe, or is already all the way down the pipe, in the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, France, and various other countries … well, I strongly recommend that you do that, preferably before we all get “gleichgeschaltet.”

If you need a place to start, I posted links to a few articles on Matt Taibbi’s Notes thing

OK, that’s it … I need to finish this column and go and up my “clarity and obviousness” game. The last thing I’d want to do at this point is post some other non-obvious art and accidentally “delegitimize the state.” I’m already in enough trouble as it is! Thank God I have The Senior Public Prosecutor’s Revisionsbegründung to refer to!

I tell you, I don’t know where I’d be without these Germans!

###

CJ Hopkins
March 24, 2024

N.B.

DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay is entirely the work of our in-house satirist and self-appointed political pundit, CJ Hopkins, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Consent Factory, Inc., or its staff, or any of its agents, subsidiaries, or assigns. If, for whatever inexplicable reason, you appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to support it, please go to his Substack page, or his Patreon page, or send a contribution to his PayPal account, so that maybe he’ll stop coming around our offices trying to hit our employees up for money. Alternatively, you could purchase his satirical dystopian sci-fi novel, Zone 23, or Volumes I, II, and III of his Consent Factory Essays, or any of his subversive stage plays, which won some awards in Great Britain and Australia. If you do not appreciate Mr. Hopkins’ work and would like to write him an abusive email, feel free to contact him directly.

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