My Brush with French (and World) “Press Freedom”
To comment on this article go to B’Man’s Revolt.
April 2013 was an exciting month for me. We had discovered a terrific country music singer who had agreed to perform my parody of Patsy Cline’s hit, “I Fall to Pieces” and on April 6 Buelahman, my video collaborator, put it up on his web site. It is entitled “Falling to Pieces for Israel,” and, to my mind, it was the best thing that we had yet done together. Later in the month, I had the opportunity to take my first river cruise in Europe, on the Saone and Rhone Rivers in the south of France. I took my laptop with me to avail myself of the WiFi service that was available on the cruise boat.
I was still a bit excited about our success with the video and eager, should the opportunity arise, to share it with anyone I thought might be interested. The WiFi worked quite well generally, but when I attempted to view “Falling to Pieces for Israel,” I was greeted with this message: “This video is not available in your country.” At no time when I was in France was I able to see it.
I thought of that experience as I read the January 14, 2014, article by George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley, “France Follows Freedom of Speech Rally with Crackdown on Free Speech,” which begins this way:
This weekend I wrote a column for the Washington Post on the crackdown of free speech in France. The column suggested that, if the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws used to hound them and threaten them with criminal prosecution for years. (Indeed, at least one surviving journalist expressed contempt for those who now support free speech but remained silent in the face of past efforts to shut down the magazine). Now, however, news reports indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre. France has reportedly made dozens of arrests of people who glorify terrorism and engage in hateful or anti-Semitic speech.
To be sure, my very first thought when I saw that our video that speaks dramatically to the control of the United States Congress by the state of Israel was that we had run afoul of French laws limiting what that country deems to be “hate speech,” no matter how factual the material we were presenting might be. As powerful as Zionist control of the United States is, it is not yet so powerful as to prevent the sort of expression that is represented by “Falling to Pieces for Israel.” In the United States you can’t be sent to prison, as you can in France, for publicly looking critically into any facet of the story that the German government during World War II mainly gassed to death six million Jews in “extermination camps” and disposed of the evidence through wholesale cremation in an assembly-line-like fashion, either. I was disappointed, but not completely surprised, then, when I found that people in France were deprived of the opportunity to experience our video.
My indignation was dampened somewhat, though, by my first conversation with a Frenchman about the matter. It happened when we were on our bus from our hotel in Avignon to the airport in Marseilles, from which I was to fly back to the States. I was seated next to one of our guides and took that opportunity to complain to him about it. His explanation, in defense of his government, was that French copyright laws were stronger than those in the United States and because we used the tune upon which others had a copyright, the video was likely suppressed in France for commercial rather than political reasons.
Before I had my first song parody published on the Internet, “Obama, the Song,” I had assured myself that U.S. law protected parodies against charges of copyright infringement quite thoroughly—more than most countries, in fact—and so I was put off at the time from publicly charging France with knuckling under to the Israeli lobby. Had I encountered the copyright argument earlier in the trip I would have immediately gone to check “Obama, the Song” to see if it was also blocked, but I had no further opportunity to go online before leaving the country.
If someone reading this article happens to be in France, I would appreciate it if he or she would let me know if “Obama, the Song” is blocked and if “Falling to Pieces for Israel” continues to be blocked. That would go a long way toward settling the question of why I couldn’t expose anyone else to our great discovery, Liz Dilling, the singer, and to her rendition of our song when I was in France.
In the meantime, I have come across some evidence against the “copyright protection” argument. Last year I went on a second European river cruise, and this one took me through the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland. In each country I was eager to see if the message, “This video is not available in your country,” would turn up when I tried to watch “Falling to Pieces for Israel.” It did not. I might as well have been at home watching it. I am under the impression that one of the things that the European Union has accomplished is to make laws generally more comparable among the various member states. If so, France would definitely be quite an anomaly when it comes to parodies and copyright infringement. The first two of the countries in my 2014 trip are EU members. My bet is that it is simply a case of French, U.S.-puppet-state pro-Israel censorship.
Even if copyright law is the excuse, it is likely a politically freighted excuse. Take the situation in Canada, for example. This is from Wikipedia.
Under Canadian law, although there is protection for Fair Dealing, there is no explicit protection for parody and satire. In Canwest v. Horizon, the publisher of the Vancouver Sun launched a lawsuit against a group which had published a pro-Palestinian parody of the paper. Alan Donaldson, the judge in the case, ruled that parody is not a defence to a copyright claim.
What with the known subservience of the Canadian government to Zionist interests and the country’s notorious hate speech laws, one can’t help suspect that power politics had something to do with how that ruling came down. A powerful pro-Palestinian medium of protest was thereby silenced under the force of Canadian law. One can’t help thinking that the ruling would have been different had the roles of the players been reversed.
U.S. Censorship More Subtle
In the United States the government doesn’t censor political expression using the law. The First Amendment of the Constitution makes it particularly difficult for it to do that, and it doesn’t have to. The news might not be controlled by the law, but from my own experience, I can say with confidence that the evidence is overwhelming that it is controlled. One need look no farther than my most recent article specifically addressing the subject, “The Great Suppression of 2014.” Before that he could go to “The Forrestal Murder and the News Media,” and before that to “The Kennedy Assassination and the Press.”
North Carolina Republican Congressman Bill Hendon learned how the control works back in 1981. This passage is from my review of the book that he wrote with Elizabeth Stewart, the daughter of a missing prisoner of war, An Enormous Crime: The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia:
Hendon, along with fellow freshman Congressman, John LeBoutillier (R-NY), had the life-changing experience of being present when Air Force Brigadier General Eugene Tighe, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), testified to Congress on June 25, 1981, some eight years after all of the POWs had supposedly returned to the United States. The two new Congressmen were members of the House POW/MIA Task Force, before which the testimony was made, and LeBoutillier was also a member of the task force's parent committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Tighe, as DIA director, was, as they say, "the horse's mouth," when it comes to whether any POWs remained in Southeast Asia.
Tighe...stunned those in attendance by testifying in open, public session that he was "absolutely certain" that American POWs were still being held captive in Southeast Asia. He also called for a renewed effort by the Congress and the administration to get the prisoners home ....
"[Hendon] and I were just totally blown away by Tighe's testimony in public session that the men were still alive," LeBoutillier later said, "We knew, of course, that they were [alive], but this was the director of defense intelligence testifying to the fact before the U.S. Congress in open session. I'll never forget it ─ 'absolutely certain. ' "LeBoutillier went on to say that he and Hendon were sure Tighe's statement "would be big news the next day, not just on the Hill, but all across town and, via the media, all across America."
To the congressmen's surprise, however, Tighe's statement did not appear the following day in the Post or any of America's other major newspapers. Not, to their knowledge, the next day. Nor the next, or the next, or the next. Nor was there any buzz about what the general had said in the halls or on the floor of the House. Perplexed, the two congressmen contacted senior members of the task force and the Foreign Affairs Committee to see what they had planned in response to Tighe's testimony. The two congressmen's message to the senior members was a simple one: "Tighe told our committee last week he was certain U.S. POWs are alive. Nothing happened. No press, no follow-up strategy sessions by the task force or the full committee, nothing in Armed Services, nothing in Veterans Affairs, nothing on the Senate side and, as far as we can determine, nothing downtown. What the hell is going on?"
To a man, the senior congressmen replied that other than holding additional hearings and issuing additional press releases, there was really nothing more in the short term that Congress could or would do. (p. 220)
It was all up to the executive branch, they said, and indicated that it was just too politically dangerous a topic for them to explore further. Tighe, they observed, was set to retire in a matter of weeks and had nothing to lose. As for themselves, no one wanted to stick his political neck out far enough to have it chopped off by the folks who were running the show.
Those who were running the show, it is abundantly obvious, were also controlling the press.
The Kindle Blackout
How far this “private” control of information can go was brought home forcefully, and shockingly, to me from another of my experiences involving international travel. Upon the recommendation of an online contact, I had purchased the Kindle edition of the bombshell book, Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold, by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave. Why I call it a bombshell is well summed up by this excerpt of the review by Publishers Weekly:
The Seagraves, bestselling authors (Lords of the Rim, etc.), contend that Japan systematically looted the entire continent of Asia during WWII, seizing billions in precious metals, gems and artworks. Further, according to the authors, from war’s end to the present, the looted treasure, used by President Truman to create a secret slush fund to fight communism, has had a malignant effect on American and Asian politics. The Seagraves assert that the Japanese imperial family, along with Ferdinand Marcos, every American president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and numerous sinister figures on the American hard right have been tainted and in many cases utterly corrupted by the loot. Postwar efforts to recover and exploit the treasure, according to the Seagraves, involved murders, dishonest deals and cover-ups…
The “entire continent” part is a bit of an exaggeration by the reviewer, of course. The looting, which apparently far surpassed anything the Nazis did, naturally extended only to those Asian countries that the Japanese occupied, but that was quite a large area, and it involved quite a bit of gold.
In 2013 I had the opportunity to visit some of my old stomping grounds in South Korea on a two-week tour. I had put Gold Warriors in my book queue to read during the trip. I began reading while waiting for my flight at Dulles Airport. Once in the air I was distracted for several hours by two or three inflight movies and didn’t pull out my Kindle to resume reading until about the time we approached Japanese air space. Gold Warriors was GONE. It had been there for several months after I purchased it from Amazon, and it was there when I started the flight, but now it was nowhere to be found.
Once in my hotel in Seoul, I checked the Kindle again, and Gold Warriors was still missing. I used my laptop to check my Amazon account to see if I still owned the book and confirmed that I did. I then used the Kindle to request that it be re-sent to me, and I did it on several occasion during the two weeks, but it never showed up. I was never able to share any of the explosive information in the book with anyone in Korea during my stay there.
When I got back to the States virtually the first thing I did was to look for the book on my Kindle, and there it was as if it had never gone away. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to continue reading, and it quickly became evident to me why the “controllers” would not want this sort of information spread around among American vassal states in Asia. I also proceeded to buy several paperbound copies of the book to give as Christmas presents to friends.
I also couldn’t help but wonder if there might be some connection between the apparent blacking out of the Kindle version of the book in Asia and the $600 million contract that Amazon has with the CIA to provide “cloud computing services” and the decision of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to bail out the Graham family by at least lending his name to the purchase of the now massive money-losing Washington Post.
With all this evidence that Bezos and Amazon are in bed with the CIA, I am certainly made more receptive to the claims by many that Google and Facebook are no more than fronts for U.S. intelligence, as well. I have never had anything to do with Facebook, but Google is another matter. In 2006 Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion, so anyone who puts a video up on YouTube is dealing with Google now.
What that means is that, if they should choose to use it, Google now has the power to determine, with its posting of the number of hits that a video receives, which videos “go viral” and which ones, insofar as anyone outside Google knows, hardly even get off the ground. Considering the importance of the bandwagon effect, is it really plausible that our controllers would resist the temptation to use that power?
This brings us back, in conclusion, to the subject of my videos. On July 11, 2012, I posted the video of Mark Lentz’s very powerful antiwar, anti-neocon anthem, “At What a Cost.” Lentz is a first rate musician and his message could hardly be stronger. The message should resonate in particular with veterans of our endless wars in the Middle East and with the members of the U.S. military and their families. That’s the problem. For the longest time YouTube’s viewer count for “At What a Cost” has been stuck right around where it is as I write these words, at a piddling 2,866. I find that number really hard to believe. It might show some small bounce from people reading this article, but something tells me that our controllers will never let us see it crest even the 5,000 mark.
January 20, 2015