No pal of mine
Free speech and skepticism are or should be two central pillars of civilization, so it is no surprise to see them under attack from the British deep state and its provisional wing in the guise of Big Tech. The United Kingdom is, of course, unprotected by any equivalent of the First Amendment, so if you say — or even think — the wrong thing in that formerly sceptr’d isle, then you are on your own.
Now, should you be going after free speech and skepticism, you are probably going to want to shake down a gentleman who started an organization called The Free Speech Union and then followed that up with an online magazine entitled The Daily Sceptic.
Toby Young did just that. Young is a well-known media figure in Britain, starting the influential Modern Review back in the 1990s; holding a short-lived government position; writing a most amusing account of his travels and travails in New York’s media hothouse, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (later filmed); and being an associate editor of the venerable British magazine The Spectator.
Young was notified by PayPal that his personal account was being closed as he had breached their “acceptable use policy” — which sounds more appropriate for a condom rather than a social media platform — although what that entailed was not explained. The loss of his personal account didn’t bother Young too much as he hardly used it. Minutes later, however, he was notified that the PayPal account for The Daily Sceptic was also being closed, and a short while after that the account covering The Free Speech Union also disappeared. Full house.
The Free Speech Union represents people who have been fired or sued over issues related to freedom of speech, while The Daily Sceptic began as a site devoted to Covid issues before branching out into other areas the British government would rather people didn’t discuss. Young called PayPal customer service and asked why his accounts had been terminated. They wouldn’t tell him, nor would the Corporate Affairs boss or the CEO. It is this corporate omertà that is the most sinister aspect of this takedown. As Young points out, PayPal are effectively saying that they can close anyone’s account whenever they want to, and they don’t need to give a reason.
The reason is obvious, of course. Young told Sky News Australia that he believed that PayPal made their decision on political grounds, and rather than going after someone exercising free speech, the company is going after an organization defending those who exercise free speech. Plus, The Daily Sceptic aimed its skepticism at “the science” concerning Covid, which was every bit as propagandistic in Britain during the pandemic — scamdemic, plandemic, call it what you will — as it was in the States.
Young organized a letter to Tory bigwig — and rare genuine Tory — Jacob Rees-Mogg, signed by 42 Members of Parliament, and demanding an investigation into PayPal’s actions. It will be interesting to see how a new government reacts to blatant censorship by a private company on political grounds. These are the small battles that form part of a larger war.
Stop press! A short while after I sent this copy, PayPal backed down. The account by Young in The Spectator explains that, to a large extent, the damage has already been done. Young claims many people contacted him to explain that they were closing their PayPal accounts, and it may be that the customer bit back . . .
Farewell, Ma’am. Let us sing you to your rest
Britain, of course, lost its royal figurehead in September. Enough column inches have been written — a few of them by me — on the passing of the most dignified Head of State anywhere in the world in my lifetime. So, I will look instead at a rather wonderful offshoot of the royal tragedy, inevitable as its end was.
No one should need reminding of the impertinence of the European Union and its various little quasi-corporate enclaves. One of these is the Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA. As all European cultural as well as political bodies will doubtless have been instructed to punish Great Britain in any way possible, no matter how petty, for their audacity in voting for Brexit, UEFA banned the traditional singing of national anthems before Champions League games (the Champions League Final being the European equivalent of the Super Bowl minus the dreadful rapping at halftime) the very same week Her Majesty passed.
But not everyone does what they are told, and blessings go out to the fans of Rangers, a Scottish soccer side, for singing the national anthem before their game against Napoli. Rangers are traditionally linked with Protestantism, and their arch-rivals are thus Celtic, from the Catholic part of Glasgow. There are always football rivalries in the United Kingdom, of course. Manchester United and Manchester City in England, along with Liverpool/Everton; and my own north London team, Arsenal, and our deadly enemies, Tottenham Hotspur. The teams clash this weekend, and my blood is up already.
But Rangers v Celtic has always had the aura of some heathland battle with broadswords in about the twelfth century. The next time there is what Scots call an “old firm” fixture between the sides, I shall root for Rangers not because of my vestigial Protestantism, but because they sang out of respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II, and out of a disrespect for the upstarts of the UEFA.
A postscript concerning football and the death of Her Majesty. While various shysters and chiselers jumped the queue to see Her Majesty’s coffin — which only one Muslim attempted to overturn, claiming he believed the monarch still to be alive — and seemed to think their status gave them the right to skip to the head of the queue, national soccer icon David Beckham queued for 13 hours with the plebs. King Charles’ first job as King should be to meet Beckham with a sword in his hand. In a nice way.
Bill of wrongs
I wrote about the British Online Harms Bill (neé the British Online Safety Bill, which apparently wasn’t a scary enough name) here at Counter-Currents in February. With a new Prime Minister and cabinet this month, the government is approaching this legislation with caution and tiptoeing back to see how things are, optics-wise.
The draft bill was designed to keep children safe on the Internet — but you could just go anywhere in Britain where lots of Pakistani men live and do that. You don’t need legislation, just some old-fashioned coppers. Of course, behind the mask was a more serious aim. It is funny how Western governments use children as ideological human shields where some of the world’s worst regimes use real, live, wriggling kiddies.
What is most fascinating in the fledgling government’s response to the free speech issues unleashed by the bill is its premise. From the Daily Mail:
Michelle Donelan confirmed ministers were looking again at part of the Online Safety Bill designed to combat ‘legal but harmful’ content amid concerns that it could lead to an increase in censorship.
There are fears this provision will cause social media to set their algorithms far too strictly to avoid huge fines or even criminal sanctions — and in doing so take down legitimate journalism.
Donelan has a government job which should not exist, taking over from Nadine Dories as the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Sport and Media. As I have pointed out before, none of those areas are the legitimate concern of government. But she’s got the gig, and her political rhetoric is already well-honed. This little popsie would have us believe that she is out there battling for journalistic free expression. Sure, and I’m out there batting for the English cricket team in the next test match. Introducing a bill with potentially draconian effects and then rowing back a little later in the name of liberty is like the school bully punching you in the face and stealing your lunch money and then informing you of the good news that he isn’t going to punch you in the face again.
The Italian job
I have mentioned football and I am going to use it now in a totally spurious way. This is, after all, The Union Jackal, supposedly confined to what her Majesty called “these old islands,” so why would I feel it appropriate to mention Italy? Well, it is my firm belief that the Italians invented cheating in the game of soccer, so I am going to cheat, too. We will visit Italy, land of the Renaissance, Dante, pasta, opera, Fellini, Bellini, Cellini, and Mussolini. And then we will return to England once we find our Englishman. I promise.
George Orwell — real name Eric Blair — is now best known for 1984, and rightly so. It has a quasi-Koranic role in our culture now. But Orwell’s essays repay inspection, in this case the one entitled “What is Fascism?” It’s a five-minute read, and I recommend it if you don’t know it.
Famously, Orwell observes accurately that the word “fascism” and its cognates are simply used to indicate anything the speaker finds distasteful. “Racist” fulfils more or less the same semantically reduced role now. Before we move to Italy, it is always worth being reminded of Orwell’s humor. If you have only read 1984, you may be forgiven for not finding it a laugh riot (although there are one or two good gags), but the English Blair it’s okay to like does tickle the ribs from time to time:
It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
Perhaps it is just me who finds that passage one of the funniest in British political writing. But that is not why you called. The point is that the word “fascist” has been wheeled out again, like some dreadful band from the 1970s doing yet another comeback tour. If you are not aware, Italy has a new Prime Minister, its first woman in that position in history, and a lady who has provoked the European Union to call her — well, let’s put it in Italian, as it sounds more like the hiss of a snake: fascisti.
I won’t dwell on Giorgia Meloni; look her up yourself, but I will watch with interest and ask one question: Why does Britain have no Right-wing party? I suppose, after Brexit, they can now distance themselves from the European En-Rightenment, but Italy is now joining Hungary, Poland, Sweden, France, the Czech Republic, and Austria as electoral evidence of a European political move to the Right. Who does Britain have? No Meloni, no Orbàn, and no Le Pen, that’s for sure. Sometimes, you don’t know where your next Enoch Powell is coming from.
Britain may have lost an empire and a monarch, but it is heartwarming to see that her historians are still world-class. Don Lemon is, as I’m sure you know, not a historian but rather a particularly talentless black journalist recently demoted by CNN from prime time to some graveyard morning slot. He wears that bumptious, self-righteous look black people in the media and on the Left (most of them) wear, as though they had achieved something grand merely by dint of the fact that their bodies host melanin by genetic chance.
When Lemon interviewed British historian Hilary Fordwich, he was also wearing his intellectual spectacles just to show who was the boss of the big brains. But little Donnie got what I believe the young people call “owned.” His position was that the wealth of the late Queen Elizabeth should be put to good use as reparations for poor, oppressed dark people. I won’t spoil Ms. Fordwich’s brilliance; do watch the short segment yourself.
Black people miss two salient points concerning reparations. Firstly, you already had them in the form of being allowed to live around white people — not that you paid much attention to how you get civilization pretty much right. Secondly, you would spend it either in the same way that BLM did: fraudulently, or the way many blacks do, on items at the hair-weave and gold chain sector of the market.
Hilary Fordwich rang the lemons. Give that woman her own show. Hell, give her Don’s show.
Here’s to the monarchy!
The Union Jackal
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