I got de-platformed. Deleted. Taken down. Censored. Given the middle finger by the Internet Police. A site – a vast archive – that had been running for about seven years was very suddenly no more.
And that was that.
That was almost two years ago.
Like Thanos clicking his finger and erasing certain people from existence, the Thought Police had clicked their own god-like fingers… and hundreds of pages of research, articles and content were gone.
Without warning. And without any real right of reply… or means for appeal.
That was kind of shitty.
But, as you can see, I’m back. It’s taken over a year-and-a-half And a lot of work. And an ENORMOUS amount of help from a certain friend and supporter, who made it his mission to ensure that I not only came back online, but with a far better platform than I had before.
I don’t think I’m meant to mention him by name here: so let’s just call him ‘Mr Stark’, and let’s just say that without all the work he put into finding and establishing the right platform and the right set-up, as well as all the security issues, technical knowledge and design knowledge that he exercised on my behalf, as well as all the guidance he has given me, this would not have been possible.
He really went above and beyond what I would’ve even asked of him.
Also, thanks to him, I am not only back here now with this shiny new website, but we were also able to salvage and restore the entirety of the old archive from the previous site – despite the fact that WordPress had deleted my old site without giving me any warning or opportunity to do a proper final back-up of my content.
Meaning that nothing has been lost… except time.
So yeah, Thought Police – you got me. But it wasn’t a K.O. And, to quote a certain someone: “You should’ve gone for the head…”
Anyway, before continuing with this first new article on this new website, I want to raise a glass in thanks to ‘Mr Stark’: who, for now and in perpetuity, is the ultimate patron of Burning Blogger. And I know he’s reading this, as he’s been waiting for ages to resume his readership: so here’s to you, my wizard friend.
And so… what’s been going on in my absence?
Well, it turns out, everything.
To start with, just the small, tiny matter of a global pandemic, endless lockdowns, the longest ever curtailing of civil liberties in modern Western nations, etc. Not to mention the most contentious and extraordinary presidential election ever.
And with so much else in-between. Such as society’s slow and painful journey down the toilet.
Not to mention spiralling censorship purges – it turns out the censorship purge that The Burning Blogger of Bedlam fell victim to was just a taster of things to come.
There’s also been an almost apocalyptic escalation of the ‘culture wars’ (our societies have now been effectively and completely balkanised: as I wrote was going to happen).
Sitting here now, typing this text into BurningBlogger.com, it feels like I went to sleep for a bit… and woke up in a completely different reality. A new world that is barely recognisable from what it looked like the last time an article was being posted to the old Burning Blogger of Bedlam.
I’m a big sci-fi kind of guy, so that whole waking-up-in-a-different-reality-or-timeline trope is pretty familiar to me. And that’s kind of what it’s felt like. Everything has changed so abruptly in so short a space of time – it’s pretty surreal.
Which just shows how quickly – the relative blinking of an eye – vast change can occur on a mass level. It’s kind of scary.
But it happens. And here we all are now: living in a bad screenplay.
But I don’t want to talk about the pandemic or the lockdowns here. I want to use this first new post to talk about the take-down of the old site, about the censorship purges in general, and about where we are right now in regard to censorship, free speech and society; especially in light of the events of the last few months.
Firstly, concerning my own takedown: WordPress had the right to terminate my site. It was in the small print all along.
Ironically, I had already published an article several months earlier (now that the entire archive has been restored, see it here), predicting that my site would be shut down – as part of a censorship purge.
As I highlighted then, WordPress’s censorship purge seemed to have originated with an article in the New York Times in which it specifically condemned WordPress and Automattic for allowing ‘conspiracy theorists’ to keep their content on its platform. In this instance, they were specifically focusing on the Sandy Hook business; but of course there was always going to be a broader implication beyond just that specific subject.
The piece, titled ‘This Company Keeps Lies About Sandy Hook on the Web’, went out of its way to demonise WordPress/Automattic for its lack of censorship.
As I wrote back then: ‘That’s Sandy Hook today. Tomorrow it could be something else – 9/11 perhaps. Because it seems odd to me that Sandy Hook would be the only issue – and that other conspiracy claims about other events will go unpenalised…’
For the record, I’ve never written about Sandy Hook – so that couldn’t have been the reason for my site being taken down.
I requested to know what my violation had been: and was told by the ‘community guardians’ that they were under no obligation to specify.
‘Community Guardians’ – how Orwellian does that sound?
The takedown of my site didn’t occur in isolation. WP had been removing sites for some months: the first I was aware of being the American Everyman blog – a site that covered many of the same subjects as mine. I was a subscriber to and reader of that site – and when it was simply gone one day, I in fact published an article on my site about the censorship escalation and the likelihood of The Burning Blogger of Bedlam also being taken down.
So I knew it was probably coming: or I was at least alive to the danger of it.
Scott Creighton – author of the American Everyman site – was understandably furious at the time. He suggested that his site had been on a ‘list’ of sites that WP had been directed to remove from their platform.
I suspect he was right: and that the Burning Blogger of Bedlam was on that list too. Another WP blogger – and friend of mine – informed me that another popular WP blog (that would fall loosely into the ‘alternative’ media category) – Jon Rappaport’s blog – had also disappeared from the web at the same time as my site disappeared. Jon Rappaport here says the same thing happened to him as happened to me. “On May 11, 2019, WordPress suddenly took down my blog after 10 years of continuous operation. There was no warning or advance notice of any kind…”
I’ve checked again: and if Rappaport’s site was taken down on May 11th, then this would’ve been about three days after mine.
So, clearly, this was a coordinated action targeting more than one site/author.
Which is the platform’s right. WordPress is under no obligation to continue hosting authors or content that it decides are putting out information or ideas that are contrary to the company’s ideals or politics. Same with Facebook, Twitter, You Tube or whoever else.
But, nevertheless, this does change things.
It changes the perceived parameters of what is ‘allowed’ on popular platforms. For seven or eight years, they didn’t seem to have a problem with my content: whether I was talking about possible false-flag terror attacks, geo-politics, possible conspiracies involving governments, or various alternative perspectives on current events.
It’s also worth mentioning that my site didn’t just cover ‘controversial’ topics: a large amount of my archive consisted of lighthearted posts on music, film, comic books, and other stuff I enjoy. It wasn’t a typical Conspiracy Theory Website. In fact, I’ve never considered it ‘conspiracy’ literature anyway, but more independent research and open-minded journalism.
The Burning Blogger of Bedlam had a pretty good-sized readership and a lot of subscribers, which had been built up over seven years of meticulous research and a commitment to writing honest articles. And a number of my articles were republished elsewhere – including places like 21st Century Wire – and a lot of my work was used by other people to build their own work.
Which was great – that’s the information eco-system. And the more ‘citizen journalists’ there are (or were) trying to build a picture or perspective, often building on each other’s work, the closer we all come to a better overall understanding of things.
As James from the brilliant Crimes of Empire website said to me at the time, ‘your site was extremely moderate by comparison and I cannot imagine what was on there that anyone would have a problem with. So it is completely bewildering.’
Unnecessary News From Earth also wrote a passionate piece at the time about The Burning Blogger of Bedlam being taken down: and one of his commenters – another blogger – put in these terms, writing that ‘if the only reason you are being shut down is for uttering the truth about something, you really ought to be patting yourself on the back… To echo Brecht: if your speech betrays you to the slaughterer, it is because your speech might be making the tyrants a bit more insecure. And shouldn’t that be everyone’s hope…’
What could my violation have been?
There was nothing on my website that would qualify as ‘hate speech’. Nothing that would qualify as racism or sexism or any other kind of prejudice, for example. There wouldn’t be – because I don’t really have any of those sorts of views: and, in fact, much of my content over the years has been specifically about countering or debunking some of those who do perpetuate those views.
So I’m pretty sure the reason the ‘community guardians’ told me they were under no obligation to specify my violations is because there was nothing they could easily flag me up on… at least nothing that wouldn’t simply sound like censorship. If they could’ve flagged me up on something more concrete – say, some kind of hate speech, anti-Semitism, racism or some kind of incitement – they would’ve specified it.
And they don’t want to outright say that they’re censoring *information*: so it’s easier to just say they have ‘reasons’, but to not specify what those reasons are.
My suspicion is that it’s all the articles on false-flag terror attacks that did it: I had a pretty vast archive of articles on that subject. And that stuff was probably the problem.
In his article on the takedown of The Burning Blogger of Bedlam, Mark from Truthscoop.net specified this as the probable reason for the purge, noting that my site was one of the very few still covering false-flag attacks in a forensic and non-partisan manner. For example, the comprehensive piece on the 7/7 London terror attacks was averaging a couple of hundred views a month – and that article was four years old at this point.
In fact, after some of the other take-downs several months ago, I had briefly thought about quietly removing all of the specific false-flag terror pieces from over the years: literally just to avoid being de-platformed – but then I opted against it, as it just felt like a weak, submissive thing to do.
And then I realised that even having that thought meant that I was doing what Glenn Greenwald said would eventually happen in this 2016 article: I was about to engage in self-censorship. His article was talking about an Oxford study that had concluded that a surveillance environment would essentially create self-censorship; a suppression of open discussion and inquest that serves to stifle curiosity or debate.
The broad psychological effect, the study suggested, is to shut down dissent and open-minded inquest and basically force everyone to keep their heads down and stare at their shoes, creating an environment where most people begin to engage in ‘self-censorship’ to avoid creating problems for themselves.
I realised that I was almost falling into the trap myself. But I didn’t… and then I got censored for real anyway, so it didn’t matter!
If we even remove my own content from this equation and just talk about someone like American Everyman or Jon Rappaport: those are both examples of well written, well researched and intelligently argued content producers who aren’t rabid hate-mongers or propagandists, but who have both also been de-platformed.
It’s clear then that it has nothing to do with political correctness or social/political values: but is purely about information and perspective.
In those two examples (and my own), they were clearly targeting sites or authors that were forwarding a certain type of perspective and putting out certain types of information in a balanced, reasoned way.
It isn’t a left or right thing: of the sites I’ve seen taken down, they’re a mixture of right and left leaning.
And again, WP has the right to remove things from its platform, as do You Tube and other platforms: but it is worth noting what they were removing and asking why.
It’s difficult to see it as anything other than shutting down certain perspectives: and this is something that has been happening across the board now.
In fact, in the less-than-two-years since my old site was taken down, the censorship has escalated massively: first with the COVID pandemic and then more recently with the 2020 Presidential Election and the Storming of the Capitol – both of which were used to justify mass censorship sweeps and takedowns; in the latter case it targeted mostly extreme right-wing voices or platforms and in the former it was more generally about shutting down dissenting voices in regard to the lockdowns and the origins of the pandemic.
We appear to now be in an era of maximum censorship, as far as the Internet age goes.
Facebook, Twitter and Google have actually been upfront about this, as far as this COVID crisis goes, having said very early in the crisis that they were working with the WHO to address “misinformation”. “Misinformation” presumably includes anything that veers too much into the realm of ‘conspiracy’ insinuation or anything that overtly questions or contradicts official narratives.
Extraordinarily, in some countries – including Hungary and China – the authorities were threatening not just fines, but JAIL TIME, for anyone considered to be spreading ‘fake news’ about the pandemic. Again, ‘fake news’, I’m assuming, includes any arguments or theories that contradict the official narratives.
So, while my site was taken down long before the pandemic started or the 2020 election cycle began, it was clearly an indicator of things to come: a sign of the direction things were moving in in regards to free speech and the Internet.
You have to wonder what the Internet is going to look like in a few years time, as far as diversity of perspective or plurality information-sources is concerned.
Because one very palpable danger is that what we end up with (and what they want) is a strictly binary dynamic: whereby you have the ‘respectable’ mainstream media/news/analysis platforms on one side and the rabid, crackpot ‘conspiracy’ or ‘alternative’ media on the other side – with all of the intelligent, balanced middle-ground removed completely.
That is essentially what we’ve been reduced to already, with – to cite one current example – the binary dynamic of the Pro-Trump crowd versus the Mainstream Media: one extreme or the other, with all of the balanced, reasonable middle-ground missing entirely.
That entire election melodrama was the absolute epitome of this binary dynamic – and dumbing down of all sides – being demonstrated. Everyone – and not just individuals, but the media itself – was either on one team or the other: there was no middle ground at all, no balanced perspective or honest commentary.
And I think that’s where they want us.
In that scenario, people in general only have one extreme or the other – you’re either with the corporate-controlled mainstream or you’re with the crackpots: and there is no reasonable, balanced perspective or journalism in the center or even on the fringes.
That makes it harder for people to form reasoned, balanced views: but it also makes it easier for people to be divided into easy labels based on which of the two echo chambers they reside in. And it helps create or amplify the US versus THEM society, where no one is interested in mutual advantage or common good, only in their team.
It means too that people are more liable to be indoctrinated entirely: by either the extreme crackpot side or the mainstream media side.
And that is essentially where we are now. Hence, you have “Racist” Trumpists vs “Evil Democrats”, “Conspiracy Nuts” vs “Lamestream Media”, Maskers vs “Anti-Vaxxers”, SJWs vs Alt-Right Propagandists, and so and so forth – with everyone from ‘Antifa’, ‘Q-Anon’ and god-knows-who-else in the mix too.
And everyone’s intelligence-level goes down the toilet, while society slowly burns in the background.
And all discourse descends into rabid, raving nonsense: with people more interested in which team they’re on rather than on intelligently discussing or examining information and trying to move towards honest conclusions for mutual advantage.
That’s where we are now: and this is the very strange and difficult backdrop against which the Burning Blogger comes back online; and resumes trying to make sense of the madness (or ‘bedlam’ – let’s use that word) in some kind of honest way.
I can’t help but picture Nero… fiddling while Rome burns.
And now that I’ve evoked that overly dramatic image, it’s probably a good time to sign off for now.
Again, I’m very lucky, as I have had a real friend/supporter helping me out to establish this new platform (and who handled most of the mammoth tech side of things for me): and so – thanks to him – I am not only back here now with this new website, but we were also able to salvage and restore the entirety of my old archive from the previous site.
But a lot of people in my situation would’ve found themselves at a total loss: potentially having lost seven years worth of research and content. In that situation, they might find themselves feeling the whole thing is futile – and they might just give up.
I almost did: I had genuinely thought about just quitting, just letting this side of things go and just focusing on other things. After all, it’s not always the happiest thing in the world – spending hours working on content that usually isn’t very cheerful in nature, particularly when much of it is contentious, and sometimes even a little dangerous (and particularly when you’re not profiting anything from it).
I got talked around. I may have come back around eventually anyway: I don’t know.
But I do wonder about other people who’ve been de-platformed or had their work deleted. Not everyone has their ‘Mr Stark’. If the situation now is that there are no free platforms – as in, you have to spend money in order to have a voice, because you’ll get kicked off the free platforms if you stray from what’s deemed acceptable – then, as I said back then, the quality of discourse and debate is going to go downhill.
Which, let’s be honest: it already has.
And, speaking of having to spend money, the ability to even derive any material benefit from one’s own work – at least when you deal with some of the subject areas I do – is also now being subject to censorship. As we’ve been trying to establish this site, I was looking into advertising possibilities: anything to help make the site pay for itself. And I discovered newly updated guidelines specifying what type of content is ineligible for advertisers: and it pretty much seems to rule me out (we’ll see: but it seems like any ‘false flag’ content, for one thing, is a no-no).
So, content of the type this site deals with really is something they’re trying to squeeze out: or to make as unbeneficial or non-self-sustaining as possible. They’re clearly trying to make it harder for people like me or sites like this to exist.
But, then again, I’m surprised we got away with it for as long as we did anyway. So I’ll stop complaining now.
Welcome to BurningBlogger.com, everyone.