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Friday, October 20, 2023

Thrasher's Wheat Signs On To The Westminster Declaration

The Westminster Declaration


As we here at Thrasher's Wheat continue our multi decade struggle to speak truth to power, we proudly add our signature to The Westminster Declaration in order to dismantle "The Censorship-Industrial Complex".


The Westminster Declaration

We write as journalists, artists, authors, activists, technologists, and academics to warn of increasing international censorship that threatens to erode centuries-old democratic norms.

Coming from the left, right, and centre, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of speech, and we are all deeply concerned about attempts to label protected speech as ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ and other ill-defined terms.

This abuse of these terms has resulted in the censorship of ordinary people, journalists, and dissidents in countries all over the world.

Such interference with the right to free speech suppresses valid discussion about matters of urgent public interest, and undermines the foundational principles of representative democracy.

Across the globe, government actors, social media companies, universities, and NGOs are increasingly working to monitor citizens and rob them of their voices. These large-scale coordinated efforts are sometimes referred to as the ‘Censorship-Industrial Complex.’

This complex often operates through direct government policies. Authorities in India[1] and Turkey[2] have seized the power to remove political content from social media. The legislature in Germany[3] and the Supreme Court in Brazil[4] are criminalising political speech. In other countries, measures such as Ireland’s ‘Hate Speech’ Bill[5], Scotland’s Hate Crime Act[6], the UK’s Online Safety Bill[7], and Australia’s ‘Misinformation’ Bill[8] threaten to severely restrict expression and create a chilling effect.

But the Censorship Industrial Complex operates through more subtle methods. These include visibility filtering, labelling, and manipulation of search engine results. Through deplatforming and flagging, social media censors have already silenced lawful opinions on topics of national and geopolitical importance. They have done so with the full support of ‘disinformation experts’ and ‘fact-checkers’ in the mainstream media, who have abandoned the journalistic values of debate and intellectual inquiry.

As the Twitter Files revealed, tech companies often perform censorial ‘content moderation’ in coordination with government agencies and civil society. Soon, the European Union’s Digital Services Act will formalise this relationship by giving platform data to ‘vetted researchers’ from NGOs and academia, relegating our speech rights to the discretion of these unelected and unaccountable entities.

Some politicians and NGOs[9] are even aiming to target end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram.[10] If end-to-end encryption is broken, we will have no remaining avenues for authentic private conversations in the digital sphere.

Although foreign disinformation between states is a real issue, agencies designed to combat these threats, such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States, are increasingly being turned inward against the public. Under the guise of preventing harm and protecting truth, speech is being treated as a permitted activity rather than an inalienable right.

We recognize that words can sometimes cause offence, but we reject the idea that hurt feelings and discomfort, even if acute, are grounds for censorship. Open discourse is the central pillar of a free society, and is essential for holding governments accountable, empowering vulnerable groups, and reducing the risk of tyranny.

Speech protections are not just for views we agree with; we must strenuously protect speech for the views that we most strongly oppose. Only in the public square can these views be heard and properly challenged.

What's more, time and time again, unpopular opinions and ideas have eventually become conventional wisdom. By labelling certain political or scientific positions as 'misinformation' or 'malinformation,' our societies risk getting stuck in false paradigms that will rob humanity of hard-earned knowledge and obliterate the possibility of gaining new knowledge. Free speech is our best defence against disinformation.

The attack on speech is not just about distorted rules and regulations – it is a crisis of humanity itself. Every equality and justice campaign in history has relied on an open forum to voice dissent. In countless examples, including the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement, social progress has depended on freedom of expression.

We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of speaking their minds. We want them to grow up in a world where their ideas can be expressed, explored and debated openly – a world that the founders of our democracies envisioned when they enshrined free speech into our laws and constitutions.

The US First Amendment is a strong example of how the right to freedom of speech, of the press, and of conscience can be firmly protected under the law. One need not agree with the U.S. on every issue to acknowledge that this is a vital 'first liberty' from which all other liberties follow. It is only through free speech that we can denounce violations of our rights and fight for new freedoms.

There also exists a clear and robust international protection for free speech. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[11] was drafted in 1948 in response to atrocities committed during World War II. Article 19 of the UDHR states, 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.' While there may be a need for governments to regulate some aspects of social media, such as age limits, these regulations should never infringe on the human right to freedom of expression. 

As is made clear by Article 19, the corollary of the right to free speech is the right to information. In a democracy, no one has a monopoly over what is considered to be true. Rather, truth must be discovered through dialogue and debate – and we cannot discover truth without allowing for the possibility of error. 

Censorship in the name of 'preserving democracy' inverts what should be a bottom-up system of representation into a top-down system of ideological control. This censorship is ultimately counter-productive: it sows mistrust, encourages radicalization, and de-legitimizes the democratic process. 

In the course of human history, attacks on free speech have been a precursor to attacks on all other liberties. Regimes that eroded free speech have always inevitably weakened and damaged other core democratic structures. In the same fashion, the elites that push for censorship today are also undermining democracy. What has changed though, is the broad scale and technological tools through which censorship can be enacted. 

We believe that free speech is essential for ensuring our safety from state abuses of power – abuses that have historically posed a far greater threat than the words of lone individuals or even organised groups. For the sake of human welfare and flourishing, we make the following 3 calls to action.

  • We call on governments and international organisations to fulfill their responsibilities to the people and to uphold Article 19 of the UDHR. 

  • We call on tech corporations to undertake to protect the digital public square as defined in Article 19 of the UDHR and refrain from politically motivated censorship, the censorship of dissenting voices, and censorship of political opinion.

  • And finally, we call on the general public to join us in the fight to preserve the people's democratic rights. Legislative changes are not enough. We must also build an atmosphere of free speech from the ground up by rejecting the climate of intolerance that encourages self-censorship and that creates unnecessary personal strife for many. Instead of fear and dogmatism, we must embrace inquiry and debate.

We stand for your right to ask questions. Heated arguments, even those that may cause distress, are far better than no arguments at all. 

Censorship robs us of the richness of life itself. Free speech is the foundation for creating a life of meaning and a thriving humanity - through art, poetry, drama, story, philosophy, song, and more. 

This declaration was the result of an initial meeting of free speech champions from around the world who met in Westminster, London, at the end of June 2023. As signatories of this statement, we have fundamental political and ideological disagreements. However, it is only by coming together that we will defeat the encroaching forces of censorship so that we can maintain our ability to openly debate and challenge one another. It is in the spirit of difference and debate that we sign the Westminster Declaration.


  • Matt Taibbi, Journalist, US

  • Michael Shellenberger, Public, US

  • Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist, NYU, US

  • John McWhorter, Linguist, Columbia, Author, US

  • Steven Pinker, Psychologist, Harvard, US

  • Julian Assange, Editor, Founder of Wikileaks, Australia

  • Tim Robbins, Actor, Filmmaker, US

  • Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, NYLS, US

  • Glenn Loury, Economist, USA

  • Richard Dawkins, Biologist, UK

  • John Cleese, Comedian, Acrobat, UK

  • Slavoj Žižek, Philosopher, Author, Slovenia

  • Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, US

  • Oliver Stone, Filmmaker, US

  • Edward Snowden, Whistleblower, US

  • Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, USA

  • Stella Assange, Campaigner, UK

  • Glenn Greenwald, Journalist, US

  • Claire Fox, Founder of the Academy of Ideas, UK

  • Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Psychologist, Author, Canada

  • Bari Weiss, Journalist, USA

  • Peter Hitchens, Author, Journalist, UK

  • Niall Ferguson, Historian, Stanford, UK

  • Matt Ridley, Journalist, Author, UK

  • Melissa Chen, Journalist, Spectator, Singapore/US

  • Yanis Varoufakis, Economist, Greece

  • Peter Boghossian, Philosopher, Founding Faculty Fellow, University of Austin, US

  • Michael Shermer, Science Writer, US

  • Alan Sokal, Professor of Mathematics, UCL, UK

  • Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford, UK

  • Jay Bhattacharya, Professor, Stanford, US

  • Martin Kulldorf, Professor of Medicine (on leave), Harvard, US

  • Aaron Kheiriaty, Psychiatrist, Author, USA

  • Chris Hedges, Journalist, Author, USA

  • Lee Fang, Independent Journalist, US

  • Alex Gutentag, Journalist, US

  • Iain McGilchrist, Psychiatrist, Philosopher, UK

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Human Rights Activist, Author, Netherlands

  • Konstantin Kisin, Author, UK

  • Leighton Woodhouse, Public, US

  • Andrew Lowenthal, liber-net, Australia

  • Aaron Mate, Journalist, USA

  • Izabella Kaminska, Journalist, The Blind Spot, UK

  • Nina Power, Writer, UK

  • Kmele Foster, Journalist, Media Entrepreneur, USA

  • Toby Young, Journalist, Free Speech Union, UK

  • Winston Marshall, Journalist, The Spectator, UK

  • Jacob Siegel, Tablet, US/Israel

  • Ulrike Guerot, Founder of European Democracy Lab, Germany

  • Heather E. Heying, Evolutionary Biologist, USA

  • Bret Weinstein, Evolutionary Biologist, USA

  • Martina Pastorelli, Independent Journalist, Italy

  • Leandro Narloch, Independent Journalist, Brazil

  • Ana Henkel, Independent Journalist, Brazil

  • Mia Ashton, Journalist, Canada

  • Micha Narberhaus, The Protopia Lab, Spain/Germany

  • Alex Sheridan, Free Speech Ireland

  • Ben Scallan, Gript Media, Ireland

  • Thomas Fazi, Independent Journalist, Italy

  • Jean F. Queralt, Technologist, Founder @ The IO Foundation, Malaysia/Spain

  • Phil Shaw, Campaigner, Operation People, New Zealand

  • Jeremy Hildreth, Independent, UK

  • Craig Snider, Independent, US

  • Eve Kay, TV Producer, UK

  • Helen Joyce, Journalist, UK

  • Dietrich Brüggemann, Filmmaker, Germany

  • Adam B. Coleman, Founder of Wrong Speak Publishing, US

  • Helen Pluckrose, Author, US

  • Michael Nayna, Filmmaker, Australia

  • Paul Rossi, Educator, Vertex Partnership Academics, US

  • Juan Carlos Girauta, Politician, Spain

  • Andrew Neish, KC, UK

  • Steven Berkoff, Actor, Playright, UK

  • Patrick Hughes, Artist, UK

  • Adam Creighton, Journalist, Australia

  • Julia Hartley-Brewer, Journalist, UK

  • Robert Cibis, Filmmaker, Germany

  • Piers Robinson, Organization for Propaganda Studies, UK

  • Dirk Pohlmann, Journalist, Germany

  • Mathias Bröckers, Author, Journalist, Germany

  • Kira Phillips, Documentary Filmmaker, UK

  • Diane Atkinson, Historian, Biographer, UK

  • Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck, University of Buckingham, Canada

  • Laura Dodsworth, Journalist and Author, UK

  • Nellie Bowles, Journalist, USA

  • Andrew Tettenborn, Professor of Law, Swansea University,  UK

  • Julius Grower, Fellow, St. Hugh’s College, UK

  • Nick Dixon, Comedian, UK

  • Dominic Frisby, Comedian, UK

  • James Orr, Associate Professor, University of Cambridge, UK

  • Brendan O’Neill, Journalist, UK

  • Jan Jekielek, Journalist, US

  • Andrew Roberts, Historian, UK

  • Robert Tombs, Historian, UK

  • Ben Schwarz, Journalist, USA

  • Xavier Azalbert, Investigative Scientific Journalist, France

  • Doug Stokes, International Relations Professor, University of Exeter, UK

  • James Allan, Professor of Law, University of Queensland, UK

  • David McGrogan, Professor of Law, Northumbria University, UK

  • Jacob Mchangama, Author, Denmark

  • Nigel Biggar, Chairman, Free Speech Union, UK

  • David Goodhart, Journalist, Author, UK

  • Catherine Austin Fitts, The Solari Report, Netherlands

  • Matt Goodwin, Politics Professor, University of Kent, UK

  • Alan Miller, Together Association, UK

  • Catherine Liu, Cultural Theorist, Author, USA

  • Stefan Millius, Journalist, Switzerland

  • Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law, Columbia, USA

  • Rueben Kirkham, Co-Director, Free Speech Union of Australia, Australia

  • Jeffrey Tucker, Author, USA

  • Sarah Gon, Director, Free Speech Union, South Africa

  • Dara Macdonald, Co-Director, Free Speech Union, Australia

  • Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive, Free Speech Union, New Zealand

  • David Zweig, Journalist, Author, USA

  • Juan Soto Ivars, Author, Spain

  • Colin Wright, Evolutionary Biologist, USA

  • Gad Saad, Professor, Evolutionary Behavioral Scientist, Author, Canada

  • Robert W. Malone, MD, MS, USA

  • Jill Glasspool-Malone, PhD., USA

  • Jordi Pigem, Philosopher, Author, Spain

  • Holly Lawford-Smith, Associate Professor in Political Philosophy, University of Melbourne, Australia

  • Michele Santoro, Journalist, TV Host, Presenter, Italy

  • Dr. James Smith, Podcaster, Literature Scholar, RHUL, UK

  • Francis Foster, Comedian, UK

  • Coleman Hughes, Writer, Podcaster, USA

  • Marco Bassani, Political Theorist, Historian, Milan University, Italy

  • Isabella Loiodice, Professor of Comparative Public Law, University of Bari, Italy

  • Luca Ricolfi, Professor, Sociologist, Turin University, Italy

  • Marcello Foa, Journalist, Former President of Rai, Italy

  • Andrea Zhok, Philosopher, University of Milan, Italy

  • Paolo Cesaretti, Professor of Byzantine Civilization, University of Bergamo, Italy

  • Alberto Contri, Mass Media Expert, Italy

  • Carlo Lottieri, Philosopher, University of Verona, Italy

  • Alessandro Di Battista, Political Activist, Writer, Italy

  • Paola Mastrocola, Writer, Italy

  • Carlo Freccero, Television Author, Media Expert, Italy

  • Giorgio Bianchi, Independent Journalist, Italy

  • Nello Preterossi, Professor, University of Salerno, Scientific Director of the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, Italy

  • Efrat Fenigson, Journalist, Podcaster, Israel

  • Eli Vieira, Journalist, Genetic Biologist, Brazil

  • Stephen Moore, Author and Analyst, Canada

  • Thrasher, Independent Blogger,, USA


  1. Pahwa, Nitish. 'Twitter Blocked a Country.' Slate Magazine, 1 Apr. 2023,

  2. Stein, Perry. 'Twitter Says It Will Restrict Access to Some Tweets beore Turkey's Election.' The Washington Post, 15 May 2023,

  3. Hänel, Lisa. 'Germany criminalizes denying war crimes, genocide.' Deutsche Welle, 25 Nov. 2022,

  4. Savarese, Mauricio, and Joshua Goodman. 'Crusading Judge Tests Boundaries of Free Speech in Brazil.' AP News, 26 Jan. 2023,

  5. Nanu, Maighna. 'Irish People Could Be Jailed for “Hate Speech”, Critics of Proposed Law Warn.' The Telegraph, 17 June 2023,  7/irish-people-jailed-hate-speech-new-law/?WT.mc_id=tmgoff_psc_ppc_us_news_dsa_generalnews.

  6. The Economist Newspaper. (n.d.). Scotland’s new hate crime act will have a chilling effect on free speech. The Economist.

  7. Lomas, Natasha. 'Security Researchers Latest to Blast UK's Online Safety Bill as Encryption Risk.' TechCrunch, 5 July 2023,

  8. Al-Nashar, Nabil. 'Millions of Dollars in Fines to Punish Online Misinformation under New Draft Bill.' ABC News, 25 June 2023,

  9. 'Cryptochat.' Meedan, Accessed 8 July 2023.

  10. Lomas, Natasha.'Security Researchers Latest to Blast UK's Online Safety Bill as Encryption Risk.' TechCrunch, 5 July 2023,

  11. United Nations General Assembly. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). New York: United Nations General Assembly, 1948.




At 10/20/2023 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Jim said...

I just signed the Westminster Declaration as James P. McKelvey, International Journalist, Author and Publisher, USA

At 10/20/2023 04:02:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thank you sir.

Hopefully, many, many more will come to their senses regarding the subject.

Free speech ... use it or lose it.

At 10/20/2023 04:33:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

We have been here before: To see Germany listed above along with some other nations because our parliament acted to stop hate crimes is highly misleading and almost unbearable. The dw-article linked below accurately depicts the process and its outcome. Did anyone read it? The current war and humanitarian catastrophy between Israel and the Hamas is a good example. Nobody applauds when the Israelis are retaliating but having Hamas supporters celebrating in the streets of Berlin cannot be tolerated under the excuse of free expression of political thought. In this country we have to live with each other: Germans, Israelis, and among many other nationalities also Arabs. Toxic behaviour of this kind is prone to destroy lives and freedom.
The marginality of German figures who have signed this declaration speaks for itself.

At 10/20/2023 05:02:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Besides some serious journalists (Pohlmann, and Bröcker) the list of signers from Germany contains U. Guerot known for her position against corona protective masks and a strong case of plagiarism, D. Brüggemann another outspoken activist against corona protective measures and R. Cibis a distributor of conspiracy theories. I would not like to find myself in that company.

At 10/20/2023 07:32:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Free speech is important. I say that as an artist, writer, and someone interested in free expression and creative freedom. It matters not least of all because, as the statement correctly points out, we can use it to facilitate nuanced discussion about what is compassionate and what is not, what is hurtful and what is not, what is dangerous and what is not. There is an urgent need for this kind of dialogue, I agree.

However, it is not enough to fight for free speech. Freedom is power, and there is an ethical responsibility to use that power for the good, in the furtherance compassion and equity. Freedom isn't worth much unless you're using it for good--or at least making the effort to act constructively and not (ab)use your freedom to do harm. (Neil Young, by the way, is a prime example of someone who tries to do something worthwhile with his freedom instead of just talking big.)

There is the autonomy of communities and private organizations to establish their own guidelines and standards for themselves. Refusal of another party to endorse or in any way associate with your speech is not censorship. This is freedom of association. In fact, it would be compelled speech to demand that one party maintain presence on a certain platform in order to protect the rights or interests of another. Telling someone "That's not a good thing to say", or even "You're a jerk!", while not necessarily constructive, is not censorship or suppression. Consequences generally are not the same as censorship, unless those consequences have the force of law behind them or are otherwise highly coercive.

The real problem, both online and in the streets, comes when too few actors consolidate too much control, otherwise known as corporate monopoly. As long as corporate interests control so much of the online experience, the problems with the internet as a tool of communication will remain unsolved.

Moreover, assuming the aim of free expression is to broadcast messages as widely as possible, the whole notion of the free exchange of ideas exists inherently in tension with that of privacy. One gives up a degree of privacy to gain a measure of free speech. This is a good example of how our human rights can interfere with one another and sometimes need to be carefully balanced.

While I sympathize with the pitfalls of trying to discern truth in our information age, any insinuation that there's no use for fact checking is simply dangerous. On the other hand, no one should assume that fact-checkers represent the word of god. Ideally, there should be multiple independent fact-checkers and experts, and if they sometimes differ with one another, that's actually useful.

The idea of hate speech is something we need, at the very least, as a social concept if not a legal category. I won't get too far into the common confusion between social and legal constructs. Suffice it to say that even more important than the laws we make are the standards and values to which we hold ourselves. Most of us do not have the power of legislation at our disposal, but we do have some agency to make meaningful choices about our own daily actions. We need to be able talk about why and how certain words and ideas are hurtful and, yes, sometimes hateful.

There need to be social boundaries. There needs to be knowledge that certain language, and especially certain actions, are not just inappropriate but deeply harmful and unethical. In a nutshell: we've got to be smarter but also more compassionate.

At 10/21/2023 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Kudos to Thrasher & TW for standing up for free speech. Clearly censorship has gone off the rails. I applaud your unwillingness to censor, even when (one of) the guys arguing ASKED to be kicked off a platform (TW) in response to some soft core Hatred being directed in comments.

I have some Israeli blood in my veins but that does not mean I blindly support the murder of innocent civilians by the Israeli Army. Palestinians should have Human Rights also. I am against murder, no matter who is doing the killing. There are 2 million people in Gaza who have nowhere to go. Bernie Sanders recently compared Gaza to an “Open Air Prison.” Yes, Hamas did something horrible and it’s not over yet, with 200 hostages. But leveling and destroying Gaza regardless of civilian populations, largely defenseless, is Genocide. I am against Genocide, no matter who is doing it. It was wrong in WW2, and it’s wrong now. Prior to this chapter, American politicians have been working to make any Boycott against Israel ILLEGAL(!). Even if the boycott is for Human Rights abuses.

Try defending the Human Rights of Palestinians and see how fast censorship happens in the US.

Censorship goes hand in hand with Outlawing Protest. Like the Enbridge Line 3 protesters who were given Felony charges for peaceful protest against the very fossil fuel, the very thing which is making Earth inhospitable to human life. Extinction Event in progress! Red States made a slew of laws making it legal to drive a car into crowds of protesters in the streets! There have been over 150 such incidents since Trump blew his Racist dog whistle. I do not trust politicians, Red or Blue, because they lie all the time.
The US is a major Arms dealer. We give away loads of weapons these days so the folks who sell them can get even more rich (as those weapons are “replaced.” . The US is a world bully. Because the US has overthrown SO many governments, we are hated across the world. Central America, South America the Middle East. We overthrew a democratically elected president in Iran & installed the Shah. This is what resulted in the Iranian hostage crisis, in which American Embassy staff were held. Reagan made a missile deal with Iran to NOT release the hostages until after the election, which Carter then lost.

We are not even taught real American history throughout the education system. The Education system is rigged to make little flag wavers with a whitewash of Native American Genocide, for instance. In Florida they are attacking inclusive diversity in education. “Let’s fight the Woke.” Desantis is cracking down on free speech, big time. But both of our 2 parties are all about censorship.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 10/21/2023 12:59:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Alan, I just want to clarify that I’m in agreement with the overall tenor of your comments—and can emphatically agree with you concerning the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. (I possibly have a small amount of Ashkenazi ancestry, but the blood in all our veins is mostly the same.) One of the more important things we can do is to give one another the benefit of assuming good faith until shown differently. To that end, I should have clearly given Thrasher credit for standing up for their beliefs. I have no quarrel about that.

I am grateful that TW offers a space where we can all share our views and ideas. At the same time, if I were running, say, a website, I’d want to reserve the right to moderate postings and not be compelled to broadcast something I wasn’t okay with, as indeed Thrash has used moderation at various times in the past. This is what I mean by having nuanced conversations.

Ideally, we’d have many smaller, independently owned sites and blogs making up the web, not all these corporate conglomerations. As I’ve said and will continue to say, free expression and corporate interests are often at cross purposes.

I think the most I have said is that if, for some reason, I couldn’t post on TW any longer, I wouldn’t feel especially aggrieved. I don’t feel entitled to the platform/forum per se. It’s a hypothetical example. My comments are not meant to be combative, just to provide another point of view on important issues. The statement itself is a performative gesture. I look for a strong commitment not only to free expression but to compassion, empathy, and equity. Freedom not used for good is a waste.

At 10/22/2023 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

"We recognize that words can sometimes cause offense, but we reject the idea that hurt feelings and discomfort, even if acute, are grounds for censorship."

These "words" from the declaration obfuscate the main issue: where are the limits to free speech, as all rights have limits?Scholarship and research in the philosophy of language and psychology over the last several decades have demonstrated that speech can and does cause direct harm to some persons. Just think of what Dionys mentioned- a large group of persons in a public square denying the human rights of other groups (such as the "right to exist"). I am not certain where these lines should be drawn in law and regulation but they need to be drawn. By using the words "hurt feelings" the writers of the declaration are avoiding this issue.

Please note, I do not see a single well-known philosopher on the list.

At 10/22/2023 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/22/2023 12:05:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ The Metamorphic Rocker : I always find intelligent & interesting ideas in your words, as w other TW writers. I am always inspired by the insightful comments. This follows from Thrasher’s example. I am amazed at his thoughtful content! He follows Neil’s example. We all add to this awesome TW blog.

There is no other “Rock & Roll blog” that has PhD’s, experts, & educators commenting from around the world. Thanks Dionys for the “un-American” views! , These hard core Neil Young fans have copious brain activity. Neil Young’s albums, songs, & themes drive us all to question the status quo (“People sleeping under freeways, it’s the American way!”). Neil Young is all about bringing the sometimes ugly Truth into the light of day, as with Ohio & Southern Man. He is like Dylan in his Protest years & “Murder Most Foul.” Daring, insightful. Neil gets it wrong occasionally… after all, he watches “The News.” We all get it wrong because that is the spin! We are supposed to get it wrong!

Speaking of this topic reminds me to listen to Living With War (RAW) again. The US Superpower must have its wars. It’s what “we” do! Back then, Neil took a bold stand against our latest war. A bunch of old CSN fans got pissed after being thoroughly brainwashed by the Spin cycle of American news, through the years. If the News says it enough times, the people keep saying it, believing it. They were walking out of the show when Neil dared to promote Peace & oppose the War. Somehow Neil’s Bullshit detector saw the Truth: Just another phoney war! And, the “Intelligence” of the US military was found, in retrospect, to be complete bullshit. Like the Bay of Tonkin when “the Vietnamese attacked the US Navy.” Again, just another lie to justify an invasion by the US Army. “No worries, it’s mostly the poor & non-white who got killed.” Disgusting.

The Palestinians have been getting minced by superior weaponry for a decades. The US gives Israel a LOT of money we taxpayers deliver to the coffers. Israel gets health care for all, we get Jack shit, except for more wars and Oil subsidies. We have given so many weapons that the Gaza situation literally is a David & Goliath scene. I am not happy about folks getting murdered, like at the music fest. But the Palestinian deaths will be a Hundred Fold more, at least. The trouble is, the folks getting murdered by the Israeli Army are not the specific group known as Hamas. I will again mention that I have Israeli blood in my veins for those whose blood may be boiling at my words!, And yes, Metamorphic Rocker, we all have pretty much the same blood in our veins. We are all Cousins (see Jeff Tweedy’s latest Wilco album for more on that theme). An aside: I am keen to find out about Tweedy being credited as guitar / amp Tech on Neil’s coastal tour! I have been a huge Wilco fan since they started in the mid 90’s, as a phoenix rising from the ashes of legendary Cow-Punk band Uncle Tupelo, a band I also loved!

Censorship & Media coverage of current events is one-sided, as always. The CIA has had News reporters, editors, and owners in its pocket all along. We Americans are easily led & parrot the propaganda we are fed by the “The News.” And the football game's have turned into big flag-waving recruitment drives! “Join the Army, travel to foreign lands, and kill people.” If we are killing them, they must deserve it, right?

Compassion: we have received it here at TW, & given it. Thrasher has been patient through some trying times as some of us bickered. He believes the Big Shift is coming. I interpret that as Love defeating Hate, a future day when compassion rules the world, not from tyranny, but from enlightenment. Dan nudges us in that direction, as many of you TW folks do. Thanks for reading.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 10/22/2023 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Jeff Tweedy, Wilco band leader & prolific song writer, has said that he takes some things for granted, like the sun rising tomorrow, & another Neil Young album getting delivered. He has covered Burned & Broken Arrow. Tweedy also converted to Judaism a few years back, and his sons followed. His wife is Jewish, & Tweedy converted because he found Community in the congregation as she fought cancer.

I am non-religious, but I need community, I need my people. We all do. Let Love Reign! Peace! ✌️

Your Cousin Alan in Seattle

At 10/22/2023 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

We all know that Social Media and AI has gotten people pitted against each other, left from right, braking up families & fomenting extremism, & even “civil” war. And yet, there is mostly a lot of unity in the delivery of propaganda to the people, especially on the topic of Israel.

Thrasher has nudged us to realize we are being played by social media, to lose our relationship, our community.

-Brother Alan

At 10/22/2023 04:17:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/22/2023 04:49:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

“And we’re singing of the times
when the sun will always shine.
Armored cars and tanks will fade away.
The people will be one, the fighting will be done,
And all the little children can play”

—That’s (Northern) Irish folk musician and composer Tommy Sands singing with his brothers and sister back in the early ‘70s, at the height of the Irish Troubles. The song is All the Little Children. Sands has never had mainstream acknowledgment in the US, possibly because his views and words are not always American-centered. Which is refreshing in itself. Take a look at his response to the American War on Terror:

“Who are these terrorists you’re looking for?
Your leaflet came down from an aircraft of war
and lay on a child left blinded and scarred
in a country long broken and bleeding.

Where is your freedom? Please say it’s not true-
do answers come down from a B52?”

Growing up a Catholic in Northern Ireland, Sands is someone who certainly understands something about living in a violently divided community. Which may explain why he and his siblings’ band had some success touring in a divided Germany (East and West) in the ‘70s. Comparing Sands’ lyrics with Neil’s more recent songs, especially Children of Destiny and Who’s Gonna Stand Up? (“protect the wild/tomorrow’s child…”) one can see the same strength of conscience, the same global heart, and a similar appeal to posterity. We can virtually all agree that children need to be protected and nurtured, and deserve to have a safe community on a healthy planet with every opportunity to grow.

Peace is work. It is a process, a struggle even. It’s difficult to imagine equity without meaningful freedom. And freedom not used well is a hollow prospect. As a distraught, confused youth, Sands once considered joining the IRA (recounted in his memoir The Irish Songman). Instead, he chose music to spread his message. Sands has lived the fear and the rage, the desperation of oppressed and occupied peoples. If humanity wants to move forward, we have to learn from this knowledge, to recognize how injustice, hunger, and terror become a hothouse for violence and extremist movements around the world.

I unequivocally condemn all acts of violence, war, and terrorism as profoundly inhumane. Simultaneously, we will never grow if we can’t do the challenging and sometimes scary work of addressing root causes. Evil is another word for pain. Our greatest moral imperative is to stop suffering where we can. I think this shared thematic ground cements Sands’ cred as a voice in the conscientious protest tradition integral to folk music:

“ I dream that America still has a dream
When empires will pass and children will sing
Of Seeger and Guthrie and good Martin King
A song of peace to all nations
God bless America muster her power
To care for her sick to look after her poor
Bring peace to her children not send them to war
And never be fearful to question.“

—T. Sands, “Time for Asking Why”

At 10/23/2023 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Metamorphic Rocker : Thank you for sharing your writing / history of Tommy Sands! I found it quite uplifting. I have some Irish blood, not to mention Germany, Spain, & all of Western Europe in my veins. Heinz 57. World citizen, trapped in a stupefying USA, unable to travel (don’t have funds for it), on a world that is starting to boil. Over here the locals (in FL) think it’s awesome when the ocean gets above 90F, which it actually did this summer! Over here if people see a porpoise beached they will pick it up and take selfies. Oligarchy rules the day, and we can’t vote our way out of this 6th Extinction Event, much less try. “Football? They say YES! Baseball? Yes! Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy? Yes! Sign my petition to fight CTE & ban “football?” No F’ing way! Crickets! Haha.

Feeling cynical tonight.

Still Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 10/24/2023 02:23:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Alan! The Sands post represents a little unfinished business, something I meant to do a whiles ago when I first noticed parallels with Neil’s songs.

When all’s said and done, if I could spotlight three 21st century Neil albums, they would be:

-Chrome Dreams II
-The Visitor

So much has been said about the Pill, it seems redundant to mention and the Horse records need a category of their own. In some regards I think World Record is the most refreshing and original album in years. But it builds on the foundations of the three I selected. Yes, that’s right: I’m suggesting we wouldn’t have the latest Horse trilogy (Colorado/Barn/World Record) without PotR.

Stepping back further for a moment, it’s possibly the understatement of the millennium to say that the year 2001 was a turning point. I’m sure I don’t need to rehearse the reasons. However, Neil and the MG’s Are You Passionate? album effectively captures the tumult and trauma of that period: the 9/11 attacks, War on Terror; fury, fear, and jingoism. Chronologically, it’s worth noting that NY was 56 years old when the album was released.

At risk of trite oversimplification, today I hear AYP? as a “mid-life crisis” album, overlayed with the zeitgeist of the early ‘00s in America. Musically, I imagine it’s also a result of not knowing quite what to do after the Toast sessions broke down, just like how the unsuccessful mid-80s Horse attempts may have generated LOW. Perhaps the usual raw, aggressive Horse workouts had proved cathartic as expected, compelling the artist to draw on other resources to extinguish pent-up angst. Whatever the cause, AYP? seems to me to mark Neil’s entrance into the “dark woods of the middle of our life” (rough paraphrase of Dante’s Inferno).

Chrome Dreams II, released some half a decade later, is his emergence from the dark forest.

More on this thought train later; running low on time!

At 10/24/2023 02:40:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

always nice to see folks here exercising their freedom of speech.

@Alan - might have to develop a TW Freedom of Speech award for you, sir.

@ MetaRocker - yes, the Tommy Sands project. right. we think you may have tried to get that started sometime ago? Hopefully you can find the time.

Certainly understand how research projects can go astray.

But do try and flesh out those three 21st century Neil albums. A good theory which leads right into Neil's latest Before & After. While its all one song, it very long, complex, full of twists and turns.

At 10/25/2023 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Bubba Hotep said...

"Please note, I do not see a single well-known philosopher on the list."
Slavoj Žižek and Peter Boghossian not well-known to you?

At 10/26/2023 01:41:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, thrasher… I thought you’d been unusually quiet since the last posts. Of course, sometimes it must be rewarding to sit back and watch the clicks accumulate! As to Tommy Sands, I’ve more or less said everything I want to get across.

I’ll have to come back to the three albums when I can focus a bit better. There’s a lot to potentially unpack and I don’t want to over-reduce the richness of any of NY’s work. Bear in mind also the albums constitute what the artist chose to share at a given moment. NYA is gradually revealing more of what was initially held back, potentially re-contextualizing certain recordings.

At 10/26/2023 03:40:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Meta Rocker - thanks for update.
yeah, actually, we've been working on something and trying to get it right.
Hopefully, we'll finish up & publish tomorrow.
so, yes, certainly know about the necessary focus.
time waits for no one ... yet it fades away ...

At 10/26/2023 07:43:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Thrasher : Hahaha! I love it! A TW Freedom of Speech Award! Roll it up buddy! Next meet up!
Your post got me fired up for free speech! I marched against Monsanto, and I will Protest again some day if anyone will join me.

@ Metamorphic Rocker : Good stuff.

(Not speaking of Ireland, per se) “Terrorism” is what one side says about the other. Russia calls Ukraine’s victories “terrorism” just as Ukraine says of Russia’s mistakes landing in markets.” It’s all terror for those on the receiving end. The carnage is ugly no matter which side is doing the killing, of course. There’s a lot of people in the Middle East, the Americas, and elsewhere who see the US as “Terrorists” (& probably for good reason! Like Coups, for instance, which are too numerous to count. The US Superpower probably watched too many John Wayne movies. We have trouble bringing our “Freedom” to foreign lands, especially when we are the occupiers. I am not a flag waver, obviously. I see my country as the one most responsible for Global Warming, this, the end of the world (for humans and most creatures). When man heard he had “dominion over all things” he set about destroying it. I am told the US military burns half the oil we consume. Our politicians are either climate deniers or do-nothing bad actors. In Oligarchy, there is not much the people can do… except massive civil disobedience. But, we are too busy watching TV to get involved.

World “Cousin Brother” Alan in Seattle (not like “Sister Wives” -one such TV show!

At 10/26/2023 07:53:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Meant to say Missiles, not “mistakes.” Thanks spell check!

Brother Alan

At 10/28/2023 03:46:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Alan: Sadly and disturbingly, one person’s terrorist sometimes looks like a freedom fighter in someone else’s eyes. Witness Jan. 6th right here in the USA. Plus, of course, another mass shooting this week. Do we really believe we are any more “civilized” than Middle Eastern nations? As far as I can tell, the man difference is that we’re wealthier and have more material stuff, including bombs and tanks. There is poverty of the soul on all sides.

Oddly, mistakes” still gets your point point across. How many attacks do we read of that didn’t even hit the intended target? Shamefully, when an explosive does hit, say, a hospital… there seems to be more political interest in finger-pointing than in helping victims or working to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again. Especially troubling as an American Is the posturing by some of our elected officials, employing frankly extremist rhetoric to frame the conflict as a holy war.

Firstly, “holy war” is a contradiction in terms. Secondly, it’s that exact kind of thinking that leads to endless fighting with no clear, achievable objective except to inflict damage on the other side. Thirdly, as far as I’m concerned, “holy war” is another word for genocide against people who have a different religion from yours. If war is inherent to your ideology or worldview, that worldview is morally bankrupt. Some are driven by sheer lust for power. Others are fixed on saving souls, they don’t care about saving lives.

I’m sorry to be so heavy-handed. News images seen over breakfast of city streets decimated by war tend to have that effect. My only recourse is to poetry, painting, poetry. I can recommend Rumi, Sufi mystic and US bestseller—if you don’t mind the risk of going on a watchlist for acquiring Islamic literature.

Love to all and more Neil thoughts coming when I can actually clear my mind!

At 10/29/2023 12:52:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

@ : Metamorphic Rocker - I love what you had to say. We are on the same page. Apparently there are some madmen in Government who believe (supposedly) that “The End Times (Biblical) are at hand, we that we can hasten the arrival of JC’s return, or some such nonsense, if we push war in the Middle East. Sounds like bullshit to me. War is Hell on Earth. Dylan’s “Masters of War” is on my mind now. I will check out Rumi, probably won’t get in a “No Fly list” over it, but maybe so.

My wife and I are watching the new version of Stephen King’s IT. The horror is uncomfortable, but not as much as mass murder in real life. In Israel, Gaza, Maine.

We Neil Young fanatics are hopefully mostly a bunch of Peace-niks! It still boggles my mind that Boomers were walking out on the Peace theme at shows with CSNY for LWW. Like Neil Young and CSN are supposed to support a F’ing War?! Neil Young stands on his convictions, I am proud to say.

Brain washing is what school, & now football games, is all about, especially in FL. They are not celebrating diversity there. They are wearing white hoods, seems to me. Kids In school, Pledge allegiance to the flag, or be labeled a traitor. You better say “Under God” or face discipline? Punishment? All sheep are welcome. Independent Thinkers will be ostracized. It’s pretty easy to breed flag wavers. This does not bode well for the future of humanity. We must try to “Light a Candle” for Peace. The hour is getting late! And I am referring to the health of the planet, its ability to sustain human life. Earth is overcrowded & raped by the greed of man, plundered.

For me, Horror is War, killing, & destruction of Mother Nature, and her critters. I believe we will all see ocean levels rise dramatically before long perhaps a sudden dying of the ocean critters, like the disappearing snow crabs in the Bering Sea. Billions gone missing. Acidity & heat can will cause a massive dying in the ocean. Krill, the basis of the food chain, cannot form their exoskeletons in acidic water. Yikes! Roundup is taking out the insects, which people don’t seem to mind so much here in the US. The Bees labor for our food, but they are getting killed off. This all will put man in a lonely and hungry dilemma. Ah, it seems I need to meditate on positivity! Happy Halloween to all. I hope I am wrong about the speedy time frame of dramatic changes from Global Warming and these other issues. We need a Big Shift all right!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle


At 10/29/2023 02:50:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, Alan! In my haste, I was a little sloppy in places. Full disclosure: I have relatives in Maine, so I've been feeling it lately. We also have a family friend in Highland Park, IL, whose kids knew the perpetrator of the July 4th shooting last year. These events touch a staggering number of us in personal ways.

However, I did not mean to ascribe political motivations specifically to the Maine shooter--although it's worth noting, sadly, the shooter was a former army man. Unfortunately, the military sometimes appeals to unstable personality types. Zealots make useful cannon fodder. It's horrendous and unspeakably sad, especially in view of all the good people who willingly enlist and come back permanently hurt and traumatized. The system obviously needs to do a better job of caring for people at risk of harming themselves and others.

For me, one of the keys to coping with the daily influx of frustration and sorrow is to keep creative, hence my recourse to painting, poetry, and music. I think the desire to create new stuff (and new life) is a fundamental human instinct, maybe an instinct of all living organisms. Humans, though, take it to another level for worse and for better. Is the idea of art as a form of procreation too radical? On the other hand, unfortunately, some people are willing to destroy ruthlessly if they are truly convinced the destruction is making way to build something better. Yet I question the extent to which any ideology involving war genuinely values human life.

Hope you enjoy Rumi! The uncanny part is that I started delving into these Islamic classics just before Oct. 7th. Previously, I had been reading Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross), a Christian mystic, and decided to check out the Muslim side as well. Life is full of strange coincidences.

At 10/29/2023 03:14:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Abner, I just want to acknowledge your point about determining where to use regulation. That's an important and vexed question. If we're being so exacting about defining hate speech, we should be equally precise about what constitutes censorship. To me, censorship implies force of law and/or a genuine threat to one's life or livelihood. Repudiation, rebuke even, is not censorship, nor does one have the right to a platform owned by someone else. At least in US constitutional law, our rights apply primarily to *public* spaces.

I think (hope) we all agree that one has no right to shout "fire!" in a public facility where there is no fire. Or, to cite a less cliched instance, free speech does not protect phoning in spurious bomb threats for the "fun" of it. Ideally, we wouldn't need laws to crack down on this sort of thing-- but humans are often disappointing in that way.

On the other hand, as compared to real human beings in action, the law is a remarkably blunt, simplistic, and one-dimensional instrument. Personally, in many cases I lean on the side of private communities exercising the autonomy to protect their own values. Social connection and companionship is a human need, but sometimes access to specific community spaces is a privilege. In fact, we might all be better off if we treated every opportunity to connect with another person as potentially a privilege.


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