Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Silence of the Narrative

Take a look at this article on that depicts places in the world where YouTube is banned. Currently only Iran and the UAE have bans, but just until recently Turkey censored the internet because of a video which insulted Ataturk as a homosexual and a belly-dancer. A Turkish user responded to the video by calling Greece the birthplace of homosexuality. The Kemalist State of Turkey then joined the chorus of military dictatorships such as Myanmar, and human rights black holes like China who also banned YouTube for criticizing its government. Turkey lifted its ban in March and Turk Telecom instantly renewed access to the site.

The EU Commission in Turkey stated in a meeting that one could not criticize a court ruling in Turkey, but at least the English gazette, Turkish Daily News, was able to bypass this. It said the courts were "trying to solve the problems of the 21st century with the methods of the 20th". It pointed out that the ban created a worldwide news story and resulted in the video collecting far more attention than if it had been ignored.

A post on Michelle Malkin's blog about the Turkey ban seemed favorable toward US Congress's House Anti-Terrorism Caucus actions to censor the internet (e.g. YouTube and LiveLeak) since it may be used to prevent videos created by "Jihadists" from widely circulating. Meanwhile, the US military has banned 13 sites like YouTube, Myspace, and Photobucket which slowdown military networks. The NYTimes has this report on insurgent propaganda on the net, and it seems the government is willing to limit civil liberties on the internet to combat any propaganda which aids terrorism.

YouTube's easily-manipulated terms of use seems to imply that its staff may remove any video they deem inappropriate for some users. Once a certain number of complaints is reached, a video must be pulled out. Since it is their property, perhaps one cannot complain, but I am very suspicious of those in the Pentagon who seek to silence the "Dhimmis" and "Jihadis" on YouTube by means of clandestine internet counter-terrorism. Lyotard wrote in The Postmodern Condition about the future instability of knowledge databanks and micro-narratives, which will be pursued and persecuted. The new wars will be fought with information, undoubtedly. And this means on the internet, where the Pentagon wages a war for the minds of the user. These narratives may co-exist in paralogy, Lyotard says, or be silenced and terrorized by more powerful narratives and language groups.

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