The Chilling Censorship of the Christchurch Shooting

The Chilling Censorship of the Christchurch Shooting, by Barbara Boland.

In the wake of the attacks, the prime minister promised to keep the murderer “nameless,” and the internet promptly obliged by flushing the perpetrator’s identity down the memory hole. New Zealanders’ access to online material about him was blocked. In what has become standing operating procedure after mass attacks, social media accounts connected to the perpetrator disappeared.

Internet service providers in New Zealand blocked access to sites like 4chan, 8chan, LiveLeak, and the file-sharing site Mega if the sites did not take down material related to the shooting. …

What this means:

Her actions raise the question: can we prevent evil by simply deleting its mention online? Imagine if the same decision had been made in the wake of other horrific historic crimes. Should we delete all footage of 9/11 from YouTube? How about never uttering the name Osama bin Laden or the acronym ISIS? What about banning all mentions of Adolf Hitler, burning all copies of Mein Kampf, and deleting all references to the Holocaust from our history books, lest we inspire neo-Nazis?

World tower center 9/11

Should our society censor all mentions of 9/11 and Hitler? That’s the way we are dealing with thought criminals like the Christchurch shooter. Or is better to discuss?

Would these actions honor the memory of the dead, or simply erase their suffering? Such logic would replace “never forget” with “never remember.” …

Obviously dopey. What they really want to is to suppress certain ideas that challenge the leftist PC notions. Shhh, don’t mention them. So ban bits of the Internet — but how much of the Internet? And nearly every Australian politician who is allowed on the media — with one or two obvious exceptions — is on board with that.

We need so-called “negative” emotions to rouse ourselves from lethargy. I know this from personal experience. At the beginning of August 2014, I discovered a horrifying bit of news buried within a seven-minute CNN video report: an American businessman alleged that ISIS was “systematically beheading children” in a “Christian genocide.” It was incredibly dangerous for Western media to send reporters into ISIS-occupied territory then, but citizens working underground nonetheless were surreptitiously recording videos and tweeting out details of life inside the regime. Thanks to the unfettered access social media provided, I was able to peer into marketplaces in Raqqa and find video evidence of everything from child marriages to crucifixions to beheadings.

The news story I wrote about all this received over seven million viewers, eventually crashing the servers of the small news website I worked for. People the world over were incensed and rightly so. It was impossible to deny what those real-time uploaded images showed: a seemingly modern marketplace, teeming with with people, only for the camera to pan out over the spectacle for which the crowd had gathered, a brutal display of torture and death …

An open society is not afraid of the evidence of terror. Rather than running away from reality, democratic societies should confront evil directly, allowing evidence of it to be freely available, daily confronting and confounding those who would deny that such things ever happen. We must remember history, lest we be doomed to repeat it.