Category: Censorship

Life in a time of heretics

IN HIS 65,000-word Anti-Jewish treatise written in 1543, German Reformation leader Martin Luther called the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah a heretic: “Jeremiah, you wretched heretic, you seducer and false prophet”. He then claimed that Jewish history was “assailed by much heresy”, and that “Christ the logos swept away the Jewish heresy” and goes on to do so, “as it still does daily before our eyes.”

Luther stigmatised Jewish Prayer as being “blasphemous” and a lie, and vilified Jews in general as being spiritually “blind” and “surely possessed by all devils” all the while suggesting a number of remedial steps, such as “burning down Synegogues”.

Similarly, in his 1229 word essay (short and tame by the standards of the Reformation), entitled “End of ‘error’ may be about to dawn”, Terry Crawford-Brown declaims upon a number of current themes to do with Israel, including the supposed difference between Ashkenazi Jews and Mizrahi Jews, the Holocaust, the Apartheid analogy, the Green Line, Binationalism and more importantly, the so-called heresy of Zionism.

Lest we forget, Crawford-Brown is also the Cape Times correspondent who lied to the Seriti Commission and who tried to implicate the left in the killing of Chris Hani, in the process, revising history. He is also responsible for hosting an anti-Semitic seminar on the problem of Jewish immigration to South Africa  without so much as requesting input from the Jewish community, (not all Jews are Zionists), and has sought to dictate terms in the controversy surrounding the screening of a propoganda film at the Labia.

As a one-time spokesperson for the Anglican Church, Crawford-Brown has often attacked persons such as myself, who like anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, advocate a binational solution to the problem in the Middle East.

In order to arrive at a binational state, one must first accept that Israel has a right to exist, all else follows from this premise, articulated by Nelson Mandela and recognised by the United Nation’s general assembly.

It was thus not so long ago that Crawford-Brown was attacking the very ideas which he now professes to hold, from a pulpit in which he is able to declaim on the so-called Zionist heresy with views that not only informed the German Reformation and its opposition, but was also the basis for the tragedy of the Holocaust which followed.

The Christian Church has a history of deflecting criticism by attacking minorities. The TRC faith hearings into apartheid atrocities heard that the Afrikaans Reformed Churches were widely identified with Afrikaner nationalism and held to be complicit in apartheid.

The complicity of the Dutch Reformed Church in the policy of apartheid went beyond simple approval and legitimisation. The church actively promoted apartheid, not least because it served the Afrikaner interests with which it identified. The Dutch Reformed Church admitted giving official sanction to apartheid laws, including providing theological justification for apartheid, in what is known as the “apartheid heresy”.

In 1975 the UN issued the infamous resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism.

After the end of the Cold War, the same UN general assembly issued a resolution reversing the earlier resolution. Thus in 1991 “the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly … to revoke the bitterly contested statement it approved in 1975 that said “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

“The official count found 111 nations in favor of repealing the statement and 25 nations, mostly Islamic and hard-line Communists, voting against. Thirteen nations abstained. Seventeen other countries, including Egypt, which recognizes Israel, and Kuwait and China, did not take part in the voting.”

The earlier 1975 resolution 3379 is the basis for several conferences in South Africa, each one arriving at the conclusion that Zionism is Racism and worse, apartheid. The 1975 resolution is the basis for a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) research paper reiterating its findings. No resolution has ever been issued by the UN for any similar form of ethnic nationalism, for example: Kemalism.

It is trite that whether or not one is a Zionist or a Non-Zionist, Theist or Non-Theist, there will be persons such as Crawford-Brown who seek to place Jews and Israel under the microscope, while forgetting the role played by the Christian Church in the formation of apartheid in our own country.

Speaking as a heretic and as a banned journalist and activist, whose heretical beliefs have been anathemitised by a South African court, not because they are Zionist, but because they do not conform to a general definition of Judaism as provided by an apartheid media company. (Yes, Judaism, like Islam, is a Christian heresy. Its adherents are also heretics), I caution against installing correspondents on the editorial pages as some new form of clergy.

Jews themselves have “defined their various sects as heresies (Greek hairesis). In the first century, this was not a negative term. First-century Jewish historian Josephus refers to the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes as the heresies of the Jews (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.171). Luke, writing in the book of Acts, shows that the followers of Christ were viewed as yet another heresy, known at that time as “the sect of the Nazarenes” (Greek Nazaoraios) (Acts 24:5). Thus, in the first century, the term heresy defined the teaching of a particular school. The word had been used this way in the Greek-speaking world since the time of Plato.” *

Crawford-Brown thus in no way discharges the accusation, rightfully made here, that he is essentially pontificating, settting himself up as a modern cleric and legal authority, without the necessary qualifications and without the authority of the broader Church nor the Republic of South Africa, a nation of which he is, no doubt, still a member.

NOTE: *Orthodoxy: Just Another Heresy? http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=145

His master’s voice – apartheid censor board mooted, targeting online content

THE Films and Publications Board has mooted a proposal for the classification of online content that could result in the removal of free speech and communications freedoms guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution.

The proposal would also seriously compromise the principle of net neutrality.

The draconian and ill-considered plan forces all distributors of online content to register with the board, resulting in a funding regime that would result in government censorship of online communication. In effect we will be paying to be classified, as social media and the Internet itself becomes subject to government fiat in the form of an Internet Tax, followed by an inappropriate ratings scheme borrowed from the countries current television dispensation.

A fee of R450 is proposed for each and every film or online publication distributed over the Internet.

The main concern of the board appears to be the impact of content on children, but there is no reason why adult supervision and caveat emptor should now be supplanted by government controls. The usual scare stories about child pornographers have also been raised.

Unlike television which is programmed and available via terrestrial and satellite channels, the Internet is not live programming as such.

Users have to actively search out sites, in an activity known as surfing.

Most plans to censor online content around the world have failed, since the Internet itself is not controlled by anyone, and historically routes around such obstacles.

Users would simply deploy encryption technology, making it impossible for the board to monitor online content. This is the reason why an earlier proposal by Minister Gigaba for a national firewall was quietly dropped.

In terms of the new regulations, Medialternatives and other online blogs hosted outside the country, could be subject to a government classification committee, in a step which is reminiscent of previous attempts to regulate and censor the press.

Under the ANC ruling party and also during the period of apartheid, various plans have emerged which are nothing less than motions to stifle press freedom and the right of access to information.

In the event of the policy being enacted as law, Medialternatives will refuse to participate in such a scheme, and will not comply with any government request to rate or classify content.

The apartheid state routinely banned publications and periodicals, gagging journalists critical of the regime.

Medialternatives has been publishing free content since 2005.

You can read the policy proposal here

Enter the sceptics, and that chestnut, HIV statistics

sceptic
ˈskɛptɪk
noun
1. a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.

“Argh. A HIV/Aids sceptic has shown up at our monthly Skeptics in the Pub.”  #JacquesRossouw

For the record. I am not an HIV denialist, I am just sceptical when it comes to HIV statistics and AIDS dogma. In 2001 I was placed under discursive sanctions by the Cape Times after I published an op-ed on HIV Pathology and DNA testing, and no, it wasn’t because of this article, it was because my next article, unpublished, was about the inconvenient statistics part. We ended up with a media-managed “pandemic” and an HIV denialist President. The result is the liberal hellshow of Zuma and Malema

For example, the 2007 UNAIDS report estimated that 5,700,000 South Africans had HIV/AIDS, or just under 12% of South Africa’s population, which stood then at 48 million. Yes it is a large number, but no, it is nowhere near the 40-50% scare stories published by INM at the time the country was debating the issues after years of isolation from mainstream science. Was South Africa really the AIDS capital of the universe?

Lets look at the definition of a pandemic: panˈdɛmɪk adjective (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

Read that again: Prevalent over a WHOLE country or the world,  Can one truly say that a 12% prevalence is the whole, i.e. 100%, Do you see the problem? Probably not, because merely questioning statistics of any kind sends off warning bells. Think for yourself, question authority.

Look at the conflicting reports. In 2006 the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in South Africa was said to be 29.1%.
According to the 2011 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV Prevalence Survey,  29.5% of pregnant women attending state clinics in 2011 were HIV-positive. Figures like these were often used to drive editorial at the Cape Times, and were compounded and inflated by open speculation. The higher numbers from state clinics were not compared to the lower numbers in private hospitals. The fate of the rich versus the fate of the poor played absolutely no part in the touting of South Africa’s ‘unique problem’.

The same survey for instance estimated that about 5.6-million people living in South Africa were HIV-positive. In other words, 12% of the population. The exact same UNAIDS figure. To put this in a better perspective, compare the prevalence rate amongst the 18-49 age group in the USA (0.6%) to South Africa (17.3%), representing a 11% variance between the developed and developing world, nothing like the 50% death rate etched into the minds of the critics of the Mbeki administration resulting in the necessity to “deflect attention” towards the politically expedient view  that AIDS is the result of “poverty, chronic disease,malnutrition and other environmental factors”.

Mbeki based his views on the discredited beliefs of AIDS denialists, especially that of Peter Duesberg.

From a numbers point of view, you have anywhere between a 12 in 100 chance and a 29 in 100 chance of contracting HIV in South Africa, depending upon your demographic group, and which set of data you choose to use. The UNAIDS prevalence rates appear much lower than departmental figures, but this is because they refer to the entire population, not merely a sub-group.

The numbers. though alarming because of this margin of error,  are also sobering.

I recall a screaming match with Judith Soal when my numbers didn’t support her subjective passionate reporting on the plight of hospitalised victims, all of whom were invariably poor pregnant mothers with HIV babies, who had by then been sent home because of ARVs.

Maths may not be my forte but I did pass matric and get a degree in Social Science.

Thankfully, the rate of new infections in the country, represented by the prevalence rate among 15- to 19-year-olds, continues to drop, from 14% in 2010 to 12.7% in 2011. There are some who would say that a bit of journalistic exaggeration  and editorial colour was necessary  in order to drive public policy. But were such shock tactics required?

Weird thing about prevalence is the question of epidemiology. Prevalence rates of an “epidemic” change according to population demographics and geographical region. The language used in these reports are thus often loaded with assumptions based upon the medical model. INM at the turn of the century however, were in the Irish dark ages in which questioning received opinion and common wisdom could get you fired. Besides, HIV scare stories sell newspapers, balance and context tend to tone down such manipulations of public opinion.

Selling newspapers, creating Zackie Achmat and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) , and destroying Mbeki was thus more of a priority than having intelligent, balanced debate on all the issues. These shock tactics under O’Reilly were thus bound to create further shockwaves down the line. The reason I say this is because when you force a particular line on the public, even if it be the most scientifically correct viewpoint, without creating a space for dissent and discussion of the consequences of adopting the new opinion, you destroy the basis of free and open inquiry, the very thing upon which science is based.

Take a look at how science operates. There is something called the Scientific Method. A body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A pandemic in which you not allowed to measure or gather empirical evidence? How is it possible to integrate any information if you are not allowed to question the validity of a hypothesis, if you are not, by nature, a sceptic?

In failing to provide balance and context to its coverage of the South African HIV crisis, INM merely pushed the common wisdom which was in Ireland at the time. This placed the Mbeki administration on the back foot, with tragic consequences as health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, moved by traditionalism, advocated a diet of garlic, olive oil and lemon to cure the disease. The 20 year academic and cultural boycott had hit the ruling party as much as it did the apartheid regime.

This is the kind of article that could have been published in 2001, instead it took ten years for a South African media outlet to print stats like Women have a 1 in 200 chance of contracting HIV via oral sex. The moral grundies who had been warning white South Africans of a special place in hell if the Immorality Act was dismantled had a field day. The Irish-controlled press punted their special brand of moral solipsism, as Catholics waited until 2013 for the Pope to finally see the light on condoms.

South Africa, a country where one is not allowed to question HIV statistics and where you have to blindly accept AIDS dogma as the truth. Is this the same country with a SKA radio telescope programme? No wonder we are so behind in other areas when it comes to science.

Something does not sit well in the above story. It is not that I’m the first person to author a popular article on HIV pathology and DNA testing. A pretty reasonable attempt at relating the science of the day. And it is not because this is one of many such firsts when it comes to my circuitous career in journalism. No, it is the nagging question: Did the conservatives pull a fast one and move from being moral grundies to HIV pundits?

12% of the population holding the remaining 88% of the population to ransom in a world in which the default is AIDS and absolutely everyone is now considered a suspect, has produced a strange result.  We have moved from the solidarity sex of the struggle, to the solidarity of HIV.

The latest news of an American sports personality who garnered massive public support because of his HIV positive status, announcing that he never had HIV to begin with, should serve as a warning.

Equally disturbing, the untimely death of South African television’s first openly HIV positive TV soap star who played the character of Letti Matabane in SABC3’s Isidingo, age 40.

The default position should be on freedom of thought, critical inquiry and consent of the governed, not the views of the church, the party or any one particular idea of morality. A press which provides balance and context is one which ultimately succeeds in maintaining a coherent historical narrative in the long run.

SEE: Mbeki Wrong about Death Statistics 

The hypocrisy of Alide Dasnois

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Covered up for her former boss

IT must be tough being the former editor of the Cape Times, and the first female to have occupied the once all male position. Dasnois was removed from her post as Cape Times editor on the weekend of 6 December 2013 having climbed the ladder to editorship in 2009 after her appointment as deputy editor in 2007. Thus she cannot complain if we raise some of the problems with the Cape Times under its former owners during her period of tenure.

The Mulroney Scandal

Admittedly this scandal first broke news in 2001. After a ten year battle by The Fifth Estate, one of Canada’s leading investigative journalism teams, the official inquiry into the affairs of INM director Brian Mulroney for his improper relationship to German arms-dealer Karl-Heinz Schrieber was well under way in 2007.  The inquiry occured amidst allegations that Mulroney had received bribes and had unlawfully benefited from a major deal involving Airbus and Air Canada. Instead of covering the Mulroney Scandal, Dasnois chose to ignore such prickly problems — refusing to acknowledge the uncomfortable indictment of an O’Reilly director by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Stories like “Mulroney tried to cover up cash payments he received in hotel rooms: Schreiber” were thus nowhere to be found in South Africa’s leading daily as Dasnois sort to protect the Irish stake in South Africa’s media by covering up for her boss.

The Robbie Jansen Scandal

In 2006 I was frog-marched out of the news-room of a community newspaper by a right-wing Afrikaner who had taken exception amongst other things, to my association with the late jazz-musician Robbie Jansen. Not only did the Cape Times publish an erroneous and factually incorrect news snippet detailing proceedings at the CCMA, but Independent were subsequently forced, under sanction of the Internet Service Providers Association, to take the piece down. Later when the matter came up for review before the Labour Court of South Africa, I was assisted by the secretary of CONSAWU and the National Certified Fishing and Allied Workers Union (NCFAWU), Envor Barros. Alide Dasnois who was by this stage editor of the Cape Times cannot claim she was not unaware of the labour matter affecting media workers, instead she chose in a cynical and high-handed manner, one which she will not doubt live to regret, to bury the case. The lack of media coverage and press oversight resulted in an inevitable mistrial with allegations of corruption which are now under investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission, the matter has also been referred to the public protector.

It would seem that hypocrisy is the order of the day so far as Dasnois is concerned. Her vapid and unsubstantiated attacks against Sekunjalo should be seen within the context of a career in which she actively participated in the censorship of material relevant to the day-to-day functioning of the media industry and the livelihood of workers. That she failed to put Madiba on the cover of the Cape Times the day after he died,  is merely one of a litany of errors, which include her refusal to provide balance to the Sekunjalo Marine story, a real storm in a departmental teacup so far as the Public Protector is concerned, and this at the same time that she was colluding in the suppression of community jazz reportage and supporting the apartheid denial which is rampant at another media group head-quartered in slightly larger premises than  the current Newspaper house —  this is the  apartheid company which refused to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, stationed on Cape Town’s foreshore.

Teenage pregnancy film banned by SA censors

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Following what transpired at the opening night of the 2013 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s “Of Good Report” will go down in history as one of the most spectacular opening night films seen by almost no one.  After the obligatory opening night speeches–many of them evoking Nelson Mandela on his birthday, the pre-1994 struggle against Apartheid, for freedom of expression, and DIFF’s role in that struggle–the lights were turned off for the film to start. Only that there was no film, just white text (supplied by the Film and Publications Board, the local censors) against a black background stating the film had been refused classification and that it would be a criminal offense to screen it. The local film community understandably is not amused.

Qubeka’s third feature tells the story of Parker Sithole (Mothusi Magano), a schoolteacher involved in a relationship with one of his students Nolitha Ngubane (played by 23-year old Petronella Tshuma). It is a story of unhealthy and illegal liaisons, power, abuse and obsession, which ultimately takes both the disturbed teacher and his beautiful student down a dark and extremely violent road.

Qubeka–his mouth taped shut–and his co-producers, cast and crew–as baffled as the audience–came onto the stage and then proceeded to burn what looked like a South African identity document (ID) book or a passport. He then threw document on the floor and proceeded to hug his cast and crew. As the drama unfolded, the audience–some shell-shocked and silent, others whistling and shouting in disgust–tried to make sense of what was unfolding:

It turned that 28 minutes and 16 seconds into Qubeka’s third feature, the Film and Publication Board’s classification committee had stopped the classification process (which means that they interrupted the viewing of the film) after unanimously agreeing that a sex scene between Parker and Nolitha’s characters a couple of minutes before, constituted child pornography. In another scene following shortly after the sex scene, Nolitha’s character appears in a classroom dressed in the school-uniform of a ninth grader. Conclusion: the character of Nolitha is a child and a scene where she is engaged in sexual interaction is child pornography.

MORE: Africaisacountry 

UPDATE: This film was unbanned over the weekend by the Film and Publications Board, which slapped a 16 age restriction

Medialternatives War Newsroom Questionnaire

A journalist complains about your newspapers overly vigorous support of the War. What is the correct response?

a) Promise to crush and slaughter all resistance from the lower echelons until the seventh generation.

b) Harangue said journalist for not reading up on the business tactics of Atilla the Hun.

c) Fire without warning and dock pay with no option of redress thereby guaranteeing severe penalties for such action.

d) Publish defamatory reports accusing the journalist of being a sissy.

e) Send your horde of macho gunslinging war correspondents into battle, and then hope your skillful redefinition of War as a Peaceful yet somewhat Violent Undertaking, goes unnoticed by the public.

f) Promote journalist to OP-EDs while fending off criticism from the Pentagon.

g) Cosy up to the perpetrators of violence in the hope they will reward your company with advertising.

h) Deny everything and engage in rebuttals like: What journalist? There’s no such journalist.

Reporting Race profiling and Censorship Questionnaire

A journalist complains to you about race profiling and censorship at an apartheid media company. What is the correct response?
A) Ignore him and hope he goes away while the public are brainwashed by corporate propaganda.
B) Call the police and have him locked up in a bad place.
C) Try to explain there is no apartheid or that apartheid is simply “good neighbourliness”.
D) Redefine the words “race profiling” “censorship” and “apartheid, so they don’t make any sense.
E) Feel sorry for him, offer him a cup of tea and a sandwich, then promise you’ll do your best to help, but conveniently forget about it in the morning.
F) Examine the censored story for clues, then attack his ethnicity and heckle him for being a particular colour.
G) Decide he is mentally ill and have him treated by remote control
H) Make sure he has the best legal assistance money can buy.
I) Engage in racist banter in the hope that your support of the KKK will reveal the inner workings of the Illuminati.
J) Solicit costly legal services that you hope to get a pretty penny for while repudiating his legal insurance