A current example is the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), which, according to an Electronic Frontier Foundation article, would “create two Internet blacklists.
“The first is a list of all the websites hit with a censorship court order from the Attorney General.
“The second, more worrying, blacklist is a list of domain names that the Department of Justice determines — without judicial review — are ‘dedicated to infringing activities.'”
[Censorship of the Internet Takes Center Stage in “Online Infringement” Bill, Richard Esguerra, Electronic Frontier Foundation Sep 21, 2010.]
Could this and other corporate and political efforts lead to a kind of online “hostile environment” for the free exchange of creative ideas?
A hostile environment in a sexual harassment case may include “anything that creates fear, intimidates, ostracizes, psychologically or physically threatens, embarrasses, ridicules…”
A number of thinkers are saying that forces like corporatism and fundamentalism are exerting increasingly suppressive effects on creative people.
Davidson Loehr [Ph.D.s in philosophy and religion; senior minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin] says in his book America, Fascism, and God: Sermons from a Heretical Preacher: “The America that most of us loved has been cleverly and systematically murdered to feed the monetary and imperialistic hunger of some of our greediest people.
“The results of this death are easy to measure. The United States is 49th in the world in literacy and 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy. Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature.”
Loehr quotes political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt, who identifies a list of social and political agendas common to fascist regimes, including: “Religion and government are intertwined; Corporate power is protected; Disdain for intellectuals and the arts.”
Speaking of elite power – Jennifer Abbott, a director and editor of the outstanding documentary The Corporation [source of this image] [dvd at Amazon] noted in an indieWire interview: “The corporation itself does not have morals, per se… it’s an absurd situation to have the dominant institution of our day have to prioritize profit above the public good.”
So what do we do?
One way to start may be to make these kinds of issues more personal. And to learn more about the often subtle forms of political, religious and ideological tyranny that can fuel the suppression of innovation and creative individuality.
If you’re a shareholder, maybe you could demand a corporation develop a more active program to support arts and artists, such as the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative.
Maybe we could do more to fund arts programs in schools. And support meaningful, spirituality-oriented films like those distributed by The Spiritual Cinema Circle.
There are also pressures toward censorship on a more personal level.
For example, being concerned with pleasing others can have a subtle, or even an extensive impact on creative expression, acting as an insidious form of self-censorship. It may be especially active for highly sensitive people who react strongly to others’ feelings and attitudes.
More quotes on the topic on the page: Censorship.