Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joining the Muzzlewatch-Watch

[Voice of Troy McCleur]

Hello there Muzzlewatch-Watchers! You may remember me from such blog entries as this one, or this one, or from the comment section of Muzzlewatch itself (before they decided the kitchen was getting too hot and they shut the comments down forever).

The challenges raised by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)’s Muzzlewatch project has led to, among other things, this Web site whose creator has been kind enough to let me start posting here occasionally.

As noted in the first story linked above, I originally got interested in Muzzlewatch as a way to explore how a demonstrably false thesis (that criticism of Israel – howled from the rooftops of every campus in the country - is somehow repressed) could gain traction with today’s allegedly sophisticated news audiences.

As I’ve watched postings at Muzzlewatch itself become more and more hysterical once they shut out all voices other than their own, it dawned on me that with Muzzlewatch we were watching a truly post-modern political phenomenon. For the key purpose of Muzzlewatch is to make sure that any discussion critical of Jewish Voice for Peace and its allies is immediately stifled by pushing it beyond the pale.

And how do they attempt to pull off this act of censorship? By turning the tables on their critics, accusing them of trying to stifle debate, despite the fact that every example of “stifling” Muzzlewatchers manager to dredge up look a lot like other people exercising their free speech rights to say something at odds with the world view of Jewish Voice for Peace, the arms, legs and hands behind Muzzlewatch.

This is where it gets interesting, for (whether consciously or unconsciously) those behind the Muzzlewatch site understand that it is their critics who actually maintain the respect for free speech that JVP/Muzzlewatch only feign. So by accusing those who comment negatively on JVP’s political positions of censorship, Muzzlewatch is trying to trigger our reflexive respect for open debate, hoping to confuse censor and censored, and making us doubt the legitimacy of using our own freedom of speech.

Of course, turning the tables on JVP/Muzzlewatch would only be effective if they actually believed in free speech, rather than simply pretending to possess a desire for open debate while actually working day and night to try to ensure that they are the only ones allowed to express their opinions freely.

But while they can shut down their own comment section once the reality behind their squalid little project gets too exposed, they have not yet managed to gain control over the Internet. Which means that this site (and others) will continue to watch (and expose) their attempts to censor others through cynical accusations of censorship.

And if anyone over at JVP wants to let us know where we’ve gotten it wrong, well comments are open over on this site…


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