Phil Elmore: Technological thoughtcrime

Technological thoughtcrime: “Technological thoughtcrime

Posted: September 25, 2008: Phil Elmore © 2008

According to an article published last week in, the video-sharing site YouTube (owned by the politically left-leaning search engine giant Google) has decided to ‘ban for the UK only’ any video ‘showing weapons with the aim of intimidation.’ Citing ‘widespread unease about the increase in knife crime in the country,’ YouTube claims that the ban is not retroactive. It remains to be seen how such a ban will affect the countless videos on YouTube of shooters firing guns at ranges, or knife owners reviewing their latest purchases. Product review videos, in particular, are quite popular on YouTube, and one wonders just how sensitive YouTube’s UK censors will be in deciding what ‘intimidates’ them.

The significance of this act lies in just what is being legislated. Guns and knives are, of course, very tightly restricted in the United Kingdom, and there are regulations covering print advertisements and publications involving these items. Now, however, an Internet site that does not sell these items and whose purpose is not primarily to showcase them specifically is being censored by its owners to prevent users simply from seeing knives and guns being fired, wielded, or discussed.

The censorship of YouTube in the UK is thus tantamount to the voluntary establishment of thoughtcrime. George Orwell predicted a heavily surveilled, thoroughly controlled, brutally policed England in his prescient novel, ‘1984.’ The government of the UK is working very hard to turn Orwell’s vision into reality. It’s not possible, at least not today, actually to police the content of your thoughts themselves. The next best thing, then, is to prevent you from seeing or reading material that includes the thoughts your government doesn’t want you thinking. That is the purpose of a ban on gun- and knife-oriented video content, where the goal is to combat the UK’s skyrocketing violent-crime rates. Bans on guns and knives, as well as a legal climate that effectively forbids self-defense, have not stemmed the tide – but gleeful UK bureaucrats have now witnessed their nanny-state crusade take a giant leap. In capitulating to the climate of fear and oppression the UK government has helped create, YouTube has attempted to prevent certain very specific thoughts among YouTube viewers in the UK. What could be more true to the spirit of Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’?

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