Politics & Media
Jun 14, 2023, 05:57AM

Springtime for Censors

Eat, pray, redact—from Ukraine to the stars.

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If for some sick reason you were a public relations expert tasked with burnishing the reputation of censorship as a problem-solving method, you’d really be patting yourself on the back today. America, once known for outspokenness, is so in love with silencing people—through both governmental and private means—that we’ve moved on to the phase in which people loudly, proudly, and preemptively self-censor instead of just sanctimoniously calling for others to be censored.

But censorship, however personal and private, always seems to redound to the benefit of the powers that be more than to any lone individual or scrappy bunch of rebels on the fringe. And self-censorship doesn’t so much end official censorship as show that official censorship has become so pervasive that it can sit back and take a day off while the prisoners continue following the rules out of habit, having internalized their oppression.

Thus the faux-heroic Elizabeth Gilbert, once merely that author who wrote the self-absorbed quasi-spiritual memoir Eat, Pray, Love, is now an author so eager to echo the military-industrial-entertainment complex’s latest crusade that she’s yanking her new novel about a sympathetic Russian family from publication at the last minute, lest it offend Ukrainians.

Given liberals’ erotic fixation on acts of gratuitously public seeming-self-sacrifice, this will probably launch a round of Olympic-level self-censorship efforts among Gilbert’s peers: canceled albums, nixed controversial movie roles, potentially-gentrifying new homes left abandoned just before the paintjob was to have begun. Just tell them which sacred group is to receive the new sacrifice: Ukrainians, transsexuals, dolphins—liberals will proudly self-immolate on cue for whoever the establishment tells them to.

Meanwhile, Gilbert’s new pals in the Ukrainian military are engaged in some self-censorship of their own, scrambling to cover up the Nazi-inspired insignia on their uniforms, lest the patches cause cognitive dissonance in the minds of their Western liberal allies. It’s in keeping, I suppose, with Ukrainian efforts to censor antiwar journalists and with EU rules limiting swastika displays. Once you start censoring, you end up behaving like a fascist no matter who your intended target was. Whitewashing is not the path of the hero.

One politician who has died just in time to avoid a new uncomfortable question about the actual fascist era, though, is Italy’s Berlusconi, who will never now face the annoying question of whether the UFO coverup began not in Roswell in 1947 (or L.A. several years earlier) but in the northern-Italian town of Magenta in 1933. So alleges former U.S. intelligence agent David Grusch, who claims that the U.S. government has committed and concealed terrible crimes for the purpose of UFO secrecy and technology acquisition. Grusch and his allies also claim the coverup continues in the form of indifference from mainstream press outlets like The New York TimesWashington PostThe Hill, and Politico—though the New York Post counters that Grusch hung up on one skeptical reporter of theirs who tried to get Grusch’s story.

The censored, the self-censoring, and the real censors alike can be a bunch of drama queens, it appears, which makes it hard to keep track of who to hate. Maybe all these tensions will be resolved on the day when the full truth is known about the hushed-up UFO topic, though there are times when it seems we’ll be awaiting that day of revelation just as long as the supporters of the recently deceased televangelist Pat Robertson will be awaiting the fulfillment of their religious longings.

In the meantime, the Robertson mourners have endless theological debates and UFO buffs have things like that backyard police call about giant mantis-like beings in Vegas earlier this year, another inconclusive “conclusive” NASA report, but also more-tantalizing hints that keep the mystery alive, such as Pentagon official Sean Kirkpatrick recently admitting that they keep capturing video of small, fast-moving metal spheres zigzagging over the Earth’s surface, a surprisingly specific recurring pattern for a change.

The fast-moving spheres call to mind the deadly skull-drilling sentinel balls from the schlocky, low-budget, five-film horror series Phantasm—a dreamlike battle against the extra-dimensional Tall Man that spanned five decades, using the same slowly-aging, mediocre actors throughout, which is charming. I hope it’s only coincidence that I watched the Phantasm series just before the Pentagon’s silver spheres news hit—and just as the skies over Manhattan reddened from Quebec wildfires, much like the skies in the final Phantasm film as the Tall Man’s dimension merged with Earth (not to mention the skies over DC Comics’ Earth whenever the Flash faces a cosmic “Crisis,” but more about that next week).

If nothing else, the latest round of purported spilled UFO secrets should be inspiring to Doctor Who fans, since Grusch contends the U.S. government not only possesses recovered alien vehicles but has at least one that, by warping space-time, is bigger on the inside than on the outside, like Doctor Who’s time machine. Whether it’s nonsense or the key to mastering the universe, though, we’re better off letting it all hang out to be debated by the contentious and partisan factions making up the broader public—Whovians, scientists, and disgruntled ex-Marines alike—than trusting the government and its favorite contractors alternately to quash or spin the issue.

Let people see the secret, forbidden things in this world that the establishment struggles to keep contained and they’ll often conclude it was no big deal or rightly kept hush-hush, but once in a while the world takes a necessary, mentally-invigorating step forward by discovering the thing really was larger on the inside than on the outside

—Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on Twitter at @ToddSeavey


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