Chicago Boyz

What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?

Recommended Photo Store
Buy Through Our Amazon Link or Banner to Support This Blog
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • The Fastest-Growing Job Category of the Decade?

    Posted by David Foster on December 2nd, 2017 (All posts by )

    In Robert Heinlein’s SF novel Revolt in 2100, American society fallen under the rule of a rigid theocracy.  The protagonist is introduced in the following passage…

    It was cold on the rampart. I slapped my numbed hands together, then stopped hastily for fear of disturbing the Prophet. My post that night was just outside his personal apartments-a post that I had won by taking more than usual care to be neat and smart at guard mount . . . but I had no wish to call attention to myself now.

    I was young then and not too bright-a legate fresh out of West Point, and a guardsman in the Angels of the Lord, the personal guard of the Prophet Incarnate. At birth my mother had consecrated me to the Church and at eighteen my Uncle Absolom, a senior lay censor, had prayed an appointment to the Military Academy for me from the Council of Elders.

    Uncle Absolom:  a senior lay censor…In the real America in 2017, ‘censor’ is no longer a role restricted to the pages of science fiction novels or to a limited military activity in time of war, but is rather becoming a mainstream occupation, and a fast-growing one.

    Facebook, for example, is hiring 3000 people to add to its existing 4500 on the team “reviewing posts with hate speech, crimes, and other harming posts.”  (The illiterate phrasing of the preceding sentence was evidently perpetrated by the professional journalists at TechCrunch, not by FB itself)  YouTube (owned by Google) also employs many people to review videos which are believed to be inappropriate or worse.  There are also programmers and system designers employed in creating and tuning software to facilitate the censorship function, and there are actually startups focused on this area.

    It has often been observed that the number of college administrators is growing much faster than the numbers of college faculty.  A nontrivial number of these are engaged in what are basically censorship functions.  Even in business, the censorship of wrongspeech has become a major function of Human Resources and a consumer of management time.

    There are also plenty of volunteer censors, eager to report people of whose speech they disapprove and get them fired or instigate mob action against them…for example, Lena Dunham, who sent the following Instagram message directed to airline travelers (and possibly flight crews as well)..

    I’m at the airport. And I think people now know, when I’m at the airport, they have to f—ing watch out for me, because I hear and I see all.

    There are multiple reasons for the censorship boom:  (1) With social media, communications that were once private are now semipublic and mediated by the social media company (2) Content that was once created and distributed by a relatively small number of media companies..who in effect conducted their own internal censorship process…is now created by a much larger number of individuals and distributed via social media, especially Twitter (3) Many of the previously-generally-accepted standards of behavior and speech have eroded (4) There appears to be growing hostility toward free speech, driven partly but not entirely by academic theorists  (5) There are a lot of people who are just plain sadists and bullies, and shutting other people down gives them pleasure.  Social media gives them new scope for this activity.

    With regard to (1), the social media companies…especially FB…really do have a dilemma.  There is an obvious public interest in preventing the dissemination of terrorist propaganda and operational plans, and an obvious human interest in responding to desperate cries for help, as with the suicides that were pre-announced on Facebook.  And the semipublic nature of FB communications implies that individual and group posts can have an impact on FB’s brand, whereas phone conversations and emails would have no such impact on the brand of the carrier involved.  Meanwhile, the Leftist orientation of most of these companies, combined with Silicon Valley groupthink, does not tend toward policies that are particularly supportive of free speech.

    With regard to (5), I am reminded of a passage in Goethe’s Faust….Gretchen, after finding that she is pregnant by Faust, is talking with her awful friend Lieschen, who (still unaware of Gretchen’s situation) is licking her chops about the prospect of humiliating another girl (Barbara) who has also become pregnant outside of marriage. Here’s Gretchen, reflecting on her own past complicity in such viciousness:

    How readily I used to blame
    Some poor young soul that came to shame!
    Never found sharp enough words like pins
    To stick into other people’s sins
    Black as it seemed, I tarred it to boot
    And never black enough to suit
    Would cross myself, exclaim and preen–
    Now I myself am bared to sin!

    There’s a lot of this…”sharp enough words like pins to stick in other people’s sins”, combined with the pleasure of preening…in the amateur censors of our day.  And the amateur censors often operate by activating the professional censors.

    See also my post Freedom, the Village, and the Internet.


    9 Responses to “The Fastest-Growing Job Category of the Decade?”

    1. pouncer Says:

      As long as SF has been introduced with Heinlein…

      Larry Niven’s stories of “Gil the Arm” suggest that in the near future all other obscenities, blasphemies, scatologies and maledictions will have been replaced with the word “censored” — which then itself becomes a dysphemism. “Censor you! You censoring censored son-of-a Censor! I’ll Censor your censored so censoring hard your censored will censor its own CENSORED!”

    2. David Foster Says:

      Interesting piece here:

      In her essential 1993 book Rights Talk, Mary Ann Glendon worried that the language of legal rights was displacing the pleasantries of everyday social interactions. Glendon wrote that “the highly colored language of advocacy flows out to the larger society through the lips of orators, statesmen, and flamboyant courtroom performers.” Since the language of legal rights is often absolutist, Glendon predicted that its adoption for everyday use increases “the likelihood of conflict and inhibits the sort of dialogue that is increasingly necessary in a pluralist society.”

    3. Jenk Says:

      Lena Dunham is no censor, but she is a wanna-be Chekist. Or at least a stukach….

    4. David Foster Says:

      University to place 400 cameras on campus to catch ‘hate crimes’

      Lots of new job opportunities for censors.

    5. Brian Says:

      Ugh. Well, it seems like about 99% of campus hate crimes are hoaxes, so hopefully these cameras will eliminate this issue completely. Of course, in practice the cameras will conveniently not be working during hoaxes, and/or the fraudster’s “privacy” will be used to shield them from being named publicly.

    6. David Foster Says:

      Germany’s interior ministry proposing government surveillance of ALL digital systems and devices:

    7. MCS Says:

      Google, FB and all of the other “free” mass platforms have painted themselves into the same corner. Their business models depend on eliminating human interaction with their “customers”. They now have to read every post and, even worse, watch every video and sanction in some way anything that anyone anywhere might find offensive. 10,000 censors won’t even scratch the surface.

      Until they all come crashing down, I hope everyone enjoys social discourse policed by whoever is willing to do it cheapest. Free exchange of ideas was great while it lasted.

    8. Jonathan Says:

      They now have to read every post and, even worse, watch every video and sanction in some way anything that anyone anywhere might find offensive.

      Or they will lobby for blue sky carvouts to legal liability, analogous to those that exist for inadvertent copyright violations. As long as Google et al complied with whatever formal procedures were set up they would have no liability and thus could continue using mostly automated filters.

      What might pressure the Googles to back off on censorship is a loss of traffic that significantly reduced advertising revenue. Perhaps this will happen if the public tires of overly politicized media.

    9. MCS Says:

      They had the DMCA safe harbor in the U.S. but that didn’t apply outside. The E.U, especially, has institutionalized the head in the sand. As long as a company wants to do business, it has to play by local rules.

      As far as “overly politicized media”, that ship sailed about 1950 if not before as news papers ceded the coverage of national and international news to three networks. They then died when the internet eliminated advertising revenue and readers simultaneously.

      How is someone who thinks Face Book IS the internet, going to know what they’re missing. FB sure won’t tell them. I wonder if the World Wide Web will last much more than 30 years. Most governments see concentrating all of the content into a few companies beholden to them as a feature not something to be discouraged.

      If the E.U. and others can effectively intimidate Google, they won’t have to go to the trouble and take the political heat of implementing their own “Great Wall”. This is all in order to protect their citizens from “HATE” don’t you know, it’s for the children.

      For now, they don’t have any leverage against a site like this that is more or less self contained. What happens if the Eurocrats take exception to something posted here and apply pressure to Amazon or start making lists of people to be detained if they enter the E.U. The F.I.S.A. has already made the point that the most effective laws are those that are enforced in secret.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments Policy:  By commenting here you acknowledge that you have read the Chicago Boyz blog Comments Policy, which is posted under the comment entry box below, and agree to its terms.

    A real-time preview of your comment will appear under the comment entry box below.

    Comments Policy

    Chicago Boyz values reader contributions and invites you to comment as long as you accept a few stipulations:

    1) Chicago Boyz authors tend to share a broad outlook on issues but there is no party or company line. Each of us decides what to write and how to respond to comments on his own posts. Occasionally one or another of us will delete a comment as off-topic, excessively rude or otherwise unproductive. You may think that we deleted your comment unjustly, and you may be right, but it is usually best if you can accept it and move on.

    2) If you post a comment and it doesn't show up it was probably blocked by our spam filter. We batch-delete spam comments, typically in the morning. If you email us promptly at we may be able to retrieve and publish your comment.

    3) You may use common HTML tags (italic, bold, etc.). Please use the "href" tag to post long URLs. The spam filter tends to block comments that contain multiple URLs. If you want to post multiple URLs you should either spread them across multiple comments or email us so that we can make sure that your comment gets posted.

    4) This blog is private property. The First Amendment does not apply. We have no obligation to publish your comments, follow your instructions or indulge your arguments. If you are unwilling to operate within these loose constraints you should probably start your own blog and leave us alone.

    5) Comments made on the Chicago Boyz blog are solely the responsibility of the commenter. No comment on any post on Chicago Boyz is to be taken as a statement from or by any contributor to Chicago Boyz, the Chicago Boyz blog, its administrators or owners. Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners, by permitting comments, do not thereby endorse any claim or opinion or statement made by any commenter, nor do they represent that any claim or statement made in any comment is true. Further, Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners expressly reject and disclaim any association with any comment which suggests any threat of bodily harm to any person, including without limitation any elected official.

    6) Commenters may not post content that infringes intellectual property rights. Comments that violate this rule are subject to deletion or editing to remove the infringing content. Commenters who repeatedly violate this rule may be banned from further commenting on Chicago Boyz. See our DMCA policy for more information.