Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, CounterPunch will get a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Dieudonné Affair

Against Censorship, in Any Media

by SERGE HALIMI

Freedom of speech is something we only really talk about with reference to statements we condemn. Damage done to this principle may last long after the motive and the rulers who exploited it have been forgotten. In the atmosphere of near-panic immediately after 9/11, only one US senator, Russell Feingold, voted against the Patriot Act with its freedom-destroying raft of measures, which were adopted en bloc by Congress on the pretext of combating terrorism. Thirteen years and one president later, these emergency measures are still in force.

We know that ministers of the interior are more concerned with order and security than with freedom. Every new threat encourages them to call for a fresh repressive measure that will attract the support of an anxious or outraged public. In January, France decided to ban meetings and shows judged contrary to “proper respect for human dignity”. Interior minister Manuel Valls, repelled by the anti-Semitic tirades of the controversial comedian Dieudonné (1), whom Valls claimed “is no longer funny” and whose behaviour “has nothing to do with creativity”, warned: “Nothing is ruled out, including stricter laws” (2). But a democratic state should not agree easily to allow the minister in charge of the police to rule ex officio on humour and creativity — even where both are conspicuously absent.

In July 1830 Charles X issued a decree revoking the freedom of the press, and one of his supporters justified the reintroduction of the principle of prior censorship to replace after-the-fact appeals to the courts: “The damage is already done when the law intervenes; far from repairing the damage, punishment merely adds scandal and debate” (3). Ways were found to ignore the decree and next day the newspapers appeared as usual without prior authorisations. The public rushed to read them and discuss the contents. Charles’s reign ended in revolution.

Now rebels, pariahs and reprobates have tens of thousands of subscribers on Twitter; they can hold “meetings” through YouTube sprawled on couches in their living rooms. If we ban shows and public meetings, must we also penalise broadcasting of the same content on social networks? That would turn scandalmongers into victims of “the system”, and justify their most paranoid accusations.

Responding to Valls’s initiatives, a former Socialist minister acknowledged his concerns regarding “a deeply retrograde step, introducing a preventive measure … preemptive moral censorship of free speech.” He concluded, perhaps charitably: “Our best minds have been swayed by emotion, anger and revolt against infamy” (4).

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique.

Notes.

(1) Dieudonné’s touring stage show was banned in January 2014 for fomenting hatred against Jews.

(2) Interview on Aujourd’hui en France, Paris, 28 December 2013.

(3) Quoted by Jean-Noël Jeannenay, Les Grandes Heures de la presse qui ont fait l’histoire,Flammarion, Paris, 2013, p 28.

(4) “Jack Lang sur l’affaire Dieudonné” (Jack Lang on the Dieudonné affair), Le Monde, 13 January 2014.

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.