"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Was It Something I Said?

Photo: David Icke. Yeah, I went there.
If you think the current national and international imbroglios over speech codes, "hate crime" speech laws, trigger warnings, and the awesome, unassailable, sheer naked power of Google and Facebook is overblown, you might reconsider that.

At about 1 PM Wednesday, I logged on to post a new story here, only to discover that I had been locked out from my blog account by the nameless, faceless, multi-tentacled Leviathan known as Google. The blog was still online and could be viewed by everyone, but I was prevented from accessing the administrative features because my Google+ profile had been "suspended." And if I remained "suspended" for 90 days, the blog would subsequently be taken down entirely.

Of course, Goggle's robotic speech police force never sent me an email or any other explanatory message to inform me of this. No warnings beforehand. No message telling just WHY I had been suspended. Just BOOM, no access.

Here's how I found out when I tried to access the blog yesterday:

Had I offended someone? Had someone else posted something inappropriate in a comment? Had someone hacked my account? Was there malicious html code lurking in my site's formatting? Had someone slipped in a virus disguised as a photograph? Did anyone complain about something? Had some crazed anti-Mason or former high school girlfriend just lied to Google and claimed I had broken some rule, or was advocating revolution, or drowning kittens online? Do Freemasons just seem to be too 'conservative' for Google's staff?

I STILL don't know what happened. And I probably never will.

This blog has been up and running for over a dozen years now. To date, I've had 9.4 million views of my nearly 3,000 articles, and tens of thousands of comments have been posted here (in addition to the thousands on Facebook, where these articles also appear). Whatever you might think of my content, it's not what much of anyone anywhere would regard as controversial, adversarial, alienating, or even irksome, unless you really, really dislike or distrust Freemasons. I stick to Google's rules, since they own the platform and provide the Blogger feature free of charge and without advertising, and no one has ever accused me of violating their service terms or community standards. If I use a photo or excerpt an article from elsewhere, I always try to link back to the source or give credit. In the less than five cases over the years that someone has objected to my use of their proprietary material, I have always acceded to their wishes by removing it or giving proper attribution. (In a twist of irony, I'm sure notorious anti-Mason David Icke will be irked that I've cribbed his All Seeing Eye of Google image above. He's worried about us FREEMASONS?)

Moreover, this site is HEAVILY moderated by me. You won't find profanity here, or ad hominem attacks, or even good old fashioned flame wars of yesteryear. It is one of the least contentious sites on the web simply because I run it like an autocrat (or a Worshipful Master), since I can read online fights anywhere and everywhere else I look these days. I just don't want it in here.

What was most troubling about Google shutting down my access yesterday was the total silence from their staff. Nobody contacted me before, during or after the shut down. And if you find yourself suspended by Google, I can tell you from this experience that there is NO WAY to get in touch with Google's support team or speech police. I was told to log in and post a question on their discussion board, yet I had to have a valid, NON-SUSPENDED Google+ profile to do it! So, I have no idea why I was padlocked out of my own site.

Photo: Calibre Computer Solutions

My best guess is that this was deliberate sabotage by someone who was bored, or who just wanted to vandalize a positive site about the Freemasons. Or it was a spammer who was livid that I keep deleting their comments inviting everyone to "Join the Illuminati!" I get dozens of those idiotic comments every day (and I suspect the mention of it here will result in another flood of spam). So I am left to infer that one of these miscreant basement dwellers possibly decided to falsely report this site for some sort of violation of Google's terms of service, which resulted in my access being denied for twelve hours until a human could actually investigate it.

My account was finally restored in the early hours this morning, so I hope this is the end of it. However, I am finally taking steps to get off of Google's platform, and I'm sure all of you web wizards out there who hate the antique way this site looks are heaving a sigh of relief. I'm slowly building the new blog site, so don't have a conniption when it goes live unexpectedly in the coming days or weeks. My goal is to preserve ALL of the prior posts here, along with their graphics AND comments.

I fully expect this to happen again as Google keeps trying to pull off the impracticable with its new censorship and quixotic war against 'fake news.' They announce daily developments as they attempt to make politicians, parents, professors, propagandists, protest groups, pornographers, social justice warriors, free speech advocates, free speech monitors, free speech deniers, nattering nabobs of negativity, the Turks and the Chinese all happy, simultaneously. Sadly, once they got into the content removal business, they crossed into a dangerous minefield, and they can't seem to navigate their way back out again. Once Google and Facebook decided they were NOT the phone company, and not a publisher either, they screwed themselves into being 'responsible' for pulling off the impossible. And it's going to get worse before it gets better.

So if you have a blog or website hosted by Google, run, do not walk, to the nearest exits and get your account off of Google's platforms. Neither myself nor anyone posting on my blog said or did anything to deserve shutting down, albeit briefly. But that doesn't seem to matter anymore. This situation is going to keep happening with greater frequency from now forward because all it takes is a vengeful or devious teenager with a keyboard or a smartphone to shut you and your site, your business, your communications with friends and relatives, down by squealing to the REAL All-Seeing Eye that is Google. And both Google and Facebook are now working hand in hand with governments all over the world to craft ever more intrusive laws, rules, regulations, codes, and punishments for speech, equating words with actual physical violence. How did we get here?

It's a shame that society can't seem to get along with itself anymore, and that social media has become nothing but anti-social media instead. Such a waste of a precious resource like freedom of speech and expression. Speech codes, safe spaces, hate speech laws — that is how the People un-learn Liberty. But then, that's what happens when society can't be civil to itself anymore, shares nothing in common anymore, and has no cohesive agreement on what decent behavior is. Instead, we pass laws and enact regulations to do what common sense, decency and manners used to accomplish.

Brother Winston Churchill said a great many things throughout his lifetime (and even more is attributed to him than he actually said). But in 1938 in a radio address to the United States he said:

(Winston Churchill photo: Lodge of Hope)
"They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home--all the more powerful because forbidden--terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?... [A] state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world."
A healthy outside world. 

Heck, I'd be content if everyone just got along as well as Freemasons in a lodge...