Censorship, Free Speech & the Media

States want to dominate the narrative with their version of events. There are two basic models. One follows Aldous Huxley, the other George Orwell. The latter is best known for 1984. Big Brother is brutal. He wields a big stick while Huxley uses a much softer carrot. Censorship is self-imposed because the journalist knows the boundaries of permissible thought. Essential assumptions are embedded unconsciously so they don’t even rise to the level of being challenged. The Huxley model is more subtle and relies on persuasion and getting people to focus on trivialities. Orwell is straight-out coercion. Sing the tune I’ve told you to or else.

Recorded at First Parish Church at an event marking the 25th anniversary of South End Press.

Speaker: Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. His contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 94, he is still active, writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.

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