The dam of deference eventually broke, the establishment caved in, the new wave got what it wanted and a torrent of scandals exposed money, power, political, sexual, corruption in high places, all there and reported in the more confident press, censorship in films, theatre and books (why should you tell me what I can see and read!) went, it seemed, almost overnight.
There has always been censorship, just really a ban of free speech and expression. The BBC as far back as Lord Reith supported, it seems, by the establishment, soon worked out what and how to give the great unwashed, which was what they thought they should or shouldn’t hear, what views would be acceptable and what was not, with the occasional moderated letter from Mr. Angry.
As TV viewing grew and had more influence the same standards applied. Strictly and controlled criticism and complaint: we are, after all, the BBC.
Why so little criticism? Was this because the media was part of the establishment and not too keen on rocking the boat, even though stories from political figures, the civil service, the Royal family and celebrities make very good copy which sells.
Society changed fast, more liberal views were evidenced in theatre, films, TV soaps and the press and by the 1980s all bets were off. The press printed what it wanted when it wanted, but was more or less focused on either ‘left’ or ‘right’ wing views which mostly mirrored the views of their largely tribal readers.
Gradually Political Correctness (described to me recently as no problem as it was really just the polite way to speak or write!) replaced Reith’s supposedly benign view of the world: one set of controls replaced by a just as subtle but authoritarian Marxist left wing politically correct orthodoxy.
Then came the internet, and suddenly anyone with a view on anything had access to a medium that would allow them to do for free and without hindrance what the traditional media didn’t.
Wilson had banned pirate radio, as a later labour government would ban citizen band am radio communication. ‘We can’t have the little people talking to each other without our control can we.’ What to do about citizen journalists? asked the media, ‘we can’t control it’
The Web has, so far, proven to be mostly uncontrollable by the establishment, but we are now seeing a concerted attack on freedom of speech and expression, the struggle to control the ‘free press,’ the struggle to control what or what cannot be viewed or read on social media, with threats of prosecutions – not only of publishers but of commentators as well.
Many social media now have policies that are used to remove content that the owners feel is not appropriate, which now seems to mean in many cases anything with which they do not agree. Additionally, state surveillance of emails, web sites text and phone conversations are intrusive, with checks on this, checks on that, draconian measures mainly backed by the establishment and sold as being for the common good, but many would say to stifle free speech.
The establishment are past masters of control, pressure has now been put on social media companies to conform to the establishments views, and be in no doubt, the establishment plays a long game: decades of managing the public perception of the various wars, the EU, immigration, austerity and, more recently, promoting the politically correct which usually means the leftie or globalists viewpoint on anything but particularly Brexit, diversity, equality, LGBT, same sex marriage and so on. Not to mention the blanket of silence over the Yellow Vest protests in France – still going on by the way.
These days those who display or express the ‘wrong’ viewpoint or use the ‘wrong language’ will often find themselves subject to a social media storm, or have their comments removed or have their social media accounts terminated. Moderators enforce (to them) unacceptable viewpoints which are not allowed on their platforms.
There is the recent case where a pupil at a school in Scotland was excluded from school after disagreeing with school policy that there were more than two sexes. The video of the discussion with the teacher went, as we now say, viral. Excuse me? A pupil is censured for questioning what the teacher had said, in a school? No Freedom of speech allowed in school? Well I never!
Shut down dissent at the earliest opportunity then or divert and distract: not much difference then to not publishing unacceptable letters in earlier times, shutting down radio, controlling what can be filmed or written. Apparently ‘blog writers’ have already received visits from the police warning against what they have written, quoting legislation that many would feel open to interpretation.
(To be continued tomorrow in the concluding Part 3)