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Est. April 5, 2002
December 21, 2017 - Issue 723

Controlling Your Thoughts


"Banning words is just part of the alternate
reality for Trump and his cohorts.  There are
other ways that U.S. citizens will be subject
to control of speech, thought, and movement,
if Trump’s penchant for praising dictators who
rule their people with iron fists is any indication."

Vulnerable. Science-based. Fetus. Diversity. Entitlement. Transgender. Evidence-based.

So far, those are the words that have been banned for use by anyone who works for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) by the Trump Administration. It’s only the beginning. Trump is running this one up the flagpole just to see what happens and, if nothing much happens, look forward to more of the same.

It’s a test of the American people, who claim to believe in free speech, a free press, freedom to publish, freedom to assemble, freedom to associate, and lots of other freedoms. This is the first foray into bold-faced censorship of what Americans can say, write, and, eventually, think. It did not seem possible that thought could be controlled so early in the Trumpian game.

What he has told the CDC (and other government agencies, as well) is that they had better toe the line of his administration…or else. If there is no outcry and outright disobedience of such a draconian order by the president, the descent into intellectual darkness will have begun and the control of thought will not be far behind. In fact, if CDC workers adhere to this dictatorial edict, the control of thought will have already begun.

While it’s true that this “rule” is only for the CDC in the preparation of its budget that will be presented to the administration, we have seen a similar edict, though only in some of the agencies of the Trump Administration. Remember the attempt to eradicate the words “global warming” or “climate change” from official reports earlier in the year? That was small potatoes, compared with what is emanating from the White House in this case. Imagine that, if CDC scientists actually adhere to this ridiculous order, what it would be like to prepare a report that is to be a part of the next budget.

They will be aware constantly of how they think of a scientific problem, and then turn it around so it can be explained to those who are perusing the budget reports, without bothering them with the scientific aspect of what they are describing. They would be parsing not only their words, but their thoughts, as well. It is a form of thought control and, even though there might be other examples of such control in other areas of national life (business, academics, education), nothing so far has been so blatant. Not only are the seven words banned, but, according to the Washington Post, CDC scientists can use this explanation, as proposed by the thought police: The “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

In other words, the “community” would have its say, no matter that it is based on no scientific evidence, study, or research. In Trumpian thought, a neighborhood crank’s opinion on climate change or public health is every bit as good as a team of research scientists. With this edict of the administration, the nation is rapidly moving in the direction of collapse of any structures of scientific knowledge.

It has happened in the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of which was nominated by Trump for the sole purpose of slashing regulations that are designed to protect public health and the environment and Administrator Scott Pruitt has done an admirable job of supervising the mass exit of some of the best scientific minds who were hired to ride herd on the nation’s criminal polluters and despoilers. It’s not quite gone, but it is the hope of Pruitt and Trump that it will be nearly so, by the time of the elections next year.

The reality of human-caused climate change and the warming of the planet has been denied by those who profit immensely from destruction of the water, air, and soil of the Earth and Trump and his lieutenants have led the most recent charge. This administration is prepared to go all the way to the end, regardless of mass species extinctions, rapidly diminishing public health, deforestation on most continents, and overfishing of the oceans and lakes.

Banning words is just part of the alternate reality for Trump and his cohorts. There are other ways that U.S. citizens will be subject to control of speech, thought, and movement, if Trump’s penchant for praising dictators who rule their people with iron fists is any indication. For them (and eventually, us) there is no participatory democracy…just rules from headquarters.

For a glimpse of what’s to come in the U.S., it is instructive to learn of the experience of a BBC correspondent, who was recently in China, where he noted that there are 170 million cameras scattered around the country. He was told by officials there that they plan to install another 400 million cameras, so there will be virtually no place to go that an individual will not be seen or followed by officialdom. The catch there is that the cameras are equipped with facial recognition technology.

To test it efficacy, the correspondent lost himself in a large crowd to see how long it took for the surveillance system to pick him out. It took more like minutes, rather than hours, but his exact whereabouts were located. He was a bit shaken, he said, because he didn’t want his face to be recorded in that country, but he did it for the story. That is the kind of control that authoritarians and dictators only dream about, but it has come to pass. A great problem in the U.S. of America is that the citizenry has become accustomed to the ubiquitous cameras in public places, both pubic and private. It’s only a small step to duplicate what the Chinese government has done to have the same intense level of surveillance. The danger is that people become used to such devices and mostly don’t think much about them as they go about their daily business. It’s time to become aware of what constant and profound surveillance means and oppose it.

There are drone “pilots” who send deadly missiles into houses, villages, and vehicles on the road, and they do it from the comfort of their air-conditioned rooms by computer screen. They could be thousands of miles away from the scenes of disaster they visit on “terrorists,” as well as wedding parties, church or mosque gatherings, or families walking along roads.

Those millions of cameras will one day be able to speak to individuals they identify and likely will expect answers. You will not be able to tell where the disembodied voice is coming from, but you will know that it is the voice of authority that must be heeded. It starts with outright gagging of scientists and the seven words. It can only lead to oppression. Orwell, anyone? Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
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