Over the last year or so, I've had a lot of emails and whatnot from people demanding to know why I'm not on
Parler ...er, I mean Rumble. As it happens, I believe I am on Rumble, but right now I can't tell you for certain. Because, for various tedious medical reasons, I'm in France - and in France if I click on a Rumble link all I get is this:
NOTICE TO USERS IN FRANCE
Because of French government demands to remove creators from our platform, Rumble is currently unavailable in France. We are challenging these government demands and hope to restore access soon.
That's "soon" in the Mann vs Steyn sense. It's been blocked now for almost a year. Headline from Le Monde, November 2nd 2022:
Rumble, une plate-forme de vidéos non modérée, est bloquée en France
« Refuge » de l'ultradroite, notamment américaine, la plate-forme héberge aussi des comptes de médias russes interdits en Europe, comme RT.
Rumble, a platform of unmoderated videos, is blocked in France
'Refuge' of the ultra-right, especially American, the platform also hosts accounts of Russian media banned in Europe, such as RT.
RT is "Russia Today", which has been officially designated in the west as "state-controlled media". Which is to say the Russian state - and presumably they only let you hear what they want you to hear. And that's a bad thing. So in France they deal with the scourge of "state-controlled media" by having the French state shut down not only Russia Today, but also all the bazillions of "unmoderated videos" by the American "ultra-right" ...like, er, former Chair of the US House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes.
Gee, it's almost like in France all media are de facto "state-controlled". Remember the bad old days when the Soviets "jammed" the BBC and Radio Free Europe? Well, everything old is new again - except the jammers and jammees are now reversed.
No matter where you live in the western world, Rumble's "Notice to (Non-)Users" is pretty much your future. Have you been following the allegations against the popular iconoclast Russell Brand? I don't know him but my chums Andrew Lawton and Tucker Carlson have been on his show. He is accused in the London press of sexual assault, rape, "grooming" of teen victims, etc. Dame Caroline Dinenage, who also goes under the name Baroness Lancaster of Kimbolton, has written to Rumble's head honcho, my fellow Torontonian Chris Pavlovski, in her capacity as Chair of the UK House of Commons "Culture, Media and Sport Committee", to say that Russell Brand-wise she and her colleagues are "looking at his use of social media, including on Rumble":
We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his content... If so, we would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr Brand's ability to earn money on the platform.
So, in the UK as in France, Rumble appears to be as "state-controlled" as Russia Today. Dame Caroline is tireless about the things she is "looking at". She has written to GB News demanding to know why Beverly Turner is allowed on air. I'll admit there have been days when I've felt like that about Bev, but, unlike Baroness Lancaster, I can't afflict her with the awesome might of the Palace of Westminster.
You might object that technically Dame Caroline aka Lady Kimbolton is a mere committee chair and therefore does not formally wield the executive power of His Majesty's Government. Okay, how about this? HM's actual Attorney-General has written to the papers to warn them that, now that it's all out there and Brand's lost his agent and his publisher and been demonetised by YouTube so mission more or less accomplished, it's time for you guys to clam up. An official statement from the British Government:
The Attorney General, the Rt Hon Victoria Prentis KC MP, wishes to amplify the importance of not publishing any material where there is a risk that it could prejudice any potential criminal investigation or prosecutions.
Publishing this material could amount to contempt of court.
Wait a minute. As far as Russell Brand is concerned, there is no active investigation, no inquiries by policemen, no arrest by Scotland Yard, no charges by the Crown Prosecution Service, no proceedings, no judge... In a nutshell: there is no court to be in contempt of. I'm reminded of the scene in the late Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities when the pushy Irish lawyer from the Bronx barges into the judge's private elevator and Hizzoner tells him to get out or he'll have him on contempt. "Contempt of what?" sneers the guy. "Contempt of elevator?"
The woeful Mrs Prentis lacks even an elevator. She appears to be trying to revive the expansive Common Law definition of "contempt" as including "imminent" proceedings, which is generally agreed to have been withdrawn by the 1981 Contempt of Court Act. But even that's a reach: there is nothing to suggest any proceedings anywhere are "imminent" or "pending". To be sure, the coppers are "encouraging" women to come forward - which is not something they do with the twelve-year-old girls of Rotherham and Telford. Nevertheless, the Attorney-General is trying to strongarm the media simply because, like Baroness Caroline Dame Lancaster, she can.
If this definition of "contempt" were to catch on, expect even less coverage of, say, the industrial-scale gang-rape of English schoolgirls taking place up and down the land.
And don't forget this assault on free speech is being done in the name of a soi-disant "Conservative" government - and with the approval undoubtedly of the "Conservative" prime minister, Rishi Rich.
I have no idea why Victoria Prentis is not yet a dame or baroness or both, like the ostentatious Dame Baroness Caroline Dinenage of Kimbolton. Some of my dearest pals are dames and baronesses, but in the generality they are very bedevilling. Here is one of the very first dames of this new reign, Dame Jacinda Ardern, explaining why free speech is equivalent to an act of war:
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says free speech is a weapon of war, and censorship is necessary to protect free speech. pic.twitter.com/O8jQMtNs55— illuminatibot (@iluminatibot) September 19, 2023
Gosh, Dame Jacinda sounds so reasonable, doesn't she?
How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists?
How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?
But listen to what she's saying ...because she means it: Climate change can't be "tackled" unless we all think the same. And not to be exposed to "hateful" rhetoric is now a human right - which is one I could certainly avail myself of, if it were to be applied universally without fear or favour. But Dame Jacinda slyly qualifies her universal human right - the right not to be subjected to hateful rhetoric ..and "ideology".
Who gets to decide which of the many competing ideologies out there are "hateful"? Well, one thing we can say for certain: it'll be one of Dame Jacinda's fellow dames. Step forward, Britain's new Hatefinder-General, Dame Melanie Dawes:
'Today is a major milestone in the mission to create a safer life online for people across the UK.'
Ofcom Chief Executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, welcomes the Online Safety Bill passing its final stage in Parliament today.
Watch for more: pic.twitter.com/kQQtHgfi3c— Ofcom (@Ofcom) September 19, 2023
So what Ofcom did to me they'll now be able to do to anybody with a Substack or Rumble account. There's no end to this. Angelos Frangopoulos is chief exec of GB News and the very acme of what his fellow Australians call "soft cocks". But he thought he had a deal with Ofcom: no Steyn, no problem. Today Ofcom announced five new investigations into GB News, including Eamonn & Isabel, Patrick Christys and three other shows.
Incidentally, with GB News, they can fine you; but, with the Internet, they can gaol you. From The Sun:
Failing to co-operate with Ofcom could put Rumble executives at risk of arrest if visiting Britain, it has been suggested.
And, again, these powers were given to Hatefinder Dawes by a so-called "Conservative" government.
Kathy Gyngell has a cracking piece at The Conservative Woman about this grim state of affairs:
Covid sceptics and vaccine critics have been allowed nowhere near the BBC, ITV or Sky. Ofcom saw to that.
But this is not the first time Ofcom has acted as State censor. In recent years we have been progressively habituated into its censorship. It is now the norm. I doubt whether many of those up in arms about Russell Brand will remember Ofcom's 'rebuke' to the BBC for insufficiently challenging Nigel Lawson, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, on his climate sceptic views, leading to the BBC constructively banning him and any other critic of the official climate narrative from their airwaves...
Indeed. And once the state gets a taste for "state-controlled media" it's hard to stop:
Well after Britain's 'phased exit' from lockdown, inexplicably access to the TCW site was blocked by each and every mobile phone operator.
Kathy is kind enough to note my own vaporisation:
That we are not fans of the repeatedly reinvented Mr Brand is not the point. It's a bait that is taking people's eye off the ball. Since Lord Lawson's blacklisting in 2018, Ofcom's 'take out' of the experienced and talented (former GB News) broadcaster Mark Steyn is its most significant and brazen act of censorship. His inconvenient questioning of Covid statistics, of the vaccines' safety and efficacy and his advocacy of the vaccine injured was his undoing. Shamefully GB News refused to ride to the rescue. There was no all-star cast leaping to his defence. We alone at TCW did that. Needless to say, GB News's capitulation and all but dismissal of Steyn has only opened the door to more Ofcom bullying and interference, culminating in the Dinenage letter of last week.
The principled Mark Steyn is now courageously taking on The Ministry of Truth that is Ofcom himself. Champions of free speech need to wake up fast to the significance of the financially onerous lawsuits he is filing. If ever an all star cast of support was needed, it is now.
Yeah, well, don't hold your breath waiting for that. So what's changed since I took on Canada's grisly "human rights" commissions and eventually succeeded in getting the law repealed?
Back then, people who loathed me - even unto Margaret Atwood (not a Dame, but a Companion of Honour) and CBC lefties (Neil Macdonald, brother of Norm but no relation, one assumes, to the reviled Sir John A) - were nevertheless stunned to hear that "state-controlled" bodies were prosecuting Canada's bestselling news magazine for running an excerpt from a Number One Canadian bestseller. One of the so-called crimes under investigation was a column of mine noting that in certain European countries novelists were being prosecuted for things their fictional characters said. Ms Atwood doesn't have to be on the American "ultra-right" to have a wee bit of concern about where that's likely to end up.
To be sure, the CBC lefties' defence of me tended to come after a lot of throat-clearing: Steyn's an asshole but... One of the few who didn't do all the but-buddy stuff was the former BBC sportscaster David Icke, who was a "conspiracy theorist" long before conspiracy theorists were cool and thinks that His present Majesty is a shape-shifter from the distant galaxy of Alfa Draconis. Nevertheless, he was also one of the few celebs to eschew all the throat-clearing and take a first-principles approach to my difficulties with the "human rights" commissars and speak up for me. In return, I did a lot of cheap space-lizard gags. But I see that this very day a Dutch court has upheld his ban from setting foot in the European Union, which is close to fifteen per cent of the nations on earth, and a far higher percentage of the ones you'd want to have dinner in.
Yet it's happened, and without a murmur from the press in either Britain or Europe.
Back in my battles with the "human rights" commissions, I got a wee bit tired of those but-buddies, yet boy, I miss them today. Contrasting London media coverage of Ofcom with Canadian media coverage of the "human rights" commissions fifteen years ago, one notices that there are not even the boilerplate flourishes of apocryphal Voltaire, no first-principles defences of free speech - like the right to bear arms, that's become just a fringe alt-right thing. Instead, everyone in the UK press thinks it entirely normal that Ofcom has these powers and wields them ever more brazenly - even though, even in Brit media terms, their behaviour bears no relationship to any predecessor entities such as the Independent Broadcasting Authority or the Radio Authority.
So the "rulings" by Ofcom are reported in the press as if they have the force of criminal convictions - and they will undoubtedly be in the first paragraph of my UK obituaries. That is why I have no choice but to fight back - because it is important to demonstrate that these "verdicts" by anonymous commissars have no support in law and can be overturned. I would like to get Ofcom out of the censorship business entirely, but, if that is not possible, to quash the convictions will itself show that Hatefinder Dawes is not yet omnipotent. I'm serious about this case and will take it, if necessary, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Yes, yes, I'd prefer the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which would be my final court of appeal if I were in Jamaica or Mauritius. But it's England bloody England, so I have to take what I can get. And, whether they appreciate it or not, my victory would do a great service to that "all-star cast of support" for whom discretion is the better part of valour.
Fifteen years ago, my battles against Canada's "human rights" censors were all a bit theoretical: I mean, unless you're some Internet blowhard like Steyn sounding off about Islam, what's the big deal? But Covid has made the cause of free speech about as real as it can get. The very first vaccine victims on our show, Vikki Spit and Charlotte Wright, were "cancelled" on social media for writing about their bereavement. It doesn't get more real-world than "state-controlled media" denying your very widowhood.
And yet half the country and the entirety of its media are okay with it.
Lights Out, my book on my experiences with state censorship, begins thus:
On August 3rd 1914, on the eve of the Great War, Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, stood at the window of his office in the summer dusk and observed: 'The lamps are going out all over Europe.' Today the lamps are going out on liberty all over the western world in a more subtle and elusive and profound way...
It's not so subtle and elusive anymore. Yet tens of millions of people and their media respond: "You know, sitting in the dark isn't so bad. You soon get used to it..."
~Mark has been touched by how many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about how to support his important free-speech lawsuit against the ever more overbearing censors of Ofcom. Well, there are several ways to lend a hand, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate; or
c) ordering a copy of Steyn's latest book The Prisoner of Windsor. You won't regret it.
With the first two methods, one hundred per cent of the proceeds and, in the last, a significant chunk thereof go to a grand cause - and you or your loved one gets something, too.