• In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 10 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 786 on Sun May 10, 2020 1:56 am

Censorship and soft-banning

A forum for the friendly discussion of national and international politics, history and current events.
Post Reply
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Censorship and soft-banning

I was reading online today about The Anarchist Cookbook and how the author, William Powell, wants the publisher to stop publishing it. It seems that many of the bombings and shootings that have gone on around the world from major terrorist attacks to deranged kids bringing guns to school and slaughtering classmates and teachers have read the Cookbook and apparently used some of the blueprints contained therein to build their bombs and cocktails and what not.

Powell wrote the book when he was 19 and filled with revolutionary fervor. It was published in 1971. My copy was published by Barricade Books but, in 2002, Billy Blann bought the copyrights of the book and sells it online through his publishing house, Delta Press, along with a host of other books that detail things like how to build a dirty bomb to how to build homemade hand grenades with butane lighters. But, Blann admits that The Anarchist Cookbook is his biggest seller. Delta Press’s catalog has earned Blann a $3 million-a-year business and netted him a nice income on which he lives comfortably in semi-retirement. Since Blann owns the book now, Powell gets no say in whether the book will continue to see publication. Blann states that he has no intention of stopping. Nor have Amazon nor Barnes & Noble stopped selling the book (I bought my copy some 20 or more years ago at Border’s--in cash).

Powell’s book outlines how to build bombs, how to make a garrote, how to booby-trap anything from a ballpoint pen to a smoker’s pipe to a policeman’s whistle (the last two will blow the person’s head off), how to make a blackjack, how to make poison darts, how to convert a shotgun into a grenade launcher, how to sabotage a moving vehicle without firearms or explosives (but with results every bit as messy), how to mix chemicals for explosives or hallucinogens, how to make weapons out of hat pins, beer cans or a pair of gloves, how to conduct electronic surveillance, how to jam electronic signals, how to broadcast free radio, how to plant explosives to take down buildings, how to make and dispense poison gas, how to make silencers and what types of firearms to procure to conduct guerrilla warfare.

A dangerous book? Undoubtedly but I felt to not know what was in it was even more dangerous.

After familiarizing myself with the contents, I spent hours drawing up blueprints to make pipe bombs, time bombs and booby-traps. I also designed nasty bombs that look like parcels from UPS or FedEx. They didn’t have timers so there was no chance they would go off at the wrong time nor could they be heard ticking. You simply place the parcel on someone’s desk after everyone had gone home for the day so that when he or she comes in to work in the morning, they’ll see this parcel, think it was delivered after they left work for the day and pick it up but the instant they turn it over in their hands or shake it—KABOOM! These were bombs designed to kill the one who sat at that desk because everyone else will simply walk past the parcel without touching or even looking at it (judging from my own experience working in office buildings). But it would also kill anyone near that person and probably take out a wall or three. I never built these bombs, of course, I just wanted to familiarize myself with how they work and they intrigued me mainly because of my electrical/electronics background. I was designing all kinds of complex bomb circuitry just to see what I could come up with. I could have been a devastating terrorist if I was filled with enough hatred and insanity. Others have done the same as I but they were, in fact, filled with enough hatred and insanity to actually carry out the building and even the detonation of their bombs. Designing my own made me also realize how easy it is and what little chance one has to detect it much less stop it. When I looked at the letters sent by the serial killer, Zodiac, in San Francisco, that contained bomb diagrams, I knew instantly that they were workable thanks to Powell’s book (although the book didn’t exist at the time Zodiac sent the letters).

Of his book today, Powell states, “The Anarchist Cookbook should go quietly and immediately out of print.” Blann, in turn, states, “You know, we don’t ban books in America.” To be precise, Powell is not calling for an outright ban. The book would still be available but there would be no new copies being printed up. Eventually, there won’t be anymore copies around. This is more a banning by attrition or what I call “soft-banning.”

I must say that I find Powell to be a disappointment. His position today looks disingenuous—washing his hands of a book he knows is not ever going to go out of print. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. His attitude is, “Yeah, I wrote it and it changed the world but since I don’t own the copyrights, I can distance myself from it so I don’t have to answer for anything. But it will still and almost certainly always will be available to anyone who wants it.” The young revolutionary has turned into the world’s biggest old hypocrite.

His opening paragraph in the book’s original published form laid a perfectly valid rationale for making such a book available to the public:

“This book is written for the people of the United States of America. It is not written for the fringe political groups, such as the Weathermen, or The Minutemen. Those radical groups don’t need this book. They already know everything that’s in here. If the real people of America, the silent majority, are going to survive, they must educate themselves. That is the purpose of this book.”

Amen!! Powell’s seeming change of heart has been due to such activists as Tim McVeigh, Jared Loughner, the Boston Marathon bombers, the London railway bombers, the Columbine killers, the anti-abortion radicals and others consulting his book in the process of planning out their atrocities. But is banning or soft-banning the book the answer?

I have talked with a few different types of people to get a range of views on this. One man I spoke with felt that the book should be banned because it made killers of people with kooky views. “But didn’t they always have the ability to commit mass murder in them to begin with?” I asked. After all, I read the book as have some two million others and the vast majority of us didn’t become crazed guerrilla assassins. He agreed with that but said the book nevertheless helped them formulate this loose assemblage of ideas they had into something coherent that could be and eventually was acted upon.

Others said that if we ban this book, we are opening a door to banning other material. After all, some books I read in school as written by the authors are now censored such as “Huckleberry Finn” and many black parents want the book banned from the schools altogether because of its liberal use of “nigger” despite the fact that the book is actually a call to Twain’s fellow white Americans to treat others with the dignity and fairness that they themselves expect to be treated with.

What other books will be called upon for banning—Mein Kampf? The Communist Manifesto? American Psycho? Naked Lunch? The White Man’s Bible? The Tropic of Capricorn? Howl? The Psychopath’s Bible? I own and have read all of these as well as The Turner Diaries (which I also bought at Border’s) and the unspeakably sadistic, incestuous erotica of Anaïs Nin (and such a demure looking woman!). For that matter, have you ever read Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais? Most people today are completely unfamiliar with it and would be utterly shocked to learn that such books were written in the 16th century and enjoyed widespread fame. Yet, the world didn’t fall apart in the centuries intervening between the times of Rabelais and ours. Quite the contrary, the world has learned to embrace Rabelais as an early classic author and place him alongside such early authors as Chaucer.

J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye has, since Mark David Chapman’s assassination of John Lennon, become the lone-unbalanced-stalker’s manifesto. In the novel, protagonist Holden Caulfield is a teenaged boy flunking out of the latest in a line of prep schools but whose problem no one realizes is due to unresolved emotions over the death of his younger brother a couple of years before due to leukemia. Perhaps the strangest clue of why the book appeals to certain stalkers occurs when Caulfield is in his dorm room wearing a winter hunting cap he had bought earlier that day. A dorm mate tells him that it is a hat duck-shooters wear and Caulfield replies that it is his “people-shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat.” But it is an off-the-cuff remark as there is nothing in the plot in which Caulfield stalks or hurts anybody nor expresses any intent to.

Would it make sense for Salinger (who died in 2010) to call for the novel’s banning or soft-banning because suddenly stalkers are reading it before they kill? After Robert John Bardo, one of the above mentioned stalkers, stalked and murdered actress Rebecca Schaeffer, he was found with a copy of the book in his possession but later stated that he had never read it but only took it with him to the murder because he “felt that I should.” So could the book have possibly pushed Bardo to commit murder? Obviously not. Did it push Chapman? He called the book “My statement” but could not have gotten his murderous idea from it since the storyline has nothing to do with murder.

While reading the non-fiction book, Lab 257, about Plum Island, a disused government germ laboratory off the eastern coast of Long Island, the author, Michael C. Carroll, wrote of a terrorist scenario that is so easy and so lethal that law enforcement and government agents are amazed that it hasn’t happened yet:

· Order lab equipment off the internet—used equipment is very cheap and perfectly functional and no questions will be asked.

· Procure samples of anthrax which can be obtained by writing to various labs and telling them that you are a researcher. If you use the right jargon, they’ll believe you—no questions asked. Or you can fly to places like Mexico where anthrax in cattle is common and procure your own samples which are easy to smuggle in.

· The lab equipment can be set up in an apartment. Also, one should have a vaccine on hand to immunize oneself before starting. This too is easily obtained from laboratories.

· Mix up an anthrax slurry and fill a super-soaker with it.

· Drive around and looking for trucks loaded with hogs, cattle and chickens. These are virtually always partially open. Just pull up alongside the truck and blast the animals with the slurry a few times and drive on. Visit truck stops and other places and soak down any animals on their way to market.

· These animals are sold in huge sale barns and will come in contact with hundreds if not thousands of other animals contaminating them as well. By the time the symptoms start to show, many of these animals will have been butchered, the meat on store shelves or on their way there. It would take months to get all the contaminated meat out of stores and restaurants. The financial losses by themselves would be crippling. The death toll could be horrendous.

Should Lab 257 be banned or censored for supplying a scenario that might surely inspire some nut group to attempt to make it a reality? I feel that if the public is not made aware of this scenario, we cannot take precautions to prevent it. Might it scare people unnecessarily? Certainly, it might but I hardly see that it is unnecessary. The scenario should scare people because it has a great potential for happening—seems, in fact, to be only a matter of time before it does. Suppose it does happen and the guy responsible says he got the idea from reading Lab 257, would that make publishing the book wrong? Or would it make society wrong for not being aware of this scenario or taking it seriously enough to take measures to prevent it? And what excuse would society have? “We didn’t know”? Well, the scenario was put out there for anyone to read. Few bothered. Not knowing is, in my humble opinion, no excuse whatsoever.

Then there is one book that would have to be banned—the Bible. Not only has it been used down through the ages to commit and justify every type of atrocity known to the human race but did you know that many serial killers are obsessed with the Book of Revelation and read it often? In the TV series Dexter, he tracks a “Doomsday” killer who models his murders on scenes from Revelation. Evidently, the author of the series did some research. Many serial killers, for example, express their enjoyment of the passage at 14:18-20 where grapes are gathered by an angel with a sickle and are put in a winepress and the press is “trodden outside the city” and squishes out blood that rises up to the horses’ bridles for two miles. It was also the favorite book of Charles Manson. What good is a holy book that serial killers read for inspiration?

Banning or censoring objectionable books would then necessarily extend to movies, television and the internet. A couple of years ago, I visited several websites with instructions on how to cook meth. Of course, I have no intention of founding a meth lab but I wanted to know how it is done. I learned that one needs cold medicine containing ephedrine or pseudo-ephedrine and that pharmacies and stores impose restrictions on how much one person can buy. Obviously, if I take 200 boxes of Sudafed to the counter, I am going to raise some suspicion. Now pharmaceutical companies are making cold medicines with a new compound that cannot be used to make meth. These are being touted as “safe for the community.” This isn’t just hyperbole. I learned that meth labs are extremely toxic environments. If a house in your neighborhood is a meth lab, you will face the very real possibility of being forced by authorities to move for your own safety and your property is worthless. No one will be allowed to buy it. So if you see some shady characters carrying what you think might be lab equipment into a house near you, call the police—unless you prefer to take the chance of being poisoned.

According the sites I visited, every pound of meth produced in a lab also produces about six to seven pounds of toxic waste. Everything from acid to brake fluid is required to make meth and the fumes will seep into the walls from which it can never be scrubbed away rendering that house permanently uninhabitable. The fumes are so toxic that they will kill all vegetation around the lab if it gets outside—all the grass and trees. Even knocking down the house is not an option as this will only disperse the toxins into the wind and contaminate animals that nose around in the rubble or even near it. All sites stressed that no one should dare attempt to make meth without having extensive lab experience as well as the necessity of learning from someone who has experience cooking the stuff. In fact, there are built-in safeguards in the instructions in that certain procedures essential to the operation were too abbreviated to be followed by someone without experience. This prevents some idiot from ignoring the warnings and trying it anyway.

Such safeguards are also built into The Anarchist Cookbook. In his instructions on how to make an extremely lethal cocktail called cacodyal (it works like napalm and ignites on contact with air and gives off white arsenic smoke which is instantly fatal if inhaled), Powell abbreviates certain steps to prevent some moron from actually trying to make this stuff. Moreover, the chemical names that appear in the book are in the German rather than standard nomenclature. This enables the FBI (which monitors all online orders to chemical and laboratory supply houses) to know at a glance which individuals who place orders need to be watched. If orders are placed for chemicals using the German nomenclatures, they know this individual was reading Powell’s book. In this sense, such books can do as much good as harm if they help to net kooks trying to do something stupid. So, it might not be such a good idea to soft-ban such books and websites.

Knowledge IS power and with power comes responsibility. To remain willfully ignorant is a crime and no excuse for failure to act responsibly. Once you are exposed to dangerous knowledge (and you already have been to some degreei f you're still reading this article), it is your responsibility to propagate just as with any other knowledge. The more people that know the information, the safer we will be from someone who seeks to abuse that knowledge. Those that want to remove dangerous knowledge from public perusal are NOT your friends but rather are among the biggest enemies one can have.
User avatar
LanDroid
Upper Echelon 2nd Class
Posts: 2418
Joined: Sat Jul 27, 2002 9:51 am
19
Location: Cincinnati, OH
United States of America

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

BookTalk has recently seen two very strange positions regarding censorship. DB Roy states above The Anarchist's Cookbook must never go out of print.

However, in marked contrast to this, Gnostic Bishop advocates the U.S. must ban hijabs, burkas, chardors, and other articles of clothing worn by Muslim women.

I am merely pointing out the dissonance between those two positions is a real head-scratcher! Is this a sign of a healthy dialogue or too much of the cray-cray? :omfg:
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

I don't see them as equivalent arguments. Mine comes from the idea that knowledge is power and so must never be denied to anyone. To do so only reinforces that those in leadership positions can deny anything to anyone they want to and that is not a free society much less a knowledgeable one.

Burkhas, hajibs and what not aren't about power to the people. If anything, they are overt symbols of misogynist oppression. I can sympathize with those who would like to ban them. I am, however, of the opinion that women who choose to wear that stupid stuff should be allowed to. Just as anyone who wants to vote for Trump should be allowed to. You're an idiot if you do, obviously, but that should be your right. You have the right to be an idiot.
Litwitlou
Droppin' Knowledge
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:57 am
4
Location: New Jersey

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

.
.
.
Not sure if this qualifies as "soft Banning," but it's an example of what DB Roy is saying:

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/e ... curriculum


DB Roy Wrote:
"Others said that if we ban this book, we are opening a door to banning other material. After all, some books I read in school as written by the authors are now censored such as “Huckleberry Finn” and many black parents want the book banned from the schools altogether because of its liberal use of “nigger” despite the fact that the book is actually a call to Twain’s fellow white Americans to treat others with the dignity and fairness that they themselves expect to be treated with."

I'm not sure people who have not read or understand the books in question should make decisions regarding the books in question. Anyone who has a problem with To Kill A Mocking Bird... well, that's so far-fetched from my way of thinking I'm stumped as to what to say.

But this all fine with me in the end. As always happens, when adults have a problem with a book it will double the number of kids who read it. I'm against required reading anyway. let the kids pick their own books. Your duty is take your kids to the library once a week for half-an-hour and get the hell out of their way. That's all you have to do to counter this nonsense.
"I have a great relationship with the blacks."
Donald J. Trump
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

Ian Benjamin Rogers of Napa, California, was charged on Wednesday with possession of unregistered destructive devices — five pipe bombs and materials to make more explosive devices, including "black powder, pipes, endcaps, and manuals, including The Anarchist Cookbook, U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, and Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival." These devices were seized from his residence and business along with 49 guns, several of which fired automatically. One of these was a "kit-built replica MG-42 belt-fed machine gun" best known for being used by Nazis during WWII.
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

The FBI found a thumb drive filled with files detailing instructions for “firearms, poisons and/or explosives” inside the house of Proud Boy Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola, whom a witness tied to a plot to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Mike Pence and every “m-fer” he could, prosecutors claimed on Friday.

“While some of those files are related to seemingly innocuous topics, a significant number of those .pdfs provide detailed instructions for making homemade firearms, poisons, and/or explosives. A sample of titles includes, but is not limited to: (1) multiple serials of a series entitled ‘Advanced Improvised Explosives,’ those serials including ‘Explosive Dusts’ and ‘Incendiaries;’ (2) ‘The Box Tube MAC-11,’ with subtitle, ‘The Ultimate DIY Machine Pistol;’ (3) ‘Ragnar’s Big Book of Homemade Weapons;’ and (4) ‘The Advanced Anarchist’s Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives,'” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik M. Kenerson wrote in an alarming memo seeking to keep him behind bars pending trial.
User avatar
DWill
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 6926
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:05 am
13
Location: Luray, Virginia

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

It's encouraging in a certain way that in this age of the internet, a book still has power. There is some significance that print between covers still seems to have, vs. information available in the huge welter of the internet. But bringing up the comparison also makes books seem quaint and their banning naive. Without looking, I feel certain that any of the recipes in The Anarchist's Handbook are available online. Radicalization of religious groups and right-wingers didn't happen through passing around books, but through connected computers. A book is an object that can be banned, and that's why we talk about banning them, whereas banning internet speech is a much different and more difficult thing to do.
User avatar
Harry Marks
Authors are MY fans!
Posts: 1832
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 am
10

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

This is a good argument for classification of any plans or details for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Bad enough that someone could put LSD in the drinking water.
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

DWill wrote:It's encouraging in a certain way that in this age of the internet, a book still has power. There is some significance that print between covers still seems to have, vs. information available in the huge welter of the internet. But bringing up the comparison also makes books seem quaint and their banning naive. Without looking, I feel certain that any of the recipes in The Anarchist's Handbook are available online. Radicalization of religious groups and right-wingers didn't happen through passing around books, but through connected computers. A book is an object that can be banned, and that's why we talk about banning them, whereas banning internet speech is a much different and more difficult thing to do.
You're dealing with inherently paranoid people, many of whom will not seek out such material on the internet because they can be tracked. There is some truth in this. While I was tempted to see if stuff found in the Anarchist Cookbook could be found online, I decided it would be better not to look for it for that very reason. While using the deep web and dark web might yield up better results, there is no guarantee that one isn't being watched there as well. Books, on the other hand, can be bought with cash or ordered off the internet with stolen card numbers. Personally, if I were a far right nut, I would prefer the books to the internet which we are all becoming just a tad too comfy with. Look how many idiots posted their illegal activities on the web with no thought that they would be identified and tracked down. If the material is shut down on the internet, where do you go to get it other than finding the books?
User avatar
DB Roy
Awesome
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:37 am
6

Re: Censorship and soft-banning

Harry Marks wrote:This is a good argument for classification of any plans or details for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Bad enough that someone could put LSD in the drinking water.
They could do way worse than that. I had posted such a scenario earlier in the thread. With these angry rightwingers running around now, it seems only a matter of time before something terrible happens. I think something IS going to happen--a dirty bomb, suicide bombers or mass poisoning of the food supply or some such thing. Seeing how easy it was for Qanon kooks and Christian nutbags invade the Capitol, I am amazed that they didn't pull off the plot of kidnap and kill Gretchen Whitmer. I think that sooner of later, they are going to succeed in doing something like this. And they are not going to quit until they do. I fear greatly for our democracy. When they say they want civil war, they will probably succeed in starting one.
Post Reply