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May 31, 2009, Volume 16 Nr. 7, Issue 251
Progressives Disappearing Progressives

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

The self-proclaimed progressive website, Common Dreams, on February 26, 2002, reprinted an article by Andrew Gumbel from the lndependent/UK, entitled, "The Disappeared", which reported,

"Since 11 September last year, up to 2,000 people in the United States have been detained without trial, or charge, or even legal rights. The fate of most is unknown. Andrew Gumbel investigates a scandal that shames the land of the free."

Common Dreams is well aware that In Latin America, during the 20th century, a new term emerged for those people that had simply vanished, as if they never existed.  The term, to disappear, was the process by which writers, journalists, authors, and simply, people, who expressing an opinion that was deemed threatening went "poof!".  They became the Deseparecido.  Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, sang, "And they said, 'It couldn't happen here..."  Not to the same extreme degree, obviously, but to an alarming degree, nonetheless.

With deference to hyperbole, how is it that, Common Dreams, who apparently, and quite correctly, opposes disappearing people, practices the policy of disappearing comments and commentators if CD deems them to be critical?  Post a comment implicating that Common Dreams is a front group for the Democratic Party, and "poof!", you are, Deseparecido. 

Common Dreams is the "progressive" website that urges people to, "Join the movement.  For the greater good", while expunging posts and posters from its comments section.  I know.  It has happened to me seven times in total, three times in a twenty-four hour period.  I was disappeared as: vtjozef, binban (as in been banned), binban2x, binban3x, binban4x, binban5x, and, benban6x.  I am stubborn, and so is Common Dreams, apparently, as after all those bannings, they still managed to send each banned e-mail address a solicitation for money.  Amazing.  Someone earns a salary to ban all those annoying comments from in-your-face Nader supporters, those who expose Obama for being more of the same, and the exposers of the ruse that attempts to pass as progressivism, while asking them for support and donation bucks.

Most readers are unaware of the Common Dreams disappearing act perpetrated on people posting "unacceptable" opinions on their website.  Common Dreams has even blocked the IP address of posters who dare to violate their "progressive" sensitivities.  They have also placed poster's user IDs and passwords in a "blocked" setting preventing further reading of the website, although this tactic seems to have stopped.  Further blocking of comments from the secretly banned, however, continues.

The Common Dreams white screen of TCP/IP death states, "Sorry XXX.XX.XXX.XXX (TCP/IP address) has been banned."  Anyone, with a modicum of Internet savvy, however, can have their DSL or Cable router force their ISP to change their IP address and then re-register with a different name and email acquired through any of the free email services such as,,, etc.  One can play this happy game of horse pucky until such time as one becomes enlightened that Common Dreams is as much the problem with what is wrong with the USA than George W. Bush was, and Obama is.  And therein lies the rub.  Do not diss Common Dreams, liberals, Obama, or the Democratic Party.  Else, Deseparecido!

Just what cardinal sins cause Common Dreams to switch into banning hyper-drive?  I was banned for adamantly blaming the Democrats as much as the Republicans, for the economic morass of the country, for approving Shock and Awe, the Iraq war, torture, the PATRIOT ACT, spying on U.S. citizens, pointing out that Obama is but another in a long line of Corporate Party appartchiks, and adamantly supporting Ralph Nader.  To all of this, I plead guilty.  Mea maxima culpa.  I was then banned for daring to suggest that Common Dreams was a front group for the Democratic Party, progressive in name only.  
Most recently, Common Dreams has banned me multiple times for my comments that the liberal extreme gun control position comes from a position of fear and exhibits as much paranoia as does the other side, the extreme pro-gun side.  But heh, why have any dissenting views that rub the owners the wrong way on Common Dreams?  Why allow  any criticism of your website, or those who question its dominant so-called progressive, i.e., liberal, operating paradigm?  After all, we're all just building the progressive movement.  Aren't we?  Right?  Well, hell no!.  Friggin' wrong.  This is NOT building a progressive movement.  This is more of the same old stuff on a shingle.  

Imagine the staff at Common Dreams scrupulously scouring their comments section at the end of each of the many articles they post.  It takes a good amount of time and energy to conduct such surveillance.  Perhaps, Common Dreams has learned from the Bush government's spying programs and paradigms?  "If you're not with us, you're agin' us".  Comments are examined for the established orthodoxy.  Comments that do not match the orthodoxy are expunged as are any comments by others referencing or responding to them.  Poof!  The comments are gone.  Never to have been written in the first place.  Poof!  The people who made the comments never existed. And all this with the power of mouse button.  Click.  Poof!  What power!  Deseparecido complete!  Feels a bit like Dick Cheney, doesn't it?

Straight out of George Orwell's, 1984, Common Dreams has defined just what progressive censorship looks like. George Orwell in, 1984, wrote that the,

"...indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be doubt about the most enormous events... .The calamities that are constantly being reported -- battles, massacres, famines, revolutions -- tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. Probably the truth is undiscoverable but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion ..."

There is no warning nor any explanation given to those banned on Common Dreams.  The offending comments and the miscreants forming them fall into George Orwell's "memory hole."  In the novel, 1984, Winston Smith, while working at the Ministry of Truth, falsifies and rewrites history. The Ministry of Truth writes people off and out of history by placing them "down the memory hole" never having existed in the first place, just like Common Dreams does.  If this is what it means to be progressive, then I am not a progressive. If this is what it means to be a liberal, then liberals be damned.  Shame on you, Common Dreams.  You have become what you purportedly despise.  

Do a Google search on, "Common Dreams bans comments" and see what comes up.  Read and  then, be afraid.  Be very afraid.   Then, re-examine what it means to be progressive in the USA.  Is that what Common Dreams is? Is banning comments and people progressive?  
Common Dreams, of course, being privately owned, has the right to censor what it wants.  Their actions are not, however, those of a website that works toward the, "common good".  
The website, Distant Ocean, on September 6, 2007, in an article entitled, "CommonDreams erases me from their site", by John Caruso, about his being disappeared, states,

"CommonDreams has ignored every query I've sent them...  I've emailed them directly, and I've tried contacting them via comments (since I know they read those--even if only for a moment, before they delete them).  But they've refused to respond.  Since I know that they've visited my web site in the process of moderating (and deleting) one of my comment-queries, I know they've seen what I've written, and so I'm left with no doubt that these have been deliberate actions.  Based on their first set of deletions of my comments, I have to assume that this started because someone at CommonDreams didn't like my response to Medea Benjamin, and decided to retaliate not just by deleting my response to that article but by wiping out everything I'd written on the site.  And removing my own comments wasn't enough for them--they went further and actually destroyed all traces of my existence on the site, with no regard for the effects on innocent bystanders."

Touché, Common Dreams.  You are, indeed, but a dream, and a common scary one at that.  Perhaps, Common Nightmare, is a more apropos name.

So to the question is it Common Dreams, or is it censorship in common with the corporate media?  -- Not My Tribe, Tony Logan.

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
1984. George Orwell.

© 2009 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski is co-editor and co-publisher of Metaphoria along with his life partner and wife, JeanneE. He is 30-year veteran retired teacher and a member of Veterans For Peace. His writings have appeared in Metaphoria, Dissident Voice, After Downing Street, Buzzflash, Counterpunch, Thomas Paine's Corner, Omni Center, Rutland Herald, Times Argus, and others. 

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