Posts tagged civil rights

Why the New York Times Killed Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'

The New Republic’s Timothy Noah writes how the New York Times Magazine assigned, then killed, Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Via Noah:

According to Diane McWhorter’s Carry Me Home: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, [New York Times Magazine Editor Walter] Shapiro phoned the offices of King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in July 1962. King was doing jail time in Albany, Georgia, on charges of disturbing the peace while protesting the segregation of public facilities. Shapiro suggested that King write a “letter from prison” modeled on those of early Christian saints; Shapiro may also have been thinking about another 20th century political martyr and Christian minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

…The following May, King was once again in jail for staging a nonviolent protest, this time in Birmingham, Alabama. King remembered Shapiro’s offer… King scribbled a response in the margins of the newspaper, on toilet paper, and and on other scraps that his lawyers sneaked out to the SCLC’s executive director, Wyatt Walker, who got it transcribed. Walker passed drafts back and forth through the lawyers until King was satisfied.

Up north at the Times Magazine, Shapiro was eager to publish, but (according to McWhorter) he “could not get the letter past his bosses at the Times.” Way to go, Gray Lady!

The Times, S. Jonathan Bass reports in Blessed Are The Peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Eight White Religious Leaders, and the ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ initially scheduled the letter for publication in late May. But first it wanted (in the recollection of King adviser Stanley Levison) a “little introduction setting forth the circumstances of the piece.” Then it decided, no, what it really wanted was for King to “write a feature article based on the letter.” Or, possibly, it wanted both. Before King had a chance to jump through these hoops, the New York Post (in those distant days a plausible rival to the Times) got a copy of the letter and published unauthorized excerpts, killing the Times’s interest.

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" was eventually published in its entirety by The Atlantic and then Liberation, Christian Century and The New Leader, and, of course, entered the American literary canon.

Timothy Noah, The New Republic. How the New York Times Screwed Martin Luther King Jr.

Fox Nation with an… alternative point of view.
Update: They’ve toned it down a bit and the headline now reads, “Obama Flip Flops on Gay Marriage.”

Fox Nation with an… alternative point of view.

Update: They’ve toned it down a bit and the headline now reads, “Obama Flip Flops on Gay Marriage.”

Twitter search result for “Obama” about 15 minutes after news broke that he now supports gay marriage.

Will not be surprised if the Twitter breaks sometime soon.

Surveillance Tech, Western Companies and Authoritarian Regimes

We’ve mentioned it before and we’ll mention it again and again: the digital tools that help liberate are also used to repress, and are often put in the hands of authoritarian regimes by Western companies.

Via The Atlantic:

For all of the good this technology has done, activists are also beginning to understand the harm it can do. As Evgeny Morozov wrote in The Net Delusion, his book on the Internet’s darker sides, “Denying that greater information flows, combined with advanced technologies … can result in the overall strengthening of authoritarian regimes is a dangerous path to take, if only because it numbs us to potential regulatory interventions and the need to rein in our own Western corporate excesses.”

The communications devices activists use are not as safe as they might believe, and dozens of companies — many of them based in North America and Europe — are selling technology to authoritarian governments that can be used against democratic movements. Such tools can exploit security flaws in the activists’ technology, intercept a user’s communications, or even pinpoint their location. In many cases, this technology has led to the arrest, torture, and even death of individuals whose only “crime” was exercising their universal right to free speech. And, in most of these cases, the public knew nothing about it.

Recent investigations by the WallStreetJournal and BloombergNews have revealed just how expansively these technologies are already being used. Intelligence agencies throughout the Middle East can today scan, catalogue, and read virtually every email in their country. The technology even allows them to change emails while en route to their recipient, as Tunisian authorities sometimes did before the revolution.

George, Meet Orwell
Wikileaks is back with The Spyfiles, a database “of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry.”
The release is being funneled through a number of organizations: ARD in Germany, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, The Hindu in India, L’Espresso in Italy, OWNI in France and the Washington Post in the US. 
The data was gathered in conjunction with Bugged Planet and Privacy International.
Via Wikileaks:

International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.
But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.

Image: Screenshot of The United Nations of Surveillance, an interactive map by OWNI that lets users explore companies offering surveillance technology around the world.

George, Meet Orwell

Wikileaks is back with The Spyfiles, a database “of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry.”

The release is being funneled through a number of organizations: ARD in Germany, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK, The Hindu in India, L’Espresso in Italy, OWNI in France and the Washington Post in the US. 

The data was gathered in conjunction with Bugged Planet and Privacy International.

Via Wikileaks:

International surveillance companies are based in the more technologically sophisticated countries, and they sell their technology on to every country of the world. This industry is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers. Users’ physical location can be tracked if they are carrying a mobile phone, even if it is only on stand by.

But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.

Image: Screenshot of The United Nations of Surveillance, an interactive map by OWNI that lets users explore companies offering surveillance technology around the world.

Today, in history, via the Newseum: On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, designed to stop discrimination against minorities at the polls.

For the record, per TVEyes: NY same-sex marriage vote was covered for 60+ mins by MSNBC & CNN. It was covered for 2 min by Fox News.

Brian Stelter, Media Reporter, New York Times, via Twitter.

It’s all about priorities.

H/T: Muck Rack.