“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” George Orwell.
It’s been a sobering couple of days since the Japanese GP 2014, and the outpouring of good wishes for Jules Bianchi has been overwhelming in its sheer volume. Prior to the days of twitter and social media, it would not have been possible for people to express themselves as such en masse and be part of an instant body of expression.
Yet twitter has changed since its inception in 2006. In 2009, Twitter was part of the ‘solution’ for 83million Egyptians to rid themselves of a president who had reigned for over 30 years. Twitter was a means of sharing brutal information, galvanising coalitions and the overthrowing of the establishment.
Twitter was used by the masses victimised by the state and denied freedom of speech to connect with others in similar totalitarian states suffering similar oppression. This medium has been anti-establishment and an opportunity for those in the social group to express their views openly and freely.
Let us not forget that Twitter facilitated groups from this ‘resistance’ to organise themselves into squads who by necessity became brutal in their treatment of their authoritarian overlords. However, the Western media conveniently entitled this positively as ‘The Arab Spring’. A time for fresh starts and new beginnings.
In 2014, now popularised, Twitter is often a very different place. Hijacked by marketing organisations and the corporate entities of this world, Twitter is now often used to present a one to many communication of information and propaganda. Social media is many to many in a conversation.
It was once the case that all information on Twitter would be weighed and valued appropriately by those using the medium, and content considered inappropriate or invalid would be disregarded.
Then the masses took to Twitter and the social medium has become a battle field between those who hold the values of freedom of speech dear and those who believe Twitter should find it’s moral compass.
To those who have taken the high Twitter ground, no longer should people be allowed to post the content they wish to share freely, because a moral Twitter elite have arisen to police what is appropriate to be said and shared.
The events surrounding the 2014 F1 Japanese Grand Prix depict this shift in a dramatic manner.
There are hoards of modern Twitter users calling for the censorship of content shared by other users, because it does not fit their moral compass or paradigms of how things should be.
Gone are the messy days of societal revolution and we now see Twitter users being called to a higher account by hordes of moralising trolls even greater in number than the regulated Western Press.
Pictures and videos of the incident in which Jules Bianchi was involved have been posted by F1 fans who have recorded these historical moments and none of which this writer has seen done with malice or the intention to abuse or upset others.
Being the kind of individual who has a mild predilection to hypochondria, I face the daily challenge of refusing to allow my mind to consider pictures, articles and TV programmes which discuss health matters and terminal illnesses in depth.
This includes fictional dramas and a plethora of material ‘out there’ including gory medical procedures on film and on the internet, so the channel change button is never far from my grasp.
What has been highly surprising since the Jules’ crash in Japan is that the pictures and video have no graphic content at all. No blood and gore, no fractured and broken bodies and so one must assume the abhorrence expressed by those insisting this material be ‘taken down’ and not ‘shared’ is due to a fertile imagination.
One other argument for the censorship of this material has been ‘out of respect to the family’ of Jules. Yet how the posting of material would be offensive to Jules family, which for many alleviated grave fears communicated from the implications made in live F1 race commentary, is difficult to understand.
The reaction from the paddock and the TV broadcasters was severe to say the least. It was sufficient to lead people to believe that Jules had in fact been killed, but that procedural arrangements were preventing this information from being disseminated.
Interestingly, the moral outrage began in full, not when a number of pictures of the mutilated Marussia car were revealed, but when a single picture of Jules, helmet fairly in tact, visor up and operating on the swivel mechanism was posted. The doctor was in attendance and clearly the young Frenchman was alive.
Then, on Monday, a video was released which revealed a number of things. The exact nature of the impact of Jules car with the tractor removing the stricken Sauber, and some other matters of concern regarding the flag protocols used by the FIA. These will be discussed in a future article.
The spectator who shot the video has declared himself to be Phillip Dabrowiecki. Having made the footage available on YouTube Phillip had this to say. “FOM has not contacted me, but I think they are trying to bury the video because it shows all the mistakes. I shared the video for the truth to be shown to all F1 fans.”
Once again, to the viewer, no graphic images were on display, just a matter of historical record as to what happened to Jules. It is of course possible should one dwell on such things in a certain manner to conjure up all kinds of horrific thoughts, though this video was not accessible to the viewer unless they chose to click through on the link in order to watch the event unfold.
Given the historical penchant for authorities to cover up details of incidents where culpability may be questionable, surely it is better for this material to be available in the public domain to prevent the possibility of such cover-ups. Those who feel this is inappropriate for them, should choose the off button – as I have to do daily.
However, the herd mentality which has sought to treat those who share and view this material as immoral, suggesting they do so without feeling or regard for Jules or his family, as though they were sub-human – is plainly arrogant and censorial in nature.
Individuals have been swept along by this emotional outburst who would normally approach Formula One from a scientific or technical analytical point of view – such has been the ferocity of the backlash.
Yet the reality is, in fact, this material is out. Tens of thousands of people have seen it, whether they admit they chose to click through or not and this author has seen no inappropriate frenzy of inappropriate comment made by those who have viewed it whatsoever.
The question is why FOM refused to rely even the most benign of footage they control of this event. When compared with the unending number of camera angles broadcast by FOM following the start of the Belgium GP in 2012, which were potentially horrific and ultimately used to hang one driver out to dry; the inquiring mind may ask whether the authorities are concerned over whether relevant footage of Jules accident may raise questions of culpability for race control. Hence the absence of video released.
For this reason alone, the material from the Japanese GP surrounding the accident of Jules Bianchi is relevant and appropriate for public consumption to ensure proper scrutiny is afforded to a wider circle than just those who may have questions to answer.
Given the recent prognosis released for Jules, he deserves this at the very least.
Ironically we head off to Sochi next, where the powers that be managed to have the Lotus F1 team remove the following tweet and sack the staff member responsible for their social media.
“I watched the video of Jules Bianchi’s crash and wow… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have morbid curiosities. I watched it, like every other F1 fan with a brain out there, because I want the truth.
It’s such a frustrating combination of factors and a macabre succession of events that you only see in US horror movies.
I only want to say this: you already killed our sport, but please don’t kill our drivers… #YouKnowWho” (LooseWheelNut.co.uk)
For those who wish to view it here is a link to Marca who have the video