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On silencing and the revoking of civil rights

Hello everyone! I’ve decided to resurface because I wanted to post this important interview with Elvira Mendez-Pinedo, a lecturer at the University of Iceland and one of the clearest voices out of Iceland these days. Here she’s discussing a book called Indignez Vous! that is making major waves throughout France and elsewhere, about things that should concern us all. In the book, the author talks about the domination of capitalism and how we have lost many of the civil rights that people in Europe fought for throughout history, how critical voices are being systematically silenced, the oppression of independent media, and much more.

The interview is in two parts. It starts briefly in Icelandic, but switches to English:

In this second part, she discusses – among other things – a subject close to my heart: silencing, or what the Icelanders call þöggun. In particular, she is referring to the silencing of things that have taken place in Iceland over the last two years and are still taking place. A few days after this interview was broadcast the president quietly signed a controversial new media bill that, among other things, gives a committee of individuals far-reaching rights to intervene in media companies [which may compromise the confidentiality of sources] and the potential to make documents secret for up to 110 [!] years. The government [PM and Minister of Education and Culture] have been busily trying to convince us that it’s really not worth making a fuss about and there has been a decided lack of response from the media itself, but somehow many of its aspects don’t sit well with me. I don’t want to get too hysterical about it because I honestly don’t know in practice how bad it is, but it’s certainly worth noting, particularly in light of what Elvira talks about.

The silencing of which she speaks, however, goes beyond this particular media bill, and it is something I have certainly experienced on my own skin. It’s something I want to write about in due course, here or elsewhere, but suffice it to say that in Icelandic society it is impossible not to be subject to overt or covert forces that want to keep you in check. You have to be very careful if you don’t want to be ostracized and have your opportunities to live and work restricted.

Anyway, here is the second part of the interview.

Thanks to Lára Hanna for posting to YouTube.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Janet Muldoon April 26, 2011, 5:03 pm

    This interview outlines perhaps the most important thing in all our lives and that is Christian ethics, civil RESPONSIBILITY, and freedom of speech. If we are to be a government of the people, we have to be alert to those happening within our systems of government and elect people not driven by special interests.

  • Max April 26, 2011, 5:26 pm

    *Ethics, civil RESPONSIBILITY, and freedom of speech.

  • Janet Muldoon April 26, 2011, 6:14 pm

    Who defines ethics???

  • Janet Muldoon April 26, 2011, 6:23 pm

    To clarify Christian ethic, let my say most Christians do not separate the old and new Testmament when it comes to their ethics. Perhaps I should have said, Judeo-Christian Ethics….

  • Edward J. Santella April 27, 2011, 1:31 am

    An excellent discussion which, unfortunately, is unthinkable on American media. The issue I have with Dr. Pinedo is her depiction of this as a European problem. This evening I watched Jon Stewart on the Daily Show interview a woman who was one of the demonstrators in Egypt. The problems which she described in Egypt and which Stewart described in the US were similar in many ways to those faced in Europe. It would not be surprising to find that that many people in China, Japan, India, Nigeria, South Africa and other Asian and African countries face similar questions. We each face local circumstances which require us to face the same greater questions.

  • idunn April 27, 2011, 6:59 am

    Any number of times with so much happening in the world, and certainly Iceland as well, I’ve yet again missed the analysis and solid information of ‘The Iceland Weather Report.’ So pleased with this reappearance, if brief.

    The issue of þöggun is a serious one in this age, not only in Iceland. We have all the more sources of information and ways to communicate, and seemingly all the more effective ways for people’s voices to be silenced. For real knowledge to be kept in a dark closet. But of course hope, as well.

    I’ll look forward to listening to this interview with Ms. Mendez-Pinedo closely.

  • idunn April 27, 2011, 9:09 am

    This caught my attention. It is transcribed from the first clip beginning at the 6:09 mark.

    Elvira Mendez-Pinedo:
    And these people are saying, please pay attention because this is not a financial crisis, this is not an economic crisis, this is an existential and political crisis.

    Because what we have to ask ourselves, at national level, but also a European level, is what kind of world and society are we creating? Because in volume the money is put, and the money and the profit and the speculation is put at value number one of the society. Which means that democratic values, ethics, social justice, things that generations, people like my grandfather who died in the civil war fighting for those ideas, they’re put aside and they’re substituted for the market.

    This also asking why do we have to privatize our most important companies and resources? Electricity, essential services, water, that we need to build up the societies. Why, why there is no other way around?

  • torsten April 27, 2011, 11:38 am

    what Elvira doesn’t seems to tell is, how the silencing of critical voices happens. IMHO it does not happen by force (of police, manipulation by media, lying politicians) but by accepted methods like teaching (e.g. economics, politics and sociology) both in- and outside schools and universities.

    The silcencing is not one of closing peoples mouthes but of not taking serious those people who approach live in uneconomic ways. Most western brains have been washed with theories based on the model of homo oeconomicus. So nowadays it seems reasonable and sensible for the average person to act like a homo oeconomicus. To many people it would seem insane to not go for the biggest share with the smallest effort. I think this is the biggest problem.

  • Bjorn April 27, 2011, 11:32 pm

    “Most western brains have been washed with theories based on the model of homo oeconomicus.”

    I think the confusion is more a result of “shut up and listen”-icus. In this kind of environment some of us become very frustrated and the remaining 99.8 per cent become ignorant robots with fear in their eyes. In my opinion we are victims of Paradigm Violence.

    If you have suffered under one system, you will try to create your own when you manage to leave. But your information about the world isn’t perfect, due to the violence, and isn’t good enough for you to make the best decisions in your new life. You create a new system, and your children suffer. History repeats itself.

    Isn’t it sad to see that this crisis is being blamed on too much freedom?

    More rules and regulations, more forced schooling, more laws, more surveillance…

    …designed by people who assisted the development of the crisis, because they knew what would happen if banks collapsed and needed help from the government (more taxes and control of the citizens). More money and control for those who struggled for power and don’t see the need to repair themselves.

    The Paradigm Violence continues.

  • Simon Brooke April 28, 2011, 11:20 pm

    Thanks, Alda! Excellent interview, I have ordered the book.

  • phil-fox May 1, 2011, 10:48 pm

    Hello Alda
    It’s nice to read you again , i was please to read your Post in the past and i was disappointed when you stopped , i know that few people feed you ,but i don’t know if you are working for your convictions or for some body else
    In a tiny Island , you would be at risks for your income , if you dislike the politics . In your past life to had resisted to the pressure of your Mam family are you still resisting to the song of the LORELEÏ or any journalistic contract to sale your soul . Go back to the poorest solution and keep back your Fredom if that’s what you need. Go head to your post and forget your Continental American connections . I suppose it’s like a bullet in the Hart and a big hole in your Purse . You can be a third column , i presume. Make your cleaning and please to read you back.
    Kind Regards ….Phil /FRANCE. from an Older Icelandic fishing Harbour

  • Goupil May 2, 2011, 9:27 am

    Very glad to hear from you again.
    It looks like you haven’t lost your audience 🙂
    Indeed ostracism of the dissenter is widespread.

  • goupil May 2, 2011, 9:31 am

    PS: Please could you give us a translation of “thöggun”

  • Don May 7, 2011, 1:35 am

    Thanks for this, Alda. Excellent information.

    For those interested in reading the book, it is available in English as a pdf file and is a free download here:


    (Scroll down the page, on the right side look for “My Shared Files”, and select Indignez_ vous english.pdf)

  • Knute Rife May 7, 2011, 2:34 am

    Just so. Stewart is a voice crying in the wilderness. The US “news” media are an echo chamber for the propaganda of the powers that be.

    I am neither Christian nor Jewish, yet I have ethics. And no, I’m not going to debate the point with you, here or anywhere. Neither can convince the other, and I hate wasting my time.

  • Bromley86 May 9, 2011, 11:39 pm

    >and it is something I have certainly experienced on my own skin.

    An Icelandic expression that always makes me think of the eye of Sauron. I’d forgotten where I’d seen it before, but someone in another discussion linked to one of Dadi’s articles on the subject of this article:

    I think this was the most poignant part, for me anyway:
    “During a course on the economic collapse held by the University of Iceland this summer, several respected professors balked at the suggestion that they make their power point slides and notes public. When pressed, one explained that the professors had been so burned by forces in society and within the university attacking them with smear campaigns that they feared persecution and lawsuits.”

  • Hannah Joy Curious June 27, 2011, 6:40 am

    What is it with silencing and islands? On the tiny Atlantic island where I live, the media is nothing more than the mouthpiece of the government and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a public media outlet or a private one. Journos and media owners are all quaking in their boots, not wanting to lose their job and/or the government subsidies that keep their newspaper/radio station/crappy website afloat. As a result, we have zero investigative journalism and pretty much zero info. Worse even, some public service journos used to copy/paste government press releases, byline them and pass them off as genuine news articles… Silencing: it happens everywhere, it’s just a matter of how much.

  • tom joseph aka tj3 July 5, 2011, 5:32 am

    Some people say what needs to be said here in the USA, quite publicly but no one hears it…good information is drowned in a sea of ads and propaganda and irrelevant nonsense.

    Europe is facing the same issues we are in the US and there is a lock step approach from our two political parties here. The public here is not reacting at all.

    I wish to warn Europe and the rest of the world that the USA is in a very serious situation now. Unlike Iceland or Greece, if the US goes down it will take the entire world down with it instantly, as we are so large an economy.

    Nothing is being done to correct anything here. There is no sign of a peaceful revolt or even a discussion of anything sensible.

    Silence? Silence would be an improvement here. We are beyond silent. We are insensible, brain dead, on a respirator. Mumbling incoherent nonsense of a nation in a semi coma is what we have here.

    I would like to conclude with a motto, from the American Comedian W.C. Fields “Never give a sucker an even break”. It is the central operating principle for both Europe and the USA at present today. No?

  • Hannah Joy Curious July 5, 2011, 9:01 am

    @Tom… Mother Jones!!! Unfortunately, US mainstream media is nothing like it. Your comment echoes what a US Army vet told me some 4 or 5 years ago. “News in the US?”, she said. “If I want news, I turn to the BBC”. The internet is a boon for enquiring minds. As for the semi-coma, it’s not just an American phenomenon but a worldwide one…

  • herb January 9, 2012, 4:31 am

    One tiny place goes toe to toe with the sociopathic world view. The domination of those with inadequate capacity for empathy is indeed a world wide problem. Competitive hierarchical systems all have this flaw. Those with the least restraint rise, those with moral and ethical constraints on their behavior sink, until all is crime and debauchery. Every system of power has eventually succumbed to this dynamic.

    Any social orgainization of more than a few hundred folks will eventually become dominated by the small percentage of sociopaths included. Worse yet, as their dominance increases, otherwise morally developed folks begin to adopt sociopathic motivations. Our species may not survive this built in contradiction.


  • tom joseph aka tj3 January 12, 2012, 1:39 pm

    Thanks Herb for your critical analysis. Here in the USA we have an Alice in Wonderland election season going. Sociopath and corrupt and surreal candidates parade their propaganda and lies before us each day, hour by hour. Spending vast millions of dollars to do so.

    The US public is mainly indifferent to all of this but we will end up dominated by one of these weird characters anyway. (it’s the law) Have to have a President for some reason.

    I do not know how much people outside of the USA follow US politics but Barak Obama who was supposed to be different and better has proven to be the same and worse.

    Can large groups of people (like the USA) avoid a sociopaths government? Yes I believe so. It is likely? No.

    I think here the corruption is an act of hypnotism. Our democracy is till open and free and not dominated by money and power. But people do not go to meetings and do not participate outside election time.

    The public has accepted that politics is something on TV run by private campaign committees. These sick private campaigns inhabit the dead shell of our two political parties like hermit crabs inhabit the shell of dead mollusks. It seems like one thing and is in fact another.

    We here could have our nation back in a single year without a revolution just by showing up. But we would have to overcome the notion that politics belongs to sociopaths with vast fortunes.

    Anyway thanks to all nice to hear a word from the Iceland Weather Report.