5 Sinister Ways Powerful People Silenced Their Critics
The people in power don't want you to talk. Sometimes, this is because you're in the library and everyone needs silence to concentrate. But other times, it's because your words have the ability to destroy them. (In these cases, your powerful opponent reaches for the red button on their desk and makes sure they destroy you first.)
Reporters Investigated Facebook's Child Abuse Photos; Facebook Reported Them For Child Abuse Photos
Right now, the big controversy over at Facebook is how the site should deal with hate speech. There's still debate about this because we're talking here about content that's legal, content that no one has the right to stop you from sticking in a book or something. But what then about stuff there's no debate about because everyone agrees it's unacceptable? You know, the worst stuff. Kiddie stuff.
Yeah, there are photos of child abuse and child exploitation on Facebook, and if you report seeing them, Facebook says they'll remove those images right away. But do Facebook remove them right away? Or do their moderators leave it, possibly because they have instructions to err on the side of encouraging every possible kind of engagement? The BBC stepped forward to investigate, and reporters found and reported a bunch of images and then sat back to see what came next. Usually (over 80% of the time) it seemed the reported images stayed up.
The BBC's Angus Crawford confronted Facebook about this. Their site was being used by pedophiles -- or as they're known overseas, paedophiles -- and why weren't they doing anything? The site's director of policy, Simon Milner, agreed to give an interview on the subject, but Crawford would have to first bring examples of the problem images to back up their claims. Crawford did so. And so Facebook filed a report against the BBC with the UK's National Crime Agency. The grounds? BBC was distributing child-exploiting images.
"It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation," Facebook said in a statement, and when pressed further, they doubled down, saying they were legally bound to report the images ... that were taken from their own site ... and that they had asked for. And oh yeah, having received the photos and got a chance to call in Scotland Yard, Facebook canceled the interview, just in case there was any possibility they were on the side of transparency. For what it's worth, British police did not arrest Angus Crawford because the whole world is not insane. Unfortunately, things are going to get darker for our truth-telling heroes as this article continues ...
Trump Allegedly Hid Being Broke By Blackmailing Forbes With A False Gay Threesome Story
We apologize to inform you that we're going to be talking about Donald Trump today. Specifically about his finances, a subject Trump takes immense pride in and also sued all the way to the Supreme Court to keep secret. Trump being shady about how much money he has isn't some new mode he switched to when he went into politics. As early as 1990, he claimed to be a billionaire, but Forbes took a look at his debts and concluded that he actually had a net worth rather less than a billion, and also rather less than zero. They planned to expose this in a cover story titled "Is Trump Broke?"
Trump threatened to sue, and so the magazine revised their estimate to $500 million, which is a hair more than "negative net worth." But some Forbes writers say his intimidation campaign went beyond lawsuits. Trump claimed that the magazine's 70-year-old founder, the gay and closeted Malcolm Forbes, had come to Trump's Plaza Hotel bar, entertaining two under-21 male companions. If Forbes the magazine went forward with the "Broke" story, allege the writers, Trump would out Forbes the man. And so, the magazine's leadership told the writers to tone their report down.
And then Trump spread the bar story anyway. See, even though Forbes' new valuation of him greatly inflated his estimated net worth (by a factor of ... infinity?) their revised article still exposed him as a lot poorer than he was claiming to be. So he put the bar story in a book he was releasing that year, sticking it in as a last-minute addition. Trump comes off as here as not just spiteful and criminal but also incompetent at the art of blackmail -- no one's going to acquiesce to your threats next time if they figure you're going to pull the trigger either way. But he denies that he blackmailed Forbes at all. In fact, he says the "Broke" report on him was personal retaliation from Malcolm Forbes for kicking him and his companions out of the Plaza bar that time. (Malcolm was actually dead by the time Forbes started on the report.)
We picked out the wackiest story we could find of Trump hiding that his bank accounts contain only Monopoly money with his own face crudely crayoned on the bills, but there are a ton more. Like the tale of how he pressured a network to kill a documentary about him, or the yarn about how he got a Wall Street Journal reporter reassigned for writing about him. Or when a casino analyst predicted his Taj hotel would go bust, and Trump threatened to sue unless his firm fired him. So they did ... though, the Taj did then go bust.
The Freemasons Kidnapped (And Allegedly Murdered) An Opponent Who Planned To Expose Their Secrets In A Book
If you're paranoid about the powerful keeping you down and you direct your terror against the Freemasons, well, prepare for every kind of mockery. The "secret" society is pretty much falling apart nowadays, so you don't need to fear them just because they're into roleplaying. At least, that's the deal if you're living in the 21st century. If you lived a while ago, maybe the Masons would conspire to kill you, especially if you happened to be named William Morgan.
William Morgan joined a Masonic lodge, possibly as a member (he literally was a brick mason by trade), possibly pretending to be a member just to check it out. Then he publicly declared his plan to publish a book, sharing all the Masons' secrets. Based on the writings he left behind, these secrets weren't sinister conspiracies but instead just details of the lodge's rituals and oaths. But either way, sharing them with outsiders went deeply against Mason rules, and so we got a sinister Mason conspiracy after all, with Morgan its victim.
First his publisher received threats. Then someone tried to set their building on fire. Then Morgan was arrested and put in debtors' prison, for the tiny sum of $2.69 that he may or may not have even owed. His jailers soon let him out, but they released him right into the waiting arms of three mysterious men who just happened to be Masons. "Murder!" screamed Morgan, as the men pulled him into a carriage against his will. He was never seen again.
A popular theory says the Masons planned to smuggle Morgan into Canada (as the ultimate punishment), but when the trip turned out too hard, they killed him and chucked him in Lake Ontario. Investigators at the time had trouble charging anyone with murder in the absence of a body. They did charge 11 Freemasons with kidnapping, offering sentences that Morgan's supporters called much too light. And so people came together and focused their rage against the Freemasons into the Anti-Masonic Party, which is confusingly but accurately called America's first third party.
To Discredit An Actress Supporting The Black Panthers, The FBI Claimed She Carried A Black Panther Baby, Leading To Her Suicide
We've told you previously about COUNTELPRO, the FBI's secret program to bring down various groups they didn't like, from antiwar protesters to environmentalists to Martin Luther King's followers. Among their many targets was the Black Panther Party, which the feds succeeded in totally destroying thanks to a campaign of infiltration, harassment, and oh yeah, maybe assassination. Like the time they got the Chicago police to kill Black Panther Fred Hampton in a raid. They shot him as he slept, possibly after first drugging him to ensure he didn't wake.
Now, it's not easy to top murder when your federal agency is trying to see just how low it can stoop, but the FBI certainly gave it their best. Their campaign against the Black Panthers was also about shaping opinion, which meant discrediting activists and discrediting the people who supported them. So when the FBI set their eyes on French actress Jean Seberg, who'd been speaking out on the Black Panthers' behalf, they came up with how to turn the public against her: They'd leak that a Black Panther had impregnated her. To make the story as credible as possible, they asked gossip columnists to wait till her pregnancy was visible before writing about it.
Jean Seberg had been sleeping with Black Panthers -- maybe with all the Black Panthers, one had to assume upon hearing the news -- so clearly that was the true reason behind her support of them. The rumor would make people dislike Seberg AND the Panthers. Plus, it would force Seberg to public distance herself from the Panthers by denying the rumors and insisting that actually her husband was the baby's father. Oh, and the story also had a consequence the FBI presumably hadn't predicted. On reading it, Seberg immediately went into labor, three months early. The premature baby girl did not survive.
The Sebergs held a funeral with a glass-topped casket so everyone could see that, yeah, the baby was white. And they successfully sued one of the magazines that had libeled them. But every year after that, on the anniversary of the baby's death, Jean attempted suicide. In 1979, she succeeded. Her husband publicly accused the FBI of targeting her, to which the FBI said ... yeah, we did that. But we're admitting it to clarify that we're different now and will never do anything like that again. Really. Trust us.
The Australian Minister Of Justice, AKA An Insane Murderer
We are not here to perpetuate the stereotype that all Australians are criminals. Several Australians are not -- Sydney resident Terrence Leroy, for example, was eventually cleared of all charges related to breaking into another man's home so that fellow could be sexually stroked with a broom. And in fact, several of the deaths we're about to talk about are unsolved and might have not been ordered by Thomas Ley. But there were so many of these deaths, all so convenient, that Ley's epitaph really needs a special line that reads "probably had all his opponents killed."
Ley was the minister of justice for New South Wales, then in 1925, he ran for the House of Representatives. Not so sure he was going to win, he took a shortcut and offered rival candidate Frederick McDonald 2,000 pounds to drop out. McDonald turned him down, and Ley won anyway, but then McDonald spoke out about the bribe. He was on his way to meet the state premiere to discuss voiding the election when he disappeared. He was never found. Officials later received a letter from McDonald suggesting he may have killed himself, but handwriting experts today say McDonald didn't write it at all. Instead, the penmanship looks a whole lot more like Ley's.
Two years later, Ley sold all his shares in a company right before it went bust, a company endearingly named "S.O.S. Prickly Pear Poisons." Another political opponent tried to make a public case about this. His body turned up at the bottom of a cliff. This was officially declared an accidental death but was widely attributed to Ley. Concerned about the insider trading and other dealings, a bunch of businessmen got another opponent of Ley's to investigate; he soon died in a suspicious boating accident. Also, the husband of Ley's mistress was killed mysteriously when a swarm of bees attacked him. Sources don't call him allergic -- he was just stung many times, by many bees. This death is not universally attributed to Ley, and really, this restraint from the historians suspicious of him just makes the other accusations against him more credible.
Despite all those deaths, it would be improper for us to come out and directly call this politician an insane murderer. Except a court ended up doing just that.
His Australian political career eventually over, Ley moved to England, along with that bee-widowed mistress of his, now his partner of 25 years. He was sued and jailed for various scams, then he became convinced that his mistress Maggie (66 years old) was having an affair with a 35-year-old barman. He got some friends to kidnap the guy, one posing as a hostess who needed a bartender for a party, and they dropped him off at Ley's place. Ley beat him, strangled him, and dumped his corpse in a chalk pit. He was sentenced to hang for this but then was declared insane and spent the rest of his life in the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. That rest of his life being two months long, at which point he had a cerebral hemorrhage and died.