Throughout all recorded history on our lovely little planet, Earth’s human beings have been concerned with a few main ideals. One of these is the idea of freedom. Freedom, what is it? What does it mean to you? To look at it simply and in context of communication, I’d say that it is the right to express oneself within certain moral boundaries. Recently I have discovered that the incredible tool of the Internet is being infected by some of our imperfect human beliefs (a sign of the perfect balance in Nature). Check out a website called ‘Reporters Without Borders’. This site is dedicated to both freedom of speech for the masses as well as to the safety of the people who are trying to share true unadulterated stories with the wider community. In the site’s Internet section I came across a new article about MSN Spaces, the blogging software from one of America’s and the world’s biggest companies, Microsoft. Well, it seems that in China they have agreed to have the words ‘democracy’ and ‘Dalai Lama’ completely rejected by the system, therefore censoring every on-line journal in China using this software. Looking at the Dalai Lama I don’t get a feeling of hostile intent…
This comes just after China announced that all blogs and websites have to be registered through the government’s authority. After enquiring about how to put an independent blog on the Net a hopeful Chinese Internet user was told not to even bother trying to get back on the Net. The government now has real-time tools to ‘watch’ what people are saying at any given moment, and if you are deemed as writing something subversive you better watch your back, as you will be dubbed a cyber dissident. On the website they’ve got a list of a large number of these ‘criminals’ who have been imprisoned in many different countries. A court case begins today for a Chinese man who wrote some punk music lyrics on his site. He could be put away for a long time. I’m not joking here, there are a lot of people sitting in cells, many of which are put through all kinds of torture. I’m lucky I’m not in China or one of these other often-repressively ruled countries or I’d be called a dissident just for writing these controversial words.
Look, I don’t want to come across as judgmental but it is a known fact that many aspects of human society across all cultures have problems with their ethics and moral codes. I am just using China as an example because I am a great believer in the uniting, egalitarian power of the Internet. I have this strange feeling in my stomach that eventually oppressive ideologies will have to topple and fall as people become more informed about life’s possibilities, and more connected to the true oneness of the world. Ironically, I believe the Internet is the means for all this to become a reality.
Another incredible part of this site is all the information relating to reporters and the plights and ordeals they go through when attempting to share the truth, even losing their lives in the process. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, particularly its blogging section http://www.eff.org/bloggers/ is another site that is dedicated to freedom of speech for all people who want to express themselves on the Internet. Or check out the World Association of Newspapers http://www.wan-press.org/ who has a different perspective on current events, as they focus on what happens to the news bringers themselves.
Are you a believer that one-day the world can come together as one? If you are, speak your mind; the Internet is a great place to share your point of view. Let everyone know how you feel about this situation. I have a Chinese friend who says that controlling 1.4 billion people isn’t as easy as you might think and that the current system is functioning OK. OK is OK but I think it’s about time humanity started to use a larger percentage of these huge brains we have. The first step is making sure that everyone gets their fair say, without fear of being pushed around by those few who often abuse the power they have been given.
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer has unwittingly become a cyber dissident by writing this article.