Friday, January 31, 2014

We don't burn books anymore, do we?

Book burning seems to have pretty much passed on with the Nazis, though there are still instances of it from time to time ... even supposedly offensive record albums/CDs or artwork ... anything that one group does not like and does not want anyone else to have physical access to.

It's a little more difficult to "burn" the internet.

But what's more insidious today is the intimidation of governments - from China to Saudi Arabia to the United States - who not only want to control what gets posted and read on the internet, they are creating a climate of fear that has led to self-censorship.

I got a message recently from a fellow writer who had purchased a book that might raise eyebrows in some circles. The book represented political views that might catch the attention of NASA (the National Autocratic Security Agency). The writer hesitated but bought the book anyway. (Good for them.) Which may lead someday to an IRASS audit for him/her, and perhaps for me as well since I am linked to him/her on social media and therefore an immediate suspect.

The other day, there was a story about a reporter in the Washington DC area who writes about security issues and who was stalked for days by a private investigator. Presumably the PI was watching to see if any whistleblowers contacted the reporter. Who hired the PI?

Journalists have had their phones tapped. Publications have been pressured not to run stories which may be damaging to government officials. Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained for several hours in the UK because of Greenwald's connection to the Snowden revelations.

This is all very chilling. We are rapidly devolving to a state-controlled press, no different than Stalin or Mao or Hitler, in countries which supposedly treasure "freedom of the press."

The effect of book burning and self-censorship is the same. Ideas don't get shared and discussed. Those in power are not challenged. Not for their agendas, nor for their corruption. What are they truly afraid of? Only of losing their power and the wealth that accompanies that power. 

UPDATE: This is an example of what happens with government intimidation of free speech and subsequent self-censorship. People stop talking. The government "wins."

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