Thursday, September 03, 2009

Media: Right, Left and unbiased?

A recent report brought to the surface the difference between media and society...

Sri Lanka: A Journalist Sentenced For 20 Years

Sepia Mutiny reports that Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, who has written articles critical of the Sri Lankan government for a magazine, has been sentenced for 20 years hard labor.

Groundviews first highlighted the case of J.S. Tissainayagam last year, noting that,

Salient points of Tissa’s case point to a larger and more chilling deterioration of media freedom in Sri Lanka under the Rajapakse administration. Tissa’s case in particular reveals a particularly twisted logic, and through it, confirms fears that the regime in the South now completely mirrors the intolerance of media freedom and free expression the LTTE is known and reviled for.

In contrast I reflect on our right guaranteed by the first amendment, the freedom of speech.  As a society we are both burdened and blessed with this freedom.  We must endure the seeming endless tirades of self-interested parties bent on swaying public opinion.  As well, under the same protective freedom we enjoy the privilege of publicly expressing our values in art, theater, dance, literature and more.  Sometimes even unfettered political criticism.

What we as a society has learned is that our democratic form of government compensates for the polar extremes of freedom of speech.  Further, we know that the onus of responsibility for filtering, affirming or dismissing a given free speech expression falls squarely on our shoulders.  This is in sharp contrast to nation-states such as those sited above as well as a myriad of others. Governments and power brokers who would believe that by repressing the free press, by stifling freedom of expression, that they are in some way protecting the people.

In fact they are only trying to keep their people ignorant.  They are not repressing a free press as much as they are suppressing knowledge.  This deprivation of knowledge is the primary means used to maintain power.  Power, after all, is what it is all about.  Frightened despotic governments who rule not by popular mandate but by the imposed shadow of ignorance cannot be taken seriously in this day and age.  They are laughable.

Sadly, while they laugh at their population's enforced ignorance, the free world cries for a journalist sentenced to 20 years hard labor.

Posted via email from Pa^2 Patois

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