By Alex Zoellner ‘19
All across the globe, censorship and oppression of the freedom of speech run rampant. However, this unadulterated breach of basic human rights takes on different shapes and platforms on a largely country by country basis around the globe. In the United States, Trump calls journalists the “enemy of the people” and whilst his rhetoric is endangering journalist’s lives, he is not actively killing or imprisoning journalists. Then you have countries like North Korea where the government has total control over the national intranet, North Koreans can be sent to concentration camps for interacting with any content originating outside the nation, and the singular official news source permitted in the country is KCNA (The Korean Central News Agency). Or you have a few countries like Mexico where collusion between organized crime and the government runs deep, resulting in over 110 deaths and disappearances of journalists during the terms of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018). Thus making Mexico the most dangerous country for reporters in Latin America. These abuses (both documented and undocumented) have been committed in an attempt to control the flow of information, criminal or otherwise, to the public and have been met largely with systemic impunity.
In reality, the problem of censorship and oppression of the freedom of speech originates largely from; governments that aim to maintain absolute control over their citizens during an age of unprecedented communication, individuals who have subscribed to the pandemic of fear and violence that threatens both journalists lives and these basic human rights, and organized crime that aims to kill any and all obstacles that stand between them and their gains. The world is becoming a harsher and more oppressive place than ever before. Which is why it is so important to take a stand and make your voice heard. Speak out on issues that threaten you and your community. Fight this crippling climate that politicians across the globe have perpetuated for financial gain and political power. You don’t have to be a journalist to express your free speech, we all can. It is a basic human right, that is only about 24% adequately respected and represented. And despite popular, albeit downright ignorant, belief America is not within that 24%.
“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”
If we allow fear to take over and we lose our voice, then who are we?
Helpful links to stay informed and subsequently fight the fear: