Friday, February 17, 2006

We interrupt this normally happy blog

I have been trying to follow the news about google and yahoo censoring their searches in China, but there is not much in the media about it. I listened to the NPR story about how execs got a wrist slap from Congress, and it just made me feel angry about the whole situation. Angry that these American companies, that I use (i.e., my blog, picassa, my email, and all my searches-google and flickr and fantasy baseball-yahoo), are preventing people in China to search for words like "Democracy." It also makes me angry that these stories are not covered well in the U.S. media, largely because most of us Americans really don't care. It isn't going to sell papers, but Neil Entwistle is.

Now, I recognize that there is a balance when it comes to doing business in a country like China. Is it better for the Chinese to have no google, or a censored google? Same for yahoo. But at what point is it OK for a US company to help Chinese authorities imprison a person who was trying to speak out about their government? Isn't freedom of speech a core US value? And even if our companies don't practice and support these values, shouldn't we be responsible for acting and speaking out against them? Will anyone care, besides me, if I stop using their services?

At home, the same argument can be made for the publication of the controversial Mohammed cartoon in the US media. Where were they published in the States you ask? Wikipedia has a list of who actually printed the cartoon and it is stunning. Since when are the Sacramento Valley Mirror and the Akron Beacon Journal our source for international news? Perhaps the New York Times and the Washington Post didn't want to fuel the flames over the cartoon. Regardless, along with major newspapers like them, they preventing their readers from forming their own opinions on a key element of a major international political event. Is this not censorship too? What is worse is how we, as citizens who enjoy and take for granted our freedoms, aren't reacting to this. It isn't part of our day to day existence so we don't do anything about it. Or even worse we don't care.

This issue touches home for me because I express my views in a very public way several times a week. Right now most of what you will find here is under the censorship radar. I don't think the government cares too much about what I write regarding the Red Sox, my upstairs neighbor, my photos, or details of some of the dumb ass crap I do. But that is now. Somewhere in another country there is someone sitting at their computer trying to do just this and the company that lets me do it, is preventing them from doing the same. Where does it stop? Maybe it is Martin Luther King in the back of my head saying "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Or maybe I just feel too helpless to be able to fix it.


Lenman said...

Good post, Ms 4 of 5. I just finished reading the Feb 27 issue of Forbes, and the piece about Chinese censorship that starts on pg 90 was very interesting reading. In the end, freedom and justice will prevail. ...and people won't forget who helped and didn't help while the struggle was going on.

number4of5 said...

I hope so lenman.

I just wish that we, as a collective group, myself included, cared more about things like this than we did about American Idol.