Wednesday, 4 November 2020

CENSORSHIP OR BOWDLERIZATION OF THE FREE MEDIA: DEMOCRACY MAY BE DEAD WITHOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH


CENSORSHIP OR BOWDLERIZATION OF THE MEDIA: DEMOCRACY MAY BE DEAD WITHOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH


(A late evening reflection by udems)



I do not think democracy can truly exist or thrive without free speech, rule of law and press freedom. Any country that has succeeded in closing down the door on press freedom has always ended up losing democracy in the hands of authoritarianism and absolutism. In my opinion, there appears to an inseparable link between the life of democracy and the existence of freedom of speech and the press. The only security for the growth and survival of democracy is in the permission of a free press. This is because, as DaShanne Stokes pointed out, fascism thrives in obscurity and darkness, in the absence of free press. A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad. Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticize and oppose [without let or hindrance] (George Orwell). 

 


The growth and sustenance of democracy depends largely on existence of an informed citizenry, free press being itself a backbone of democracy, as rightly observed by Kenneth Eade who believes that free press exists “to keep the government transparent, and the human instruments of government honest.” Such is the essence of press freedom. Therefore, let the situation in our country be such that every writer, commentator, analyst, journalist, etc is free to tell his own truth or lies the way he or she thinks apt; that's the true meaning of freedom of the press and of speech. Let the press be that free. And I warn us, a freedom given up is not so easily regained. If we want to make any headway with democracy, we must keep the press free and our freedom of speech unhindered.

 


Both leaders and followers have a paramount duty to give the press, and indeed everyone the liberty to know, to utter, to argue, to discuss, and even to criticize freely, according to conscience. This liberty ranks above all liberties; it is slavery to stop people from voicing out their thoughts the way they deem most appropriate. In his work, titled, “Silence Dogood” / “The Busy-Body” / “Early Writings”, Benjamin Franklin warned, that “whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” 


With this in mind, we should learn to respect the right of others to freely offer their opinion even when we think they’re talking utter nonsense. Perhaps, this is the reason OSCAR WILDE would say, “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”  

The English physicist, Professor Edward Cox, took this point further, just to illustrate how important it is that we stop interacting dissent or censoring free speech, as well as to illustrate why is freedom of speech an important part of a democracy. He said, “The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!”  In the literary work, Bad Romance: Seven Deadly Sins Anthology”, author Jess C. Scott wrote that “only hypocrites get offended by the truth.”

 


On the other hand, in our struggle to install and sustain a free press, I think we need to also pay attention to the declaration by a certain English jurist, judge and politician of the eighteenth century, *William Blackstone (1723–1780).* In his famous book titled, *Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 4: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765-1769,* he wrote: *”the liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state: but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity.”


God bless Nigeria!

Respectfully,

Sylvester Udemezue (udems)

04:11:2020

8.00pm



We like copying America in everything; please, let us copy America`s respect for the free press and freedom of speech.



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