February 26, 2011

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Do not allow yourself to be silenced

Portrait of Socrates. Marble, Roman artwork (1... Image via WikipediaGreek people have performed an imperishable work; they have shown mankind many things, and, above all, the most precious thing in the world, fearless freedom of thought and speech."

Socrates was prosecuted because of his religious ideas and political associations. This indicates how easily an ideal held dear by his fellow Athenians - the ideal of open and frank speech among citizens - could be set aside when they felt insecure.  

I admire and respect people's opinions even if I disagree. I believe it's always a good idea to listen to a variety of ideas so you can force yourself to examine your own opinions and think them through later. If you only listen to people who tell you what you want to hear you then you end up with a mind full of nothing else but jello. For I believe the search for the truth is a crucial part of knowing and changing the world.

At the same time we are introduced to different spheres of knowledge, about the sciences, current affairs, the arts, political life, ect.... To sum it up, through free thought and the free exchange of ideas we better understand the world so that we can change it.  
Everyone has the right to free thought and free speech. No government should be so tyrannical that its people are afraid to speak out, whether this be in a blog, in public, or wherever. And I say this dear friends because the Greek Minister of Justice, Haris Kastanidis has formulated a new law that will come into affect in the following few days and that involves internet censorship. 

I agree that the internet should stay under the close supervision of competent authorities responsible for prevention of illegal practises such as sexual abuse, gambling or human pornography, etc..., and I also agree that sites praising hatred or racism should also be shut down. Nonetheless, the internet should remain a transnational diverse communication utility, completely independent from any government, company or lobby. When used properly, the internet can enhance knowledge about the world and develop a habit of permanent education.

The tragic results of censoring the internet, in the context of of free speech, can be observed in China. People who write something in blogs against the ruling party are generally arrested and imprisoned. Without a doubt these levels of internet censorship are nothing more than instruments in curbing freedom of speech and lead to the violation of human rights

With that example in mind, I am sure many bloggers and people who are advent blog fans, would advise the government to be tactful when drafting their censorship law to include what is logically necessary... and not begin lashing out at bloggers that go up against their policies for example... because then all that they would be creating is News Media Propaganda... or a "dictatorship" climate. I hope that this is not what they are planning,,, but then again it is rumoured that Greece will soon hold national elections and knowing how things run in this country nothing would surprise me! 

If they actually decide to pull through with this... it will certainly not sit well with the people here.. because people here are frustrated with the main stream media because of the propaganda it is channeling out every day. Also... we do not live in a dictatorship.. and we all know that democracy cannot exist without some freedom of speech.

I need not remind our rulers that all people have the right to freedom of expression and thought, and instead should be encouraged to speak out. In the immortal words of V "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people." But because I am a realist I know governments are afraid that with so many information channels people will become even more frustrated when learning the truth, and/or even result in rising up, so they take action and prepare "packaged news stories" so they keep their people in fear of even speaking their minds by imprisoning them and taking their rights away! 

What is packaged news? Prepackaged news stories, sometimes known as video news releases, have become an increasingly common public relations tool among government agencies and in industry. They are designed to resemble broadcast news stories, complete with narrators who can be easily mistaken for reporters and suggested introductory language for TV anchors to read. News organizations run them all the time without changes and without identifying them as government-produced.

More specifically, television-viewing audiences do not know that the stories they watch on television news programs about the government have in fact been prepared by the government, and they are done so either via kickback accepting journalists - in Greece they are known as "papagalakia" - or through paid spots in newspapers. These types of news stories are nothing more than government propaganda, and I ask... is that the type of society you want to live in?  And do not think for a moment that this is yet another Greek phenomenon... no way... it is happening everywhere.

I also have to agree with the argument that says that some channels of communication can, of course, be used for propaganda. -They can be used for “bad” propaganda, “good” propaganda and they can even be utilized for material that is not propaganda at all. The point is its not evil to regulate things, everything needs some form of regulation... just as long as they do not violate our human rights and just as long as we can continue to express our free thoughts.

I mean we do it everyday anyway. On Facebook for example, I have noticed an interesting trend: some of my friends who are normally introverted and shy in person are a lot more vocal and seem to have fewer qualms about voicing their opinions on the site. They post status updates sharing their thoughts on issues, comment on others’ posts, and provide links to websites, articles, photos and videos about topics that they deem important, even creating interest-specific groups to attract those who are keen to participate in online discussions on key causes. If social networking sites can allow us to voice our true opinions, then what is next... the internet censorship of Facebook?

It is so simple... if we don't want to live in a dictatorship, we must be vigilant to preserve our freedoms.  If we wish to preserve our freedoms, we must be informed on all issues and not be served "packaged news". Getting informed on the issues requires that we become acquainted with alternative points of view and yes why not from blogs as well. They are after all a platform for discussion/  

People have every right to think and speak out their opinion any which way they see fit. (but like I said as long as it is not harmful or illegal) After all in democratic societies, there must be some sort of public debating... otherwise everything is just black and white! 

On this note, and to lighten up today's post I want you all to enjoy the two videos I have posted at the bottom. I was quite surprised to listen to the opinions of two of Greece's most famous singers lash out at the government, talk about the economic crises that is plaguing Greece and even comment on the new world order. I must say... I was impressed...  Oh... and I also want to apologize for thinking of them to be apathetic to what was going on... They are more than informed and I salute them for speaking out. 

Stamatis Gonidis, known for producing and performing some of the top leading music hits in Greece speaks to Liakopoulos (Radio interview dated 24-2-2011) about the situation in northern Africa, the Greek credit crises, the "plans" of the secret banking elite as well as many other current affairs. After listening to the radio interview, I must say I was quite impressed. I personally have a larger respect for him now...

Same holds true for Notis Sfakianakis. In the above video Notis lashes out at the government, at the new world order, at the system in general and tells it all in the only way he knows how...

If Stamatis and Notis can do it... so can you... stand up and start talking ! Do not ever be afraid to speak out your mind, or allow yourself to be silenced’.
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