As Americans, we are quite lucky to have the freedom of speech.
Sure, it is easy to take this God-given right for granted, especially when we are made to feel uncomfortable or angry by someone else’s opinion, but we cannot let being personally offended direct our national policy on freedom. If we were to succumb to such emotional warfare, we would be no better off than we would under a dictator or a tyrannical and conniving political under any other moniker.
The world outside of America seems to be heading toward a restriction of free speech, however. Not only will New Zealanders face jail time for possessing a copy of the recent mosque attacker’s manifesto, but having even looked at the live streamed video of the event is punishable by the law for the Kiwis.
As heinous and vile as this attack was, turning it into a teachable moment is the only option. Sweeping the shooter’s manifesto under the rug is a huge disservice to mankind, as we continue to look for ways to prevent future attacks.
Worse still is what’s occurring in Russia, where Vladimir Putin has signed into effect a new law that would make criticism of his government a crime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new law which will allow the punishment of individuals and online media for spreading what Russia calls “fake news” and information which “disrespects” the state.
The new rules allow prosecutors to direct complaints about material considered insulting to Russian officials to the government, which can then block websites publishing the information. Publications that repeatedly spread “unreliable”information which undermines social order, may face fines of up to $23,000, and repeat offenders could spend time in jail, according to The Washington Post.
The laws will target online information that presents “clear disrespect for society, government, state symbols, the constitution and government institutions.”
While the world may be turning to fascism, censorship, and a “head in the sand” ethos, we must not allow Americans to fall for the same schtick.
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