Good GOD I’m glad I don’t live in China:
Fan Yanqiong, Wu Huaying and You Jingyou were found guilty of slander and harming state interests, in a trial which attracted protests outside court. They had posted videos online in which the woman said her daughter died after being raped by thugs linked to police.
Does there have to be any more evidence that free speech is a good idea? How can anyone defend the right of the state to put people in prison because it “harms state interests” to speak out against the rape of a young girl? I can imagine fewer things more horrible than experiencing the rape and death of your daughter (maybe getting sprayed with motherfucking acid, but it’s a close second). Imagine going through that horrifying ordeal, and then being thrown in jail because you talked about it. Any attempt on China’s part to claim a positive human rights record is a line of bullshit as long as they allow practices like this to even be a remote possibility.
But it doesn’t stop there. You don’t even have to slander the government, just criticize them and get locked up:
A Tibetan writer who had signed an open letter critical of the Chinese government’s quake relief efforts in western Qinghai province has been detained by police, according to a family friend.
The writer, pseudonym Zhogs Dung, is apparently a regular critic of the government. You have to admire the grapefruit-seized balls it takes to be a regular critic of a government that locks you up if your kid gets raped. After the recent earthquake, Zhogs posted a criticism of the government’s efforts, saying it was better to send money through someone you knew because of widespread corruption. “Corrupt, are we?” said the government “we’ll show you how not corrupt we are, by arresting you and refusing to say why you’re being charged!” Someone’s been paying attention to the USA’s practices with “foreign combatants” at Gitmo.
But to be fair, China does allow some free speech, as long as you’re a multi-million dollar corporation, but then you don’t get much of a choice:
China is poised to pass a law requiring telecommunications and internet companies to report any revelation of state secrets, potentially forcing businesses to collaborate with the country’s vast security apparatus that stifles political dissent.
I realize that it’s an incredible privilege I enjoy, being able to insult the Chinese, American, Canadian, Indonesian (and on, and on) governments without fear of being put in jail. I take this gift seriously, which is why I promise to keep bringing stuff like this up. Free speech is bloody inconvenient. It’s probably the hardest thing to make practical. However, it’s of vital importance to the health of society. Abrogation of free speech is a threat to civilization everywhere. The only way we were able to claw western Europe out of the dark ages was through the increased availability of information and free speech. Persia and China seem poised to take a huge jump back into the good old days of religious (or secular totalitarian) domination of law and political systems, with the United States not lingering too far behind. Now more than ever (well… maybe not more than ever, but still now) we need to stand up with one voice and say that free speech is the right of every human person, and the only way to secure a free, peaceful world.