Big Brother Wants You to Shut Up

Here in America, we’re big fans of touting rights that we don’t actually have. If I received money every time I was preached to about the glorious free-press of the United States, I would have been able to pay for my journalism degree no problem.  We love to look at other countries and write patronizing articles about government censorship of journalists and simultaneously ignore the censorship that goes on here at home. 

In a piece by Fox News’ Michael Park, it is revealed that Google censored journalist Matthew Lee after he posted coverage that exposed corruption within the United Nations: 

How big do you have to be to earn the wrath of the United Nations and Internet giant Google?

If you’re journalist Matthew Lee, all it takes are some critical articles and a scrappy little Web site… 

Many of Lee’s stories were featured prominently whenever Web users looked for news about the U.N. using the powerful Google News search engine, a vital way for media outlets both large and small to get their articles read.

But beginning Feb. 13, Google News users could no longer find new stories from the Inner City Press.

This should raise a red flag for anybody who believes in the notion of a free press and anyone who believes in true democracy. To de-list a publication due to an editorial disagreement is outrageous, and something that an American would normally associate with a terrible dictator “somewhere else in the world,” but this clearly shows that we need not look beyond our own borders to find government censorship. In an editorial from the St. Louis Dispatch reposted on Commondreams begins with some very poignant questions that more of us should be asking:

Should your cell phone company decide who can send you a text message? Should your Internet service provider block your Internet movie because it doesn’t like the file-sharing service you’re using?

We suspect that most consumers would say no. When people sign up for a communications service, Big Brother shouldn’t come with the deal.


But Big Brother is, and will continue, to be involved in the equation. As we’re censored at home by Google, an article published by AP/ the Sydney Morning Herald revealed Google’s complacency in internet censorship in China as well: 

Google promised to “obey Chinese law” and avoid linking to material deemed a threat to national security or social stability, said Zhang Feng, director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s Telecoms Development Department, at a news conference.

Why aren’t we more alarmed? Shouldn’t this be an indication of how close the United States is getting to the very same censorship we decry in China? Why is it that everyone’s ok without complacency in censorship both abroad and at home? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I sure as hell will continue to raise them.  One thing is for certain, though: we can’t keep celebrating our free press in journalism classrooms when our free press is eroding at a rapid pace. 


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