April 14, 2012

Quote of the Day:
Censorship Affects People's Livelihoods

“So much of the censorship relates to things that have a real impact on people’s livelihoods. The societal and human cost of censorship is heartbreaking.”
- Sarah Cook, Freedom House

Quite. One can see why so much of censorship has a real impact on people's lives. After all, how can Chinese teenagers feel safe and secure without access to Facebook or Twitter? How can the Chinese people be expected to survive when their own government won't allow them to watch more than 20 Hollywood movies a year? How can they sleep at night knowing that they cannot search for images of the Dalai Lama?

I can't imagine how the Chinese people can go on living under such an oppressive government. Truly heartbreaking.


  1. "
    After all, how can Chinese teenagers feel safe and secure without access to Facebook or Twitter? How can the Chinese people be expected to survive when their own government won't allow them to watch more than 20 Hollywood movies a year?"<---I hope you made these comments w/ sarcasm, because I detect none in the blog.  Facebook/Twitter necessary to Chinese youths' safety/security?  Are you f---ing stupid?  Have you ever been to China?  I've lived and worked there.  Nothing in Chinese people's daily lives suggest they miss having those Western companies in their lives.  They have their own versions of FB & Twitter in RenRen and Weibo, which are quite nimble at passing news around that their gov't doesn't want read.  

  2. My dear brandon, this is a common rhetorical style that is used to convey sarcasm. Being safe and secure has nothing whatsoever to do with Facebook or Twitter, and that is what makes it sarcastic. I can't really fathom how you detected no sarcasm in the post! In fact, this style is so very common that I am very surprised at your comment.

    To reiterate - Yes, Chinese people do not miss western companies such as Facebook or Twitter, and they have homegrown equivalents. But the point that Sarah Cook makes is that " much of censorship relates to things that have a real impact on people's livelihoods", which is stupid, since people's livelihoods are hardly affected by censorship of this nature. She is generalizing isolated incidents that "relate" to only one small area of censorship and extrapolating her interpretation of the effect to mean that "so much of the censorship" affects people's livelihoods.

  3.  Actually, while this post is done in sarcasm, I think the issues of censorship is important enough to be dealt with um perhaps less sarcasm.

    Yes censorship - done by an unenlightened gov't - can exact great toll - by keeping the people uninformed.  Problem is that every gov't censors - even the U.S.  In Germany, you can't express anti-semitic thoughts, you can't form nazi parties, and you can't advocate overthrow of the government.  The reason is because there is still anti-semitic attitudes that the gov't is afraid of people lighting a fire that tear apart the post WWII order in Germany. 

    In the U.S., the nation used to have strongs anti-sedition laws that in effect outlawed people from the use of "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language"
    about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces and/or
    that words that treats the American government or its institutions
    with contempt. The reason - there was a legitimate and genuine concern that rumors and lies about the gov't can light a fire to the populace's imagination that destroys the U.S. order.  The U.S. today is much more relaxed because it is in such a safe geopolitical position.

    But that doesn't mean speech can't tar and tear a society apart in general.  So-called human rights organization today too often are oblivious to the needs of people around the world for freedom from libel, misinformation, inflammation and incitement.  Governments always have a role in regulation information.  Just like a police force can used for good and illicit purposes, so can censorships.  Trying to cast censorship uniformly in one light - without looking at the historical, cultural, social and political context is just to show one's blindness.

  4. Thanks for commenting Allen.

    I do understand your concerns about censorship being a serious issue, and I am certainly not downplaying it. However, my sarcasm was directed not towards censorship itself but towards people like Sarah Lane and others who claim that censorship has "a real impact on people's livelihoods". Surely you see the irony in the idea that somehow censorship (such as not being allowed to access the Dalai Lama's website or to worship a photo of him - something that, ironically, The Buddha himself was explicitly against) has a "heartbreaking" "societal and human cost"? This argument calls out for sarcasm. It literally begs, pleads and prays to be ridiculed and lambasted!!

    Such arguments hold less water than the Sahara and completely break down when treated with some insight. As you know, western journalists and "analysts" are terribly apt to extrapolate trivial and comparatively mild incidents and cases of censorship (just to take one example - of the 644 million websites in the world, just 18,000 are blocked in China - a rate of less than 0.003 %) and cast them as major policy issues that have deep societal impact, when in fact that impact, if any, is downright puny when one looks at the larger picture - and sometimes, even when one doesn't!

    The amount of coverage given to China's censorship in the western press tries to convey the impression that the average Chinese lies awake at night thinking about how he cannot access Youtube or Facebook, and that the entire nation of a billion people thinks of nothing else than not being able to get complete results for certain keywords. Some people have even gone so far as to suggest that censorship hinders innovation and scientific research in China. If that is indeed true, then the Chinese scientists who broke the quantum teleportation record must be truly applauded for doing it without access to Facebook!

    You are right to point out that unfounded rumours can indeed cause havoc, which is why the Epoch Times spread the rumour about the coup in Beijing (and I believe even started it), rumours which elicit erections in the western press. Casting "censorship uniformly in one light - without looking at the historical, cultural, social and political context" is exactly what the western media does, and that is exactly what I am targeting in my post.

  5. Your post really made me ROFL. Chinese used their own media. For google? They used Baidu. People do not need to watch movie to survive. And for Dalai Lama, indeed he is a hero for everyone but did you know that China's gov is controlling the flow. Every Chinese in the world hate Dalai Lama even my friends from Malaysia. 
    And you know what my Chinese friends told me? 

    "We are actually glad our country block certain things from us because if the gov shows us, we would probably join PLA. I hate Dalai Lama for being a hypocrite." 

    I asked why? I thought Dalai Lama is a hero of Tibet. And they answered me, this answer really shocked me and change my mind thought about Dalai Lama forever in my life. 

    They answered "Did you ever see a monk will burn themselves for independent? Did you ever see a monk will donates almost a million to India but not his own place which is Tibet? Did you ever see a monk will called for independent after he found out that China kept 190tons of gold in Tibet? Why he never call for independent before the gold was there? What did Buddhism teach? Life is previous, never care of politics only the value of other's life. But what did Dalai Lama do? Sacrifice the human's life just to complete his duty?"

    All these questions, I answered them with non-sense because I am an Buddhism ofc I defend Dalai Lama but when I went back home, I think more than hundred times on my bed and I seriously realize when I answered the Chinese. All of the answers were bullshit that just trying to cover the truth. I do not want to know the truth cos I am lying myself and forcing myself not to take the questions hardly. But is true, even when the USA media reporter ask this about Dalai Lama, they censored the part. So what's the difference between China block Dalai Lama? 

    We kept on criticize China and Russia for blocking the media but the real country who blocked almost everything is USA. Not to say those bad things, did they put it out during the world war 2 without the help of China PLA and Germany Albert.E, they could sit on the chair of leader now?

    So to be honest, I hate country who blocked almost everything made me feel like an idiot but to think of it, there must always be a reason behind it.

    Conclusion, my Chinese friends often say. "We are lucky that China blocked not to see Dalai Lama post because seeing him once in the media will rage our anger and hated him more"

    I seem to be quite support the Chinese because my group almost 60% are Chinese. They are good, they don't like to talk about politics but only friendships. They don't seem to be friendly and do not crack joke often but once my homework or assignment in trouble, they will join me. They speak english well even an equal standard of mine but they learning how to speak Malay. Comparing to my other friends, I still prefer to hangout with the Chinese. But one thing I hated the most, they do not brush teeth in the morning! GOD DAMN!

  6. Thanks for commenting Damil.

    I agree with you that censorship can indeed help maintain stability and order. In fact, it has also been said that China censored certain news during the Tibetan riots in 2008 so that citizens of both ethnicities would be ignorant of the fact that killings and violence were still going on, otherwise such news (much of it was based on rumours anyway) would have incited further violence.

    As for Dalai Lama, well, as we all know, his intentions are completely saintly aren't they?. ;-) He would never do anything to harm China!

    The plain fact of the matter is, despite censorship in China, life goes on rather well - much better than other developing countries. The Chinese internet is one of the most dynamic and vibrant places in the world, despite the censorship. The average Chinese doesn't really care much about Tienanmen or the Dalai Lama or Falun Gong, in just the same way that most people of other countries too have no more than a fleeting interest in politics as long as it doesn't affect their lives directly. The average Chinese is hardly affected by China's internet censorship. The western press, on the other hand, focuses only on these minor issues, and hardly pays any attention to the 99.99% of the internet that is not censored at all and people use happily and satisfactorily.


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