Wednesday, August 08, 2012
When is media too oppressive and when is media too free
In December 2010 the humiliation of one street seller in Tunisia set of a chain of events going somewhere no one on earth could have comprehended. This man was Mohammed Bouazizi who died because of self immolation. Because of the treatment he received by a police officer. The resulting protests in Tunisia due to lack of economic opportunity and lack of freedom of media and speech eventually led to the removal of longtime Tunisian president Ben Ali. The lack of free speech was a real motivation in bringing people out onto the streets to protest. Media played a bigger part in the Arab spring than any other revolution in history. The situations in Egypt, Libya and Syria have all been largely due to the lack of freedom. The situations in Bahrain and Yemen have also been to remove a ruling elite that have controlled power for many years. Another question that this raises is: does the restriction of media really mean a revolution can happen. Many of the nations with the highest rated restrictions on media are not Arab nations at all but many Asian nations and these countries have a tough stance on protests and will be crushed just like the attempts by the Arab world. The nations of North Korea, Myanmar and Turkmenistan have the highest rating of censorship and have pretty tight control over callers for democracy in their respective countries. It is clear that in the countries that have been mentioned that media restrictions are too oppressive. However what is the right level of freedom and restriction, there have been ongoing media problems in countries where there is a free press and there is an even greater problem with oppressive countries.
The restriction of media has also come to the fore in the UK with the ongoing Leveson inquiry and the role the media has to play in a western society as well. There was a lot of anger in the UK about the practices of some of the top newspapers in the country and there was real disgust at the phone hacking of murder victims and their families. There was also scrutiny at the relationship many figures in media have with politicians and there seemed to be a disdain for the amount of freedom the press was having regarding a lack of legislation. But which society does get it right. There have been controversies in the Scandinavian countries about some of the things that get printed in their media and there is no one right answer to which level of freedoms is right. In my opinion there is no right answer to what is the the right level freedom of media. The only way for one to know if the right level of restrictions on media is the correct level is to how the public act towards the media published. In the UK there was an outcry over the actions of the press so there must be legislation to combat these actions furthermore in the Arab countries there was a rebellion over the lack of free media. However there has to be a complete freedom of speech to know how restricted a media should be.