While the term “censorship” is nowhere to be found in the Saudi statement, the intent is clear: “Control free speech.”
Internet censorship is line with the kingdom’s muzzling of its national media. Overall restrictions have worsened since the Arab Spring popular revolutions of 2011, one of which occurred — but did not succeed — in neighboring Bahrain.
Outside the Box
Saudi Arabia is now seeking a broader approach — not only to prevent its people from seeing the “Innocence of Muslims” clip, but to head off similar incidents in the future.
The country is looking ahead to the World Telecommunication/Information and Communication Technology Policy Forum, or WTPF. This annual gathering is presented by the International Telecommunications Union, a branch of the United Nations.
For dictatorships — such as the Saudis and the Cubans — censorship by any name is the first response to anything that disrupts their social order. (Or as that other “bastion” of free expression, China, calls it, social stability.)
The tighter the dictators try to clamp down on dissenting views — whether it is political or religious — the more violent the reaction eventually becomes. The lessons of the former Yugoslavia should have been enough of a case study for people to have learned this lesson.
While Tito provided a veneer of a peaceful society to the rest of the world all the problems among the ethnic groups kept simmering, just like with a pressure cooker. After the iron heel was removed after the fall of communism in Europe, various ethnic groups finally were free to “right” all the real and perceived “wrongs” done over the years.
And we all saw the results of that, with issues still to be settled in the war crimes’ courts.
The plan the Saudis want approved by the WTPF will only provoke more and more violent reactions.
I gotta to back to Louis Brandeis, paraphrasing now: The answer to bad speech is more speech.
Eventually people figure out who the idiots are and they stop listening. When was the last time a city seriously considered ending fluoridation of the water supply because it is part of a commie plot? And people are beginning to understand how stupid the anti-vax movement is.
Yep there are still people who promote these wacko ideas, but they do not move public policy they once did.
Same is true for xenophobes and others who promote hate speech.
And in the final analysis, if the idiots don’t get freedom of speech, how soon will it be before less idiotic people have their speech restricted?