The Chinesegovernment has new rules that require all postings to Twitter-like sites in China to carry the writer’s full name. No more handles or “anon” postings.
The move is clearly designed to cast a chilling effect on critics of the government.
Additional steps were also taken to ensure that “social order” is maintained. Steps such as shutting down “objectionable” sites.
The latest crackdown came with the shut down of accounts held by journalists and artists.
One part of the article reminded me of a lesson learned from American history:
Another microblogger who uses satire to tackle sensitive topics is the cartoonist Kuang Biao, who said he publishes most of his work online. Kuang also found his weibo account closed, at 7 p.m. Friday.
“I guess my political cartoons made them unhappy,” Kuang said. “I just can’t figure out why they are even afraid of cartoons. (My emphasis) They lack confidence and don’t have any sense of humor.” Kuang said his cartoons mainly satirized official policy pronouncements and the well-documented misbehavior of some Communist Party officials.
Cartoons are more deadly than words, especially in societies with limited literacy.
We are talking about corruption and politics in New York in the last half of the 19th century.
Nast needled Tweed and the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine until finally The New York Times launched a major campaign to document and expose the corruption.
But it was not the words of the Times that bothered Tweed. It was the Nast cartoons:
I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures. — Boss Tweed
And so, the worries that the Chinese government and party leadership have about cartoons are the same worries that corrupt leaders have had for more than a century.