Abe, Tucker, Taahir
Current Governmental Censors
Censorship is an action that has been practiced since the beginning of leadership in any group of people. It has been used an attempt to quell voices that would do harm to a particular group or organization. While censorship has commonly been enforced when a group or individual has stirred trouble for the one being protested or pushed against, it is mostly used for prevention. Countries like North Korea, China, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt are prime examples of censorship as a means for prevention of revolutionist thought.
Censors can take many forms, most modernly however, they have taken the form of internet and cellular censorings. In D. Robie’s “Cafe Pacific and Online Censorship: Cyberspace Media in an Island State,” questions are raised about the prevalence of the internet in countries at the turn of the century. He observes possible arguments in favor of censorship in the book. One argument brings to light the fact that the internet is subject to outside interpretations. For example, a journalist can report on a crime and discuss the punishment for the crime. Biases aside, anyone from another country could see the punishment for the crime and deem it unbefitting on a few different spectrums. This brings negative criticism to the country because of the conflict of laws between countries or states. In this case, internet censors have a different kind of use. However, while this may seem like a logical reason to censor something, most countries that enforce strict censors do not operate under this philosophy.
Syria and Egypt are probably the most modern examples of an attempted censoring as a means for prevention. Both nations attempted to ban Facebook as well as other forms of social media from the public because it was a means for contact for them to organize protests and other demonstrations. Muhammed Bouazizi was a twenty-six year old Egyptian man who lit himself on fire near the Egyptian parliament because the police had seized his vegetable cart for virtually no reason. He died of his burns weeks later, but he became a martyr to the public, and became a symbol for revolution in the public. As more protests and demonstrations occurred, Facebook and YouTube were both banned.
Another prime example of censoring being used as prevention is Thailand’s government. Thailand, a monarchy, is notorious for its public censors reaching into even the text messages of the population. Ampon Tangnoppakul was a sixty-one year old man serving a twenty year sentence for four text messages that offended royal censors. He died in prison because of the four text messages he claimed he never sent. Similarly, reporters and journalists are being persecuted for uncomplimentary statements about the royal family. In another case, Joe Gordon, an American citizen who was born in Thailand was convicted for posting a banned biography of the king on the internet while he was he was in the US. He was imprisoned when he visited Thailand. His five year sentence was cut in half because he pleaded guilty.
Ironically, many censorships that are implemented as means of prevention escalate the violence and protest in countries. Such is the case with Syria, Egypt, Libya, and even to some extent in China. The people, who are already stripped of basic human rights, like the right to be speak or think freely, are forced to give up even more. Even if the censor does not apply to everyone, everyone is still affected, causing further stress in their domestic lives. This can inspire a myriad of reactions, many resulting in the denouncement of a government.