Thursday, October 3, 2013

Freedom of Speech Threatened

Throughout history, governments have constantly suppressed the freedom of speech in order to protect their throne. They fear that when dissenters are given a voice, they will lose the support of their constituents. Their paranoia extends especially to journalists who can reach the mass public with the most ease. In spite of the fact that most of the democratic world has declared freedom of speech an essential aspect of human rights, many corners of the world remain oppressive and controlling of their press.

Such is the case in Jordan where the authorities have arrested the publisher and chief editor of Jafra News. The news website allegedly posted a Youtube video of a Qatari prince sitting, dancing, and showering with several women. The charge against them is “disturbing relations with a foreign state.” However, one can easily see through this excuse. It would not be the fault of the journalists if the video did indeed “disturb relations” with a foreign state; it would obviously be the fault of the Qatari prince who actually committed those acts. Criminalizing those who reveal the truth because it disturbs the carefully constructed authority of those in power removes responsibility and accountability from the government. 

In addition, Jordan is unique in the way they persecute the staff of online publications as they deny them trials in the regular courts. Technology and online journalism has allowed the government to take journalists less seriously and therefore easily refuse to acknowledge their human rights.

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