The war to eradicate Ukraine becomes a war to eradicate freedom of expression. When the Russians jail reporters who speak out against the regime, we all (“all”?) know that it is wrong. But what about the good guys, we liberate the peoples of the west who just want to protect a nation illegally invaded, murdered and destroyed?
We are also getting closer to the censorship game. Individuals who refuse to denounce the enemy are fired from their jobs. Academics are under pressure to toe the party line. Meta (Facebook) said it’s okay to post death threats now, as long as those threats are vague enough and aligned with company policy.
I am not aware (as of this writing) of any legal action being taken against Russian media, although I expect that outside the United States, hate speech laws begin to be invoked if they are not already.
Right here? I believe that private individuals, including companies, should be free to speak and not speak according to their convictions.
So. If Twitter is not a communication utility but a private discussion forum, then it is free to define its conversation rules as it sees fit. What if Canadian cable companies don’t want to carry Russian TV channels? On the face of it, I don’t see why they should be required any more than anyone should be required to stream Callioubless his irritating little heart.
Closer to Home: My husband is so thrilled that McDonald’s is pulling out of Russia to protest the war, and its consequent impact on the Russian public’s awareness that something is wrong on the Western Front, which he gives children a wad of money to spend there and only there. Can’t bring himself to eat the food, but he writes a letter to upper management thanking them for doing their part to break the stranglehold on Russian misinformation.
Keep this thought while I direct you to a reliable source for an introduction to diplomacy, warfare and nuclear deterrence:
I say. It’s a lot to read. Always.
Okay, and now I get to my point: I know the Russian government is lying through its teeth.
I also I know the Ukrainian government is run by an old-time comedian, and I say it in a good way: Ukrainian propaganda is much more entertaining than Russian black shirts dancing in lines and conference tables of young hostesses at the looking nervous. But can we be true to ourselves? If you keep seeing the same tractor pulling the same tank over and over and over. . . maybe the good-natured Ukrainian morons who seize the Russian war machines are not the main means of national defense. I mean, that and hot chicks with machine guns.
It’s a war. The reason you know these Ukrainian expats have already settled in your local community long before Putin made his final move? It is because Ukraine had problems. (Also: There were good things Americans can learn from.) Corruption didn’t go away with a wave of Russian artillery. Humans have just as fallen there as they are here.
While Ukrainian leaders have made masterful use of the media in self-defense, it must be understood that at best this use contains its share of misappropriation and bias – why shouldn’t Ukrainians be biased in favor defense of Ukraine? That’s how it goes.
And maybe there’s a bit of exaggeration there? Maybe a little lying? Not necessarily on a Russian scale, and Americans hardly have a corner of truthfulness when a useful lie can be deployed for a noble cause, but it is possible not all statements made by any Ukrainian media, government officials or citizens are the complete and unvarnished truth. Time will tell us.
And let me repeat: Defend your own country against illegal invasion East a noble cause. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Russia is engaged in an unprovoked invasion with the general intent of conquering and destroying Ukraine. Like all abusers, Putin plays the “but you deserve it” game.
For Europe and its allies, the stakes are enormous. If Ukraine falls, who’s next? How far will the empire stretch? And that’s before we even consider our well-ordered moral sense that innocent civilians should not be brutalized and murdered. It is therefore tempting, very tempting to justify trying the game of censorship and misinformation.
This is not the solution.
In place? We need a consistent policy of relentlessly pursuing the truth.
“We” pretty much fear that.
Our mainstream media don’t just take political stances (there is an ancient tradition in journalism), but they combine editorial politics and a touch of outright lying to construct narratives that are divorced from reality. Our government agencies are just as bad, if not worse. What about us, ordinary citizens? Honey, we’ve had this conversation before.
Lying destroys trust, and this loss of trust puts lives and souls at risk.
Public health has been destroyed by policies of coercive dishonesty. The Church has no credibility. Parents of all persuasions are rightly concerned about the lack of transparency from teachers and school administrators about what children are taught and how they are cared for. No one in their right mind believes everything the mainstream media says. Whack-job conspiracy theorists are has proven itself far too often for anyone’s good, theirs or ours.
In a dishonest world, censorship makes no sense.
You say you suppress liars. . . corn you are one of them. Block freedom of expression in the name of the common good? Who even knows what it is or what it means, other than the opinion of whoever is trending right now.
The only cure for lies is the truth.
There is no other way.
Only the truth, all the time.
If this is your policy, you will gain credibility. Over time, people will learn that you are the person, organization or medium to believe in and trust.
It’s the the only way effectively fight misinformation.
The only way.
Photo: Double rainbow in the Ukrainian countryside, by Anatoliy Volkov, CC 4.0.
FYI, if you’re looking for some Lenten stuff from me zero politics, try here.