little information comes out of North Korea, that
when it does it almost emits an audible creaking sound
as it struggles to free itself from the dead weight
of state censorship. And when the country was afflicted
by a rail explosion in April causing widespread death
and injury, it was via China that news travelled.
A strange conductor of information, given its attempts
to stop news of the SARS virus reaching beyond its
own borders coupled with its more recent hostile resistance
to media probing of the spread of AIDS within the
hindering of newsgathering agencies is something that
totalitarian regimes impose. In the democratic West
our news comes unfiltered, virtue of a plurality of
sources and the separation of powers. That is if we
choose to believe the official account of how our
societies function. But why would anyone other than
the devout affirmer of self-denial go for that? As
Glenn Garvin could complain of much US commentary
on events abroad, it is utterly, dumbfoundingly,
very evening that I watched reports about state censorship
in North Korea, on the very same news channel, and
without the merest hint of irony, the same broadcasters
informed their viewers about attempts by the White
House to ban photographers from taking pictures of
coffins containing US war dead arriving back at Andrews
Air Force Base in Washington. The White House attitude
to such matters apparently summed up by an earlier
Barbara Bush comment on Good Morning America:
should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and
how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many
this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's
not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful
mind on something like that?
the dead soldiers her son's policies produce are dismissed
as irrelevant, then a very relevant question is why
should American parents waste their beautiful children
on someone like her or her strategically dysfunctional
son who is evidently only too willing to follow in
the footsteps of his mothers Marie Antoinette
logic: 'look, nobody likes to see dead people on their
television screens. I don't. It's a tough time for
the American people to see that. It's gut-wrenching.
As well as not applying to Saddam's dead sons, it
rings hollow in a country where the governor of California
is celebrated for over the top gratuitous violence
in his stiff movies - was it 17 cops he killed in
one attack in Terminator 1? Apparently, make-believe
dead are alright. Have a nice day, kind of thing.
these matters Eddie Holt is always worth revisiting:
without censorship, war becomes unbearable.
It hides from us what is done in our name; diverts
our minds into conscience-comfort regions where we
view it as we might a bad play - distasteful but not
unbearable. Westmoreland appreciated it in Vietnam
- 'without censorship, things can get terribly confused
in the public mind.'
US ability to wage its war in Iraq needs protected
from the actions people might take as a result of
what they see. And not good for the revolting business
of war is the type of comment made by a school friend
of 20 year old soldier Michelle Witmer at her Wisconsin
funeral: 'I am absolutely revolted. I'm ready for
the war to be over. It just seems like a hopeless
concealment is the name of the game, as American professor
of journalism, Robert Jensen asserts:
same powerful people also do their best to derail
critique - the process of working to understand
the nature of things around us and offering judgments
about them - because that tends to energize people
and leads to resistance.
the coffins that Bush wants to hide but is nevertheless
prepared to see filled with US troops in pursuit of
his crazed theocratic vision have seen their traffic
volume increase dramatically as a result of US attempts
to impose censorship on Iraqis. After Paul Bremmer
closed Sheikh Moqtada al-Sadr's weekly newsletter,
alleging that it had incited violence in the country
there was an uprising which led to multiple deaths
including American military. But the paper had not
advocated attacks on US troops stationed in the country.
The excuse for closing it was false reporting.
And Fox News can stay open? Censor your way in and
censor what is coming out.
its attempts to suppress news reaching home US troops
have on occasion murdered journalists. And for those
courageous enough to go against the grain within the
country they face the wrath of rabid right wing scribes
like Ann Coulter who seek to crucify anyone dissenting
from their own perspective on the war, even decorated
war heroes from previous forays abroad. Writers and
film makers like Michael Moore who might provide the
US public with a better insight into the nature of
the US governing strata are also facing censorship.
The Walt Disney Company is blocking the distribution
of his new documentary Fahrenheit 911, that
is severely critical of President Bush, linking him
to prominent Saudis, including close relatives of
Osama bin Laden. It also critically scrutinises the
presidents actions before and after 9/11.
commented: at some point the question has to
be asked, should this be happening in a free and open
society where the moneyed interests essentially call
the shots regarding the information that the public
is allowed to see? And it is lame journalistic
logic which justifies concealment on the view that
shock overwhelms information every time.
In other words, only information that soothes rather
than shocks. Moore added if his documentary is partisan
in any way it is partisan on the side of the
poor and working people in this country who provide
fodder for this war machine. More fake more
fodder, Michael, and you are upsetting it for them.
this week World Press Freedom Day took place. North
Korea is not the only place in need of it.
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