The news media advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders released their fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index this week, and it shows that the United States has dropped 9 places since last year, and is now ranked 53rd, alongside Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. The authors of the report say that the steady erosion of press freedom in countries like the US, France and Japan (two other countries that slipped significantly on the index) is "very alarming."
Yep, we're the land of the free and the home of the brave, alright. Read both pieces, and be afraid. Be very afraid.
But wait! We're in good company. Bloggers are the newest target of government censorship:
Amnesty International is launching a campaign on behalf of a whole new category of prisoners of conscience - internet bloggers and chatroom visitors arrested by repressive governments for expressing unwelcome views or disseminating sensitive information online.
In an appeal issued today, the human rights watchdog is urging webmasters around the world to stand up for their imprisoned fellow bloggers - in countries such as Iran, Tunisia, Vietnam and China - and denouncing major internet service providers, including Yahoo! and Microsoft, for providing foreign governments with the information they need to purge the web of dissenting voices.
. . .
"People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an e-mail or on a website," said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty. "Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information. Companies have restricted internet searches to stop people accessing information that repressive governments don't want them to see.
. . .
A number of governments have resorted to filtering and blocking mechanisms to keep unwelcome political content off the internet, Amnesty said. But the group also criticised big private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for acceding to the demands of repressive governments and passing on information identifying bloggers.
Most bloggers I know personally are pretty careful about what they write. No overt threats that might bring Secret Service agents to the door...we hope. Frankly, threats are not the Democratic way. Perhaps the Republican way...But at this rate, we must consider the many times government mouthpieces have admonished us to be careful:
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it's a terrible thing to say, and it unfortunate. And that's why -- there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party -- they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.
I am ever more concerned that at the least McCarthyism, and at the worst outright censorship might be in the works. These people, the ruling right wing, are deadly serious.
Thanks to emailer Joe for the heads-up on the Amnesty International report.