Opinion

Appreciate online expression in U.S.

These days, everyone has some sort of online outlet for expression, whether it is a blog, Facebook profile or Twitter account, social media lets us share whatever we want, whenever we want.

But what if you truly had to think before you pressed the “enter” key?

A journalist in China was recently arrested for posting about the alleged corruption of certain government officials on his blog.

This made me think of all the times I’ve scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed and found countless posts criticizing the government – from “I wish people in Congress would let go of their egos and come to an agreement” to “OBAMA SUCKS I’M MOVING TOO CANADA.”

No matter the content, no matter the truth or falsity, no matter the grammatical errors, everyone in the United States is allowed to speak their minds, provided they are not endangering anybody by doing so.

Unfortunately, the same does not go for the citizens of China. The arrested journalist, Liu Hu, was charged with defamation and had his posts deleted.

News analysts call the charge a speech crime and consider it part of the Chinese government’s recent campaign to tighten control over the Internet.

In a separate case, four people were arrested for posting about government dissatisfaction on a social media forum. Several other journalists and a high-profile blogger were also arrested for their online writings.

The new Internet guidelines are meant to crack down on “rumor-mongering.” Many believe it is a tool being used by the ruling Communist Party to cut down on criticism and control Internet opinions.

China’s lack of freedom of expression contributes to a closed society that stifles new ideas and healthy communal debate: two factors that are essential for progress in a country.

In contrast, Americans’ freedom to exchange ideas is the key to our nation’s growth. Being allowed to question the government sheds light on issues that may need to be addressed. It’s the gateway to positive change.

Remember when President Obama was elected and people wrote posts and made memes calling him an “Islamic terrorist?” And then all those people were arrested and charged for doing so? Yeah, me neither.

So keep posting, my fellow Internet-users, because whether it be your criticism of the government or your cat wearing hipster glasses, you’re safe here in the states.

And I’m thankful for that freedom to press enter.

 

Melanie Martinez is a sophomore majoring in journalism.

November 3, 2013

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Melanie Martinez


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