When the revolution in Egypt sprang up in January of 2011, it was obvious to most of the world the reason. Years of government corruption and oppressive behavior as well as the brutality of the police lead to a variety of protestors from different socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanding the dismantlement of the previously established Egyptian regime. Seeing an opportunity for a new way to protest, the youth took to the Internet, blogging, tweeting and posting about the corruption they were seeing and the brutality they were facing. The result? Bloggers were beaten, arrested and some even (such as Egyptian, Khaled Said) were killed. The government continued to silence these protestors by shutting down the Internet and eliminating freedom of speech: a law that is clearly stated in the Egyptian constitution.
When discussing this issue with friends and family, they are appalled, but not evidently shocked. We knew the Egyptian government was corrupt didn’t we? Are we really that surprised that they are censoring the media? I understand their reasoning, but what I don’t necessarily comprehend is their ability to “other” the situation. As the Occupy Wall Street Movement is spreading nationally and globally, I am starting to see the issue of media censorship not just in countries with well-known corrupted governments. Right here in the United States the issue of censorship is well at large.
On November 3, 2011 the Occupy College’s Facebook posted that their Twitter account was suspended on the day they were suppose to be hosting a National Solidarity Teach In. On November 29, 2011, an alternative media press, the LAist, posted an article on how the LAPD is handpicking media to cover the Occupy LA Movement. These are just some of the hundreds of examples of how we as citizens of the United States are receiving mediated versions of the press. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that the congress cannot pass any law that limits freedom of speech of the people or the press. We as United States citizens might want to take this into account as Internet censorship legislations are barreling through congress. Are we willing to sit back and watch our voices be silenced? The Supreme Court has already altered the First Amendment in 1919 and later in 1927 and 1969, which limits a persons ability to say anything in public that might encourage “imminent lawless action”, so what’s next? This isn’t just an issue facing countries like Egypt; this is one right here on our home turf.
Land of the free? You be the judge.