In the United States, freedom of the press to trash politicians is enshrined in our culture, at a de jure and de facto level. Multi-billion dollar “news” enterprises are set up to deliver non-stop criticism of President Obama, facts and fairness are purely optional. And the worst thing that could happen to journalists (and this happened 40+ years ago) was that a President like Richard Nixon would have them audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
Not so in many parts of the world. In New Delhi, India this week, Jagendra Singh was doused in gasoline, lit on fire and killed for having criticized a government minister one time too many.
In Saudi Arabia, today, the blogger named Raif Badawai is about to be publicly flogged for having posted comments critical of the kingdom’s religious establishment. His sentence was 1000 lashes. When his sentence started in January, the first 50 lashes almost killed him.
This is sad and pathetic.
I understand nobody likes criticism, including me. But when you use your brute force to shut down criticism, you just make yourself look guilty in the process and your create more hidden pressures to topple you from power.
The end is clear. There is a worldwide push for transparency, openness, and individual freedom. Where governments use their force to stifle this impulse, they are sowing the seeds for future revolutions to throw them out.
And the revolutions are coming. The internet allows people everywhere to see other people criticize government leaders, business leaders, and, well, everyone. Once people realize that is a right that others have, they want it for themselves and nothing is going to diminish that desire, not even floggings and burnings.
TJ Walker is president of Media Training Worldwide. You can find his online training courses here. https://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com/online-training.html