Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Democratic Censorship

Last night (April 25), Serbian authorities forcibly closed BK Television. According to the ANEM (Independent Electronic Media Association), this was done on the orders of the Broadcast Council, following BK's criticism of the council's allocation of public frequencies.

There's so much wrong with this picture, it's hard to pick a place to start. First of all, the existence of the Broadcast Council, modeled after the FCC, is an abomination. How can any country have media that are free and independent of government pressure if a government regulatory agency can yank their license or levy fines on them if their content is deemed "inappropriate"? Long and short of it is - it can't.

Second, there's such a thing as due process - or at least there should be. The government should not have the power to simply send over the cops and shut down a TV station, or a newspaper - or anything, really - without properly filed warrants that could be contested in court. Something all too many people aren't aware of is that laws (starting from the Constitution onward) exist to protect them from the government, not the other way around.

This isn't about BKTV - I've hardly ever seen their programming, and its content is frankly irrelevant; if content were grounds for government censorship, B92 would have been eligible for shutdown ages ago (as if that will ever happen to the flagship of Imperial/Jacobin propaganda...). Making its protest a "Yes, but" criticism, ANEM says that the Broadcast Council "is faced with the difficult task of bringing order to the chaotic situation in the Serbian media sector and will have to make many difficult and unpopular decisions..." But what is so chaotic about the Serbian media sector that requires government "ordering," with police batons no less? How is that morally different from the Milosevic-era Media Law that was held up as the paragon of oppression?

I thank God and human ingenuity that with the advent of the Internet age, the whole mainstream-media model is becoming rapidly obsolete, and that soon enough people will be able to generate and distribute information and entertainment content directly to consumers, without government licensing, censorship or "ordering." Yes, this will require readers/viewers to actually think for themselves and decide whether their sources of information are credible or not. But considering how many people buy into outright lies at worst and negligent stupidity at best, only because it comes from the mainstream newspapers and TV, that can only be a good thing.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Absence explained

I've been in Bosnia for the past three weeks, and deprived of reliable internet access, so I haven't been able to post anything about the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic, the elections in Belarus, the Montenegro vote-buying scandal, or even the Bosnian constitutional reform (boring though it may sound, it was actually quite an interesting topic).

Now that I am back Stateside, I'll post some thoughts in the days to come.

Les pieds d'argile

While in Bosnia-Herzegovina this past month, I saw reports of student riots in France over the new employment law, and thought: "Wait a minute... they object to the possibility of being fired, even though they haven't been allowed to work at all before?" Reading up on the French labor laws confirmed my original snap judgment: the minds of the French seem to have been permanently addled by the welfare-state intoxication.

I've nothing to add to Alan Bock's excellent analysis of the situation, except perhaps to recall a post from last year, invoking a Sci-fi analogy to describe the EUSSR. The "People's Republic of Haven," much like France - and its brainchild, the EU - is a giant with the feet of clay.