The Tyranny of Fear and Censorship
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Tyranny of Fear and Censorship

We must protect free speech online.

243
The Tyranny of Fear and Censorship
www.newyorker.com

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, The French National Assembly quickly adopted new legislation under its state of emergency to further the Minister of the Interior’s powers to block any website “promoting terrorism or inciting terrorist acts”, without the prerequisite 24-hour delay. This legislation also includes “powers to carry out searches of seized devices and to block websites”. U.S. and European officials are also calling for augmented government surveillance powers. Senator Joe Barton (R-Texas) in particular has suggested that the Federal Communications Commission attempt to shut down the parts of the Internet that are being used by the Islamic State.

Our instinctive reaction to the horror that we witnessed in November is to slap a band-aid solution over the festering wound of terrorism out of our fear that we will be again forced to witness a similar atrocity. Yet it would be another transgression against humanity to listen to the fear and passively relinquish our rights to free speech and access to information online, in a vain attempt to censor terrorists.

We need to tackle problems rather than blocking them from the Internet. France’s anti-terrorism law allows websites to be blocked if they “condone terrorism.” Terrorism is a slippery idea, and this vague definition has elicited censure from the Human Rights Watch. “Harmless” information and ideas versus those that contain the malicious intent of terrorism are inextricable from each other. It would be especially undesirable for a nation’s citizens to have their government make that distinction. The proposition reeks of Big Brother, where online ideas, news, or information that undermines the government’s power can be hidden from the eyes of the public under the excuse of “terrorism”.

Rather than authorizing government censorship, where the public is barred from accessing certain information, and the public has never been aware of the existence of such information in the first place, we should allow the speech to be published online. Then we may condemn them for it if it is illegal. The implications of permitting the government to have power over what the public never even knew existed are chilling. We would also hinder protected free speech. It is unnecessary to tempt a repeat of the McCarthy Era.

If the constituents of the voting population are unaware of current terrorist activities and ideologies, they are also rendered unable to take personal action against terrorism- whether they are voting for representatives that have devised policies to counteract foreign and domestic terrorism, or taking journalistic action themselves. In any case, we are ultimately better off knowing what is out there. It is a more desirable alternative to building a brick shelter all around us so that we can block the entry of terrorist ideas, than being surprised when the shelter is torn down by an attack that we weren’t able to see assembling outside.

While we may not have a definite solution to prevent terrorism, I know that we will not find it in Internet censorship.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Leaving My Backpack In The Library

Views about society and the stranger sitting right across from me

19734
https://unsplash.com/photos/O0T1SIgHAfM

As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.

89823

Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.

116359

As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

98234
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FmWuCgJmxo

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

'The Addams Family 2' Film Review

The sequel to the 2019 reboot is an enjoyable, but unremarkable start to the Halloween movie season

63316
Photo Credit: MGM – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd82bSBDE84

There's a reason why the Addams Family have become icons of the American cartoon pantheon (although having one of the catchiest theme songs in television history doesn't hinder them).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments