16 de noviembre de 2011, American Censorship Day


Censura es un término que le pertenece a la acción gubernamental, solo los gobiernos pueden quitar libros del mercado, alterar su contenido o suprimir las opiniones de autores. El gobierno es quien puede hacer uso de la fuerza en contra de los individuos para callarlos. Según J.M. Coetzee en su libro Contra la censura, ensayos sobre la pasión por silenciar, “el censor actúa, o cree que actúa, en interés de la comunidad. En la práctica, es frecuente que exprese la indignación de la comunidad o que imagine dicha indignación y la exprese; en ocasiones imagina tanto la comunidad como la indignación de esta.” Así que decide actuar por el bien común, para mantener el orden, la moral y las buenas costumbres. Las personas tienen el derecho a expresar libremente sus ideas, para estar en contra de las determinaciones gubernamentales y opinar al respecto. Todo acto de censura atenta contra ese derecho.

El fenómeno de la censura se incrementa conforme se incrementan los medios que tienen los autores para difundir sus ideas. Con la creación de la imprenta, los periódicos fueron el medio predilecto para criticar a los gobiernos y ellos tomaban medidas para prohibir la impresión de periódicos. En esta era de comunicaciones, tenemos un sin fin de medios para expresar nuestra opinión y hay quienes quieren restringir el acceso que tenemos a ellos. Hoy es el “American Censorship Day” porque hoy el congreso de los Estados Unidos votará para aprobar o no la implementación de un sistema de censura que le permitirá al gobierno bloquear a los sitios web y multar a los autores que consideren que atentan contra las regulacones de derechos de autor.

Este video explica el proyecto de dicho sistema

El punto que me llama poderosamente la atención es el hecho de que justifiquen una acción de censura con el pretexto de la defensa de los derechos de autor. Todos sabemos que la piratería es un delito y hay acciones que se pueden tomar para combatirlo; sin embargo, renunciar a nuestra libertad de grabarnos cantando una canción pop y subir dicho video a la red es un asunto completamente distinto. Esta es un aley para Estados Unidos, pero qué nos asegura que otros gobiernos no seguirán su ejemplo y querrán intervenir en nuestra vida virtual, en nuestras opiniones.

Was it “Give me privacy, or give me death!”?


If you are aware of the philosophy behind the famous The Twilight Zone anthology series created by Rod Serling in the 1960s and then revived in the 1980s you can see what a terrible world we could actually live in.  If you don’t remember this show, I will tell you a little bit about it in order for you to grasp my analogy with the title of this post.

The Twilight Zone is a story in which men live in a sort of gray area in which almost everything (real or fantastic) can occur.  It a mixture of fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and horror that often concluded with a macabre or unexpected twist.  This idea caught my attention when I read the New York Times last weekend.  The title of the article read: “When American and European Ideas of Privacy Collide” and it explored the worth of the ideas of Liberty and Privacy, and of how both terms had a different worth in the codes of values of Americans and Europeans.  As the article read, European courts believed and interpreted customs by acknowledging that the right of an individual to privacy was above the right of any individual to freedom of speech.  As such, the framework in Europe is that of “privacy as a human-dignity right,” while in the U.S. it is only enforced as a  “consumer-protection right.”

It seems that the reason why privacy has such an important stand in European legislation goes back to Nazi Germany.  Fred H. Cate, a law professor at Indiana University explains that “The privacy protections we see reflected in modern European law are a response to the Gestapo and the Stasi” and in the way they kept under surveillance their citizens during the hardest times of the national-socialist government.

While there are historical precedents for this change of perspective, its justification is philosophical.  European Constitutional law regards in the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights that, “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.”  This means that an individual in Europe can be free only if he doesn’t violate whatever is to considered private by someone.

It is in that article of the European Convention of Human Rights that the philosophical dilemma exists.  Who’s to determine what privacy, and a violation of it, actually is will depend on the case by case evaluation of evidence regarding a demand.  As such, in Europe men are free only if they do not violate what a privileged group will consider to be private or not.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution on the other hand, regards freedom of speech as one of the most important rights of men.  As such, It considers it is considered by American framework that an individual’s right to free speech is necessary for him to claim that his rights to privacy have been violated.  The article reads,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

To consider of privacy as a right above an individuals’ right to speech will take us into a horrendous time travel fantasy of sorts in which men will not be free at all to speak their minds.  It will only allow for a -Twilight Zone- world in which the interests of a small group of privileged men, corporations and corrupts will be protected and enforced by government.  Government will then be able of practicing censorship to those individuals that they consider to have violated someone’s privacy.  It will open the doors to a fantasy world in which a men would have never been able of screaming like Patrick Henry did in March 23, 1775, at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia,

Give me Liberty, or give me Death!