Monday, February 25, 2008

Lame things afoot in Pakistan

Apparently, Pakistan has pulled it's own Safeway "Checkout Sanitization Procedure"...

Pakistan blocks "objectionable" YouTube.

For those of you too lazy to link to the article, and haven't gleaned it from other news sources already, apparently the Pakistani government is upset over those Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Ugh - seriously, if what somebody else thinks of God gets you this worked up in a lather, then you probably aren't working hard enough. If you've got time to burn effigies over cartoons, then you've definitely got too much time on your hands. We've got some lads in this country who do stuff like that - they're called the KKK.

Pakistan is joining an elite list of countries who have banned YouTube access, the act of which has almost become a litmus test for rapidly gauging a government's attitude towards free speech and political dissent. Of course, none of the countries the have banned YouTube should come as shock to anyone. It will be interesting to see who this century plays out, as it becomes harder and harder for countries to put the globally generated free speech genie back in the bottle. Short of North Korea-esque clampdowns on any type of traffic, countries are going to find it difficult to block access to information and interest-based community building. Particularly when the internet also provides substantial benefits to the country's infrastructure. We'll probably see a range of behavior - NK type responses on one end, and countries being pushed towards more open and protective civil liberties on the other.

Does blocking access to the wellspring of modern self-expression seem harsh, ignorant, and short sighted? Sure, but who am I to complain? They probably got the idea of blocking content from the checkout aisle at the Safeway off Harmony. The timing was personally ironic.

I have to say, at the risk of sounding arrogant and elitist, these countries are woefully out of date when it comes to the methods of suppressing free speech. Don't try to keep it from people, use your political kung-fu to make people uninterested in it, or lower the stakes so that free speech becomes nothing more than blogs and snarky t-shirts. I have both of those things, and I feel in no way interested in burning effigies of anybody. "Let them eat cake". I think the woman who said that went on to great things.

Attention soul-crushing regimes - Here's some free advice from a sociopolitical savant. if you want to silence the masses, you don't block YouTube. You guest star on saturday night live, and offer dollar value meals for a limited only at participating McDonald's. China seems to be straddling the fence on this at least.

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