Sunday, March 04, 2007

Appreciating Our Freedom of Speech

It seems that once I got the computer up and running again, I really couldn't find a topic that interested me, or the time to sit and actually do any writing. Hopefully, the mental train will get running again soon; in the meantime, I did find this brief blurb in the Christian Science Monitor while catching up on some reading earlier today:

For "insulting" President Hosni Mubarak and Islam, a court in Egypt sentenced Internet blogger Abdel Kareem Suleiman to four years in prison. He has admitted writing essays that compared Mubarak to dictatorial pharaohs of ancient Egypt and that accused Muslims of savagery in clashes with Christians two years ago. His trial was unprecedented in the Arab world's most populous country, where blogging has become an important outlet for criticism of the government because the primary news media are state-run. The law school where Suleiman was a student expelled him last year for his postings and urged that he be prosecuted. (CSM, Friday, 2-27-07)

You know, I may not always have anything to write about, and when I do I -- and I'm sure many of you -- tend from time-to-time to take for granted the fact that I even have the freedom to sit down and put my thoughts out there. The thought of facing prison for something we've written is to a large extent a foreign concept to us (unless the material is seditious, which I personally haven't ever seen). I read numerous other blogs which post comments about politics and global affairs -- with perspectives from both sides of the aisle. While I agree with the opinions and comments of some and disagree with others, I respect all of them for their well-constructed comments and well thought-out opinions, and their willingness to (for the most part) engage in civilized dialogue about the challenges facing the U.S. today.

After reading the story about the blogger in Egypt (and several other similar stories in past years), I have developed a sense of respect for those who challenge convention (or tradition or societal norms) in their own countries and exercise a right that for them is often supressed. We've had a right to free speech for so long that it's second nature to us; what's interesting is watching those who don't have the same freedom trying to bring about something which for us is a basic constitutional right. Look at what we have the freedom to do and say and write -- and consider the struggles of the Chinese students in Tienanmen Square, the bloggers in places like Egypt, and writers like Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the former Soviet Union. We should really appreciate and remember as often as possible how far ahead we really are.


rdl said...

Amen. good post.

ipanema said...

I've been asking this over and over since I started blogging. How much freedom can we really exercise on the net?

That's one reason I dont blog about my job. Another is my location except for happy occassions.

I'm a moderate though I can go worst than what you're reading. :) But hey, I didn't come to the net to write something that's stressful.

Paula said...

I wonder if our complete freedom of speech has caused us to love truth less? Or to devalue that which is most valuable. If we knew that we might suffer for what we wrote, wouldn't we be more inclined to stick to those truths that we held most dear? Right now, we can throw anything out there into cyberspace and not experience any ramifications at all. I'm definitely not advcating what is going on in Egypt, I just wonder if we don't at times squander the freedom that we have.

karen said...

We take our lifestyle too much for granted.