Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 4, 2014

Censorship can backfire

(Continued)

But partly, it was a result of people going out on the street and talking to each other.

As observer Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch put it on that day, “It’s clear that the very extensive police force in Egypt is no longer able to control these crowds. There are too many protests in too many places.”

Hassanpour’s idea is encouraging, in that it suggests that efforts by dictators to shut down communication will be ineffective. But there’s also something disconcerting about the idea that political mobilization can be most effective when its participants are not very well informed.

When participants have an inflated view of their own movement’s power or the weakness of their adversary, this can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as it draws more participants in. After all, as Hassanpour notes, the Berlin Wall finally came down in large part because East German citizens had been given misleading information.

Thomas Jefferson may have been right that “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government” - neither Russia in 1917, nor Iran in 1979, nor Egypt in 2011 wound up with particularly democratic regimes after their revolutions - but if the goal is simply to overthrow those in power, the uninformed can sometimes be more useful.

Text Only
Opinion
  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

  • Guru will work for food ‘At the height of its power, the photography company Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion dollars. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has beco

    August 16, 2014

  • Ferguson police fumbled protests From the chief of the police department to the president of the United States, government officials on Thursday promised a different approach to the racially-charged unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But the situation demands a lot more tha

    August 16, 2014

  • A better tax code solution: taxing consumption According to much conventional wisdom, the flap over corporate “tax inversions” is just the latest evidence that the tax code needs a comprehensive overhaul like the one agreed to by congressional leaders and President Reagan in 1986.Whether you cons

    August 15, 2014

  • Attacking economic inequality ‘The question is, ‘How do we help people at the bottom rather than thwart people at the top?’” Harvard economics professor Gregory Mankiw, who served as a leading adviser to President George W. Bush and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney,

    August 15, 2014

  • Giving it all away Love. Hate. Success. Failure. Talents. Handicaps. Burdens. Color. Music. Differences. They are (contrary to cotton’s claim) the fabric of our lives. Imagine a world where it is all turned off, suppressed in a manufactured semblance of order. There is

    August 15, 2014

  • More they learn, less they like Democrats have long believed Obamacare would become more popular once it was fully in place and Americans got a chance to see it up close. So why is Obamacare less popular now than a few months ago? Because it is fully in place and Americans have had

    August 14, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks