FACTorial: Why we fight

December 28, 2011

An American academic researcher associated with Thailand for 35 years asked my help on Thailand’s censorship regime some time ago. As a fluent Thai speaker, he has worked as a military officer, consultant to govt, private industry and int’l organisations. He has been very active against govt corruption and was recently based in Pattani.

He recently contacted me again with this question: “How can controls be maintained in society without censorship?  Some consider that censorship is essential and that all communities engage in censorship; the differences lie in the specifications of the strictures.”

My answer is pretty WISYWIG and what FACT has been all about since the beginning. If anything, the greater government repression, the more censorship, the more angry radical it makes me.

I guess I’m too old school. See, at 61, I’m still the wild anarchist I unleashed when I was a teenager. My grown kids with families are in their 30s; they’ve been bought and sold, chained to the wheel, maintaining a lifestyle instead of getting a life.

So why, exactly, do govts (not “we, not “society”, not “the community”) need to maintain control over society? Look, we all censor ourselves—e.g., “Don’t make my ass look fat.” It’s not nice to offend anyone for no apparent goal. On the other hand, we’ve all become so thin-skinned to embrace political correctness that the concept of PC becomes our guiding light in interactions with others. This means, really, we can never feel free to be ourselves. We’re always on guard, always on edge. And that, my friend, is a bullshit way to live.

Let’s start from a radical premise. Start with NO censorship. Then let the community, “society” figure out the limits by free discussion; the Internet is the new age town meeting. What does govt have to do with anything? Furthermore, the limits must be mutable as we evolve and grow, hopefully smarter and, ergo, more tolerant.

See, Emma Goldman was right: If voting could change anything, it would be illegal. Those fine folks “we” voted for (never voted in my life because I’ve found no one worth voting for and voting against a lesser evil just ain’t democracy) are simply civil servants, our servants, not our masters. Don’t think they have a bigger handle, better picture, than any of the rest of us. First off, to get elected, anywhere, you’re rich, right? Give me one single example after Honest Abe it ain’t so.

I guess I’m a rare idealist. But we don’t preserve any real values by censorship, we only stifle human growth and potential.

You may know I have been loosely affiliated with WikiLeaks since the beginning. Those 250K cables constituted monumental govt transparency. You know what? Fact is, nobody was much interested.

We are truly dumbed down. I don’t give up the fight against ALL censorship for two reasons. First, I’m really a fucking stubborn old coot and I have a 13-year old daughter. I don’t want her to ever go to a bookstore or library or record store (iTunes!) or look for a website and encounter a message saying, “You’re too stupid to look at this.”

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

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