I Love Censorship

The Great Firewall of China is such a strange thing. For almost a year I have had no direct access to this blog, then one day – *ta da* – I can access it no problem. For how long, I have no idea. But by no means am I free of censorship. For several months now I have been unable to use Flickr, the site where I upload and store all of my photos. Flickr is definitely being blocked by the Great Firewall. I can still access it when I use my anti-censorship software, but I am beginning to wonder what the point is.

It is really annoying to have to use proxy servers and special software just to access these sites, and I am not really all that hip on Yahoo anyway. (Yahoo is the parent company of Flickr and has cooperated with Chinese authorities to hand over information on emails that eventually led to the imprisonment of Shi Tao, for “spreading state secrets” about the Tienanmen Square “incident.”) So, is there an alternative? Does anyone know of a photo storage site that is equivalent to Flickr but available in Mainland China? I have a paid account at Flickr and will continue to use it until it expires, then I will move somewhere else.

In one of my Library School classes we have been discussing censorship and libraries (the American Library Association is vehemently opposed to it, including Internet filtering software) and I get the idea that most of my classmates have no idea what censorship really is. They have never really had experience with it – but watch out America! I can sense more and more threats to intellectual freedom in America everyday. (Including the Patriot Act, which is not about censorship, but, in the library, severely compromises patron’s rights to privacy and intellectual freedom.) I shared my experiences with my classmates – having entire passages excised or blacked out of my high school history textbooks, not being able to access web pages, having to keep your mouth shut to avoid deportation…

Having seen the effects of censorship, I say NO! Because every time we censor, we take one step closer to a totalitarian society. (You know, like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco…) I live in that type of society now, by choice, and I can leave whenever I want. Those around me can’t. They have to bribe local officials to even apply for a passport. You can see the effects of this everyday – lack of initiative, stifled creativity, no critical thinking skills. Is that what we want in America? Information is power – something leaders understand all too well. They fear the people becoming informed and thinking for themselves. Instead, they are fed propaganda and made to learn by rote.

The key to reversing this disease is information and intellectual freedom. Allow the people to form their own opinions, choose their own course and freely discuss issues. Protect intellectual freedom in America, it is one of our greatest achievements!

I am extremely proud that I have joined a profession that stands so passionately for intellectual freedom. Librarians are the first to oppose censorship, in the form of book banning, Internet filtering and lack of access to information, the first to resist the Patriot Act and its threats to our freedom (repeal it!!), the first to support open access to information for all people.

Having lived in societies where censorship is the norm and openly practiced, I think the best thing I can do is to warn others about what I have experienced and how, if we are not careful, it could happen to us, even in the USA.

**Edited post wording regarding the Patriot Act, which, indeed, does not discuss the issue of censorship or provide for censorship, although it most certainly will cause some people to self-censor and does restrict our intellectual freedoms, as noted succinctly by the American Library Association:

The American Library Association (ALA) opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry…ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.”from ALA’s Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act.

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5 Responses to “I Love Censorship”

  1. Kun Says:

    E-mail me and I will tell you a better solution to access your Flickr stream.

  2. The Photography Pages » schwagging Says:

    […] Global Gal  […]

  3. Jon Says:

    Have you tried Google’s Picasa service? The first 1Gig of space is free.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/

  4. Janus Says:

    Ahem.

    Have you ever perused the text of the PATRIOT Act?

    Nowhere–and I mean NOWHERE in the act is there censorship of any sort.

    The connection between the PATRIOT Act and censorship is nothing more than a sign of intellectual sloth.

  5. global gal Says:

    Janus – Ouch. Noted.

    I should have made it more clear that I believe the Patriot Act restricts our intellectual freedom in America, and is not about censorship. (In the heat of my rambling I sometimes blur the two – IF and censorship, which I shouldn’t do.) But I do believe that people will self-censor their actions and deeds because of it. It is most definitely an intrusion into the rights of Americans.

    Anyway, I’ve edited the post so the distinction is clear.

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