20 January 2010

Censorship


I am constantly questioning what it means to be ethical and although it is definitely a complicated matter I've always felt it's best to hold onto some pillar of certainty. For me that pillar is honesty, if you're faced with a difficult moral dilemma it's best to choose honesty. That of course is also not always a black and white situation, in which case i turn to a lesson i was taught as a child; not telling someone something you know they would want to hear is also lying. Hence, i can say with a good degree of certainty that censorship is unethical.

The Islamic search engine I'mHalal has a haram system which warns about or outright denies certain search terms depending on their haram level. If a person is not already willing to avoid certain things before arriving at the search engine then the objective has already failed, and if an individual is not aware of why certain things are classified as haram then rightly, they cannot be expected to avoid them. Google has always avoided censorship for all the right reasons but in the case of China they were legally required to apply censorship. This did not go down too well with them but they went with it because China is a large market that couldn't be ignored. Although it is unconfirmed, it is believed that the Chinese government orchestrated cyber attacks against Google and Adobe among others, also targeting human rights activists. As an act of principle, Google has announced that they are no longer willing to censor their results and if that means they are no longer welcome in China then so be it. This is a major victory for those who oppose censorship and i sincerely hope that it sets an example.

Censorship in the Middle East and Asia is not too surprising but Australia has recently jumped on that band wagon. As a westernised country this is alarming because, if left unchecked, it may well spread to the rest of the western world. South Africa is rife with corruption and dictatorship under ANC rule and we are seriously at risk of taking the same path as Australia, let's hope our free media is evidence of our stern resistance to censorship.