Freedom of Speech North Korea Style
No Cell Phones.
No talking on Street Corners.
Especially no criticizing the government.
Last week Kim Jong Il, strongman Big Boss of North Korea revealed to the world another remarkable personal talent that was heretofore unknown. He is an “Internet expert.”
This little tid-bit came to light during last week summit talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, when Rho asked Kim to allow Internet service for South Korean industries operated in the North (I guess this is something like the USA out-sourcing industrial production to Mexico, or wherever).
While acknowledging that South Korean businesses in the North industrial zone could probably have Internet service, Kim declared that such service could occur nowhere else in the North because of the “many problems”.
Kim did not elaborate on what those “many problems” might have been.
Maybe it is the cost involved in wiring the North for Internet service. How many atomic bombs, missiles, tanks, missile frigates, fighter jets, etc. would have to be sacrificed to allow the people of North Korea to sit in a cyber-café in Pyongyang and surf the net?
Noooo... it is probably not a cost issue.
It has more to do with freedom of speech. There is none of that in North Korea!!! And if Kim has anything to say about it, that is the way it is going to remain!
The Internet is a powerful tool of accessing information and interpersonal communication of ideas.
Is it any wonder that in Kim’s eyes, Internet service is not a good thing to be entrusted to the people of North Korea.
With world wide and instant access to information, the Internet presents an undeniable risk that dangerous thoughts might form in the minds of the people. Some of those people might get ideas… might even question their government.
And... gasp... eventually those people might actually criticize their government!!!
Considering the government we are talking about, this is not such a good thing for the Big Boss in Pyongyang. Corrupt governments need a compliant and ignorant population where nobody ever asks questions or criticizes the government.
Here in America, we have a Constitution that includes a Bill of Rights. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights involves freedom of religion, speech, press, the right to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Such simple thoughts and yet so profound…
Here in America the government is answerable to the people. In North Korea, the people are viewed by the Big Boss as little more than slave labor and cannon fodder.
But before we get too smug about the greatness of America, be cautioned: Just because we have a Constitution, a Bill of Rights, and a First Amendment protecting free speech and association and redress with our government, don’t think for a second that those fundamental protections are automatically safe, always and forever.
Unfortunately here in America, we sometimes take our freedoms for granted. And too, our politicians are too often tempted to grab more power than they are entitled to. An apathetic citizenry combined with the almost unavoidable lust for power, create a creeping threat to our freedoms. Pick up the news any day and see examples of government functionaries over reaching their powers.
As as amazing as Internet technology is in America, it is not nearly as amazing as what our founding fathers envisioned over 200 years ago in the Bill of Rights.
So, thanks Kim for reminding us of how good we have it here America and why a corrupt government needs to maintain ignorance, compliance and total obedience among its people.
Let us hope that we never forget how important citizen vigilance is and why those rights of free speech, assembly and petition are so fragile and why we the people must always guard over them jealously.