Friday, August 6, 2010

Give Me Freedom, Or Give Me Ice-Cream

What a week for journalists, and for the freedom of speech or any other form of freedom for that matter.

Locally we've got media freedom under attack by none other than our Police service and certain high-ranking members of parliament.
We'd all be wise to at least read if not attempt to fully understand the "Protection Of Media Information Bill" before parliament right now. A society that doesn't question is prone to be led like sheep to a slaughterhouse. Look no further than the extent or lack thereof of civilian rights in countries like Saudi Arabia,Indonesia and the UAE, and you will realise how easily democracy can be substituted with authoritarianism.
These countries are contemplating banning the use of BlackBerry mobile devices because their respective communication ministries have no control over the content of messages sent over the devices. Saudi Arabia is leading the cause having already banned their use.

The very reason I use a BlackBerry is because I was sold on it's high encryption status and security features
Ok thats partly true. Mostly I was sold on the fact that email and messages are free from the device.

We live in a country that is a shining light to democracies around the world The freedoms we enjoy and have fought so hard for are proof that the State can have trust and faith in its citizens, and the citizens will reciprocate said trust and faith.
I've been blessed to travel to many countries and have experienced the distinct lack of liberties which we enjoy and take for granted as South Africans.
Not being able to cuss at a local in Dubai for fear that you may be deported; being regarded suspiciously for engaging in critical debate of the state while travelling in Thailand; driving restrictions in Saudi Arabia; stringent bear-hunting laws for foreigners and none for locals in Russia; being chased by the military police for praising a Bhuddist monk in Tibet.
Ok the last two I made up, but you get my point.

The other day I was telling the missus that it's time we travelled and maybe stayed abroad for a while again. I've always wanted to stay in Malaysia ever since having returned from the UAE. I thought it would be an interesting extended excursion for Princess Sabreen as well. She's at that age now where exploring and meeting new people in exciting new places thrills her to bits.
Then I thought about the little things we'd have to give up as guests in another country.
Little things like "rights" and "citizenship" and a sense of belonging.
And just as quickly the idea was buried.

So now I shall take my Blackberry and possibly get into a critical debate of the state while bear-hunting in my backyard, comfortable in the knowledge that I am well within my rights as a South African in his homeland.