The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What is more important: Honest Government or Free Speech?

In a recent lecture, John McCain  said that an honest government with no free speech would be preferable to a dishonest government with free speech.  You know?  In a fantasy novel that might well be true. In the real world, that strikes me as a horrible choice.  In the real world, people are not all good or all bad.  In a real world, people mistake faith for logic, and believe that they know what is best for others…even if the others disagree.  In the real world, powerful men and women collaborate for the good of their own families, friends, and corporate or organizational or political interests…and then justify it in retrospect.

An honest government without free speech would be fine—FOR THOSE IN GOVERNMENT.  You know something?  I treasure my free speech.  It is worth dying for.

Also, if such a government ceased being honest, the mechanisms for oppressing the population are squarely in place.  And as we all know, entropy is a simple fact of life.  The system WOULD degrade, there is no question about it.

And the dishonest government?  It would, at least, have a chance of being talked about, malfeasance reported, and the people could take their citadel back once again. 

This is, in essence, one of those “security versus freedom” questions.  But it is, I think, one worth talking about.

1 comment:

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