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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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Goodbye free speech

18 February 2021

China makes the news here on Aardvark for the second day in a row.

This time it appears that authorities in China are about to require anyone who blogs or posts original content on a number of topics to do so only after obtaining state-issued credentials and authorisations.

Yep, you now need a license to blog or even voice your opinions beind the great firewall of China.

I doubt that too many people are surprised by this move, given that the Chinese government has long been involved in censoring what its people can see, read and say in the online space. However, this latest move appears to be only a more rigorous enforcement of polices that have been in place for several years.

What is new is the range of topics that are now likely to require prior approval.

As well as the obvious ones, those commenting on health, economics, education and matters of law or enforcement of same are now also required to get the relevant credentials and approvals.

One an only wonder just how long it will be before similar restrictions and compulsory certifications start appearing in "the free world".

Sound outrageous and unlikely?

Don't be so sure!

Just look at how the online freedom of speech and expression has been heavily restricted in recent times by the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Since they are not government operated, these companies are not bound by the first ammendment of the US Constitution to provide an uncensored platform to support all perspectives and opinions. They have a right to censor and restrict what's said as and when they choose to -- and by golly they seem very keen to exercise that right.

Whilst it could be argued that there's no place for the anti-vax message, claims that the earth is flat, or suggestions that CV19 is caused by 5G wireless technology, that's also a pretty significant impingement on everybody's right to express an opinion. As someone who is smart enough to realise that the earth is not flat and that 5G has nothing to do with CV19 I still feel that those who are deluded have a right to voice those delusions.

If we start curbing the right to free speech solely because we don't agree with what's being said we create the thin end of a very nasty wedge that, left unchecked, could result in China-like restrictions on *everyone's* right to express an opinion or belief.

Don't believe me?

Well you are aware that back in 2006, David Irving was imprisoned in Austria simply for denying The Holocaust? Apparently that opinion is already illegal in many countries and carries a prison sentence for those who voice it.

I think the evidence is undeniable that The Holocaust did take place but I find it hard to believe that we have a right to imprison those who hold a contrary opinion to the mainstream.

It seems that we've already made it clear that we are prepared to punish those who air opinions not congruent with our own so it is not a very distant journey to expand that to far less contentious (but politically expendient) subjects.

Then there is the WOKE madness that has ovetaken the world.

People are losing their jobs and indeed their entire careers for simply voicing an opinion contrary to the mainstream in respect to gender, ethnicity, culture or whatever.

It is very hard to argue the case that the right to free speech is not in extreme danger of being annexed right now.

So, before we start criticising China for its ridiculous actions to silence those who do not toe the party line, just take a look a lot closer to home and stop feeling so smug about our freedoms because, I fear, they may be less permanent and long-lived as you might have once believed.

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