I am a firm believer in freedom of speech and freedom of press. Both are so important for the general well being of our country and our own selves that I could write a book on the topic. If freedom of speech and press were not available to us you would not be reading this blog. Our life as we know it has been shaped by freedom of speech.
In Hong Kong right now a movement is happening because of China wanting the ability to approve Hong Kong's candidates for their 2017 elections. Hong Kong was once sort of "borrowed" by Britain and returned as per agreement to China in 1997 with the promise that Hong Kong would be able to operate as they had been under British rule, but still be a part of China. This meant that they could have democratic elections and other freedoms that came with democracy. Now however China wants to "approve" who Hong Kong can "democratically" elect into office. Because of this a peaceful protest on a massive scale began and police handled it poorly. It's interesting that police reacted the way they did, throwing tear gas and pepper spraying protesters, because Hong Kong has peaceful protests quite often, it is nothing necessarily new for them.
This is not something that is only happening in Hong Kong though. Here in the U.S. we face our own problems all the time with freedom of speech and other freedoms. Perhaps we aren't facing exactly the same issues Hong Kong is, but we face our own all the time. It's just a part of an imperfect race trying to perfectly govern an imperfect race.
Now that brings me to why freedom of speech, and more importantly for this post, freedom of press is bad.
Something has been really bugging me lately. As I browse the internet which I so often do, (I am a computer science major after all so that's my excuse for being on a computer way too much) I am bombarded with news articles about this or that. I love it, I don't watch television much so being able to get so much news at basically all times without having to watch TV or waiting for the next day's paper is a blessing. What I can't stand though is how much crap is also out there. More disgusting is how many people accept it without question.
Everyday I see things linked to me through Facebook, e-mails, YouTube, etc. that is just complete fear mongering click bate.
Allow me to rant for a minute about some things I have observed.
Many times the things linked to me, especially on Facebook, are articles that the person linking has not fully read through themselves. The person linking it will say something like, "What is our country coming to??" and the article will be about France or the lost city of Atlantis... (not 100% sure about Atlantis!) Most of the time I disregard these articles because I naturally have a distrust for any "no name" news sources that I stumble across via Facebook. However, every once in a while a title grabs my interest and I end up reading it with a high level of skepticism as any informed media consumer should treat all things read from any source. When I get through the page I am usually just mortified that any self respecting journalist could write such a horrific, fear mongering, biased, short sighted, unreliable, and borderline untruthful article on anything. Sometimes I feel like reading the tabloids would be a more credible source of information.
What I am saying here is this; freedom of speech and media is ever so important. Without it we would not have a voice when we really needed it. However, it's becoming a little bit like the boy who cried wolf. Media above all else must be trusted to spread accurate and honest information. When we have to second guess the validity of anything said from any news source, media becomes toxic at best. When you begin to abuse media and freedom of speech for your own selfish gains, it's not really you who loses out. You are stealing something from a society and potentially the entire world.
To those of you who believe everything you see on Facebook, please research more extensively before you draw a conclusion. Unfortunately we cannot take news coverage at face value. Some may argue, "Have we ever?" and to that I would answer, "No," but there has always been a moral responsibility for journalists to follow. More and more this is becoming swept under the rug for internet traffic and "Likes." Just be careful everyone, there is some bad stuff out there that some sources are trying very hard to make you aware of. But their voice is being squelched by the fear mongering sensational media screaming, "OBAMA DRINKS RADIOACTIVE SPORTS DRINKS EVERY NIGHT BEFORE BED!"
Really guys, just read.