188.8.131.52 Suppressing Free Speech in Politics
(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents. An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6833a.htm)
Politicians can try to reduce the public pressure on them by suppressing free speech. There are several ways of doing this:
- Some electoral systems can effectively suppress minority voters, especially if the constituency boundaries have been gerrymandered (3.2.4).
- Groups of people can be prevented from voting, as in Carol Anderson’s article describing that issue in some American States: Voting while black: the racial injustice that harms our democracy.
- A government can censor the media, as in the Soviet Union; a BBC article, The writers who defied Soviet censors, described how publishers tried to evade the censorship.
- It can control major media outlets, as described by the History Learning Site on Newspapers in Nazi Germany.
- It can shut down media outlets whose views it disagrees with, as President Erdoğan has done; this was described in Newsweek on 30 October 2016: Turkey Renews Crackdown by Closing Media, Firing Thousands.
- It can restrict Internet access, as China has done. For example, Quartz published an article 24 January 2017 that was entitled An initiative to “clean up” China’s internet will make it even harder to jump the Great Firewall.
- It can exclude non-preferred media outlets from press briefings, as did Donald Trumpin February 2017: White House bans certain news media from briefing:
“The BBC, CNN, the New York Times and others were excluded from an audience with Press Secretary Sean Spicer, with no reason given.”
- It can murder journalists who express critical views, as in a famous case reported in October 2018: Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi died in Istanbul consulate. The Washington Post published his last (posthumous) article, Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression, which clearly shows why the repressive Saudi regime considered him to be a threat.
All these measures reduced the legitimacy of the politicians concerned and reduced their ability to be acceptable to the population as a whole – losing the advantages of two-way communication between politicians and the people (184.108.40.206).