China’s bust on bloggers abhorrent

Summer Kent Stater

Editorial Board

Online blogs and personal Web sites, perhaps the final stronghold of free media in China — if there ever really was one — have just been taken away from the already oppressed Chinese. According to an Associated Press article, authorities have ordered all Web sites and blogs hosted from inside China to register with the government or face being declared illegal.

This decision should send chills down the spine of those of us living in free societies; we are in an age where blogging has become one of the forerunners in opinion writing. Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Chinese government would want to know exactly who may be spouting off against its Communist government.

So what can Chinese citizens do?

They can either register with the government by June 30, or face being declared illegal by the Chinese government.

Unlike countries with lax laws regarding opinions on the Internet, such as the United States, China cracks down on its citizens. China is the world’s largest jailer for “cybercrimes,” jailing more than 60 of its citizens for expressing opinions online, according to a statement released by the group Reporters Without Borders.

The Chinese cannot post their opinions on offshore servers as the government has filters installed into its Internet systems that block foreign Web sites. And very few Chinese would be able to afford the hefty $121,000 fine for failing to register their site with the Ministry of Information. The average income for an average Chinese citizen is just under $4,000, according to a recent National Geographic survey.

“The Internet has profited many people, but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned the people’s spirits,” the ministry’s site said, according to the Associated Press.

Once again, we see a government stripping rights and privileges away from its citizens under a giant veil of doing so “in the best interest” of everyone. Since when is having the government control every aspect of one’s life a good thing?

We can see this type of reasoning being used in our own country. The Patriot Act is up for reinstatement at the end of the year, and President Bush is calling on Congress to back his decision in continuing this legislation, which strips many Americans of their basic constitutional rights. His reasoning is that it will allow the federal government and the police to more easily track down terrorists, though there is nothing preventing organizations such as the FBI from abusing this act and using the privileges it is granted to invade the privacy of innocent people under the guise that it is investigating terrorism.

This idea of “saving us from ourselves” isn’t one that we just see in governments. Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub, saying that she was saving them from Satan. While the reasoning behind what she did sounds commendable, her act was abhorrent.

People are simply not meant to live in such tyranny, where they must answer to the government for everything they do or say. We may turn up our noses at the Chinese, but if we continue down the path being carved out for us by the Bush administration, we may soon find ourselves in the same situation.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.