Saturday, July 26, 2008

Freedom of what?

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how the Chinese government was going to deal with protests during the upcoming Olympic Games. Their solution? Establish three designated protest areas for the antagonists descending on Beijing. Great idea, right? Well, it seems like there's going to be some problems.
First off, the areas aren't anywhere near the Olympic Stadium. Secondly, the protests will be strictly monitored by Beijing police. And finally (my personal favorite), anyone who plans to hold a protest has to petition the government for a protest permit. That's right, a permit! So if you plan on staging an elaborate anti-government sit-down or rally, you have to first get the government to approve the idea. And may I remind you, the government plans to crack down heavily on illegal protests. Awesome!
I'm not really sure what the Chinese government was thinking with this one. Protesters haven't been known to abide by government restrictions, especially when it's the government they're out to pummel. Can you imagine the lone dissident at Tiananmen Square asking for government permission before he went out and stood in front of a row of tanks? You'd think a nation that is fast becoming the foremost economic powerhouse in the modern world would have a government that is slightly more flexible with issues like this.
In conclusion, I'll say that stories like this make me grateful that I live in America. People here are free to say all they want about their government. I'm forever thankful that the Founding Fathers had the wisdom and foresight to uphold such liberties as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is an incredible privilege live in a country where I can spout off as much as I want and not end up in jail for my troubles.
Now I will take advantage of this liberty to remind you that I am extremely dissatisfied with the Bush Administration's whole-hearted cooperation with China for the Olympic Games. We condemn other nations that ignore human rights, and then turn around and embrace a country that commits the same injustices. Why is this? Is it because of money, or is it something else? Please tell me your opinion.


I just had an incredible idea. I'm going to fly to Beijing and stage an illegal protest right outside the gates of Olympic Stadium. Who's with me?


migalooch p. said...

You had me shocked for a moment there when u said u were thankful to live in America! I hung up the phone with the New York Times when I read on and saw that you were 'dissatisfide' with the present administration. As for the Olympics, China oppresses its people and doesn't try very hard to hide it. whoever runs their government is on the fast track to ruling the world economically, soon after that politically, and soon after that: hell. mp

murf said...

While I generally agree with you the situation is a little more nuanced than it appears. They actually did the exact same thing at the Athens games 4 years ago, so it isn't just China that does this stuff.

Also, in Chinese culture order is more important than free expression of ideas, so I suspect that the vast majority of the Chinese support these restrictions.

Also culturally the Chinese (and all of Asia) put very high value on "face" or "reputation." It is the height of shame to "lose face" before those watching, so for the Olympics to be disrupted by some disgruntled protesters while the world watches would shame, not only the government, but all of the Chinese people. I suspect that even those who agree with the protesters would not want them to have a messy protest while the world watches.

Let me put it culturally in American terms. Imagine that you were disrespectful to your parents. Imagine further that they stood up in church on Sunday morning and confronted you in front of the whole congregation. How would you feel? They might be correct in confronting you (and at the bottom of your heart you would probably understand that they were), but you would be aghast that they would shame you so much in front of your entire church family. This is how the Chinese culture looks at dissent, especially while the world is watching.

Grace Caroline said...

Aaron ur an incredible writer... what r u going to be when you grow up?

migalooch p. said...

I agree with that! Lose those wacko ideas and you could top any journalist in the country. But seriously, aaron's post could be mistaken for copy and pastes from US Today! and good articles at that. I really hope you will be able to use that talent for God's glory in the future. mp