Dora Siliya, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, says government will invoke available laws on media houses that defy the use of palatable language.
Dora says the government felt “very strongly” that the media as gate-keepers could be used as a platform to create tension in the country by “allowing people in the name of politics to demean the Head of State”.
“Indeed, the media, hiding behind press freedom can be used as a platform to demean the Office of the President,” says Dora. “Freedoms of the media in this country are very well protected but with those freedoms come responsibility and the media should not allow itself to be used by disgruntled politicians to demean the Office of the President… The point is that we shouldn’t even get there – insulting a Head of State should not become a normal thing. Good journalism can’t be about insulting the President! What we are talking about is purely language and not how you practice your journalism – the language has to be palatable. It cannot be normal to believe that demeaning the President is normal and there are laws in this country that should allow us to deal with, as you called it, those who are extreme and do not want to believe that palatable language is normal. If we can use the media to communicate demeaning language, we can use it [equally] to communicate a good idea.”
But Edgar and his minions are everyday busy insulting, demeaning others and using unpalatable language! Read the pro-Patriotic Front online publications and see the insulting, demeaning and unpalatable language they are using against the political opponents of their masters!
Respect has to be earned; it’s not an entitlement. It’s Edgar’s conduct that has lowered the standing of the office of President. And if there’s no respect for that office, the blame lies with Edgar.
And what’s criminal about unpalatable language? If you describe an idea, an utterance or conduct as unpalatable, you mean that you find it unpleasant and difficult to accept.
But we need to be engaging with people who we find most unpalatable.
Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all, means the freedom to criticise and oppose.
Freedom of speech is unnecessary if the people to whom it is granted do not think for themselves.
To struggle against censorship, whatever its nature, and whatever the power under which it exists, is our duty as journalists, as are calls for freedom of the press. We need to be passionate supporters of that freedom, and we consider that if any journalist were to imagine that he or she could prove he or she didn’t need that freedom, then he or she would be like a fish affirming in public that it didn’t need water.
It seems unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban in this country.
Anyone who publishes or broadcasts what Edgar Lungu and his minions find unpalatable must be silenced with surprising effectiveness. An unpalatable opinion must never be given a fair hearing in the media.
But we know very well that fascism thrives in obscurity and darkness.
Norman Mailer in “Deaths For The Ladies” wrote:
“Let every writer tell his own lies. That’s freedom of the press.”
Mehmet Murat ildan said, “To think is sacred; let every person think freely! To express what you think is sacred; let every person express his thought freely! If you do this, you prove that you are a conscientious and a moral human being! If you don’t do this, you just declare yourself being fascist…Unless you have a free press in your country, there is no need to buy newspapers and there is no need to watch the news because there is no need to listen to the lies! And you already have one real information: You are being deceived by the people you are governed! This is an enough information for you!”
Albert Camus said, “A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.”