Censorship just boosts message spread

Despite the title, I know that not all censorship boosts communication. Repression and violence coupled with censorship can prevent a message from getting out. Nevertheless, it strikes me that censorship attempts in a free (or at least semi-free) society usually backfire.

Thanks to Learning with ‘e’s for pointing this one out.

A Scottish local authority thought a 9-year-old’s blog was making them look bad, and tried to shut her down. The result: her blog has now registered nearly 4 million hits, which means that a ton more people know how bad the food in her school is than otherwise would have. Continue reading “Censorship just boosts message spread”

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Open government leads to greater happiness

This report by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press might lead to a “well, duh!” response. Nevertheless, it is good to see solid evidence bearing this out. “Citizens who believe their community’s information systems, government, media and such are performing well are more likely to be engaged in their community and are more satisfied with the quality of their community as a whole.”

The report further says that people in such communities are more likely to believe they can make a difference. Again, not rocket science. It occurs to me that there is a segment of the power structure that might benefit from these insights, though. Some in power (in my cynical view, perhaps most?) are interested mainly in power. There is a sizable segment that seeks truly to serve, however, and at least some of them believe they must serve the public by protecting it from knowing too much.

Thus, the power-hungry and the well-meaning elite may join forces to further the nanny state.

The power-hungry will not care, of course. In fact, this may encourage them to close government as much as possible, since the last they want is citizen involvement. The Romans were not the last empire to understand the usefulness of bread and circuses. But for those who really want to serve, the lesson is supported: openness and communication is always better.

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Legal info from a different perspective

The Fully Informed Jury Association’s Web site starts with this quote (as of today):

The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.

The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.

You’ll find a library of information, including legal precedents and links to other sites on the concept of jury nullification. It sounds dry, and it can be, but on the other hand, it’s also solid, and has the potential to empower average citizens.

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The myth of government source reliability

When we teach speech students about evaluating sources, we usually tell them that government figures are more reliable than others. We teach journalism students the same thing. Maybe the operative word here is “more” and “than others.”

The greater lesson, perhaps, is to be skeptical of anything that any source tells you until you see the original data and understand how it was gathered and what it means.

As FOXNews reports in The Myth of 90 Percent, a “fact” that has been floated around by a whole bunch of government officials and passed on uncritically by a number of media outlets is just flat wrong, i.e., the “fact” that 90% of the guns used in Mexican crime comes from the United States.

It’s not just a little wrong. It’s a lot wrong. A more accurate way to look at the facts is this: about 17% of recovered weapons used in a crime in Mexico could be traced to the U.S. Continue reading “The myth of government source reliability”

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The market as communication tool, and how government garbles the message

You may think at first glance this post is about politics. It’s not. It’s about communication. It’s about how a garbled message leads to inaccurate results. It’s interesting to think about both the bailouts of the Bush administration and the Obama administration, as well as the cranking up of the Treasury printing presses, as noise in the channel.

John Stossel may make too much sense in his post “Government Sets Us Up for the Next Bust.” But it’s worth reading it all the way through.

Just for some basic background, here’s a post entitled “Does Government Spending Bring Prosperity?” Prof. Greaves may have written it in 1975, but its truths still hold today.

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When you open up a channel…

…expect people to use it. I’m not completely sure where this falls in our categories, but I’m sure it has something to do with communication:

fail owned pwned pictures
See more pwn and owned pictures.

Thanks to Bryan Booth for the heads-up on this one.

At the same time, I found a great example of unintended messages:

fail owned pwned pictures

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