Friday, May 4, 2007

No Freedom, No Surprise

It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone with an IQ above plant life that when Freedom House released its annual report on freedom of the press this week, only one Middle Eastern country was rated as allowing a free press and that one country was Israel.

Only two of the arab countries, in fact, were found to have an even partially free press: Lebanon and Kuwait. Lebanon, it should be noted, is about the only arab nation not wholly dominated by islam.

All others restricted press freedoms. Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco were the only other four that even rated above the bottom of the world's barrel. And, of those, all but Egypt saw regression over the past 12 months from their freedoms of the year before, according to Freedom House.

Libya and Iran were the worst, no surprise there. What is surprising is that Iran went backwards last year which is rather perverted because how can you get worse than zero? If Iran keeps it up, Freedom House may well have to re-establish its rating system.

There are two things to note here. One is that Israel continues to allow a free press - and usually has the highest infestation of foreign reporters in the world - despite the fact those very same people use that freedom to routinely bash Israel with bad publicity. Many news outlets, including such worldwide services as AP and Reuters, have admitted they skew the news out of fear for their reporters in the palestinian areas.

That is truly the mark of a free and open society: when you're willing to take a bashing day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out, because the principle comes first.

The second is that a free press is one of the most crucial things that any open and free society can have. That no arab country allows a free press is a very good indicator of where the arab world stands.

I got in a little trouble earlier this week on another site when I left a comment that "the arab world could disappear tomorrow and it would probably be a boon for the rest of mankind." The operator of the site challenged me, saying that my remarks smacked of the same stuff Iran's crazed leader has been espousing about Israel.

"No", I replied, in clarification, "I do not mean that arab people should disappear; I have no desire to see 300 million people killed. I meant that the arab culture could disappear and the world would be better off."

I believe that to be true, to my core. The arab world is regressive, misogynistic, violent, dictatorial and crazed with religious puritanism.

I'm sure others would agree with me if only the media had the balls and the opportunity to print it.

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