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HISTORYTEACHER: Freedom of the Press in Russia? historyteacher

Monday, February 28, 2005

Freedom of the Press in Russia?

This was quite a story that I wish would have received more scrutiny in the press here in the United States.

For those of you who missed it Putin the pm of Russia told President Bush that Russia never criticized Bush for the firing of Dan Rather. Can you believe that. After how many years since the fall of the "Iron Curtain" and the leader of Russia still does not understand what freedom of the press means in the United States. I was just shocked. Even though I feel that there is some truth to a left wing bias in the MSM, the freedom of the press is such a fundamental right in our Bill of Rights you would think the leader of such a powerful country would understand. This leads me to some questions.

1. Can the current Russian government ever continue the professed goal of democracy (I hate that word but that's what we will use here) if the government doesn't even understand what those freedoms mean?
2. Is Putin's current roll back of certain democratic principles due to his lack of understanding of what freedom actually means?
3. Have we failed in our as country in sharing with the Russians the true purpose of these freedoms?

If you have not read this article I hope you will. I am sure there are better ones that cover this event more thoroughly but this one explains what happened.




At 6:28 AM, Blogger Scriptor said...

Don't be so sure Putin literally menas what he says. He was chief of the KBG, he knows what the U.S. government is like. He was probably thinking about the influence the government has over the media. Nowhere does it say influence has to be official.

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Joy said...

I’m writing this in response to your post on President Putin and the freedom of press in Russia.

First and foremost, let me point out to you that culturally Russians are very different to Americans. As a result, their notion of freedom is also somewhat different to those of us familiar with western style democracies.

I’ve lived in Ukraine, Russia’s neighbour, for the last three years and I can tell you that the Slavic psyche is very different to ours. Freedom for Russians is not about freedom of the press – it is about being able to get through the day with shelter over your head and food in your belly.

I think that your post smacks of hypocrisy and does not take into account what is actually happening in Russia today. Russia is struggling with corruption on a scale that America has never known. People die in Russia because of this corruption and Putin is trying to put right what the oligarchs are destroying. I might add that the oligarchs are backed by the mighty dollar and own considerable portions of Russia's media apparatus.

Putin has to be a strong leader for the sake of salvaging future generations of his countrymen. If you think for one moment that your idea of freedom constitutes a path to freedom for the Russian people, then think again.

Puskin once wrote that all things English are not necessarily good for Russia or its people. He was, of course, referring to the British political system – a democracy.

I think before you start writing about freedom in the context of a culturally diverse people like the Russians, you must first visit the country and get first hand experience of the people to whom you are trying to sell a bill of goods.

I have always been interested in the American Constitution and how it works – I’m British. However, I would take a stand against any American or British person trying to push their concept of democracy and freedom onto people they know nothing about. Every nation, every man, woman and child has the right to select the political system in which they wish to live - without interference from other nations. That is what I call real freedom.

I would like to ask this question of you: What is your understanding of the word democracy?

I can certainly tell you the original concept of democracy, as enshrined by the founders of the democratic political system. I can also tell you that it has nothing to do with freedom and all to do with power.

Check this out: Democracy is the right of the individual who owns property to exercise power over those who do not. Power in this case is citizenship. This was the original concept of democracy.

As an American, you have property in the form of citizenship and can therefore exercise power over those who do not – but only in America. You can not exercise power over others outside of America’s borders. You should consider this fact when writing about other nations. Your notion of freedom does not equate to my notion of freedom, or those of the Russian people.

Your site is designed to fight revisionist history. I think you are somewhat of a hypocrite to think you’re perception of history is the only one that exists. You should address the problems of America and not Russia. Take a good look in your own backyard and see what American democracy and freedom has done for the indigenous peoples of your country.

The United States has constantly denied the indigenous peoples of America the right to be recognised as a nation of indigenous peoples. To strengthen their case for denial, the United States cites the lack of an historical written cultural amongst the native tribes of America. Is this your notion of democracy and freedom?

If you want to fight revisionist history, then look at the history of your nation. I suggest America’s history needs to be re-written to take into account its failings as a moral leader in the area of democracy and freedom.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards


At 8:52 PM, Blogger historyteacher said...

I truly enjoyed the comment that Joy left this past weekend.

I completely understand that there are numerous differences when we talk about freedom. I realize that no other nation has ever copied the United States form of government. Most newer "democracies" require only a plurality instead of the majority that is required in the United States. I understand that other countries also have a diverse culture and different expectations about how a democracy should work in there country.

I was only trying to address the concept of freedom of the press in my earlier post. Lets look at it specifically in the context of the article.

Vladimir Putin does not understand that government of the United States really has no control over the press. Sometimes the government may request that the press withhold a particular news story or postpone a story if the government (usually law enforcement) feels that the content in a story may in fact help criminal elements.

Why is freedom of the press so important when we speak of freedom? How else do we hold our government responsible if not by the press. If we let the government control the press than we no longer have a government " of the people by the people for the people." Instead what we have is tyranny.

When I spoke of the United States failing in helping the Russian government achieve their gold of democracy, I did not mean impose our system of democracy. THAT WOULD NEVER WORK. The wonderful thing about freedom is it can adapt to each and every culture. However, there are certain aspects of freedom that cannot be compromised.

When you talk of what freedom means to people of Ukraine - shelter over their heads or food in their bellies, I would argue that what you are speaking of is not freedom, it is a basic human right. Unfortunetly the people there still lack the basic human rights that most free people take for granted.

I realize and understand the corruption that Russia is dealing with. I would contend that that corruption starts at the very top of government and trickles down. Again, how much of that corruption would exist if there truly was freedom of the press? I would hypothosize a lot less.

I do admire Putin, but I am afraid he has never been able to overcome his KBG past. I think he very much relies on state control of many aspects of Russian society. Look at the Kursk disaster a few years ago. The state tried to cover that up before they tried to seek help. Again, that does not happen in free societies.

Now is the United States a perfect model for everyone. Obviously not. However, I would trust our government over most others because of our open society.

Joy, you talk about how the founding fathers originally conceived "democracy." Well, I will tell you they never uttered the word democracy. They hated the concept of democracy. The word democracy is NEVER mentioned in our constitution once. However, we are a REPUBLIC.

The following paragraph I have to reprint from your post in order to respond:

As an American, you have property in the form of citizenship and can therefore exercise power over those who do not – but only in America. You can not exercise power over others outside of America’s borders. You should consider this fact when writing about other nations. Your notion of freedom does not equate to my notion of freedom, or those of the Russian people.

1. We have no requirements to own property. What we have is the right of each state to decide voter qualifications for the people in that particular state. Did some states require people to own property in order to vote? Yes. However, why was this? Because the reason for many people for coming to the United States (British Colonies) in the first place was to own land. They wanted to protect that right and make sure no king could take it away. Once we finally ratified our current constitution we gradually phased out that requirement. No state requires this today.

You also claim we in the United States are being hypocritical by not letting the indigenous people not have the right to create there own nation within the borders of the United States. (Before I go further, I am not trying to condone the way native Americans were treated. I condemn Andrew Jackson's actions every opportunity that I have as well as many Americans before or after.) However, I do not know of one country that allows a group of people that were there first to keep there nationality. There are not to my knowledge any Norman or Roman states in Britain. I know of moorish states in Spain. I don't believe that Canada has Native American states either.

However, we have created reservations. We make numerous exemptions when it comes to American laws for Native Americans.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger historyteacher said...

(Continued from previous post)

Does this excuse our actions in the past? No. But what does?

No nation is perfect but free countries strive to get better. This is what freedom means!

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