There has not been a period in our history that the free press has not been threatened or under attack. This has to do with our essentially authoritarian culture – a predisposition we find not only in the rulers, but in the ruled. I cannot say with confidence that we are all opposed to the notion of censorship. I cannot say that people, in general, are in agreement with the view that a free, unfettered press is good and not bad for our society.
Were we to possess such an orientation, we would have been greater inclined to attend to matters of the media in a much different way – by considering the value of information as a social good, by believing that the potential impacts of media content are best measured using science and not guess-work, by knowing that better societies are built upon the foundation of diverse views, analyses, perspectives and truths.
What we have before us today in
Trinidad and Tobago through the
voices of the political leadership has been heard before. It is the assertion
of authoritarian control. It is the result of the view that opinions,
information and analysis are the exclusive preserve of those who govern. It is
the conscious undermining of a belief in freedom as the basic condition under
which citizens assert their places in society.
If people understood what freedom of the press and freedom of expression mean to us as a developing country, we won’t have to engage this constant struggle to assert rights we should have long taken for granted.