Sunday, May 13, 2012

A couple of interesting protests

"MOSCOW -- Prominent Russian novelists and poets led a street protest by more than 10,000 people in Moscow on Sunday without obtaining the required permit, and police did not intervene.
The demonstrators skirted the law by remaining silent and carrying no posters, even though the demonstration had clearly been organized as an anti-President Vladimir Putin rally.
The gathering was the latest of several impromptu protests that have taken place in Moscow since Putin's inauguration Monday, held by people unhappy that he is the country's formal leader once again."

That's one way to do it; when your government says no permits, just go right up to the point of doing what you need to do in order to have a permit. Wael Ghonim talked about doing such things in Egypt at the start of the protests there. They would simply gather somewhere with similar clothing. No talking, no protesting, just gathering.  And in some eastern European autocratic country people would gather in a park and just eat ice cream.  Even that angered the government though, because it was like-minded critics of the government gathering together.  Very suspicious.

"Social media play a major role boosting public discussion in China by breaking systematic cover ups. However, it seems clear enough that the Chinese government has shown a remarkable expertise in playing with censorship, leaking or blocking information at its convenience to lead public opinion. Who wins? Do China’s social media outlets really challenge the government’s control of information?"

This is sort of a strange article about whether rumor mills online in China can alter the government.  I don't know, rumors are rumors whether online or not.  The bigger point, I think, is that autocratic governments or organizations have a hard time granting just a little free speech. It seems to be that if you allow some free speech, you may as well just allow free speech.  China seems to be partially successful at utilizing online conversation, but also the attempts to censor free speech are not completely possible. For example, is you censor articles with certain words, the online community can just start using a euphemism for that word.  

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