Thursday, September 24, 2009

Limit Your Own Freedom, Malaysiakini, Out of Decency

A man shoots his wife in cold blood and takes a chopper to her, dismembering her limbs. The heinous act is caught on video and distributed online, uncensored, via a news website.

A car magazine features a picture of a bloated corpse floating in a murky lake, on the banks of which lie squatter settlements. The picture is used to promote green technology via shock treatment.

A newspaper features a picture of the corpse of a driver decapitated in a gruesome road accident. The picture is published uncensored.

What do all these have in common with Malaysiakini's publication of videos that show protesters desecrating a cow's head? What they all have in common with Malaysiakini is unrestrained freedom of expression that resembles pigheaded irresponsibility.

The uncensored video of the man shooting his wife and dismembering her is so disturbing that it would cause serious mental and emotional trauma to children and adults alike.

Likewise, the picture of a bloated corpse, uncensored, is so shocking that it causes mental and emotional distress to the magazine's readers, both young and old.

Similarly, the picture of a decapitated road accident victim, uncensored, would cause serious distress to newspaper readers, young and old.

That is why all these are not shown to the public without some sense of self-censorship by most reputable news networks and publishers. They understand the importance of self-regulation.

Some also hold back because they are subject to government authority or state review - remember the Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction incident?

So, why does Malaysiakini think that it should be allowed to publish videos that would incite racial and/or religious upheaval in the name of freedom of speech? Where is Malaysiakini's sense of responsibility to the public?

The point that it needs to make, which is reporting on the truth in an unbiased fashion, can be made without showing inflammatory footage of the despicable act of some extremists desecrating a Hindu symbol. And Malaysiakini has done that with merit. There is simply no need for overkill by insisting on putting up the offensive videos and keeping them up at its website.

There are Malaysians who like to believe that we are a mature enough lot, such that we don't have to work hard at safeguarding racial and religious sensitivities. Well, if Malaysiakini's own reports are anything to go by, race and/or religious relations in Malaysia are on a decline.

And yet, Malaysiakini deems it fit to feature racially and religiously charged videos that fly in the face of common decency, which is akin to adding fuel to fire.

Really, Malaysiakini, you ought to have known better.

1 comment:

  1. total freedom?

    i think that freedom comes with responsibility. if total freedom is permitted the world will be a total chaos as everything is according to each's thoughts.