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EDITORIAL: It’s all about the freedom of expression

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: It’s all about the freedom of expression

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If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. – George Washington, first president of the United States.
Without a doubt, many a media house in Britain and the United States has been the propaganda machine for its political party of choice. Some media have been philosophically constant; others have switched from time to time as fortunes changed.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the political biases and one-sidedness of some newspapers have been blurry only to the purblind.
In Barbados, we can boast of no such distinction. Well, not since the demise of the Beacon, Democrat and the like . . . . Actually, we can only speak with conviction of ourselves.
That is why we were dumbstruck by opinion coming from the other paper through a regular writer, so disillusioned “by the idea of media fairness or balance” that he sees us as having set ourselves up as the “political enemy” of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
This remark is such nonsense, that of itself it is undeserving of notice, except that the ignoring of it might subscribe to truth in the minds of the unobservant.
At THE?NATION we have a proud and distinguished history of treating political coverage and discourse with balance and fairness to the very best of our ability.
Our reputation as a vehicle for free and responsible expression of all shades of opinion is second to none.
We may disagree – even disapprove – of what others say, but, like French writer and historian Voltaire, will defend to the death their right to say it. For freedom of speech may be bolstered by freedom of thought – which regrettably some people avoid.
It is not sufficient – or fair – to suggest that because a “thinking politician” perceives THE?NATION to be his enemy, that the unsubstantiated utterance of itself lends credence to anything. No more than it is of any worth that a writer should opine that we encourage the public “to go online and vote on biasly drafted issues”, just because the feedback may not be what he had hoped for.
For years, people have fought for the freedom – first through pamphlets and eventually newspapers – to be able to express their opinions as they wished, free of suppression and government control. God knows many they are still fighting.
If we on this side of the media could be sure there wasn’t a political predetermination, by the writer’s own prejudice, that we seek to infect others with a hatred for our Prime Minister, we could believe that this discussion might get Mr Stuart to weigh both sides of the argument, and “thinking politician” that he certainly is, come to see coverage of him is nothing personal.