Saturday, December 13, 2008

Press freedom – a human right

Lest we forget, press freedom is among the universally cherished freedoms around the world.

Evidence of this is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed, and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations sixty years ago, or on December 10, 1948, to be exact.

One of the cherished values is to respect the opinion of others, and their right to express their opinions, no matter how absurd, irrational, stupid it may be.

The freedom to have an opinion and express it openly is explicitly recognized as a basic human right.

To respect the opinion of others is to uphold human dignity.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly acknowledges that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

It is incumbent upon all freedom loving people not only to practice the sacred right to hold an opinion and express the same, but to protect it, defend it, and assert it if threatened, specially by the powers the be.

In our local community, and in the experience of the Negros Chronicle, we have encountered various attempts and threats to suppress the free flow of information and opinion, particularly by those who have been given temporary opportunities to sit in the corridors of power.

Instead of cherishing, upholding and promoting this basic human right, those wielding borrowed political power---who by the way are the sterling models of political mediocrity and untold immaturity--- try endlessly to stifle such right.

We thus find it fitting to recall the words of the late Justice Hugo Black, a famed member of the United States Supreme Court, in his concurring opinion in the infamous Pentagon Papers case (New York Times versus United States, 402 U.S. 713 [1971]) where the Nixon administration had tried to suppress the flow of vital information relating to the Vietnam war:

The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets
of the government and inform the people. Only a free and
unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in
government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a
free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government
from deceiving the people.

We thus re-commit our obligation as freedom-loving individuals, not only to practice these liberties, but to defend them, and assert them, so the free flow of information to the people is maintained.

We join the whole community of nations yearning for freedom, as we commemorate that historic proclamation of fundamental and basic human rights sixty years ago by people united in belief, and uncompromisingly committed to uphold human dignity.

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