Suppressing the voice of the people

Written by Nicholas Olczak. Posted in Opinion, Politics

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Published on March 24, 2008 with 1 Comment

Nicholas Olczak
Photo by Luke Thomas

By Nicholas Olczak

March 24, 2008

This has not been a good week for freedom of speech in America.

During the Supervisors Budget and Finance meeting Wednesday, Supervisor Chris Daly was abruptly silenced when trying to criticize the Mayor’s monopolizing of Budget decisions.

“He can’t cut me off when I have the floor,” Daly said of Supervisor Jake McGoldrick’s action.

The same day, unprovoked police turned on those involved in the anti-war protests. Protesters and press were muscled to the ground and arrested.

People saw the photographs, saw the videos, saw the American administration send a blunt message about how you’ll be treated if you dare to criticize its policies.

Scary echoes of China’s treatment of Tibetans? On Thursday, when Daly tried to pass a resolution speaking out against Chinese Government oppression, he was again blocked by Supervisors Carmen Chu and Sean Elsbernd. Chu even told the public gallery they weren’t allowed to applaud.

When the torch comes through town, Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to confine Tibetan protestors to “freedom of speech zones.” Is this what freedom of speech has become, a fragmented privilege offered at whim by those in charge?

“Don’t gag the voiceless people of Tibet,” a protester pleaded Thursday.

What kind of message does this all send about free speech to Chinese people, who have been told by their Government that western democracy is just a sham over which the rich preside?

Meanwhile America’s been in a storm about Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Even if you don’t agree with what he said, he should have a right to voice such questions. And Obama has a right to listen.

People don’t seem to be able to distinguish Obama’s willingness to listen to people like Wright, Chavez, and Castro, from the idea that he’s going to acquiesce to them.

What the US needs is leaders who can listen to different perspectives.

Nicholas Olczak

Bio Nicholas Olczak is a freelance writer who comes from (the original) Boston in England, but who normally chooses to travel the world. He has contributed to publications in Hong Kong and the USA and enjoys delving into anything political or cultural. He currently lives on one of San Francisco's many hills.

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1 Comment

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  1. Nick,

    You’re easily the best young writer in town. Everyone should read your second piece in today’s Fog City ’cause it’s a beautiful treatise on the situation in China.

    Let me say this about that.

    I think what Chu and Elsbernd did should be enough to initiate recall actions against both of them. They are bringing a little bit of Chinese oppression to San Francisco along with the Olympic torch and that is reprehensible and totally indefensible. The Mayor is their accomplice and only because Feinstein tells him what to do. She answers to her husband Dick Blum who has millions invested in the Chinese commie regime.

    That said, I support the Olympics going to China and will watch every minute I’m able to watch. Nick’s data on the effect of the Olympics on South Korea is very accurate. Remember that before Nixon went to China, the ping-pong team went.

    We should embrace the Chinese Olympics because we’ll be sending thousands and thousands of tourists and athletes from all over the world, and the Chinese government needs to see them and their lifestyle.

    Don’t boycott it. Embrace it and just pray that the commies don’t realize that the Olympics could bring them down without a shot.

    The torch relay? Like I said, it’s a little bit of China coming to SF? No thanks. I welcome the torch “with alarm” as Daly’s resolution says. I favor a totally open route and as few cops as possible. The people who support Tibet are not violent and they will not interfere with this torch which brought hope to Mexico and South Korea, and left collapsed dictatorships in its wake.

    Up with the torch!