When arrogance and power prove mightier than truthiness.
A wise man once said, “if you want your enemies to know your dirty secrets, be sure to prohibit free speech about the allegations.”
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Apparently, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan is so wise, that he thinks he is above this insightful gem.
As you may know, Turkey’s government has recently blocked access to Twitter, and they’re trying to do the same to YouTube.
So far, Google has refused to block access to YouTube in Turkey. More specifically, the interwebz behemoth has refused to take down certain videos posted in the recent past, which reveal the height and depths of nepotism and corruption emanating from the office of Turkish Prime Minister Reccip Tayyip Erdogan.
Nothing says “I’m guilty” quite like a political boss passing a rule of law to censor the whistleblower. And little makes the confession of guilt more believable to Joe Q. Public than trying to squelch the messenger and its community of users, followers, fans and friends.
Protestors and civil rights activists across Turkey and in other countries have predictably objected to this censorship.
For every objection and every tweet in response to the Turkish blockade of Twitter, the AK Party-led government in Ankara laughs a little louder, even if arrogantly and foolishly shooting themselves in the foot. For they know that these pesky objections and aggrieved demonstrators are helping to divert attention, rather than focus it properly on the alleged crimes of political blackmail, exploitation, and abuses of power. And while this behavior may hurt Turkey’s political status in the mid-term, for now it suits the short-term interests of the man and the party currently in charge of Turkish politics.
As if to add salt to the wound of these naive free speech and social media activists, Mr. Erdogan has managed to make the most of local food shortages, fuel shortages, and the occasional exchange of fire with Syrian forces on the ground and in the air. It is evident that local election campaigns have been more concerned with these side issues, rather than the bigger issue at hand. And that is, that Mr. Erdogan’s government is so corrupt, that it should be removed from power as soon as possible, through the legitimate means of Turkey’s democracy.
Of course, the average tweeting Turk is not taking this ban lying down. In fact, as most internet-savvy Turks use VPNs and Tunnels to access banned sites, the sheer number of tweets has not diminished since the Turkish Twitter ban was put in place.
And it’s not just commoners who tweet from Turkey. Even Turkey’s President, Abdullah Gul, has used Twitter to publicly object to the ban, calling on the Prime Minister to rescind this particular form of censorship. Of course, Mr. Gul’s own critics have made clear that he has not done nearly enough to influence Mr. Erdogan and his censorship-addicted government. As it is, Mr. Gul and Mr. Erdogan are both AK Party members, and Mr. Gul is one of the people who hopes to be the next Prime Minister of Turkey. So Gul’s motives, opportunism and credibility are quite suspect by many voters in the middle, as well as his opponents.
So the next time you question the wisdom of blocking access to social media and the Internet in general, remember, just because you’re right, doesn’t mean you have the power to change the status quo. Then again, it isn’t as though Turkey’s citizens have no other access to social media. Facebook, Pinterest and MySpace are all still available online in Istanbul, right?
Full disclosure: In addition to satirizing public figures with his pen, Yasha Harari has worked for political organizations and the media in America, Europe and Israel.