The media are the eyes and ears of the people. The people see their world through the media. It is the media that reports on matters of public interest. It is the media to whom the people turn for information about what is taking place in Guyana. Without the media the people would be unable to know what is taking place.
A free media is vitally important. The free media is not biased. It brings all sides of a story. It searches only for the truth and brings all sides of an issue to the public. Without knowing all sides of an issue, the people would be uninformed and misled. They will make the wrong choices because they are not being given the good and the bad, the right and wrong about an issue.
The media is the watchdog of society. It helps expose wrongs. If it did not do this, then society would disintegrate because those who wish to do wrong would have no fear of exposure. The media exposes wrongdoings and in so doing, acts as a watchdog against excesses such as wrongdoing and corruption.
It is precisely because the media exposes wrongdoing that it is exposed to victimization. When the media exposes certain types of wrongs, there are those who wish to muzzle it because they do not want their wrongdoing to be exposed.
Muzzling the media is an attempt to deny the people the information to which they are entitled. It is thus a denial of their right to receive information. In other words, it is a denial of freedom of expression.
If there can be attempts to muzzle the media by powerful persons within a country and if these persons succeed in muzzling the media, then no one is safe. If the media, the watchdog of society can be muzzled then what is going to become of the fate of other important institutions?
How is it, Guyanese are going to be sure that the same pressures that are being brought to bear on Kaieteur News are not going to be unleashed on the Judiciary? What is to prevent the authorities from loosing the pit bulls within our society on the Judiciary? How certain are we that after the authorities having finished with the Kaieteur News they are not going to go after those Judges whom they may not be comfortable with?
This possibility illustrates the principle best enunciated by the maxim that a threat to the freedom of any individual is a threat to the freedom of each individual. If one of us is threatened by the abuse of power, then all of us are threatened.
We are essentially therefore at a defining moment in our country’s history. It is whether tyranny is held back or it is allowed to gallop freely and unharnessed.
The most frightening form of tyranny is when persons are framed. Many have been the innocent persons sent to jail and to gallows for crimes they did not commit. They were framed. I have seen young men sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. I have seen these same young men languish for years until they were old men, only for some new discovery to be used to overturn their false convictions.
This is what happens when a society is unable to control those to whom it reposes the public trust. Without that control, powers can be abused with frightening consequences. Guyana is now at frightening stage of its development.
A society must never reach the stage in which schemes are allowed to be plotted to jail persons. To frame someone, to plant evidence, to manufacture reasons for restricting that persons freedom is one of the most deadliest wrongs that can be committed in any society.
It makes a mockery of the laws of a country when those with power arbitrarily use their power to silence you or to frame you something that you did not do. To deprive persons of their liberty simply because you have the power but not the grounds to do so is one of the most frightening dimensions of tyranny. That power needs to be checked.
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