Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Freedom of Speech

This is tough to write because I don't like any infringement by government upon liberty.  But there are times when the media is harmful in the way they report events.  There's a write up about the nuclear troubles in Japan at NRO  which make me wonder sometimes about whether this freedom is always a good thing.

You see the media is a business enterprise.  They have to make money.  But people need information and it needs to be accurate.  There doesn't seem to be a way to get around the fact that the media can influence public opinion anyway they want.  If that power is abused, we all suffer for it.  In this case, when the media hypes a problem all out of proportion to what actually exists, they are not performing a public service, but instead, are performing a public disservice.  It's times like this that makes me wonder if the media should be regulated in some way.

The impossibility of that, regulating speech, prohibits that idea.  Short of that, what can you do?  Here is the media hyping the nuclear problems and they are going to make it difficult, or maybe even impossible to meet future energy needs because of this type of reporting.  It may be regrettable that we may have to depend upon rather imperfect ways of getting our energy, but to block all access to energy because of some risks involved in the means of getting it, is counterproductive to say the least.  At some point, the counterproductive reporting may have its consequences.  The consequences is that we may lose that which we take for granted, including the right to speak freely.  All could be lost if the times become desperate enough.  Better to avoid that scenario than to help bring it on by irresponsible reporting.

I remember the Chernobyl accident and the reporting of that time.  What struck me about it was the hype.  The initial reports were that thousands were dead.   We now know that number was highly inflated.  It may well be that whatever comes from this will likely be reported to be much worse than what it really is.  And that what makes it reprehensible.  Energy is such an important part of our lives.  It is vital that the public have accurate information about it.

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