The Voice of the People is God's Voice

In a free and public debate which plays itself out in a physical place, there exists a moderator who ensures that everyone has an opportunity to speak. The moderator is responsible for maintaining order and civility, giving everyone equal access to express their opinions. We react spontaneously to those who would impose censorship or manipulation of any kind.

By the mere fact that we are in a room where we are allowed to participate in the events taking place, any kind of censorship or manipulation can be immediately challenged. This is the essence of democracy: the principle of a free and open marketplace for the exchange of ideas. Open competition, the free society means that the best, most plausible and convincing argument -- like the best product – captures the moment, wins the prize, if you like. Throughout history the very nature of a public debate, with its checks and balances, has prevented the minority from dominating the “conversation”. As a result, a multi-faceted society built upon a qualitative and durable political discourse has evolved.

The development of a powerful mass media, owned and controlled by special interest groups during recent decades has challenged the time honoured tradition of the people's right to participate in the dialog. Instead a small minority now dominates public opinion to an absurd extent. The general public has been forced out of the public debate, the voice of dissent largely silenced. When ordinary people use public rooms they can arbitrarily be subject to censorship or distortion – to such an extent that they may not recognize their own words.

There is a Latin expression “vox Populi, vox Dei”, the voice of the people is God's voice. Today, through the media's filter, we primarily hear the limited and self-serving point of view of the upper classes. The only safeguard we have against the editor's censorship or distortion of truth, is a weak one: to contact a “press spokesman”. In the best case scenario we receive a polite form letter, while the media secure in their lofty position, may get a slap on the hand, a small price to pay for the unlimited and often irresponsible so-called “freedom of the press”.

The principles of democracy are further undermined by those groups who speak loud and long on the importance of checking power and guarantying us freedom of speech.

Under the guise of, and protected by, a well manipulated picture of reality, this select minority can claim grotesque (obscene) privileges for itself, tear down the quality of the general welfare of the society, provoke war and with false logic, protect those who violate human rights.

The situation in our democracy today is such that the majority of citizens choose silence believing they are powerless to affect society. They withdraw from the public debate. On the other hand, we can be sure that the elitist clique who dominate the media gladly accept self censorship in order to maintain their position in the system.

With regard to the mass media's concentration of power in the hands of a small group of owners and forums, those who commit crimes against freedom of speech should be judged in the same category as those who commit crimes against democracy, crimes against the constitution. Punishment should be shaped as follows: substantial fines and other severe sanctions. At the same time it is imperative that we build up a new mass media, one that gives citizens access to and control over the content.

Gunnar Thorell / 06 02 26

Translated: Sarah Hollister