When I travel to China, I am indeed surprised at the number of critical and intelligent reports I come across on print, T.V., and internet media. By comparison I feel American media to be quite stale. Yes, there are always lively partisan criticisms, but criticisms that actually cast on the myriad problems of America … there is very little.
New York Times constant focus on freedom of speech in China for me is misplaced ideological attack. As Norm Chomsky has already detailed in his theories on manufactured consent, government can readily control what the media reports and not report without any laws that on the face constrain the speech. In a recent op-ed titled “the Fog Machine of War”, Chelsea Manning (a former United States Army soldier who has been sentenced to 35 years in jail for violating the Espionage Act and other offenses) described how through controlled restrictions on information access, the U.S. military can ensure virtually all reports involving the military will be a positive one. Of course, the entirety of the U.S. does that on a system-wide scale, but Manning doesn’t get into that (35 years is enough, I suppose). If China wants to chill speech, it can readily do so, without resorting to making new regulations.
Another misplaced ideological focus of the NYT is its focus somehow that freedom will beget truth. The truth is that freedom without rules does not beget truth, only contempt and falsehoods. That is true in the U.S. as well as China.
In a recent Time Magazine article titled “Supreme Court Skeptical of Laws Against Lying,” Time reported that the Supreme Court in a narrow decision will allow a Ohio Law prohibiting false political speech to be challenged in court. The article made clear that the Supreme Court is skeptical of laws criminalizing false speech but may ultimately allow it if circumstances warrant.