15 November 2010

Beyond a Joke: On the Road to China

By now, you will have read all about the #twitterjoketrial. But you may not have come across this story:

On 17 of October, Wang Yi retweeted a post by Hua Chunhui who satirically challenged the anti-Japanese angry youths in China by inviting them to destroy the Japan pavilion in Shanghai Expo. She added a comment, “Angry youth, come forward and break the pavilion!” in her retweet.

The police interpreted her satire as a public order disturbance and asked the Labour Re-education committee to sentence her to one year labour camp, from November 15 2010 to November 9 2011 in Zhenzhou Shibali river labour re-education camp.

People will point out one year in a labour camp is very different from the few thousand quid fine meted out to Paul Chambers, and I of course would agree: the UK is not China.

But the *attitude* - that humour or satire is a "threat" of some kind, and must be punished in the courts - is shockingly similar. And that is what is most disturbing for me here in the UK about the #twitterjoketrial case: the authorities here are now *thinking* like their Chinese counterparts (who must be delighted to have this high-profile backing for their approach from those hypocritical Westerners). We are on the road to China.

Is this really the journey we want to take? Weren't we trying to get China to come to us?

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


Felix Pleșoianu said...

Similarly, US customs systematically persecute security researchers, and generally everyone who seems to know their rights. Looks like officials don't like people pointing out security theater is just that. After all, the general populace might begin to understand security -- something most people currently don't -- and then where would they be?

Glyn Moody said...

@Felix: yes, they're certainly doing exactly the wrong thing here - there will be more and more scrutiny as a result...