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Dulce et decorum est?

By John | Reason Over Might

18.01.05 | Here in Venezuela, the effects of Chávez's new censorship laws are being felt not only in the mainstream media, but also in the blogsphere. Regarding the MSM (an abbreviation I saw for the first time yesterday -- I wonder whether it will catch on), reporting on TV and radio stations has become extremely cautious, and criticism of the government has become muted. This is obviously what the Miraflores autocrat wanted, but it is clearly detrimental to freedom of expression as well as the efficiency of government in Venezuela. The media play an important role in society's by placing government's activities under scrutiny, thereby functioning as a anticipatory behavioural corrective. When they are chained or threatened, as is happening here, society suffers.

Bloggers' writings have not yet been addressed by Venezuelan media laws, but the revised penal code severely sanctions criticism of public officials and other forms of dissent by private individuals. Bloggers living in Venezuela are beginning to ask themselves how freely they can write, and how much they need to censor themselves in order to ensure that they will not suffer the consequences of an injust law applied arbitrarily by partisan courts.

Here's a suggestion to such bloggers, whose work I admire and support. Your writings contain two components. On the one hand, you collate information from numerous news sources and make it available in English. On the other hand, you provide in-depth analysis and opinion. Both components are indispensable and should not be given up. But you might want to consider posting to two separate blogs: one in which you post under your own name, and another where you use a pseudonym. Run the first as a fact blog, in which you bring together all the key information on what's going on in Venezuela. Back up your statements by quoting your sources in each case (as you've already been doing). This should keep you safe from prosecution, though in this country it's hard to be sure. In the second blog, vent your opinions and analyse the news for all it's worth, but keep your identity secret in order to ensure you stay out of the chavista's hands.

Is it dishonourable to post using a pseudonym? I certainly don't think so. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori may be a noble sentiment, but it is also an asinine concept. You can do far more for your country alive (or out of prison) than dead (or in prison), so don't sacrifice your life to a cause. Rather live to fight another day. Do whatever is necessary to keep on writing. Post anonymously if that is what's required at the moment, and then make your identity known once reason returns to Venezuela.

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