It’s been a week since I’ve moved out of the house that I’ve lived in since childhood – and into my new apartment, and at the start of the new year. As of this writing, I’m still unpacking my stuff, given the fact that I’ve been busy this past week. And since I have most of this afternoon free – well, what better time than to write my latest blog article?
All of us know what happened to Sony last month, as they were about to release The Interview, which had already infuriated North Korea, and had embolden the computer hackers determined to avenge the Asian country. And in the past two weeks, Europe has faced a string of terrorist attacks, including the murders of several key personnel associated with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – a reminder that sometimes, free speech does have a price, and especially if it’s under attack by totalitarian and terrorist regimes.
But then, this generation shouldn’t be surprised – criticizing and/or making fun of dictators and terrorists worldwide has never been an easy task, especially when the risks are great, including the possibility of sudden and unexpected death. It was true even when the ancient Roman empire punished those who defied its well – the same victims who knew that what the Roman emperors were doing was morally wrong, which eventually played a role in the Roman empire’s downfall.
The technology that started to emerge during the 19th Century as part of the Industrial Revolution has played a major role in shaping not only the world that we live in, but also our view of it – including advocating for positive change. Motion pictures, radio, television, and the Internet have brought us a lot closer to the world that we live in – while showing us its ugliness, in the forms of history’s worst dictators and sadists, which has never completely disappeared, and which continues to lash out at us today. In the late-1930’s and early-1940’s, a trio of Hollywood films – Confessions Of A Nazi Spy, The Great Dictator, and The Mortal Storm – strongly criticized and condemned both Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany so much, that Hitler ended up banning all Hollywood films in Germany, partly because those three films exposed him and his cronies as the madmen that they truly were, while further tearing down the public image that they wanted to show to the world. (But then, Hitler and the Nazis had already damaged their public image long before they helped start World War II in 1939 – and what they did during the war years did little to repair it.)
In today’s world, the mass media and technology that has helped improve our way of life is also being used by dictators and terrorists – if anything else, to hold on to power for power’s sake, while (secretly) fearing that someday, it’ll probably be taken away from them forever, not only by democracies outraged by their atrocities, but also those writers, journalists, and artists who believe that free speech still counts, as well as their belief in the old axiom “The truth shall set you free.” Still, the dangers associated with speaking out against evil in its various forms still persist – and will remain so, in spite of whatever new technologies pop up in the coming years. And the eventual elimination and/or long-range curbing of those who use violence, corruption, and threats to bend the world to their will won’t bring a permanent end to evil as a whole – especially when there are future demagogues and sadists waiting in the wings, and ready to act when we least expect it. It’s a fact that humanity’s had to live with for centuries – and a curse that may never disappear, despite and because of the mass media and technology that, in the view of many, has become both blessing and curse.
John Lavernoich is the author of three books (including the first two Chameleons, Inc. novels), as well as various non-fiction articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet. To learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his various creative accomplishments, please check out the following websites listed below:
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