Nobody can prevent an idea from reaching the people

Nobody can prevent an idea from reaching the people

In 1927 in the United States, Judge Louis Brandeis wrote a legendary dissenting vote. It was about freedom, freedom of speech and irrational fears. 

“Men feared witches and burnt women,” he wrote. “It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears… To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present.” 

Now, take a look at Turkey after 100 years. Freedom of expression – even though it is guaranteed in the constitution – cannot be saved from the arbitrary intervention of public authorities. 

Not a day passes without somebody being detained, arrested for insulting statesmen and being punished for expressing their views. 

Not a day passes without a media blackout being introduced so that nobody is able to know more than what is given and submitted to them.   

In what democratic country are there 155 media bans in four years (2010-January 2015)? One hundred and fifty-five!

As a matter of fact, in democracies, freedom of expression cannot be arbitrarily interfered with, and nobody faces the interventionist pressures of public authorities for expressing their views. 

This debate was done 100 years ago and it is finished. 

Our constitution says, “The press is free, and shall not be censored” and specifically assigns the state to take measures so that the freedom to be informed is provided. It mentions that restrictions are possible only if a situation threatens the security of the country. This can happen only in war. 

Why should the truth about the Ankara Massacre, the ability of citizens to obtain the correct information about the event and a discussion of their ideas on the matter threaten the country? If there were 155 topics in four years, which, if discussed, threaten the country, then we are in a very poor situation regardless. 

These bans are arbitrary interventions that violate the constitution, the law, justice and the basic freedoms of people.  

What will the public talk about and debate when it has been blocked from being informed? What is the next step? Will they go around in cafes in the cities and squares in villages and punish those who utter those words they do not like? Or take them to the police station with their hands handcuffed behind their back? 

In democracies, people are at the very top. No president, no prime minister or anybody else can prevent an idea from reaching the people. The state cannot decide what is best for the individual to think and talk about. This would not be called freedom; it is called slavery. 

The most dangerous situation would be the one where a media ban is introduced on every critical topic and where research on such topics is blocked and where all talk and debate are banned. Without ideas being expressed, without discussion, how will they be proven wrong? By banning even the “criticism” of the state, then aren’t dangerous and destructive ideas also being protected, on the other hand? 

Also, as you all know, any banned thought, idea and information will find its way out. 

Those ideas that have been banned in time because they were deemed “dangerous” turn into bombs in that twilight, ultimately exploding.