Al Seymour

The free press must rally when democracy faces a brutal attack

  • Seeking the truth: investigations by the US Justice Department headed by special counsel Robert Mueller, above, continues what has been described as an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the election, with a no-stone-left-unturned approach

The principles of democracy are kept alive by a free press. But sometimes there are efforts to clamp down on the exposing of wrongdoings by those in authority, as the professional work of skilled journalists becomes a target for those who prefer to push misinformation and plant confusion over what is fact and fiction, especially in the political arena.

There are deeply troubling situations around the world where democracy is struggling for survival in a cloud of brutal suppression, where attempts to get at truth can be extremely risky, when force is implemented to discourage efforts to provide a voice for all in dealing with matters concerning the people.

Journalism itself is very much under siege these days, because there are so many online options to spread information true or false on such a massive scale. It can seem that detecting truth could be similar to locating a tooth pick in a tidal wave. That, in a nutshell, is what journalists are faced with.

A glance around the world could be troubling, because in a number of regions, people by the thousands are suffering at the hands of ruthless leaders who cling to power by force, and many of them have no place for a free press whom they see as a threat.

Under such circumstances democracy becomes just a word, with no meaning for countless men, women and children who confront each day wondering whether they will even see the sunset.

It is a sad reality for modern times when so much emphasis is placed on electronic wonders in global communication, and it has reached a point where criminals have tapped into finding ways to penetrate financial institutions, creating major security problems for world banking.

Of course, similar technology has also been associated with international political activities, such as the allegations that Russia used high-tech hacking to affect the recent presidential election in the US, in order bring about a result that could favour their objectives.

Despite Russian denials, investigations by the US Justice Department headed by special counsel Robert Mueller continues what has been described as an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the election, with a no-stone-left-unturned approach.

Many observers feel democracy in America is being threatened by the new administration, which has little regard for the free press, and this has created even more confusion over seeking the truth.

When democracy crumbles anywhere on Earth, dictatorial power-seekers use the opening to take control, and people are left to a form of existence where voices are silenced.

Although much of the world still enjoys the freedom democracy provides, too many take it for granted that nothing will ever change. Democracy, and what it really stands for, has to be watched and protected with a commitment by all who believe in decency, justice, peace and freedom.

Millions have given their lives to protect those values over hundreds of years. Today, there is still a danger that the struggle is far from over. The danger increases when a country known to have a rigid dictatorial policy manages to acquire nuclear weapons, with no sign of ever moving towards democracy in any form.

This places the world on notice that a major conflict with potential devastation for millions is a gruesome reality. There are countries without any nuclear capabilities that still operate in a manner that deprives millions from the benefits of what true democracy offers.

It is a time when the free press might very well be the most powerful weapon of all, since truth will always be its principle objective. We are all living in challenging times, and any shift from basic human values must be watched closely.

Our crime problem here in Bermuda, especially that involving gang activity, will not be solved without Bermudians who respect proper values sending out a powerful message that no child is born with instincts to become a gang member. Something has gone missing between the cradle and moving out into the world. This has left too many young people vulnerable to negative elements.

Bermuda can and must do better, but it will take greater focus on family values if there is to be any light at the end of the tunnel.