Delphine Halgand, who runs North American operations for the global organization Reporters Without Borders, gave a terrific talk the other night at the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations. She, of course, talked about the terrorist murders in France. But she also reviewed the condition of freedom of expression and information around the world. Her maps expressed the fragility of freedom of expression, upon which many other freedoms depend. That fragility includes the United States in some ways, she said.
The PCFR, created in 1928 under the aegis of the Council on Foreign Relations, but these days completely independent of the council, has monthly dinners with speakers from many walks of life. Past and present political leaders, diplomats, military officers, physicians, historians, theologians and many other fascinating people from around the world have spoken over the years.
Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based organization perhaps better known internationally as Reporters Sans Frontières, promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press. The organization has consultant status at the United Nations. Reporters Without Borders has two major activities: one is focused on censorship, and the other on providing material, financial and psychological assistance to journalists assigned to dangerous areas.
The link to the U.N. is somewhat ironic since so many U.N. members are corrupt dictatorships that enthusiastically suppress freedom of expression, sometimes using imprisonment, torture and murder to do it. Still, we must have something like the U.N. It's perhaps just a reflecti0n 0f human nature so that so many members are so bad, and hypocrisy so entrenched.
The American abolitionist Wendell Phillips said:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either form human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.”
The PCFR (firstname.lastname@example.org), founded in 1928 under the aegis of the Council on Foreign Relations, but these days completely independent of the council, has monthly dinners with speakers from many walks of life. Past and present political leaders, from around the world, diplomats, physicians, historians, theologians and many other fascinating people have spoken over the years.
--- Robert Whitcomb