By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]
You have to hand it to Chinese bloggers – they are determined to get the truth out, no matter what. OK, they are not facing the death sentence like their fellow counterparts in Iran but nevertheless, they still face prison for their opinions. At the very least, their work will be deleted by faceless humorless bureaucrats.
So the bloggers are trying out new methods to evade Chinese government censors – the latest one is they are using tools and software to write backwards. Or write vertically instead of horizontally. This is apparently confusing the censors because they now cannot automatically track “objectionable phrases” (aw my heart bleeds for them). One such “text flipping” tool is here. Obviously the government will eventually find a way around it but the resourceful bloggers will probably have found another solution by then and will have moved on.
It’s easy for us in the democratic west to take our freedom of speech for granted. We don’t think twice about giving an opinion online and then hitting the “publish” button. We don’t have to fear the knock on the door or awkward questions being asked about our loyalty to the state. We take our freedoms for granted because they’ve always been there. But our fellow bloggers in China and Iran are not so lucky. They have to look over their shoulder all the time and resort to text flipping tools, codes and guarded language to protect themselves and their family, while at the same time trying to break through all the officially sanctioned propaganda and get the real truth out to the world.
These are the unsung unrecognised heroes of the world. It’s time we should recognise them more. Plus if Iran passes that idiotic and insane death sentence law, we should all as an international community collectively do something, short of invading the country.
Edit: We’ve received several private threat emails in the past 24 hours because of this article. I’d just like to quote one of Mark’s comment for those of you who think that this text will bring the “limelight” on Chinese bloggers trying to evade attention from their government:
“And as for “dragging the Chinese bloggers into the spotlight”, I hardly think I have done that. I merely linked to and reported on a news report in the Wall Street Journal which is obviously a much bigger and much more influential publication than Geeks Are Sexy. So if you want to accuse anyone of dragging Chinese bloggers into the spotlight, call up the Wall Street Journal and ask for the managing editor.”