Hindering Speech and Halting Progress: Sacrificing Freedoms for National Control in China and Turkey
Ford, Kalyah Alaina
Speech exists as a weapon in our increasingly networked world today. Every day there is a new case where a dissident spoke out against a repressive regime and disappeared; an Olympic athlete `Tweeted' a racial slur and lost their ability to compete; or a traveler made a joke on Facebook about "blowing up a country" and was barred from entering their destination's borders. Each of these cases exhibit today's precarious landscape for speech.The idea of `free speech' has completely shifted with the emergence of the Internet, which helped open the world's borders, and as a result brought global attention to national speech policies. The impossibility of this reality is that each nation has a different definition of what speech is and most importantly, how free a citizen is to speak within their borders. Some nations censor speech (either officially or unofficially) as a means of nation building, while others restrict speech as a form of social protectionism. The tension in these conceptions of free speech lies in each nation's self-interest. Therefore, this thesis explores the idea that speech is paradoxically feared and also used as a tool for carrying out national goals, both internally and externally, in countries all over the world.Using four broad perspectives on the importance of speech, and applying these theories to case studies on China and Turkey, I evaluated the historical construction of each nation, the details of their nation building efforts--including discursive formation and censorship--their institutional and legal framework regarding speech, and lastly their treatment of speech in the Internet age. This exploration led me to conclude that the power of speech is so ominous to those in power, because by its very nature the plurality of speech has the ability to put a dent in a government's national goals, and poke a hole in a leader's charismatic persona. Basically, with free speech, governments are no longer in control, the people are.
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