By David Ferguson
I thought CiF was going to let me down last week with its coverage of China. Timothy Garton Ash posted an article that for once was thoughtful and reflective, addressing the issue of how China can work out its future relationships with other power blocks for better or worse.
But just as I thought it was safe to get back in the water, along came "The Editorial", with an article entitled The Great Firewall, taking the Chinese to task for having blocked the BBC's Chinese language output.
I could make an issue of the facile and arrogant assumption that the people of China are under some obligation to have the BBC's smug, comfortable, middle-class "left-wing" armchair liberal lectures on the shortcomings of China imposed upon them, but that would be too glib a fashion of dealing with what is at the end of the day a serious subject. I would be failing in my duty, however, if I refrained from pointing out the following:
Having delivered their solemn homily, The Guardians of freedom of speech then stood back to await their readers' comments.
Along came reader TPTFC… "We'll take your preaching on the subject of censorship seriously when you can deal with the Great Firewall of the Guardian. There are way too many comments being deleted these days."
Ah. Excellent. An unmissable opportunity to show the Chinese how "freedom of speech" works in the Western media: Zap! Comment deleted…*
Seriously. This is beyond parody. Do these people have any concept of the preposterous absurdity of their hypocrisy?
The writer of the editorial did detect one positive note, however: "China's web community is quite vibrant and inventive, often re-posting content when censors remove it…"
How the Chinese authorities must long for the absolute power of the CiF moderators. The Guardian has a more robust response to readers who try to repost comments that have been deleted – they ban the offender. Check out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/users/Cloutman. The operative words are "This user profile is not available".
* Honesty (a scarce commodity on CiF) compels me to acknowledge that when TPTFC posted his comment again it was left to stand. Presumably some sentient being on CiF managed to work out on its fingers that deleting a post like this under an article like this makes the whole of CiF look foolish beyond belief. But it similarly allows me to reiterate the point that numerous others have been banned for doing the same thing.