The Liberty of Press
Starting Statement: “The press should have absolute freedom”
Before we start investigating the value of truth of the Starting Statement, we must define and analyze the concepts of “freedom” and “press”.
[image:image-0]The concept of freedom is the same as the concept of liberty. Since the oldest times people have tried to define it, but the mystery of what liberty is still persists. The main reason for that is that numerous cultures consider liberty as something abstract, as something with its own life. To believe that an artificial construction such as liberty can exist outside the life of man, that is indeed a great fallacy. What they really did was to forget the one who creates, the one who is the object of freedom: the man. Nowadays, the process of demolition of man has reached unprecedented levels. The inflation of rights which is meant to achieve “absolute freedom” leaves out the only freedom-related right that matters: the right to be free. I agree with Mircea Eliade’s statement in his article The sense of Freedom:
“To be free means, before anything else, to be responsible with regard to yourself. You are free with your own life – that is to say that any action that you do involves you: you are responsible for it. The participation to rights, however, does not involve you in any way, it is an external “liberty”, an automatic one; (…) The man who is free, completely free, is a man who responds with his own life for every action that he commits. You cannot be free if you are not responsible. True liberty does not imply rights. ”
Indeed, the proposed way of seeing freedom is radically different from the manner in which freedom is seen now. At the current moment, it is acknowledged by most people that freedom is the lack of constraints of any kind. With the purpose of gaining freedom, people want to destroy their laws, customs, values, but the only thing that they achieve is the destruction of their own identity. The words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery are the best to describing the result of such actions: “While trying to reach liberty, people break the walls of the Citadel they live in, with the only result of becoming nothing. Because they are nowhere now. Not being somewhere does not means to be free.”
I express these fundamental truths that are valuable for the man and generalize them for any entity, be it physical, social or informational, as follows:
Postulate: Freedom is the state of an entity, in which the entity is responsible for its actions.
It must be observed that we arrived to this postulate by using an extrapolation of the results suggested by our intuition regarding man. It has to be finally understood that freedom is not the lack of constraints. If the conclusion of Exupery is not clear enough, we can take it intuitively. Laws and moral values are a frame in which social life is possible. They are like the hull of a ship, or like the walls of a house. Maybe the hull or the walls are not perfect, maybe they could be optimized, but it is certain that by destroying them you will sink the ship and demolish the house. Thus, even the thought of absolute freedom becomes ridiculous.
Now that we have a better idea of what liberty actually is, it’s time to go further to see what we should understand through Press. Obviously, the media community is nowadays not limited to physical newspapers, because it mostly resides on electronic support, thus a better name would be that of Media Community instead of the imprecise “Press”. Moreover, the Media Community should be defined not by its means of action, but by its purpose. Even though in daily life people don’t think about what the Media Community actually is, before we establish what its liberties are we must understand the nature of this social entity. It is evident that one of its traits is that of spreading information regarding various aspects of life, such that masses of people have access to it. Because it is intended for a large audience, it comes natural to accept that information is presented in an informal way, without too many words characteristic to an advanced lexicon. However, individuals of the society are not aware of the tremendous importance of the Media Community on all sorts of social life. Media does influence the perception of people regarding everything from daily activities, politics, economy and general behavior as citizens of the State. Through this influence, impacting in an approximately same manner large communities of people across an entire region, the Media Community becomes an extraordinary social cement which brings communities of people together, leading thus to the stability of the State. Let’s take as an example the TV news that are presented in Romania and Moldova about some political issue, news presented by the same post, that spread the same information in both countries. Because the information is the same, people from these two countries have a higher probability of agreeing to each other regarding the presented issue, for the simple reason that the press gave them the same information. That is one of the positive role that the Media Community has in the society and we will introduce it in our definition by stating that this entity must have as purpose that of binding societies, which is one of its responsibilities. The aforementioned observations can be condensed in the next Definition and Postulate:
Definition. The Media Community is the social entity that has the purpose of informing large audiences by spreading only unaltered evidence-based facts and logical reasoning processes while being a social binder that strengthens the targeted physical community.
Postulate. The Media Community is responsible as long as it acts according to its Definition. Actions that show a negation of the characteristics from the Definition of the Media Community are a proof of irresponsibility.
Maybe the specification “only unaltered evidence-based facts and logical reasoning processes” from the Definition of the Media Community may seem unnecessary. However, experience has shown us that it is something usual for the press to “sell” fake news at the command of some other entities. A fictional example of such behavior is given in George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which the oligarchic collectivist state of Oceania used the media as a powerful device for manipulating both history and present facts. By using the Definition, it is very easy to show that the behavior of the Oceania state Press was irresponsible and goes beyond its liberties, for the simple reason that it presented facts based on altered evidence, thus acting against the definition of the Media Community.
With this new iterations made in the problems of liberty and press, we can return to analyze the Starting Statement. Given the fact that in the observations we found that the collocation “absolute freedom” has no meaning, we can only conclude that the Starting Statement is false. However, through this investigation we found two Postulates and one Definition regarding the concept of liberty and that of Media Community, according to which Press must be indeed free, which means responsible and powerful. Without such a free Media Community, we cannot be free, nor does the society.