November 3rd of this year was a Sunday.
I ate brunch with my mother (women love brunch), then I went home and took an afternoon nap on my bed beside a heavy black bookshelf that houses about 40 books, some read, some gently perused, and others untouched. One of those scarcely-touched books is a King James Holy Bible. I keep it close in case demons or ghosts infest my quiet old home (I live in an old New England town so this is a real concern).
I slept heavily. The night before I’d hosted a birthday party that ran late late into the night. I don’t remember now what I did the rest of the day after I woke up from my nap.
On that same day, November 3rd, halfway around the globe in the gray paradise of North Korea, “80 people were publicly executed in seven different cities for crimes such as watching films made in South Korea, dealing in pornography or possessing a Bible.”
“…executions were carried out by binding a group of people to stakes, putting white sacks over their heads and blasting them to pieces with a machine gun in front of thousands of witnesses at a stadium, among whom were many children. Families of the executed victims were sent to prison camps along with the victim’s accomplices.”
I’ve argued before why you should defend the good Lord, even if you don’t believe in him. Even more important is for people to defend the expression of their own thoughts..even if they don’t believe in them.
Whether you are writing messianic gospel, a salacious porno film script, a blog post that four people will read, or an annoying Facebook status that no one will read, this is of grave importance to you.
Writers in America are presently finding themselves scared into self-censorship. No one wants to say what they think. No one even wants to report what they know.
“A new report from the PEN Center and the FDR Group entitled “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor” finds that 85 percent of surveyed writers are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) “have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today.”
Sixteen percent of writers have avoided writing or speaking about certain topics due to threatening privacy concerns, and an additional 11 percent have seriously considered such avoidance.”
I have a friend who is an undergraduate journalism major. She has a hard time finding interviewees who will openly comment on various subjects she writes about for her assignments. Some of these people are likely too dumb or too oblivious to offer any opinions worth hearing. The rest of them don’t want to express their thoughts because they don’t want their name attached to them.
People do not want to express their thoughts because they do not want to be associated with them. People fear being associated with their own thoughts.
Perhaps one day Christians won’t utter the Lord’s name in public because they can’t afford to be associated with Him. Maybe one day journalists will learn to sew up their lips and toe the ideological line to keep a paycheck and feed their families. The silence will grow so thick that honorable transgressors like Michael Hastings will be sniffed out like bleeding seals and chewed up by circling sharks.
A group of 80 North Koreans, comprised of both Bible-bearing Christians and dildo-toting pornographers, met an equal fate in the public square this month. Their common crime was not their love of God, or their love of recorded copulation, but expression of thought.
Most North Koreans know not to think, or at least not to express their thoughts in any observable capacity. This is a short-sighted personal survival technique. As a strategy, silence is a losing game. It is a strategy for the gelatinous, spineless, acquiescent jelly-men who only ask to breathe air, and nothing more. Society can crumble, their families can be slaughtered, as long as they can just exist for another day.
I don’t believe life is worth living if it is not a free life. I’d choose five short years of life here in haunted New England over a lifetime in the hell-prison of North Korea. And every day of my 5-year-life (or perhaps only every week in a blog post at www.bryanpaulrouleau.com ***The Official Website***) I would proudly say everything I believe, and do it without shame, and without anonymity.
Anonymity is another temporary survival technique. Many people will write things under internet pseudonyms or provide information to the media and ask to be kept anonymous; they do this to the detriment of their message, because anonymous sources are always less trustworthy, and pseudonym-bearing writers are rarely taken seriously because there is a perception that even the writer is well-enough ashamed of his opinion that he disassociates it from his real person. These anonymous individuals have perhaps preserved their careers, or protected themselves from retribution…but only for now.
After all, the onlookers at the North Korean public executions also preserved themselves. They did not die that day; they were instead permitted to return to their meager lives of perpetual terror, hunger, and poverty.
The road to North Korea’s present state is paved in the metastasizing silence of it’s people, who just wanted to get along.
Will we learn soon enough that controversy and diversity of thought are the agents of our long-term happiness, and not ‘offensive’ ‘hatespeech’ that must be vanquished from the public square, and relegated to the padded corners of our thoughts?
In the United States, will the silence ever grow loud enough for us to hear it?