The Fifth Column

11th August 1996

Govt. without newspapers

"Thaaththa" Bindu Udagedara asked, "what is all this fuss about the censorship?"

"Why", Percy, Bindu's father asked. "Why are you suddenly worried about the censorship?"

"Why Thaaththa", Bindu said, "Satellite has said that those who oppose the censorship are only supporting Tigers...."

"Maybe, she has her reasons for saying so....," Percy argued.

"But", Bindu said, "she says we must not believe what the Leaders in our Island say during these Times...."

"Then", Percy asked, "must we believe only what the Observers say?"

"That's what she wants....," Bindu said.

"So", Percy said, "we know how many died in the Atlanta bomb blast but we don't know how many died in Mullaitivu."

"Maybe, Thaaththa", Bindu suggested, "the people in Atlanta know how many died in Mullaitivu but they might not know how many were killed in their own country...."

"Or maybe this is what transparency is all about...."

"Then, Thaaththa", Bindu wanted to know, "why is it that whenever the General visits the North with his walking stick, those visits are not censored, but given full publicity? Surely, that must be considered military related news...."

"I told you earlier, Bindu," Percy said, "News is what people want suppressed; all the rest is advertising and the walking stick is getting a lot of advertising these days...."

"But isn't he handling a difficult job as best as he can?" Bindu asked.

"But" Percy said, "I still think he should reconsider this censorship...."

"But, Thaaththa," Bindu said, "Satellite won't like that...."

"Then," said Percy, "that reminds me of what Thomas Jefferson once said."

"What's that?"

"He said that if he was offered a choice between a government without newspapers and newspapers without a government he wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter...."

"Then," Bindu said, "the time has come to choose...."

Percy didn't disagree.

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