The Sixth Estate
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY : Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time. - Winston Churchill

SONG OF THE DAY : K-OS - B-Boy Stance

LINK OF THE DAY : Crazy Japanese Music Video with Robot Dancing.

Upon my head they plac'd a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe.

The interesting people you can meet on ICQ, are few and far between. Usually it's a never ending cavalcade of advertising bots, or odd, lonely people. However, it's when someone from a foreign country randomly contacts you, that things can get interesting. Talking with someone who's native language is not that of your own, always proves a fun challenge.

A few days ago, a 19 year old student at the University of Hunan, in China randomly contacted me on ICQ. That's a cool feature of ICQ, if you want to talk with someone from another country, it can be done with less than 3 clicks of the mouse.

Yanding Lou is this guys name. But his English name is Allen. So we'll just call him Al.

In a country that censors the internet use of it's own citizens, I am amazed that they would be allowed to use ICQ. After talking with Al over the course of several days, I came to realize that we weren't all that different. Admittedly, we've grown up in completely different situations though.

Of course, what is the main event involving China that I would have witnessed in my short life? 1989, Tiananmen Square. Obviously, I'm curious what Al has to say about this particular event. Since he himself is a University student, about the age of many of the victims of that sad day.

So Al told me what he knew. His understanding of the incident was that one group of university students had a problem with another group, thinking they were being used by them or something, and as a result of the violence between the groups many people died. Basically he told me what the government of China has been feeding people, a completely untrue story. No mention of the fact that the PRC military slaughtered possibly thousands of non-violent, unarmed protestors.

Amazed by this, I directed Al to a TIME magazine article about what really happened. Of course, due to the Chinese authority's control of the internet, Al was unable to access the site. So I told him, what my understanding of the incident was. I then copied and pasted the entire TIME magazine article into ICQ and sent it to Al. He read it and then replied to me.

no no no
that is not the case
who tell you about that?
it is wrong!
we must regard it objectivly

I was honestly really taken aback by Al's answer. I then posed a question to him, what if he was wrong? What if his government had been untruthful to him? How could the entire Western world be wrong?

I love my country and our leaders!
they are wise enough to lead us

That sounded exactly like some youth anthem, kids are made to sing over there.
Such rhetoric, had been driven into Al's head that he wouldn't accept my version of Tiananmen Square.

In Allen's head the incident hadn't happened the way we all know it really did. I wanted to continue the discussion, but it seemed to be a touchy subject. I was only trying to do what those students tried to do back in 1989, point out to people what their qualms with the Chinese government should be. But Al was either too indoctrinated to accept what I was saying, or too scared to believe what I was telling him. Knowing the Chinese strictly control the internet, I decided not to pursue the conversation any further. I didn't want to get him into trouble.

There are so many tangents I could go off onto at this point, but I'm too tired to continue writing much longer.

I was honestly disturbed. Over here, in North America we're heavily influenced by the media and government. But over there, in China the medium is the message. The influence is crammed down your throat, and if you don't go along with it... Who knows what will happen to you. Ah those communist propagandist, they sure know how to turn a nation of 1.5 billion people into a bunch of fucking pawns.

It really just makes you question what to believe these days. One man's truth is another man's fiction. And no where else was this adage more evident to me. But which is better? The illusion of truth, or a lie?

- Will


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