No bans please

The latest on the ban list seems to be a book written on Bhutan’s political process and democratic evolution by the former NC Chairperson.

An extract from the book on the social media account of the former NC Chairman came in for some controversy during the 2018 elections.

The interesting thing is that the extract, as controversial as it was, was asked to be removed by the ECB not on the grounds of fact, but because it was seen to be hampering the chances of a political party.

This is not a precedent set by ECB but in fact just one step in a long line of actions by it during the election process where even genuine criticism can stand to be curtailed if a political party has an issue. Never mind the facts.

Newspapers are asked to give equal coverage, never mind critical analysis. The ECB or its media arbitrator is ready to step in the moment the weighing scale goes a little way off -never mind the merits of the case or facts.

The effect is that the press has to be at its tamest with minimal critical content and analysis during an election period when people need it most.

Of course media outlets or others that give wrong information or facts need to be dealt with.

It now appears that the book has been entirely banned in Bhutan by BICMA.

While it may not be the intent, the message coming from ECB and BICMA’s actions is that criticism of political parties and figures can earn a ban.

This is while much more is happening in the unchecked world of social media whose worst elements feed and exploit the inability of the mainstream to openly discuss issues of public interest.

A ban is also not a solution in todays world as it will drive people to anonymity and only attract more attention to the material which, rest assured, people will now order it online or buy it when their head out for trips.

Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.
Henry Louis Gates

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