15 August 2020, Saturday, 19:56
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Free Speech Guidelines

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Free Speech Guidelines
ANDREI SANNIKOV

History is being made today.

Somewhat around the end of May this year, there was such a marvellous moment of unity of every soul, all intentions, thrives, longings, desires, hopes, and emotions. Tsikhanouski was free, Babaryka was a dear soul. Having got carried away by the general atmosphere, the non-state media took the side of the people.

It was great. All were breathing as one, deeply as they should. Meanwhile, the stinky (now literally) authorities started creeping away to its natural environment - the sewerage.

Today, the people’s hopes and desires only matured, added up with more decisiveness, and something elusively changed in the very atmosphere.

Here is what. The non-state media have changed the tone. They started writing not about the things that unite, but about those that scare and disunite. I will not clarify, I don’t want to. Suddenly, the “talking points”, or “playbook” started working.

I will explain to those not engaged: the “talking points”, also referred to as the “playbook”, is a directive lowered down from above, from the state authorities, defining what the general line of a publication must be, a sort of rules setting guidelines on what can be covered and how it should be covered in the media. In our case, this directive is forced upon by the special services, and is controlled through personal files of an editor, a journalist, or a manager of a relevant media outlet.

So, when the tide of positive moods in the society was high, the “talking points” unexpectedly started working, and the media actively started beating down the high spirits in the society.

I am not speaking about what precisely and how they have obliged various media to write, shoot, or speak. Everybody has own reasons, trust me, very important ones. Someone is paying off a housing loan, some have a gambling debt, some are getting salary, and thus need to work it out… Or, for example, it’s time to replace a car with a new one, and how to do this? Or, once again, it’s necessary to fix a roof on your mother-in-law’s house, or pay the other mother-in-law’s dentist bills. Everything is so very pragmatic, humanly, no one is a pilferer, everybody’s modest. But here’s the point: having succumbed to the “playbook”, you offended the people for nothing. And the fact that you have succumbed is obvious, as a friend of mine says, even to a monkey from the Sukhumi National Park. But that’s not we are talking about now (c).

Why don’t you disregard all conventionalities, deny all “talking points”, stand beside the people, and break from this delusion together?

Why not using “free speech guidelines” instead, that is, write on the themes that objectively show reality, not some KGB-style interpretation thereof. It would be such an instant relief for everyone!

Glasnost, the free speech, proved its effectiveness during the perestroyka times, because it revealed the essence of the totalitarian regime, supported changes, admired the heroes, and did not forget about political prisoners.

It would be great to see in all independent media not careful calculation of the number of paddy wagons and riot policemen, but the heroic deeds of the people who continue taking to the streets against “Alex The 3%”. It would be great to read that their names are as glorious and loud as the names of the participants in the demonstration in the Red Square in Moscow against the troops deployment in Czechoslovakia, or the Polish freedom fighters in the times of the “Solidarity”, or the heroes of the “velvet revolution”.

It would be so nice to see in the media analytical researches from the angle of opportunities instead of the usual “nothing's gonna work” moaning.

It will work! It already has, and more opportunities are emerging every day. All you need is to notice and support them.

It would be great to see a media flash mob in support of spontaneous flash mobs, uniting people against the cockroach. It would be great to discuss how to help to turn the chains of people into the waves of solidarity.

Only two months ago it was impossible to imagine that the hatred towards the regime will splash onto the streets with such ferocity. The desire of changes has become a powerful civil force, which has been noticed and supported by the whole world. The world press writes about the Belarusian protests with admiration, laughing at the inadequate cockroach together with us. The media are not only playing a considerable role in the society, but possess huge power that can influence the course of history. So, history is being made today! We are making history!

Andrei Sannikov, Facebook