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Choice, Responsibility & Censorship

Mountain Gorilla from Virunga Documentary
Choice - the act of choosing: the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities, the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities. Responsibility - the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one's power, control, or management. Censorship - supervision and control of the information and ideas that are circulated among the people within a society.

The first two words offer our civic duty as humans to embrace Choice and Responsibility. The third Censorship, addresses an individual's right to express freedom of speech and thought without impediment.

My Editorial choice for EFM following the brutality of events across the current geopolitical environment and what is happening in the world I found was too yielding and complex to attempt to address objectively.

The documentary genre in recent years has grown in stature as feature films the consumer will eagerly see on the big screen if the subject matter such as a fictional film stirs the emotions. One such documentary is Virunga.

Virunga Trailer
Virunga is Africa's oldest national park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the last natural habitat for the endangered mountain gorilla. Filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel pairs gorgeous natural scenes from Virunga with riveting footage of the Congolese crisis, raising an ardent call for conservation as a vital human enterprise. Along the way, he spotlights the dangerous work that is often required to safeguard the environment.*

I recently screened this brilliant documentary and the three elements immediately sprang to mind: the choice of filmmakers to make the film - choice of the brave rangers to protect these endangered animals – the lack of responsibility on the part of SOCO International – the censorship that Soco strongly implied by not allowing the filmmakers proper access to record what was happening. Film is the 21st Century visual communicator and its power should never be underestimated. In June 2014, the British oil company SOCO International bowed to pressure and abandoned drilling in volatile and the biodiverse region of Democratic Republic of Congo. (Guardian newspaper - London)

Embracing my Editorial opinion on the question of choice: Approximately 5 years ago, horrified at the depth of pedolphilia that exists on the internet, I wrote an Editorial at AFM that concluded that there MUST be a way for these images when they go across the system to be flagged and sent to Interpol or the various agencies in all the countries who are aware of each other and in some instances connected to share information. My argument was that it was Mark Zuckerberg's personal sense of responsibility - not censorship – to implement such a system.

Cut to 2014 -– it's refreshing to see common sense prevailing and the governments of the UK and USA are now putting into place legislation which demands that internet servers give households choice to protect in some measure children from pedophilia on the internet – by a simple opt out button – which blocks viewing to such sites.

It's interesting that in spite of calling for the freedom of expression and speech, Facebook has bent to pressure and is removing all images of the Prophet Muhammad for fear of upsetting a religious group – the same religious group within whom a minority of criminals in the name of the Prophet Muhammad are destroying a common trust and tolerance between co-existing sectors of a society.

My contention is if Facebook can remove those pages of the Prophet Muhammad, Facebook can also remove those pages of the pedophiles who prey on the least able to defend themselves in society - because the impact and consequences of Pedophilia and Terrorism are closely linked – both destroy society. In the case of the innocents caught up in this vile practice and trade, its long term effect cannot be measured. In the case of terrorism, its short term and long term effect is felt instantly across the world and that effect is fear, distrust and disharmony among the population.

* Virunga – edited extract from content about the documentary at Tribeca.

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