Dubai Moves To Criminalize Publishing Anything That Would “Harm the Economy”

125px-flag_of_the_united_arab_emiratessvgThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is considering legislation that would criminalize publication of anything that would “harm the economy.” Such an offense would be punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (roughly $272,000).

This will, of course, put journalists in a bit of a problem reporting on the economic crisis. Here are a few suggestions:

When covering the collapse of the housing market, try a headline: “Dubai Takes Lead in Offering Low Cost Homes.”

When covering the decline in purchases in the recession, try “Citizens Indicate That They Have All of the Goods That They Need.”

When covering the rise in unemployment, try “More People in Dubai Enjoying Time with Family.”

It is good to know that the UAE is trying to repair its economy by destroying free speech.

For the full story, click here.

14 thoughts on “Dubai Moves To Criminalize Publishing Anything That Would “Harm the Economy””

  1. This is just . . . stupid . . . and par for the course, but speaking of free speech . . .

    Apparently if one has an XBOX Live account and self-identifies as a lesbian, MS will cancel your service.

    There were two deciding factors in my dropping MS like a hot rock. First, I had an XBOX Live account. A buddy got me hooked on Halo. When I had an issue with it, I got the nastiest, rudest customer service I’d had in a long lone time. So bad, I called a contact in Redmond at the VP level and RAISED HELL. So much in fact, the offending employee, a middle manager, was reassigned out of a customer service position. The second, and more critical, was a data corruption issue and the resultant unauthorized policy changes keeping me from my data. I retrieved my data, but only because I can make DOS bark like a dog and had a custom DOS based bootable recovery disk I’d made myself. It was a brute force solution for a problem that should have never happened. I repartioned a drive leaving just enough space for the couple of Windows based games I like with a minimal Vista install, freed the bulk of my drive array and switched to Linux and open source for everything else. I wouldn’t have even done that if 2K would release the Civilization games as a Linux port. I am a self-identifying Civ junkie. Nothing beats chess with nearly infinite pieces, but I digress.

    I’ve never been happier with the stability of my system with Linux and I’ve never remotely considered switching back.

    Microsoft sucks. The link just further proves that. The day they are relegated to being a minor player in computers and focuses on their game consoles alone can’t come soon enough for me.

    I punish bad corporate actors by not buying their garbage. It’s only fair. I encourage others to do the same.

    Ahhhh, catharsis! 😀

  2. Thank you, FFLEO. Buddha, I completely agree that access is a problem. I don’t know the answer either, but it would help if we didn’t auction off frequencies like oil leases. Most cable systems provide a “public access” channel, but that is hardly adequate. We will probably have to develop a system with banks of public access channels. Usage would still entail expense, of course, but I don’t see why such a system couldn’t be publicly subsidized, like the national park system, for example. I believe it would also help if we enforced regulations intended to prevent media monopolies in defined markets. Those rules have been all but ignored in recent years through the liberal granting of waivers. This is a great topic, though, because the issue of access generates little serious debate.

  3. Mike A,

    I have no problem with any of that. But how to address the very real problem of access to mass distribution? True, the internet does address that to a point, but it’s not like owning your own cable news channel. Now, I’m not being flip and I don’t have an answer to this, but how would you address that very real inequity? As I said, I’m split on the Fairness Doctrine and in an abundance of caution I’ll always fall into the More Free Speech Camp, but the inequality of access is real. Seriously, I welcome any ideas on this topic.

  4. Mike Appleton,

    Thank you for that succinct, informative, explanatory reminder of what free speech actually means.

  5. Any efforts to place limitations on speech predicated upon standards of “fairness” or “truthfulness” (or insert any other code word you wish) are bound to fail. Even if we could reach general agreement on operative definitions of those terms, the standards would have to be interpreted, applied and enforced by human beings. That is precisely the problem with the fairness doctrine. If we are to embrace the concept of free speech as the foundation of a free people, then we must embrace it with all of the frustrations that come with it. That means that one is free to tell lies, to distort meanings, to mock what others perceive to be holy and to tell the entire world it is wrong. Free speech does not make allowances for sensitivities. It does not succumb to the will of the majority. It owes no loyalty to king or country. It answers to no higher power. The only worthy enemy of an idea is another idea. Unless and until we are prepared to accept that “truth,” we will forever be fighting efforts to appease a group, a government or some other offended constituency.

  6. Bron,

    Mike’s advice re: the internet and synthesis is solid. One can reach the whole picture if one can get enough pieces. Relying on Huffington Post as a sole provider of news is just as bad as relying solely on FOXNews. Well, not quite as bad since at one you’re just dealing with a blatant editorial bias (go over to HuffPo and take one of Ariana’s pets to task and see for yourself) while FOX is almost pure uncut Neocon GOP propaganda, but you get the idea.

    It’s far from a perfect solution, but man does it ever make me thankful this is the Information Age.

  7. The other pressing problem in Dubai i’ve heard is that they have Debtor’s Prisons. Many people who emigrated there with the promise of good jobs, found work and bought property. Now they’ve lost their jobs and must abandon their homes taking quick flights out with only the clothes on their backs. If they are in country and default they can be sent to prison.

    As I watched the last few years news praising the paradise that was growing there, I had an inkling in my gut that all was not what it seemed to be. If we look around and see many foreign economies crashing and burning: Japan, China, Russia, UK, Spain etc. it makes one wonder how there is a tiny minority of super rich “world citizens” who seem not to feel much pain. My suspicion, though unproved, has always been that “World Finance” is a scam played on the rest of us by an elite few.

    Most news sources right and left tend to misinform, whether willfully or ignorantly. The answer is the Internet and making up your own mind, while ignoring the pundits. This has always been the case and it’s our individual responsibility to determine what we believe to be true.

  8. rcampbell wrote: “I think that, at least by the American model, speech is either free or it isn’t.”
    I would say that speech isn’t free at all in America. You have to pay allot of money to get your message to the masses and even then the broadcasters and cable operators don’t have to take your business if they don’t like your message. Same applies to our politicians. Whenever I write to my politicians about a specific issue, they write back a letter with a response to their stance on issues in a general way, without ever addressing my specific question. I’m sure it would be different if I had made significant campaign contributions.

  9. Bron98
    1, February 23, 2009 at 9:50 am

    …..Both the right and the left do it, they bring to the articles their own personal predujices.

    This is no doubt true, but that’s also the beauty of the system. Using axioms such as “Knowledge is power” and “A free society depends on an educated populous”, it’s apparent it’s our obligation as citizens to inform ourselves. In doing so we’re likely to find that “The truth lies somewhere in between”.

  10. Raf/Buddha:

    you are right I should have thought about that a little more. But what is the solution to an ignorant press? You read any newspaper in the US and half the time the “facts” are not the facts. I want the truth not an oped piece disguised as journalism. Both the right and the left do it, they bring to the articles their own personal predujices.

    How do you stop an ignorant or a malicious press? Arent there some standards that have to be met? If not I can write an article saying that the UAE is on the verge of collapse and everyone should sell and move to Saudi Arabia. What should the consequences of a malicious or ignorant article be if any?

    Would libel laws apply to a journalist making misrepresentations about government, no. So how do you set standards? From my side of the aisle it seems that the press is generaly liberal so I try to get my news from other sources or many different sources. If I heard something in the New York Times I would want at least 3 or 4 independent verifications before I believed it. And I bet you think the same for the Washington Times or Fox News.

    In the end it is troubling to not be able to rely on news outlets to get proper information.

  11. Legally speaking, We the People do need a better framework for dealing with blatant mistruths, lies and propaganda from being propagated in a mass media manner. But man, that’s a slippery slope indeed. Generally speaking, the only cure for propaganda is more free speech – the problem is access of mass distribution for known falsehoods. This is why I am divided over the Fairness Doctrine. Something like that could either have great social utility or be a horrific weapon of repression.

  12. Bron

    I think that, at least by the American model, speech is either free or it isn’t. Aside from the proverbial yelling-fire-in-a-theater exclusion, virtually ALL speech and expression are free and protected. Your suggestion of silencing “misrepresentation” hits at the crux of the issue: WHO gets to decide the definition of “misrepresentation”.

    You seem to be endorsing the UAE’s opinion that the government gets to make that call. In the US, your idea would have allowed the Bush administration the freedom to make the decision of what constitutes such offenses from their conservative view point. With a new, more liberal administration in place, one would then anticipate that what had been considered TRUTH from 2001-09 might now be considered detrimental and illegal. Fox News, for example, could be fined into bankruptcy for all their recent maligning of the President’s economic recovery efforts or shut down for as a general nuisance and a menace to the society.

    Wait a minute! I’m starting to like your idea more and more!

  13. I dont know about this one, obviously free speech is a good thing. But some journalists misrepresent or misunderstand certain conditions and what they print is not helpful. Most people are ignorant of economics and believe what they read. So I think that if the UAE is trying to silence misrepresentation they have some credibility but if they are trying to silence truth it is wrong.

  14. Halliburton . . . so how’s that move working out for you theives?

    I bet prison sounds better every day.

    An American prison that is.

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