Many years after the 1990 extraordinary effusion there were less talk about the freedom of speech. During that period people used to stay in line at stands and used to take each one of them a pile of newspapers and magazines paying 15 - 20 lei (a considerable amount for that time). It was a general frenzy, each trying to say to everyone what he didn't have the courage to say until then in public; newspapers used to publish completely trivial messages from their readers the subject of which was no other then saying how glad they all were that Ceausescu was history. These years now seem to have been the freedom of speech glory years in Romania.
As the time went on the frenzy of the mass media consumers calmed down; along with the diminish of the demand the offer grew richer and diverse and the economical concurrence among newspapers and then televisions began to determine their formats and their content, replacing thus the purely ideological concurrence of the '90s. In time the freedom of speech began to seem like a normal thing, forever won, on which we found no use reflecting, though it was constantly affected by serious shortcomings: the difficulty the first private television was founded, the casting monopoly that faded quite slowly, preserving all this time the penal sanctions for insult and calumny, etc.
These shortcomings grew serious after the 2000 elections. The government is using now every repression or persuasion means in order to get a more favorable mass media. Of course there are a lot of papers that criticize the power, but if we take into consideration the disastrous situation of Romania under the Adrian Nastase government the fact that a favorable or at least indifferent mass media still exists can not be but the result of a constant and systematic action of intimidation.
PSD tried to introduce drastic settlements that should limit the newspapers' freedom of speech. The fact that it didn't always succeeded is due exclusively to internal and international protests because PSD has no other limits or principles for its political action than its image, respectively how bearable is the bad image the abuses it is doing in a most natural way are creating for him.
But this is not only about the government action. In a case like the Andrei Gheorghe arrest the responsibility comes indeed to the Adrian Nastase government even if at start it was nothing but a so stupid personal excess of zeal that it bothered even the prime minister because this excess of zeal was possible only because of the PSD axiom according to which the Parquet is in the direct subordination of PSD and it has as sacred mission to protect its interests.
Yet, in other cases the politic is mixing with economical interests forcing the ones that are found more of the deontological principles than to the safety of their jobs to resign. This is the case of journalists Rodica Culcer, Cosmin Prelipceanu and Nadina Forga of Europa FM that impartially treated the subject of the turf of the football match with Denmark. They were explained that the radio station was supposed to support the government because the group that owned the station had to sell planes and tanks! This is just one of the numerous cases that are revealing to us a business environment almost as unhealthy as the politic one, though judging from poles politics is on top of citizens' dissatisfaction.
On one side there is quite necessary the elimination of all abusive compulsions of freedom of speech, beyond the natural which isn't anyway respected (let's take for example the xenophobe propaganda). The Superior Council of Country's Defense decided the developing of a national system of fighting against the negative image of Romania and of a center run by Ioan Talpes that should monitor the mass media behavior, a mechanism that is reminding us of the way of censoring press in totalitarian societies. The government members and the other PSD dignitaries made a habit out of menacing journalists, one of the most "active" in this respect being Ioan Mircea Pascu or Serban Mihailescu, as well as many of the governing party local barons. A PSD local baron threatened a journalist that he "would break the other leg, too"; it is obvious that this aberrant behavior was not sanctioned by PSD because it characterizes very well the entire party.
So, in order the freedom of speech has normal manifestation conditions it is necessary that the legislation of this field, legislation that has the very mission to protect it, should be modified following the actual standards of the democratic society and of course, it should be applied. Although PSD is bragging that the legislation that is regarding mass media was aligned to the European one practice is showing that the present governing party is far from accepting mass media as an independent critic of politics, as a fourth power the politics should take into consideration. In order that a decent behavior of the politicians towards the mass media should become a natural rule it is necessary to exist a real concurrence in politics, that should exterminate the ones that want to eliminate the journalists freedom of speech.
There are other necessary conditions in order that the freedom of speech can gain its proper sense. For instance, if no one hear the ones that are exercising this freedom, it remains completely insignificant. Coming back to the 1990-year example it is obvious now that everybody was talking more or less unconsciously and incoherently and that no one stopped to listen to the others. And the difficulty of making a consistent dialogue on the important themes of Romanian society, mainly the political ones, but the cultural or economical ones, too, is felt today, too. From this point of view it is obvious that in the first period after 1989 we can not speak of a golden era of communication and dialogue and that neither today we can not say that the freedom of speech would be having certain finality.
The papers are full everyday of cases of corruption, stunning by their gravity and by their nonchalance the defendants are acting. The journalist has, in these cases, the freedom of expressing himself, but what the use of this if at the end the corrupted ones are minding their business untroubled and the journalist gets only the frustration of speaking in vain?! One should notice that the lack of echo of these disclosures does not belong entirely to the justice department that is not succeeding in sanctioning them but mainly to the huge echo within the readers. The corruption is felt, judging after the poles as a profoundly negative phenomenon, but the parties that are sustaining it do not lose sufficiently enough because of it. In this respect, the journalist that is disclosing a corrupted man gets only the frustrations and the pressures, sometimes tough enough, that are made on him.
Liberty exists only if it is not limited, but the lack of restrictions is not sufficient; freedom must have a positive content, too, to be sustained by values turned into action. In the freedom of speech case it is imperative that someone listens, that dialogue exists and dialogue's consequences: normal and moderate conditions, but in the same time, necessary and predictable. Thus, the freedom of speech can lead not to dialogue, but to cacophony and chaos. The link between words and reality can be very well seen, for instance, in the civil society zone, of non-governmental organizations, attacked not by chance by the Nastase government with settlements of pure totalitarian spirit.
Whether the Romanian society will know to resist to these pressures and to oppose them a tough action, then the precarious today freedom, inclusively that of speech will be used in order to get on a medium and long term a more stable and lasting freedom. If not, our future remains unpredictable.
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