Freedom of Disagree

· Journalism, Politic, Society
Authors

By Javier Darío Restrepo
Translated by Albeiro Rodas

Medellín | Published in El Colombiano on 7th May 2009

Although our daily reality, nothing was said about the freedom of disagree last Sunday…

It lacked to proclaim that being in disagreement with a government does not make a person a terrorist, an accomplice of the FARC or an enemy of the president and his most devote followers.

And that the discrepancy of the opponent is looking to the facts and persons from an angle and with other piece of information different to those used to manage by the ones of his party; and warning that to say it is a duty of conscience.

For this reason, to claim that a point of view of the opposition is, per se, something against the ethic is, besides a rebuff, bad faith or inability to come inside the meaning of what is the ethic. But this is other of the resources to limit the freedom of opinion.

The only propositions that result from such affirmation are astonishing: If it is not ethic to denounce the dangerous concentration of powers in a person or the political campaign or the intentional disqualifying of the Court or the support to the more corrupt part of the Congress to preserve the votes; if asserting it is not ethic, what is the ethic? Asserting against every evidence that nothing is happening? That the 81 congressmen who are facing investigations or criminal proceedings for para-politics are only scandals of the opposition that must be proceeded for FARC-politic? Is it ethic to silence the false wars of the army, the corruption of DAS, the corruption in elections, the businesses of the family of the president?

I admit that such information would be against the ethic if they were just gossips, conclusions without references and political evil. But they are facts that can not be denied, even if we want to do so. To deny them would mean complicity and, especially, professional irresponsibility of the journalist. Because the journalist is made to demonstrate the facts that are affecting or will affect the common interest.

When it is to press physically the journalist in order to make him stop in the fulfillment of his duty or when he is morally pressed with charges without basis to weak his moral authority, it is an attack against that freedom, the one required in a society so it can advance with open eyes.

That freedom is not granted by nobody. It can be interfered and obstructed from outside, governors, slanderous, hire-killers, intimidatory, but none of them will give or will take away, because the freedom has its origin and base in the facts of decision of every person. In the worse of the cases the moral or physical aggression will scare or silence.

In the best, they will strength the decision to fulfill with the duty even everything. Because it is a duty and not a caprice.

The society would walk blinded if there were not those everlasting searchers and witnesses of facts.

The celebration of the 3rd of May, Day of the Freedom of Press, was filled in Colombia as a timely call, because the freedom of disagree is not a union security or something personal of the journalists, but it is a condition needed so the society can keep the hope.

Knowing that although all the situation, there is somebody that helps to know and understand the complexity of what happens, due to the tricks of the propaganda and the machinery of publicity of the power, is like discovering a light in the middle of the dark.

When the society has that service, the hope is possible. By the other hand, among confusion, lies, hate and deceit grows despair. We need the freedom of disagree to defend the other freedoms.
——–
Professor Javier Darío Restrepo was dismissed from El Colombia after this article. The Medellín’s newspaper stated that the dismissal was because a reorganization in the section of opinion. The Federation for the Freedom of Press of Colombia said that it recognizes and defends the right of the press companies to select and hire employees, journalists and helpers, but at the same time it expresses concern if the move was done under political reasons:

“(…) estas decisiones puedan tener como propósito silenciar perspectivas críticas, diferentes o en contravía de la opinión mayoritaria. En la coyuntura actual de polarización y radicalismos, la democracia colombiana requiere más – y no menos – voces reflexivas como la del maestro Javier Darío Restrepo.”

“This decisions could have as purpose to silence critic perspectives or different opinions to the majority. In this situation of polarization and radicalism, the Colombian democracy needs more – and not less – reflective voices like that of professor Javier Darío Restrepo”

The original article in Spanish:

La libertad de discrepar

Javier Darío Restrepo – Medellín | Publicado el 7 de mayo de 2009 en El Colombiano

A pesar de la realidad nuestra de cada día, no se habló de la libertad de discrepar el domingo pasado…

Hizo falta proclamar que discrepar de un gobierno no convierte a una persona en terrorista, ni en cómplice de las Farc, ni en enemigo del presidente o de sus fervientes seguidores. Que la discrepancia del opositor es mirar los hechos y las personas desde un ángulo y con unos datos distintos de los que suelen manejar los de su partido; y advertir que decirlo es un deber de conciencia.

Por eso, pretender que una posición de oposición es, per se, algo contrario a la ética es, además de un exabrupto, mala fe, o incapacidad para entrar en la significación de lo ético. Pero es otro de los recursos para limitar la libertad de opinión.

Las solas proposiciones que resultan de esa afirmación asombran: si no es ético denunciar la peligrosa concentración de poderes en una persona, o la campaña política y de descalificación intencionada de la Corte, o el apoyo a la parte más corrupta del Congreso para preservar unos votos, si afirmar esto no es ético, ¿qué es lo ético? ¿Afirmar contra toda evidencia que no pasa nada, que los 81 congresistas investigados o procesados penalmente por parapolítica son solo escándalo de la oposición que también podría ser procesada por farcpolítica? ¿Lo ético sería silenciar los falsos positivos, la corrupción en el DAS, la corrupción electoral, los negocios en la familia presidencial?

Esa información, admito, sería antiética si fueran simples rumores, afirmaciones sin sustento, maledicencia política. Pero son hechos que uno no podría negar aunque quisiera. Negarlos implicaría complicidad y sobre todo irresponsabilidad profesional del periodista. Porque el periodista está para mostrar los hechos que afectan o afectarán los intereses de todos.

Cuando se trata de presionar físicamente al periodista para que no cumpla con ese deber, o cuando se lo presiona moralmente con acusaciones sin fundamento que minan su autoridad moral, se atenta contra esa libertad, necesaria para que la sociedad pueda avanzar con los ojos abiertos.

Esa libertad, no la concede nadie. La pueden interferir y obstruir desde fuera, gobernantes, calumniadores, sicarios, intimidadores, pero ninguno de ellos la da o la quita porque la libertad tiene su origen y su sustento en los actos de decisión de cada persona. En el peor de los casos la agresión moral o física amedrentan o silencian.

En el mejor, robustecen la decisión de cumplir con el deber, a pesar de todo. Porque es un deber, no un capricho.

La sociedad avanzaría a ciegas si no existieran esos eternos buscadores y testigos de los hechos.

La jornada del 3 de mayo, Día de la Libertad de Prensa, se sintió en Colombia como una llamada oportuna, porque la libertad de discrepar no es una garantía gremial, ni personal de los periodistas, es una condición necesaria para que la sociedad pueda conservar la esperanza.

Saber que a pesar de todo hay alguien que ayuda a conocer y entender la complejidad de lo que pasa, a pesar de los engaños de la propaganda y de la maquinaria publicitaria del poder, es como descubrir una luz en lo oscuro.

Cuando la sociedad tiene ese servicio, la esperanza es posible. Entre la confusión, la mentira, el odio y los engaños crece, en cambio, la desesperanza. Necesitamos la libertad de discrepar para defender las demás libertades.

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