Defense of democracy has become a discourse of convenience; freedom of thought is being threatened by polarization, writes Marcelo Tognozzi

I write this article on May 3rd, the date of freedom of the press, increasingly rare around the world, whether due to self-censorship, militancy, partiality or the gag imposed on those who dedicate themselves to revealing those inconvenient truths produced by investigative journalism.

4 decades ago, when I started reporting, there was almost paranoia about checking information. It wasn’t enough for you to bring one offI had to detail that off to the point where there was no doubt that the information was true. This vulgarization of off, contaminating newsrooms in these times of polarization and shameless militancy, has become an epidemic eroding reputations and credibility. A poison.

The acute political polarization that began a decade ago has had perverse effects and this is a worldwide phenomenon. Last week, I was surprised when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez released one carta asking for 5 days to decide whether or not he would continue to lead the government. That elegant, handsome and skilled guy was there on TV with a broken wing.

D’s discomfort. Pedro would have been provoked by the decision of a lower court judge to investigate his wife, Doña Begoña, for influence peddling and corruption. He thought, thought and decided to stay in government. Whether this was worse or better for him, only time will tell. But it never hurts to remember that, in this 21st century, things happen at fiber optic speed.

Sánchez wrote a letter accusing the opposition of promoting a sludge factory (sludge factory) mud), with which he wants to sink the government and the Psoe. In the 2023 elections, the socialists had fewer votes than the center-right, but the prime minister managed to stay in power by negotiating support with smaller left-wing and independence parties such as those in Catalonia and the Basque Country, which gave him 7 seats more than that of the right-wing coalition.

From then on, the Psoe tried to survive in a hostile environment, facing an efficient and noisy opposition, as was the left’s more than 20 years ago.

Sánchez, in the role of victim of the opposition’s hatred and intolerance, creates a narrative very similar to the one that prevails here in Brazil. And, both there and here, there is nothing that refers the opposition to the dog-sucking-sleeve fascism of Hitler, Mussolini or even Id Amin Dada. As in Brazil, he also wants to control social networks and freedom of expression.

Psoe organized demonstrations in front of its headquarters, on Calle Ferraz, but the plan backfired. The demonstrations brought together the same professional activists as always, zero people, showing the Spanish people the harsh reality: the socialists lost the streets. They are no longer capable of moving the electorate and provoking the impulse to fight for a cause.

And Sánchez’s cause, the bar owner explains to me while serving me a rioja, is to defend his wife and prevent a judge from using his functional independence by accepting a serious complaint against her.

O Juiz Juan Carlos Peinado he is being pressured and persecuted for having fulfilled his role. There were even death threats, in a clear attempt to curtail the autonomy of the Judiciary. If there is nothing, the case will be archived. Otherwise, this could mean the fall of the government with a vote of no confidence in Parliament, as occurred in 2018 with Mariano Rajoy of the center-right PP. Hence, the panic in containing the judge.

It wasn’t just the streets, the socialists also lost the communication war on social media. The opposition has found more efficient ways to deal with voters, whether using social media or using humor. And that became a big problem.

An opponent set up a good-natured store on Calle de Goya 56, one of the main streets in Madrid, selling everything from wines with labels critical of the Sánchez government to trinkets and t-shirts, all with great humor. They accuse the store owner of apologizing for fascism and the dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1936 to 1975. And they want to close it, issuing a receipt for the inconvenience.

Both in Europe and here, there is the same discussion about freedom of expression, freedom of the press, what can or cannot be said, written or even insinuated. When one side begins to succumb to the opponent’s attacks, it rushes to try to silence it. Gagging is simpler and more practical.

Sánchez complains about the digital noise of his opponents using the same narrative with which the Brazilian left tries to neutralize Bolsonarism. We go to the United States and history repeats itself. The problem in the bipolar world is war. Cold or hot, it ends up being inevitable.

President Emmanuel Macron himself acknowledged this week that it may be inevitable for France send troops for the front of Ukraine, in a modern, nuclear reenactment of the Crimean War (1853-1856), when the French and English led a coalition against the defeated and humiliated Russian Empire, until Vladimir Putin retook Crimea in 2014.

What is legal or not to be said? At what point does free thinking stop being just thinking and become a crime? Freedom of opinion and thought is being threatened by polarization, in which it is not enough to silence opponents, but it is necessary to turn them into criminals and put them in jail. Hate speech emanates from both sides and there are no good guys or innocent people in this story.

Today’s report or article will be tomorrow’s crime. Regardless of who is in power. Is this the legacy we will leave for future generations? That any and all criticism or opposition is poison?

Both here and in Europe, the defense of democracy has become a discourse of convenience. In Brazil, we can never forget, especially when we talk about freedom of the press, that the TSE went so far as to trample the Constitution e to allow censorship of a documentary produced about the stabbing of the president Bolsonaro made by Parallel Brazil during the 2022 election campaign. And he did it in the name of democracy, which is, to say the least, a mockery.

After all, censorship is nothing more than criminalizing freedom.


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