Congrats to Liu Xiaobo
October 13, 2010 - Almost every week, I write columns criticizing government, pointing out the errors of its ways and generally expressing my disdain for those in power.
Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to silence me. They've ranged from irate phone calls and letters to lunches with my boss to an anonymous website created by cowards.
But the one thing that's never happened – yet – is throwing me in prison for expressing my opinions and trying to foment reform.
That's because I'm fortunate enough to live in a country where my writings are protected by the First Amendment.
But not everyone is so lucky.
That's why I was glad to see that Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was recognized with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
On Christmas Day 2009, Liu, a former literature professor who was banned from teaching, was sentenced by Chinese authorities to 11 years in prison.
His heinous crime? "Subverting state power" – something he did with his pen.
Liu wrote political tracts calling for the peaceful democratic reform of the Chinese government.
He had the audacity to advocate greater freedoms, human rights, the rule of law, and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance.
Liu's spent two decades working for nonviolent political change in China. He served as an adviser to the students who staged the pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. He dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize to all those innocent folks whom the Chinese government massacred during those protests.
This is Liu's third time being jailed for for his beliefs. He previously spent three years in a forced labor camp.
Surprise, surprise, the Chinese government was enraged by the Nobel committee's selection because it highlights for the whole world to see that despite all the fanfare over its booming economy, China is still ruled by a tyrannical group of thugs that deprives its citizens of even the most basic civil liberties.
Jiang Yu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying, "This person you just mentioned was sentenced to jail by Chinese judicial authorities for violating Chinese law. I think his acts are completely contrary to the aspirations of the Nobel Peace Prize."
Another Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, said, "This is an obscenity against the peace prize."
News of the award was blacked out on Chinese TV.
Wrongful imprisonment. Political censorship. Where's that "new and changing China" I keep hearing about?
Apparently, the Nobel Committee didn't get the memo that it's now everyone's job to promote the 'correct' image of China, a 'sanitized' state-sanctioned version.
That means ignoring the brutality, oppression and drive for global dominance, and instead focusing on economics, cute little kids saying cute little things in Chinese and holding PR events like sister school ceremonies.
Ignoring people's suffering under a despotic regime is easy when you stand to make some money – morality and ethics be damned.
I guess that's the American way now.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.