Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the arrest of journalists covering it, the United States fell 27 places in Reporters Without Borders’ latest Press Freedom Index. The thanks is for the heads up on yet another soft spot in our democracy. You don’t have to look at this map long to appreciate what a rare thing freedom can be.
Sadly, there are 130 countries with less satisfactory conditions. Some much less so…
From the release:
It is no surprise that the same trio of countries, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties, again occupy the last three places in the index. This year, they are immediately preceded at the bottom by Syria, Iran and China, three countries that seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror, and by Bahrain and Vietnam, quintessential oppressive regimes. Other countries such as Uganda and Belarus have also become much more repressive.
That’s the other side of this coin. It’s the place we are trying not to go when we cry foul. It shouldn’t matter what you think of those getting arrested. No news is bad news.
Unfortunately over the weekend the Oakland Police Department started working on dropping the United States down a few more slots. On Saturday night, Occupy Oakland had another run-in with the OPD in which 400 people were arrested, including six reporters.
Though four were released on the scene, two got to see the inside of a jail before the night was over. Gavin Aronsen was one of those two and wrote up the story over at Mother Jones. Below, a couple of tweets from Kristin Hanes, one of the semi-lucky reporters, who sums it all up quite well:
Luckily a judge has had his eye on the OPD for a while now and this weekend likely increased the odds the department will go into federal receivership for being “woefully behind its peers around the state and nation”. Not that Oakland’s is the only force dragging down the country’s freedom of the press rankings. If you want to see the full journalist arrest tally or follow it as the Occupy movement continues its diagnostic tests of the United States’ checks and balances, Josh Stearns is tracking it right here.[Press Freedom Index via Boing Boing; High-res map in report PDF]