Land of the blog and home of the brave

By Sujay Kumar

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving Break. It makes you feel like pulling a Gibson-esque William Wallace and screaming sweet “Freedom.” Now that we have some time on our hands, maybe we can finally start a blog. Or better yet, we can work on the application to be a Daily Illini columnist.

What’s that you say? Aren’t columnists the most hated people at the Daily Illini? Well sure, at times. It seems like there’s no better place but the comments section at Monday through Friday to vent some anger at students giving unsolicited advice on lofty issues.

Thankfully no one can ever connect you in person to your newspaper picture. But come now, what’s a few, “You’re horrible, please stop writing. While you’re at it, stop waking up in the morning’s” when you’re given a platform to express your opinion on anything?

Think of the possibilities. What if we wrote a seven-line poem titled “Autumn Fall” in which the first word of every line contained a secret message:

The day of thanks is upon us

Fall leaves blow away

Of what worth is the wind?

King Lear doth have three daughters

Oh how our hearts sing!

Is now our time to rise?

Imminent it is.

Get it? It’s a satire about future President Obama. The wit we have, it’s sheer brilliance! See, you and I can do crazy hijinks like that at The Daily Illini without the least bit of wor…

SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN JAIL. That’s absolutely ludicrous, for a poem? Or is it?

Myanmar poet Saw Wai was sentenced to two years in prison for writing an eight-line Valentine’s Day poem titled “February the Fourteenth.” The poem, which was published in a popular weekly magazine, carried a cryptic attack on the junta’s head formed by the first word of every line: “Senior General Than Shwe is crazy with power.”

That was an isolated incident, wasn’t it?

Myanmar blogger Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his illegal anti-regime activities. In Nanjing, China, a blogger was arrested for calling out for democratic change and the end of suppression. An Iranian blogger was jailed for “humanizing Jews.”

In America, where governmental controls over media outlets aren’t nearly as suppressive, we get everything from 360-degree expeditions with Anderson Cooper, to hard-hitting reports from Katie Couric, to the pedophile-on-parade host Chris “where have your hands been – on little kids, that’s where, I’m Chris Hansen” Hansen.

Not to mention the insurgence of media watchdogs like The news Web site run by young journalists investigates scandals of which even the city’s major newspaper fails to take notice.

Our freedom of expression sometimes gets muddled by the lack of repression we face here. When our main concern in the media is outrage over whether Chris Hansen leans to the left or right, it’s easy to lose sight of what we don’t have to worry about. You know, like the ability to ridicule one man for eight years with the same four or five jokes without fear of being put behind bars.

But what separates us from the poet in Myanmar? Or the countless others whose voices are suppressed? We have the same Internet, the same ideas, the same bloggers writing whatever they want to write. What we don’t have is a government that wants to intimidate those who want to voice their dissatisfied opinion.

So in light of these lofty issues, we have quite a bit to be thankful for. Whether you choose to write about some of the atrocities in the world, yell at others about how they don’t know enough information about an issue or the English language to write, or do nothing, is your choice.

Then again, what do we know. We’re just stupid students, T-Break is here, and in the words of Mel Gibson.

Sujay is a senior in biochemistry and he’s only one man baby, pretty baby. But he’s not the pretty prince of parties.