If the detainment of three Al Jazeera English journalists in Egypt has taught us anything, it’s that journalists make great pets for corrupt governments.
For a preview, all you have to do is Google “journalists in cages” and you’ll get plenty of totally non-sickening images of grown men literally caged like animals in a Cairo court room (note: if your search results have been replaced with pictures of your Supreme Ruler, it’s probably because you live in a heavily internet-filtered country like China or North Korea).
The cute cats and exotic birds of the world better watch out – they’ve got some stiff competition and here’s why:
Caging journalists because you believe they have portrayed you badly in the media is a great way to show the international community how un-bad you are.
Since December last year, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed have been imprisoned in Egypt, accused by the current military government of aiding terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood by publishing lies.
Egypt has been in political turmoil for the past three years whether it’s been under ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, elected then ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi in 2012-2013 or the current military government who took power in a coup.
There’s no better public relations strategy for restoring your nation’s international reputation than by jailing a few journalists. It’ll be as if the political violence, government retaliation and thousands of deaths never happened.
Like animals, journalists are unable to expressly communicate against any punishment you inflict because your court system is corrupt and refuses to hear any exonerating evidence. That, or you don’t have a court system.
In their fourth hearing in Cairo on Monday March 31, the Al Jazeera journalists denied any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood. “After three hearings, it’s apparent that there’s no case against us. No witness has anything that incriminates us,” Mohamed Fahmy told Agence France-Presse, just before proceedings began.
At the end of the fourth hearing, they were denied bail. Time will tell whether their voices are heard.
Unlike birds, journalists can’t fly so you’re less likely to find yourself in the backyard with flailing arms trying to catch your little sister’s pet budgie journalist that you accidentally let loose.
It has now been around 100 days since the three Al Jazeera English journalists were detained and as of yet, there have been no signs of wing-development.
Journalists eat human food so you don’t have to get your hands dirty with smelly cat food or dead mice.
If you’re lucky, the pet journalist might even go on a hunger strike meaning you can save yourself the effort of cooking. Such is the case with another detained Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah al-Shami, who has been on a hunger strike for almost 80 of his 240 days in Egyptian prison.
Keeping journalists on a leash rather than letting them run wild means preventing them from airing your dirty laundry
With the latest UN Commission’s findings of North Korea’s atrocities, who would want a journalist cramping their style further by telling the world all their secrets?
If the world heard you’ve been forcing mothers to drown their babies, systematically starving 120,000 political prisoners and getting them to incinerate the dead bodies into fertiliser, the world just wouldn’t get it, ya know? Really, you’re doing everyone a favour. Nobody will feel obligated to do anything if they don’t know about it.
Animal rights abuse is a thing but luckily, human rights abuse isn’t
If anyone ever hurt my dog, I wouldn’t hesitate to go all Legally Blonde 2 on their arse.
Luckily for all the corrupt governments, people don’t care about stuff like free speech and it’s not like there’s a Universal Declaration of Human Rights or anything…
So if you’re the leader of an oppressive, corrupt dictatorship and you happen to be searching for a new pet, look no further than that cute, fluffy journalist. They might need some taming at first, but not to worry! It’s inevitable that they will bow before you O Great and Fearless Leader.
Published in Hijacked, 7 April, 2014.