The recent Iranian presidential election has generated worldwide attention that has been directed, not so much at the actual results, but more to what has happened after the election.
The media, as you know, has been awash in videos showing thousands of Iranians protesting the election. (At least that was the case until Michael Jackson died and media attention switched to this much more important event!) But even more dramatically, the media has focused on the Iranian government’s aggressive activities to not only curb these protests, but also to block their citizens’ legitimate right to freely receive, exchange and share information regarding the protests with their global neighbors.
In this attack on the free exchange of ideas, the Iranian government has at various times shut down cell phone and texting networks, “jammed” BBC broadcasts and blocked access to Facebook and other web sites.
World leaders and lovers of free speech everywhere reacted with outrage at the brutal way the Iranian government attempted to stifle the protests of its citizens, but were even more alarmed at the government’s attempt to suppress free speech and the expression of personal feelings via cyberspace.
The End Justifies the Means?
The actions by the government of Iran to suppress the free exchange of ideas are a clear expression of its deep-seated insecurity and paranoia. The government’s chief concern is obviously to perpetuate itself—to retain its power over the country. The control of its cyberspace is just one tool in its arsenal of weapons. The governement has little trust, respect or regard for its citizens.
In my book, the use of cyberspace technology to control ideas and suppress the thoughts of citizens is the contemporary equivalent to the brutal techniques used by authoritarian governments of the past. It’s petty. It’s vindictive. And it doesn’t work. Iranians were still able to make efficient use of Twitter to “immortalize” their protests and broadcast scenes of violence by government security forces. Chinese citizens are no longer blocked from Google.
So what does this cyberspace abuse of individual rights of free speech and assembly in Iran have to do with the management of Allianz Life? You won’t believe it.
I have been told by a number of individuals working at Allianz Life that the management of Allianz Life is employing cyberspace technology to block Allianz employees from accessing my web site. In fact, it has been related to me that this Allianz cyberspace attack impacts employees at every Allianz company in North America. (Maybe even the galaxy!)
Are you kidding me? How revealing, stupid and silly is it for the management of Allianz Life to take this type of action?
If this is true (hey, Tweet me if you know differently, twitter.com/Bob_MacDonald), it is verification and validation of my previous comments that the management of Allianz Life is flush with bureaucracy, incompetency and insecurity. And, now I could add paranoia. What more obvious way to demonstrate insecurity and paranoia than to block the free exchange of opinion and ideas?
Much more important than trying to block my views from the employees of Allianz Life, this action by the management of the company shows a complete lack of regard and respect for the employees of Allianz Life. Obviously the management of Allianz Life only wants the employees to hear the viewpoint and story line of the company. It shows that the management does not trust the employee to absorb and analyze information and make their own decisions as to its voracity.
What the tunnel vision of Allianz management does not allow them to see is that the best way to respond to criticism – especially if you don’t believe it is justified – is to ignore it. Or at least be proactive by responding to it in a constructive way. If the criticism is not valid it will go away. However, if one is paranoid and insecure – and more important if you know it to be true – then the reaction is to attempt to prevent its dissemination. The real problem with this approach is that it serves only to validate the criticism and makes the situation worse, not better. Just ask the Iranian government.
And the moral of the story …
I can only recall the echoes of recent German history by paraphrasing President Reagan who would say …
Mr. Allianz, tear down this wall!
Allow your people to enjoy the rights of free speech and independent thought.