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“Pensée Unique” threats freedom of expression, says Supreme Court justice

The pensée unique – the prevalence of a single, mainstream line of thought that can result from a number of factors, including the so-called “political correctness” – is a threat to freedom of expression, said the Deputy Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF), Cármen Lúcia.

“I think that [conformist thinking] is very dangerous.

It’s a form of social dictatorship,” she said at the opening conference of the 7th Forum on Media Freedom and Democracy held by a press sector magazine in Brasília on Monday (May 4).

An advocate of the idea that the press is able to regulate itself, with no need for laws that could restrict the freedom of the media to inform people about any subject, Cármen Lúcia argued that it is a role of the media to encompass the diversity of thought and of Brazil’s reality. She pointed out that media freedom is not only about an individual’s right to be informed about what happens in society, but also one of the most important factors to the individual right to freedom of expression. According to her, it is up to journalists to discuss any needs for adjustments to ensure diverse and democratic media.

“As citizens, journalists have the social and political duty to discuss it [media regulation] within their professional class, reach an agreement, and then take the debate on to the society at large,” said the STF justice. In her opinion, interest groups of all kinds other than the State pose a threat to press freedom. Even the society is less tolerant nowadays, she argued.

“We have experienced many situations in Brazil when the press freedom was curtailed, and not only by the state. It often comes from the society itself, which is increasingly intolerant of difference. Everything that goes against one’s beliefs is viewed as a personal attack.”

“To think freely is the first way to express ourselves as human identities. That’s freedom. We have fought hard and now we can’t go back on everyone’s right to decide what is best for themselves, only to conform to what others want,” Cármen Lúcia said.

O diretor Geral da EBC, Américo Martins participa do 7 Fórum Liberdade de Imprensa & Democracia, realizado pela revista Imprensa (Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

The opening conference was hosted by Américo Martins, Director-General of Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC). He said public and private media must co-exist as a complement to each other – as outlined in Brazil’s Constitution. Housed under the Communications Secretariat of the Presidency, EBC is a public company that runs seven radio stations, two television channels (TV Brasil and TV Brasil Internacional), two news agencies (Agência Brasil and Radioagência Nacional) and Portal EBC, the Web portal that brings all of this content together.

“Having a strong commercial [media] system is important for any country – and Brazil is fortunate to have one. This is one of the ways to ensure diversity. But equally crucial are a state system for the state powers to communicate, and a strong public system,” Martins said.

Translated by Mayra Borges

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