Often the very thing you criticize others for is your own blind spot.
This was never more true than in Nick Kristof's piece (that's him at the left) yesterday called Death by a Thousand Blogs. China's authorities can't keep up with the content produced by broadband, he says. Their legitimacy is drowning in the resulting revelations.
He could have added the impact of cellphones to that. The ideographic Chinese language lends itself to delivering great meaning, even in small files, as the country's cell phone novella make clear. With 90 million new phone users just last year, with every year's phones becoming more data-ready, there's no way the Great Firewall of China can stand.
But what's good for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Kristof's very point speaks to the bankruptcy of pulling his column, and those of others, behind a paid firewall. They are too easy to replace. Their financial value is minimal compared to their value to the discussion. Losing the latter to gain some of the former is truly cutting off your nose to spite your face.
This is not the only lesson.
Just as China's internal contradictions will become plain through open blogging, and Iran's internal contradictions are becoming plain through the same means, the same is true for America. (It's one of many lessons of the past we seem determined to repeat, hence the picture to the right of Robert McNamara, "star" of Errol Morris' masterwork The Fog of War.)
There are many things our government has tried to keep secret the last few yeras, yet they have become known, and the fact that the government was returned to office does not mean secrecy or censorship worked, only that Americans endorsed the government despite it.
The lesson is the same whether we're talking about big institutions or small, little secrets or big. Transparency doesn't just work. It will happen. BP and Morgan Stanley can't keep their scandals secret by imposing gag orders on those they advertise with. Tyrannies can't wrap themselves in secrecy. And neither, for that matter, can democracies.
Even if they call it Homeland Security.
It doesn't work. It only delays the inevitable, and makes the fall harder.