A few weeks ago, Radiolab ran a story on translation and the issues with translating. One of the segments talked to an Ethiopian reporter who, during a press conference, had asked Secretary of State John Kerry a question that had some translation issues.
The story, later, followed up with the reporter, who said that he had received some threatening phone calls and repeated hang ups and was now considering leaving Ethiopia. As the story discusses, Ethiopia is not a country that is always friendly to journalists, especially those who question the regime, as he had done.
Intimidation of the press is, obviously bad. But what struck me is the vagueness of the threats. I have no doubts that this man legitimately feared for his own life. What if this guy had also pissed off a neighbor during a property dispute? Or had a crazy ex? Or just a regular old psychopath? From the vague threats he discussed recieving, it could have been anything.
How was he supposed to know it was the government that was after him?
I’m not questioning the legitimacy of his concerns. I am pointing out the absurdity of fascists governments, wherein their efforts to keep citizens inline can’t be differentiated from a crazy ex.