All Men Are Created Equal

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It has come to my attention that for the longest time, the Philippines and other developing nations have never been given any importance in the international online (e-commerce) market. Worse, we actually have to live with the degrading status of not being "worthy" to purchase digital songs, movies, books and even games from more advanced countries.

At a time when racial barriers have fallen, as evidenced by the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, it still exists in the international digital realm.

Recently, I've had the misfortune of suffering yet another humiliation when I attempted to purchase a song from Amazon.com. It rejected my attempt to purchase a song with the usual spiel that it is "only available for US residents". What made this particular rejection more humiliating and painful was the fact that I was trying to purchase "LUPANG HINIRANG", the Philippine National Anthem!

Why is the Filipino not allowed to purchase his own national anthem?! This is the same brutal and humiliating effect of the British Colonialist signage in a park located in China that said "Dogs and Chinese not allowed!"

The current status of eBooks are no better off. None of the books available for sale in the West are even offered in the Philippine Apple iBookStore. Only the free and out of copyright classics are available. Worse yet was the fact that Amazon wanted to charge me .99 to download a classic & out of copyright title, yet the same title was free of charge to those in the United States. In this regard, Apple is marginally better.

By the very fact that the works were already out of copyright, it is freely distributable. Why is Amazon charging money for it? Surely there is no international statute that prevents the distribution of these titles for free right? Because if there had been one, then Project Gutenberg would have been closed down years ago.

The school children in the Philippines have to carry monstrously heavy bags, potentially incurring injuries and stunting growth just to access textbooks which the people in the United states can purchase online and read on an e-reader.

Why are those who really need the educational opportunities and material made to work harder to obtain them?

It is not hard to come to a conclusion that racism is at the root of all these artificial barriers on books, music, videos and information. Barriers that prevent the free flow of information. Barriers that hinder the eradication of ignorance. Barriers that hinder the celebration of cultural diversity and understanding. This is subtle racism, but racism non the less! This is Neo-Colonialism, but the adverse effects it has on the oppressed are no less harmful.

A long time ago Rev. Martin Luther King asked the United States to "rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed". Truly, if the United States still holds these truths to be self evident "that all men are created equal," then let it rise up and lead the charge. Stop the practice of putting up two standards to accessing digital information.

iHave aDream…
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