[LMB] Censorship on Barrayar, was What does Gregor know about Serg's death?

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Fri Jun 24 15:09:15 BST 2011

Hmm, I suddenly wonder, just how much freedom of movement and speech do 
foreigners/aliens have on Barrayar, anyway, and just how receptive or 
unreceptive are Barrayarans to topics of dicusssion that don't deal with 
what Barrayarans care about?

Guests of the Vorkosigan's don't count--when I was in college, two of the 
people I was acquainted with were Jews who had stayed in Saudi Arabian 
embassies, when there was an official state of war still existing between 
Saudi Arabia and Israel.  However, the two college associates were personal 
friends of one of the low 
numbers-of-people-ahead-of-him-in-line-for-the-throne Saudi Arabian princes, 
and as personal friends of a highly placed member of the royal family, had 
special privileges provided to them....

How much freedom of movement and speech would an ordinary spacer from 
Escobar or Kline Station etc. have to visit Barrayar and talk to the people 
on Barrayar?  How many of them would even be interested, the attitude of 
half the population at least in the Nexus not in the Barrayaran Empire, was 
about the same as the attitude of the Abh in the Crest/Banner of the Stars 
series to planets "Not f casomewhere I have ANY interest in being!"  But, 
assuming that someone from Escobar, etc., was on a ship that went to 
Barrayar, how much freedom of movement and speech would the person have 
going down to the surface of the planet?  And on the planet, is anyone going 
to deal with them or listen to anything that contradicts what Barrayarans 
"know" ??!!

There were cases I heard of, back when the USSR existed, of people from the 
USA, or emigrated from the USSR and satelllites who had adopted western 
values and integrated into western life--not everyone who tried succeeded, 
some people went back unable to deal with the cultural differences and 
societal differences or were unwilling to--who stopped talking to people 
behind the Iron Curtain about things the natives refused to believe.... the 
most telling example of disbelief and unwilling to accept reality, was the 
crew of a Soviet ship which went under the Golden Gate Bridge, marvelled at 
how the USA staged all those cars crossing the bridge to impress the ship';s 
crew--because there simply could NOT be any other explanation of there being 
so many cars... the idea that those were all private vehicles going about 
their daily commuting and business traffic travel, was quite literally 
unthinkable to the Soviet sailors....

Barrayar is a nice comfortable place for -men- who have choices of careers, 
some degree of self-determination, a benevolent despot for a ruler.... being 
told your planet is a pit,either directly or inferred by comparison to 
someone discussing not even necessarily intending offensive, the more 
advanced state of tools and uncensored information etc. in the Nexus,  I 
expect wouldn;t go over well with Barrayarans.... and they'd stop listening 
or tell the person to shut up--assuming the person had even been allowed to 
roam freely on the planet.   The old USSR and such assigned appartchiks to 
keep track of foreigners and keep them under surveillance and keep them and 
most of the citizens apart....

-----Original Message----- 
From: Karen Hunt
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 7:22 AM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: Re: [LMB] What does Gregor know about Serg's death?

On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 11:24 PM,  <beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com> 


>> A lot of people outside
>> Barrayar may know Serg was not nice to know--didn't Miles encounter some
>> publications about it on Beta Colony and dismiss them as propaganda?--but
>> as far as we know, the knowledge of Ezar's plot was known only to a few.
>> Of course, Ezar was thought of as ruthless and controlling even by the
>> people on his side, so even if it were known, it wouldn't change his
>> reputation in kind, only degree.
> Should Serg's crimes be publically acknowledged?  Yes.  Should the method
> of his assassination?  Probably not.
>  "Oh, hey, Escobar, remember that time when we invaded,
> tried to conquer you, raped many of your people and killed even more?
> With a fleet and army led by people we knew to be sadistic butchers?
> Yeah, that whole thing was just an excuse to get some of them out of the
> way so we could kill them and by extension their political party.  You and
> all your heroism and technological skill were just tools in our own
> internal intrigue.  I can't imagine that would go down at all well.)
> Beatrice Otter

Especially when Escobar and other neighboring planets start wondering
what Barrayar will do *next* time there are very bad people who need
to be gotten rid of....  Whose citizens will get killed just so these
bad people can look not quite so bad to their families?

This is most certainly not a good precedent to set in the annals of
"how to get rid of bad imperial princes."  Just from that point alone,
I'd rather that part of the tale either remain secret forever or get
determined by Barrayar's government to be a precedent not to be
followed in the future.

As for knowledge not being widespread, I don't see it as proof that
Aral and co are particularly blocking all incoming knowledge.  It
could be that they've been blocking broadcasts from every Escobaran
ship that reaches Barrayar because all of them are constantly playing
"tell the Barrayarans how bad they are" messages, but we don't have
textev to believe that something of the sort is going on.  Mostly,
there probably are a reasonable number of Barrayarans who've heard it,
and I really doubt that the largish number of Vors and such who knew
what a bad person he was have all kept their mouths utterly shut
forever.  But Ekaterine didn't intersect the social set -- she's from
South Continent, and Elena was sheltered (wrongly, but that's a
different discussion).  In the early years after the invasion, most
people who didn't already know won't have wanted to hear bad things
about their leaders.  Later, it would have been unimportant to them as
other more pressing problems grabbed their attention.  (Ceta war,
Komarr uprising, various other fires.)

I do see it as proof that the public tale as given on Barrayar is not
truthful, and I would certainly rather it were.  But, Aral is obeying
Ezar's direct command/request to not sully Serg's public reputation.

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