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The comedian Hasan Minhaj delivers his soliloquy straight and forcefully during the episode of his show "Patriot Act" about Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS. "Ultimately, MBS is not modernizing Saudi Arabia," he says. "The only thing he's modernizing is Saudi dictatorship." As if to prove the comedian correct, Saudi authorities ordered Netflix to block the episode inside the kingdom under provisions of a cybersecurity law, and Netflix agreed.

Netflix said it pulled the episode to comply with a Saudi cyberlaw that deems a crime the "production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers." It's too bad that more technology titans won't show a little more backbone standing up to censors and despots.

But tyranny and modernization don't make for natural partners. Transparency and free flows of information are more conducive to economic development than murdering a journalist and telling Stalin-sized lies about it.

Editorial on 01/12/2019

Print Headline: Dark comedy

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