A Nobel Prize -- congratulations!
Updated 13 October 2010 -- in related news, a respected news source blocked in some countries reports that:
A group of 23 Communist Party elders... has written a letter calling for an end to the country's restrictions on freedom of speech...
They include a former personal secretary to the revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and a former editor of the People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper.
The letter, addressed to ... parliament, makes a number of proposals for change.
Censorship should be ended; restrictions on book publishing abolished, they say.
Journalists should be given protection and support when they investigate official corruption and a new media law should be drawn up to ensure they do their job responsibly, it says.
Scientific progress is slower when students and young professors are afraid to argue with senior professors or administrators. And they may well be afraid, if broader discussions can trigger arbitrary punishment. So, even though this wasn't one of the science prizes, it could have been.
Scientists working in the US win a lot of Nobel prizes, but many of the winners moved here from other countries. Being able to discuss your ideas without going to jail may help attract top scientists here. There's plenty of room for improvement in the US, though. For example, keeping prisoners locked up in Guantanamo indefinitely, without bringing them to trial, is a violation of human rights right out of The Count of Monte Cristo:
"Have pity on me, then, and ask for me, not intelligence, but a trial; not pardon, but a verdict - a trial, sir, I ask only for a trial; that, surely, cannot be denied to one who is accused!"
Three organizations working on these issues are:
Center for Constitutional Rights
American Civil Liberties Union