Friday, August 03, 2007

Chavez' apologists

When reading tripe about Chavez congratulating Sean Penn, I checked a link to an earlier article by a Chavez apologist. I presume it was in the op-ed section, but these days, a lot of op-eds masquerade as genuine news.

From the very title, it's a complete lie. "Chávez is no enemy of free speech"? Certainly he isn't, in the same way that Robert Mugabe is bettering the lives of Zimbabwe's poor and the oppressed, and the same way that Mao propelled China forward (disregarding the little bit about 70 million people starving to death).

Tito Hugo's apologist blathers:
But after Chávez was elected president in 1998, RCTV shifted to another endeavor: ousting a democratically elected leader from office. Controlled by members of the country's fabulously wealthy oligarchy, including RCTV chief Marcel Granier, it saw Chávez and his "Bolivarian Revolution" on behalf of Venezuela's majority poor as a threat.

RCTV's most infamous effort to topple Chávez came during the April 11, 2002, coup attempt against him. For two days before the putsch, RCTV preempted regular programming and ran wall-to-wall coverage of a general strike aimed at ousting Chávez. A stream of commentators spewed vitriolic attacks against him – while permitting no response from the government.

Then RCTV ran ads encouraging people to attend a march on April 11 aimed at toppling Chávez and broadcast blanket coverage of the event. When the march ended in violence, RCTV and Globovisión ran manipulated video blaming Chávez supporters for scores of deaths and injuries.
This is a textbook example of whitewashing a tyrant's bloodstained record, and shifting the blame to those resisting the tyranny. Point out that the government is democratically elected, meaning a majority vote to seize the property of the minority -- check. Accuse the critics of being rich, evil capitalists who are bent on oppressing the poor -- check. Accuse the critics of showing only "their side" -- check.

Free speech means being able to say what you want, with your own bias if you want, and not having to worry about being "fair" and "objective" about your opponents. I wonder if this damn fool really believes his tripe. "Radio, TV, and newspapers remain uncensored and unthreatened by the government"? If TV truly remains uncensored and unthreatened, then why must RCTV now broadcast only by cable and satellite? If RCTV were truly free, not only would Chavez have had no problem renewing its license, RCTV or any other television station would need no license to broadcast. A license is permission from the government to do something you had the natural right to do in the first place. If all media outlets are indeed free to say what they want, then why is Chavez systematically shutting down all publications and broadcasts that criticize him? Foreigners now can be expelled for criticizing Chavez's government, and it's a shame native Venezuelans couldn't simply do the same to get Chavez to pay for their plane ride to America.
Would a network that aided and abetted a coup against the government be allowed to operate in the United States? The US government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt – and thrown its owners in jail. Chávez's government allowed it to continue operating for five years and then declined to renew its 20-year license to use the public airwaves. It can still broadcast on cable or via satellite dish.
Here again we see what an idiot this propagandist is. Legally speaking, "aiding and abetting" is a matter of providing material support, not merely media coverage. In the United States, our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech would in fact protect a media organization that was merely sympathetic to the coup -- and that's what RCTV was, merely sympathetic, not directly supportive.

"Most Venezuelan media are still controlled by the old oligarchy and are staunchly anti-Chávez." Like Maid Marian in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," they give the government no excuse to take their property. Thus they dare be no more than silently against Chavez, lest they suffer the same fate as RCTV.

Of course, RCTV is accused of "sedition" because it "supported" the failed coup. Sedition a threat only to the power of government, nothing else, and it's been a convenient excuse throughout history for tyrants to crush their opposition. It's important to remember that freedom of thought is most dangerous to the state, and that is precisely why Chavez wants to silence his opponents. It's worth quoting Jefferson again:
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desireable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter.
But as with all tyrants, Chavez wants to make everyone but him uniform: uniformly impoverished, uniformly weak, and uniformly uninformed, so that he can continue to wield power over them.


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