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Jun 20th 2006

Hugo Chavez: Dopey Authoritarian

Hugo Chavez wants to shut down TV stations that disagree with him.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he may shut down television stations for criticizing the government and broadcasting “messages of hate.”

Chavez said the government has begun to review all television concessions, which expire in 2007. Chavez did not specify which stations may be shut down.

“We can’t keep giving concessions to a group of people who use television stations against us,” Chavez said in a televised speech in Caracas. “Every day they broadcast messages of hate, of disrespect toward institutions, of doubt among us, rumors, psychological war to divide the nation.”

As Pajamas Media notes: he only threatened to shut down Venezuelan TV stations which broadcast criticism of his policies. A real dictator would just do it.

Of course, I won’t hold my breath while waiting for outrage from the liberal self-appointed defenders of free speech.

14 Responses to “Hugo Chavez: Dopey Authoritarian”

  1. doug, you must be jumping to conclusions. i’ll wait for curtis to come and set us all straight.

  2. Curtis

    Curtis to the rescue. You forget that this law was passed democratically by the Venezuelan governing body (i.e. not a ruling handed down by a dictator)(and the Venezuelan people are empowered to revoke this law at any time) and this is the law in a nutshell:

    “The Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which was passed in late 2004, specifies, among other things, that broadcast media must abide by a certain broadcast schedule if they want to depict graphic violence or sexuality, requires the broadcasting of a certain proportion of nationally produced programming, restricts advertising, and allows for the participation of citizens in determining broadcaster’s compliance with the law. Violations of the law’s provisions can lead to fines and, in extreme cases, to a temporary or even permanent suspension of broadcast licenses.”

    The reason the people like this law, is that the privately owned media are freaks down there. They spew forth propoganda for the rich elite like it was going out of style. If you will call Chavez a dictator, then you must also call Joseph Smith a dictator when he got rid of the Expositor press.

  3. doug

    Here’s the link for the article that Curtis quotes:

    http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1989

    Here’s what Curtis left out from that article (emphasis mine):

    International media groups such as the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) and the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) immediately condemned the government’s announcement. “We urge President Chavez to abstain from making these kinds of threatening commentaries, which inhibit the work of the press,” stated the CPJ according to the news agency AFP.

    Similarly, the president of the Commission on Liberty and Press of the IAPA, Gonzalo Marroquín, said, “These threats do no stop being worrisome and feed a climate of antagonism, especially in an electoral period in which the media must play the part of scrutiny in order to give the public a diversity of points of view.”

    And here’s links for those non-partisan organizations:

    http://www.cpj.org/
    http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/americas/ven15june06na.html

    http://www.sipiapa.org/default.cfm
    http://www.sipiapa.com/pressreleases/chronologicaldetail.cfm?PressReleaseID=1687

  4. Yeah, any distinction between Chávez and la Asamblea Nacional is moot at this point. What Chávez says, goes.

    A better defense of the policy would be to look at the individual media outlets. They have tended to be heavily allied with the opposition, and can make the American media’s criticism of President Bush look like friendly conversation. I don’t personally believe that media bias either way validates such drastic limitations of free speech, but I think it’s a more valid point than making distinctions between branches of government.

  5. Curtis

    Well, I’ve got to say that I’m pretty uncomfortable with Chavez’s stance here as well. I agree with Peter that the media down there is horrendous and wish there was a better way to keep fabrications out of print than to censor them. Media has always been like this. Since it is owned by the wealthy elite, to some degree or another, it reflects the interests of the wealthy elite. It works that way in the USA as well. Noam Chomsky’s books, “Manufacturing Consent,” and “Necessary Illusions,” are great pieces of analysis into this sort of thing. We don’t really have a free media at all. As Aristotle said, there is no true democracy without an even distribution of wealth. This concept is reflected well in major media around the world, but more so in the USA and Venezuela.

  6. Curtis

    Of course we are much more loving of free press here in the US with Bush making fake news stories and hiring PR firms to feed all kinds of baloney to news outlets in the Arab world, and kicking Al Jazeera out of Bagdad after bombing them in Bagdad and Afganistan when they were clearly not a legitimate target. Bush really loves freedom of speech when his forces kick out mothers of deceased soldiers from his rallies when they silently wear a t-shirt claiming he killed their sons. There are a lot of people arrested during the republican national convention who are peacefully protesting and we can see that Freedom of speech is alive and well in the USA.
    I think we have all the moral authority in the world to criticize Chavez in this area when he has done so well in other areas to help his people. The latest numbers to come out show 400,000 increased jobs in the last year. With his crackdown on the media you’d think the people would be up in arms and maybe not vote for him anymore.

  7. Hmm. The point about al-Jazeera is well taken. But I’m having trouble seeing what press releases or protesters or the RNC have to do with freedom of the press. Last time I checked, Cindy Sheehan wasn’t a member of the news media.

  8. Ryan

    I’m sorry…Al Jazeera, not a legitimate target?

    They are not an un-biased news organization. They are prime distrubutors of terror propoganda to the Arab world. That is aiding and abetting the enemy.

  9. kicking Al Jazeera out of Bagdad after bombing them in Bagdad and Afganistan when they were clearly not a legitimate target

    yeah, i guess all those beheading tapes and osama “i’m still alive” tapes just show up on their doorstep without any complicity whatsoever with the bad guys.

    hiring PR firms to feed all kinds of baloney to news outlets in the Arab world

    funny, curtis. being so against the war, i thought you might appreciate this non-violent method of changing minds and hearts. but i guess you would prefer the non-violent tactic of “surrender?”

    have you ever read or listened to an arab news source? we have to combat anti-western and anti-american bias that is as ingrained in their system as their affinity for suicide bombings.

    There are a lot of people arrested during the republican national convention who are peacefully protesting and we can see that Freedom of speech is alive and well in the USA.

    a couple of points in response.

    1. the first amendment guarantees that people can speak freely. not to get nit-picky, but you said they were silent. i know it’s a bit of a technicality, but they weren’t even speaking, so i don’t think the cops stopped them from speaking. maybe when the cops showed up, they could’ve started chanting some stuff, like: “we support the terrorists! long live osama!” and more of their true feelings from deep in their hearts. then, maybe there’d be a first amendment issue we could discuss.

    2. now my serious point. no matter how peaceful, the purpose was to disrupt a private meeting or meetings. i couldn’t go into a private event, or even stand outside the door of a private event, and make a statement or voice a belief that the people in charge of the meeting deem inappropriate. unfortunately for people who have no ideas for how to govern (democrats) this is also the law in america. otherwise, anybody could barge in anywhere and disrupt anything. hypothetically, it is possible that nothing would get done. and it doesn’t matter if i’m being silent or not. if i go stand across the street from a church on sunday with 30 of my closest dope-smoking friends and we all wear t-shirts on that say “presbyterians are nazis” there’s a good chance the cops make us leave.

    the idea behind free speech isn’t so much that you can do and say anything you want anywhere. if you’re message is so great, and you’re so full of ideas, go hold your own meeting and see how many people come. i can create a “presbyterians are nazis” group on yahoo. i can create a facebook group about how nazis and presbyterians are the same and doesn’t everyone else see it!?!? i can put up websites featuring my Awesome Idea. i can hold my own rally or parade about the similarities between naziism and presbyterianism, complete with floats, banners, and the rainbow flag. but expressing my free speech right in the face of their free speech? lots of times that’s not protected.

  10. Curtis

    Hey, you guys have been active.
    Yes, I read al jazeera all the time actually. It’s available on the internet in english and I’ve found them to be a fairly even-handed news organization. After you have read them for a while, let me know what you think. Today’s headlines for example speak of the philipines banning the death penalty, a vote on Mauritania’s constitution, a report of a broadcast by Al Queda etc. Pretty straight forward, no opinionated statements. See for yourself at:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage

    As far as Al Jazeera being a legitimate target in a war, I think you have been too biased by what you hear Al Jazeera is all about. They are a legitimate news organization, created by the British and are the most popular news organization in the middle east. Surely you wouldn’t suggest bombing Fox news would be legitimate just because they have a pretty slanted view of the world?

    Airing videos from Al Queda doesn’t mean they are cooperating with Al Queda anymore than airing news from President Bush means they are cooperating with President Bush. They are a news organization and print newsworthy stuff. They have a unique viewpoint on the war in Iraq since they are not embedded with US Troops, or supported by US Corporate/government money. You should be glad they are there to provide a fresh viewpoint of the situation. Anyway, read them a bit and see what you think. Don’t just follow what others want you to think about them.

    As far as protesters go… I didn’t say “silent”. I said, “peaceful”. A large group of protesters arrested in New York were peacefully not obstructing anything or any kind of meeting when they were arrested. They were well within their rights under the first amendment and I hope they sue the heck out of New York for the treatment they received.

    Peter,

    The press release issue I mentioned was not a press release issue. In case you haven’t heard, the Bush administration has been found to have supplied hundreds of false news reports to US and Iraq news organizations, made up by US PR firms and paid the reporters over in Iraq to print them!

  11. Oh, I heard, Curtis. I just didn’t think it was a freedom of the press issue. No one was forcing those media outlets to take the stories. In fact, that’s the freedom of the press in action. Every media outlet can take the stories they want, and the ones that run cheap stories prepared by the government or interest groups (and get caught doing it) suffer the public backlash. But the government doesn’t mess with them. And threatening to revoke licenses, in my mind, falls into the “messing with” category.

  12. Oh, and for Travis’ point #1 above: free speech definitely involves all forms of expression. Like it or not, the Supreme Court has even ruled that money is the equivalent to free speech in campaigning. The second point certainly has merit, however. I definitely think that your free speech ends when you get in my face and disrupt what I’m doing. Not having been there, I’ll reserve judgment as to whether the protesters were doing that at the RNC.

  13. Ryan

    Curtis, do you think it would be appropriate for CNN or ABC or Fox News to broadcast a recruitment video for an anti-Abortion group that trains people to shoot and kill abortion doctors?

  14. […] –Curtis, comment, June 2006 [link] You have exceeded my expectations. Thanks, Travis. […]