"If Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had his way, any journalist who called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a dictator would quickly find himself behind bars.I understand Mr. Penn's point of view quite well. I grew up less than two blocks from a college campus, and was immersed in America's dominant culture for decades.
"First Amendment be damned . . . If Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had his way, any journalist who called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a dictator would quickly find himself behind bars.
"Penn, appearing on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday, defended Chavez during a segment in which he detailed his work with the JP Haitian Relief Organization, which he co-founded.
" 'Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it' said Penn, winner of two Best Actor Academy Awards. 'And this is mainstream media, who should -- truly, there should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.'..."
(March 8, 2010)
Looks like things haven't changed much. As far as the self-described best and brightest are concerned, America and Venezuela are just alike. Except Venezuela isn't a 'racist, hateful, polluting, warmonger capitalist oppressor.'
It's true, sort of. Venezuela is a federal republic, just like the United States. We're a "Constitution-based federal republic" - but that's pretty close. (CIA World Factbook) Venezuela has a president, too: it's quite a popular title for the boss man of a country, these days.
And yes, Venezuela has elections. For that matter, so does Iran.
Welcome to the Information AgeI checked. Sean Penn was born in 1960: the start of a - remarkable - decade. My guess is that he truly, passionately, believes that Hugo Chavez is a fine fellow. After all, he was elected. And, at least as importantly, despises America. That last is a vital point, for anyone who wants to be considered 'intelligent' in some circles.
After all, 'everybody knows' that America is the embodiment of all that is icky. And if you don't agree, you're 'unintelligent.'
There's nothing like quite peer pressure to keep folks in line.
I'm not convinced that democracy, federal republics, or even elections are a guarantee that competent, caring people get into executive positions. I think America has a good system: but that's another topic.
So, since this is America, Mr. Penn can publicly express the opinion that reporters should be jailed for disagreeing with him. And, so far, reporters are free to report on Mr. Penn's remarks.
When I was growing up, the three commercial television networks plus (later) PBS were it as far as television programming was concerned. When network news came into its own: if they didn't think something was newsworthy, you didn't see it on television. If they did, you saw it. Over and over.
American newspapers weren't as rigidly structured: but since the sun rises over the east coast first, editors for papers like The New York Times were the first to start scanning the welter of information coming over the wire. They decided what would be 'in the news' for that day.
And other editors, often with smaller staffs, would look to The New York Times and it's cousins for guidance. They didn't have to: but with deadlines and a limited staff, it made sense to save a little time and assume that The New York Times editors knew what they were doing.
What everybody seems to have missed is that The New York Times is a hometown paper for New York City's upper crust. Nothing wrong with that: but I'm glad that we've got other information resources now.
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- "Sean Penn Wants Reporters Jailed for Calling Chavez 'Dictator'"
FOX 411, FOXNews (March 8, 2010)