Friday, August 26, 2005

Radical Fundamentalist Cleric TV: where are the FCC boob police? 

The next time some demented religious quack appears on your television screen advocating the assasination of, oh, lets say George W. Bush for instance - well, you can thank Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcast Network for changing the tone of our national discourse. Praise the Power Lord.

Yepper, you'll have Diamond Pat and his like-minded confederacy of theo-caudillo cranks to thank for dropping the tv broadcast discourse bar as low as it will go with respect to international terrorism advocacy from a so called Christian nation perspective.

See, it's like this: Pat, he's a real trail blazer (het, het, het, snicker). Of course if Robertson had proposed the assassination of Russia's Pooty Poot or former Canadian Prime Minister Jean french fry and gravy Poutine (ha, ha, ha) or Tony Blair or Ariel Sharon or any number of other world leaders he'd probably be placed inside a sweaty black zip-lock bag, chained to a millstone, and skidaddled off to Egypt for some further probing and examination and general all-round bone snapping workover. An ill-tempered German Shepherd would be salivating six inches from his shriveled nutsack as I write this here now.

But no. Mr. Squinty will be back. Blowing it out his blowhole as always. Homicidal ravings and all. And his servile easily bewitched audience of clodhopper crusaders will carry on as before. The Cakewalk News Network (CNN) and the MoonShine Bottling Company (MSNBC) and FoxNoise will continue to drop a dime on their favorite radical fundamentalist(s) jackass cleric(s) whenever the purported Christian perspective is required for one more installment of whatever bark-n-blather junk journalism theater production happens to be dripping off the back of the cable "news" tv info-tainment garbage truck on any given day.

Deborah James writes:
The Christian Broadcasting Network should also be investigated for the potential illegality of using federally licensed airwaves to call for an assassination. In light of the $550,000 fine against CBS for the accidental airing of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," it would be extremely ironic if the CBN were not similarly punished for airing a call for terrorist homicide.


For years the US government has been working to create a climate hostile to the democratically elected government of Venezuela -- Pat Robertson's statements are, unfortunately, consistent with the actions of the Bush administration. The administration supported the 2002 coup against President Chávez, and has continued to fund coup leaders in their efforts to remove President Chávez from office after the coup.

Recently, the US has stepped up efforts to isolate Venezuela in the region (although these efforts have been largely rebuffed by other Latin American leaders.) Last week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld continued the Bush administration's rhetorical assault against President Chávez, re-issuing old and unsupported claims regarding Venezuela.

Yet in August 2004, President Chávez won a referendum on his presidency by 59%, results which were certified by the Organization of American States (OAS) and Carter Center as free and fair. His popularity currently stands at over 70% -- much higher than his US counterpart's, and one of the highest in Latin America. There is complete freedom of press, assembly, speech, and civil rights in the country, and there are no serious human rights organizations that have argued that these rights have been reduced under Chávez, nor do they compare unfavorably to other regional governments.

The policy of America's governmental antipathy towards Venezuela stems more from that country's creation of an alternative economic vision than unsubstantiated concerns regarding democracy. President Chávez has embarked on a series of economic reforms, such as funneling billions of oil industry profits into massive programs for health care, education, literacy, and clean water, and promoting regional integration, which fly in the face of Bush's failed efforts to promote corporate globalization by establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The US "free trade" economic model has failed to deliver growth in the region; according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Latin Americans have experienced less than .5% per capita economic growth overall in the last 25 years. Meanwhile, Chávez's economic policies (combined with oil profits) have made Venezuela the fastest growing economy in the region. But the American government's dislike for Chávez's vision certainly does not give anyone a license to kill.


Robertson's comments have little basis in US or Venezuelan reality. He stated that if Chávez were to be assassinated, he didn't "think any oil shipments will stop." President Chávez has repeatedly stated that oil shipments from Venezuela - which represent approximately 15% of US imports - will continue steadily as long as the US does not commit violent acts of aggression against Venezuela's sovereignty. Articles quoting his repeated declarations on this topic are available here.

Venezuela is expanding exports to other countries, including China, the Caribbean, and South America, but has maintained shipments to the US, which light up our Eastern Seaboard with heating oil and keep 14,000 Venezuelan-owned Citgo gas stations in business. Chavez has also offered to provide lower-cost gasoline to struggling Americans. But in the case of an attack on the physical integrity of the Venezuelan leader, the immediate cessation of exports from the US's fourth largest source would be all but guaranteed.

The US government’s ongoing hostility towards President Chávez have created the climate in which a Republican leader feels comfortable in calling for the US to kill an elected head of state as part of US foreign policy on the cheap. Robertson’s comments should be a clarion call for a new foreign relations policy with Venezuela – one based on respect for a thriving democracy and an important economic ally.


Under Title 18 of US Code Section 1116, "whoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished." Section 878 of the same title makes it a crime to "knowingly and willingly threaten" to commit the above crime.


The 1973 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons makes it a crime to commit a "murder, kidnapping, or other attack upon on the liberty of an internationally protected person;" [including] a "threat to commit any such attack."


Deborah James is the Global Economy Director of Global Exchange, www.globalexchange.org, and a frequent traveler to Venezuela. She is reachable at deborah@globalexchange.org.

The human rights group Global Exchange is encouraging citizens to call the White House to ask the Bush Administration to "condemn the call for terrorist homicide. [The administration] must investigate the legality of calling for the assassination of a democratically elected foreign head of state, and abide by international law in prosecuting terrorist activity." The public comment line at the White House is (202) 456-1111.

Entire article here

Also on topic:
Oil Fat Cats vs. Hugo Chavez by Juan Gonzales (NY Daily News)

Hugo Chávez and Petro Populism by Christian Parenti (The Nation)

What's Really Bothering Pat Robertson About Chavez by Russell Shaw (Huffington Post)

"Violence Needed Against Chavez, Venezuela Opposition Leader Says. Dictatorship Must Follow" - See: Everybody Loves Hugo by Tresy (Corrente)


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