President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, that is.
Via Sister Toldjah, I found this gem. Apparently, actor Sean Penn, someone who apparently cherishes his own freedom of speech, thinks that people who refer to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a dictator should be jailed.
Actor accuses US media of smearing Venezuelan president
Rory Carroll in Caracas
Sean Penn has defended Hugo Chávez as a model democrat and said those who call him a dictator should be jailed.
The Oscar-winning actor and political activist accused the US media of smearing Venezuela’s socialist president and called for journalists to be punished.
“Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.”
Penn, who has visited Chávez in Caracas, said Venezuela’s poor majority had willingly embraced his leftist revolution, but that this view was concealed from Americans.
“We are hypnotised by the media. Who do you know here who’s gone through 14 of the most transparent elections on the globe, and has been elected democratically, as Hugo Chávez?”
Penn, speaking on Bill Maher’s HBO chatshow, is part of a small but vocal pro-Chávez Hollywood group which includes Oliver Stone and Danny Glover.
They have remained steadfast even as Venezuela’s leader has lost fans at home and abroad. Inflation, crime and water and electricity shortages have hit his popularity and led to defections from his socialist party.
The Organisation of American States recently accused Chávez of intolerance and authoritarianism, and a Spanish judge accused Venezuela of cosseting Farc and Eta terrorists, sparking a diplomatic spat with Madrid.
Chávez thanked Penn for his support in what he said was a daily battle for public opinion.
“I was reading the declarations from our friend Sean Penn, the famous American actor,” he told a televised rally in Caracas. “Penn defended what he considers to be the truth.”
The Hollywood star was an ally in the effort to counter a campaign to “confuse” Venezuelans, said the president, who has been in power for 11 years. “From here I thank you very much.”
Other celebrity endorsements have come from the linguist and writer Noam Chomsky and model Naomi Campbell.
Me, I find it interesting that Mr Penn would think that people criticizing the government ought to be subjected to criminal prosecution and imprisonment, though to be fair, Mr Penn said nothing at all about criminal prosecution; he just said to throw them in jail!
Anyway, on Thursday, 14 September 2006, Mr Penn exercised his freedom of speech by criticizing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George Bush. On Saturday, 24 March 2007, Mr Penn ranted:
You, Misters Bush and Cheney; you, Ms. Rice, are villainously and criminally obscene people, obscene human beings, incompetent even to fulfill your own self-serving agenda, while tragically neglectful and destructive of ours and our country’s.
Mr Penn has spouted off, saying that he hopes critics of his actions “die screaming of rectal cancer,” among other charming things. If the United States had the restrictions on criticizing the President that Mr Penn thinks ought to be appropriate for criticizing Hugo Chavez, Mr Penn would have been in jail years ago.
Of course, President Chavez agrees with Mr Penn, as even the left-wing Guardian has noted: it seems that internal critics of President Chavez are finding themselves in prison.
So, what is the freely and democratically elected President of Venezuela doing? From Pam Meister:
- The takeover of numerous banks has caused the Venezuelan dollar to plunge in value.
- His dream of ending presidential term limits was realized a year ago.
- He supports the Basque terror organization ETA as well as the Colombian FARC.
- This oil-rich nation that depends upon “green” sources for its electricity is now rationing said electricity, and Chavez is threatening to “punish” businesses that use what the government deems to be too much, further putting a strain on that nation’s economy.
- Chavez ordered the takeover of a number of privately-owned businesses, including U.S. food giant Cargill, assets of 60 oilfield services companies, and he continues to tighten his grip on private media.
- Schools that do not implement his socialist curriculum will be nationalized.
- Always concerned that the Venezuelan public doesn’t get enough of him, Chavez has a Sunday television show called “Hello, President” that can go on for hours, frequently orders television and radio stations to air his speeches (threatening to close them down if they don’t comply), and now has a new radio program called “Suddenly Chavez,” where radio broadcasts can be interrupted by Dear Leader at any time, day or night, in a bid to “serve to define the lines of communication of the Bolivarian Revolution.” Oh, and just a couple of weeks ago, Chavez himself was the victim of his own bad policy when his live television broadcast was briefly cut off due to a loss of power.
Of course, the final turning of the corner will come when Mr Penn decides to tell us that critics of President Obama should be locked up as well. As far as I know, he hasn’t said that yet, but give it time, give it time.
There’s something just amazingly hypocritical about people exercising their freedom of speech to criticize a government they don’t like saying that people who criticize a government they do like should be punished for saying it. Thing is, with Sean Penn, even if he read this, he’d probably never recognize his own hypocrisy.