Monday, February 1, 2010

'Criticism is Terrorism:' Chavez and Twitter 'Terrorists'

" 'Terrorist' Twitter Threatens Hugo Chavez's Stranglehold on Media"
FOXNews (January 29, 2010)

"The greatest threat to Hugo Chavez's future just might be the World Wide Web.

"Fierce and growing protests over media freedom have left at least two students dead in Venezuela, and graphic images depicting violent tactics employed by the police there have started to flood the Internet.

"Police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets have left students bloodied and battered in Caracas and other cities during a week of protests over President Hugo Chavez's tightening gag on the opposition press.

"On Sunday, Chavez ordered five cable stations shut down for refusing to broadcast his frequent speeches, setting off nationwide demonstrations in a country already wracked by water shortages, electricity rationing, alarming crime rates and the plummeting value of its currency, the Bolivar...."

Before writing anything else, a sort of disclaimer: The Lemming isn't particularly apathetic. I just don't care, intensely, profoundly, irrationally, about the right things. Or, more accurately, left things.

The Venezuelan president's difficulty is, I think, one example of what's happening around the world. Traditional information gatekeepers no longer hold a monopoly on distributing facts and opinions.

Information Gatekeeper?

Quoting myself:
According to Princeton's WordNet, an gatekeeper is literally a doorkeeper or doorman: someone who guards an entrance. "Gatekeeper" may also be used as a metaphor:
"gatekeeper (someone who controls access to something) 'there are too many gatekeepers between the field officers and the chief' "
(Princeton's WordNet)
So, an "information gatekeeper" is someone who controls access to information.
(Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 14, 2009))
Back in the 'good old days,' information gatekeepers in western nations included newspaper and magazine publishers, book publishers, educators, and more recently movie producers and radio and television broadcasters.

That was then.

President Chavez has pretty good control over many, if not most, of the traditional information gatekeepers. That's "control," not "cooperation." Some broadcasters wouldn't give the President air time, remember.

But he's finding that it's not the 'good old days' any more.

"...Elsewhere online, more than 80,000 people have joined a Facebook group, 'Chavez estas PONCHAO!' taunting the increasingly unpopular president with a slang term meaning 'Chavez, you struck out.'

"Chavez has fought back by declaring that 'using Twitter, the Internet (and) text messaging' to criticize or oppose his increasingly authoritarian regime 'is terrorism,' a comment that recalls the looming threats of his allies in Iran, whose bloody crackdown on physical and electronic dissent may be blazing a trail for the Latin strongman...."

I'm pretty sure that the quoted words of the Venezuelan president are a translation: but you get the point.

It Can't Happen Here?

I live in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, so nobody's going to brand opposition to federal policies or leaders as terrorism here? Right?

What can I say? Americans are human beings, just like everybody else. But that's another topic, for another blog. "Pro-Life? You May be a Dangerous Domestic Terrorist! MIAC Says So," A Catholic Citizen in America (March 23, 2009)

The Lemming is "apathetic," remember.

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