Hugo Chavez: Right but wrong

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Yesterday, I fell upon this AP article. Venezuela’s Chavez: Internet Should be Regulated.

Chavez’s purported rationale behind the idea of internet regulation arises out of the following:

In a televised speech, Chavez said: “The Internet can’t be something free where anything can be done and said. No, every country has to impose its rules and regulations,” Chavez said.

He singled out the Venezuelan news site Noticiero Digital, saying it had posted false information that some of his close allies had been killed.

There is a kernel of legitimacy in what Chavez says; there should be a level of regulation, but a very narrow one. In other words, unless what is said on the internet creates an immediate risk of danger to the public or an individual, everything(apart from certain obscene things) should be fair game. This is similar to the limits of what can be said in the United States.

Chavez’s Contextual Disadvantage

Considering Chavez’s notoriety of cracking down on opposing viewpoints, Chavez’s recent statement on internet regulation can reasonably be taken as an attempt to silence one of the last true bastions of free speech in Venezuela. Just take a look at the recent Inter American Commission on Human Rights report on Venezuela. Here is an excerpt as it relates to freedom of expression in Venezuela, summarized by Miguel Octavio:

The numerous violent acts of intimidation carried out by private groups against journalists and media outlets, together with the discrediting declarations made by high‐ranking public officials against the media and journalists on account of their editorial lines and the systematic opening of administrative proceedings based on legal provisions that allow a high level of discretion in their application and enable drastic sanctions to be imposed, along with other elements, make for a climate of restriction that hampers the free exercise of freedom of expression as a prerequisite for a vigorous democracy based on pluralism and public debate.

All evidence points towards Chavez wanting a complete monopoly on what can be said in any public forum within Venezuela. Monopolization of information is the death of a lot of things, including a critical ingredient to the quality of life of Humans: freedom to criticize the entity which holds your peoples’ fate in its hands: the government.

Not Without a Price

Freedom of expression comes with a price, as all good things do. All one need do is look at the private monopoly of information that U.S. corporations have over television and radio broadcasts. There is a serious limit, in the latter sphere, to truly alternative opinions. Luckily, our creator gave us brains and the internet. The brains often misfire and become irreversably stagnated into one political or philosophical rut, yet that is one’s own problem. Personal responsibility over one’s thought-process should be emphasized more in our education system.

The internet is a source of a stunning array of viewpoints that cannot be found in traditional information mediums. It also gives people the opportunity to create their own information through writing. Writing on issues, in conjunction with reading about them,  is an exponentially superior tool to learning than solely reading. It forces one to think and actively analyze something as opposed to, with just reading, intake of information. Unfortunately, not everyone utlilizes these helpful benefits of the internet.

Nonetheless, as my experience in the blog world over the past few years has shown me, the facts that determine what one should believe on a particular issue, be it politics or not, can be thoroughly fact checked in a matter of minutes.

To illuminate this better, here is an example of a poor manner of informing oneself:  listening to talk radio in one’s car. The facts of which the speaker speaks of cannot be checked for accuracy in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, once one gets home, out of the car, and into their house, whatever was specifically said on the radio may have already exited one’s mind, leaving one with information that could be a straight-up lie.

A Danger to Chavez

Given the internet’s inherent ability to prevent a monopolization on information, Chavez is doing what is rational as it relates to his 11 years as president(hold power); he cannot last forever if he continues to be exposed for the ridiculousness of his actions. Will he succeed? Probably not; not even the more competent and ruthless regime of Iran can fully quash dissent on the net.

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2 Responses to “Hugo Chavez: Right but wrong”

  1. Jesus Maria Alvarez Says:

    Great post, Bryan. I remember arguing a year ago with pro-Chavez folks on various DK threads about what was coming to Venezuela. Is not that I could predict the future, I had seen it in my own past.

    Talking about net censorship, you’re not going to believe where I recently encounter some because I dare criticized FOX, defended Obama and complained about crude homophobic, racist jokes. I will email juicy details.

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