Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Pax Majeste

It's disturbing that Sean Penn is defending Hugo Chavez. It's more disturbing that he would have the US jail people for calling him a dictator.

  • It is true that Chavez is not a dictator - he was elected and has shown no sign of not respecting future elections that might upseat him. The closest he's come has been to remove term limits (among other constitutional reforms)
  • However, he has done a number of other very worrying things that might provoke concerns about this, among them:
    • Establishing a cult of personality
    • Having personal spats with other national leaders, and using those as well as other "personality-based" slogans to shape foreign policy
    • Stifling expression of views critical of his, both through media controls and by encouraging his cult of personality to perform direct action
    • Nationalisation for the wrong reasons
    • Particularly and intentionally strong relations with other terrible national leaders
    • Destruction of rule of law without good reason
    • Enormous centralisation of state mechanisms under his control, with failure to make productive use of this power
    • Cooking the books on progress under his programmes
Socialists should disown him. Liberals should condemn him. Even as some parts of his programmes could be described as socialist, he is the wrong kind of leader for any nation, and the social changes he brings to his nation are the kind that block societal progress towards the liberal, reasonably technocratic, intellectual/academe-led, open socialism that we should build.

Even were Chavez in fact a rosy, awesome leader, Penn's suggestion to jail those who call him a dictator would be inappropriate. While freedom of expression should not be considered absolute, strong criticism of political leaders, even when ignorant/stupid/over-the-top, should be considered legally protected.

For someone who has supported so many worthy causes in his political activism, it's a blemish on Penn's record to take this stance.

Tags: politics

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