Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The 2005 Global Press Freedom rankings from Freedom House are out and the US is in a six-way tie for 24th place. I'm so proud.

Of course, the worlds biggest Promoter of Democracy could never hope to rival the kind of freedom of the press enjoyed in places like Finland and, um, the Bahamas. At least not while we keep electing jokers like Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama:
Congressman slams Maher over Army remark

Associated Press Writer
Published May 23, 2005, 6:11 PM CDT

WASHINGTON -- A congressman says comedian Bill Maher's comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."
. . .

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."
. . .

"I don't want (Maher) prosecuted," Bachus said. "I want him off the air."

Numerous television stations pulled Maher's previous show, "Politically Incorrect," from the air in September 2001 after he argued terrorists weren't cowards when they slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center a week earlier.

For the record, I find Maher annoying and I don't watch his show. I also think it's in poor taste to make fun of Pvt. England, who was oxygen-deprived at birth and as a consequence was speech impaired and had trouble learning to read. A rich media guy making fun of a retarded kid who wanted to serve her country is not my idea of entertainment. If somebody's going to be charged in the Abu Ghraib scandal, it should be the people giving the orders. People like Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzalez.

But that's not the point. Being an obnoxious jerk was not a crime last time I checked. It's not a free press at all if it only provides content that is inoffensive to the sensibilities of Alabama Congressmen. The whole idea of an elected government official attempting to get a show taken off the air because he doesn't agree with its political content is deeply scary and deeply un-American. Criticizing military recruitment is "treason?" What's next,a ban on "Thought Crime?" These are dark, dark days we're living through.
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