You call this “freedom of the press”? You call this “moral”?

Um, yeah. Riiiiiight. From Aporrea:

On Tuesday, February 6, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice will hold a constitutional hearing to determine whether the collective rights of citizens were violated by RCTV (Channel 2).

The articles in question are numbers 46, 54, 83 and 108 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which were violated by means of “pornographic advertising and advertising of prostitution”, broadcast daily in the early morning hours.

The action was filed by attorney Juan Ernesto Garantón Hernández in 2006 on behalf of the civil association, the National Front of Bolivarian Attorneys, and citizens from various other social organizations.


[…]

The elements in question were submitted on VHS tapes, duly certified by the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL). These contain images extracted from the public signal of RCTV, taken from recordings of programming shown after 12 midnight.

The ads clearly show offers of sex and explicit solicitations of prostitution […]. They present women in a very suggestive context, nude or semi-nude, inviting callers to obtain sexual services via text messaging and “hot line” calls to numbers appearing onscreen for a price in bolivars plus value-added tax. This equals promotion of prostitution.

[…]

The trial coincides with the announcement that the State will not renew RCTV’s broadcast licence. Constitutional protection was sought by a coalition of civil organizations, including members of the National Front of Bolivarian Attorneys, against RCTV, for violations of human rights owing to RCTV’s part in the coup d’etat of 2002, the petro-sabotage that followed it, and the wave of violence known as the “guarimba”.

Translation mine; you can read more about this case, in Spanish, here and here.

The article goes on to note that the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Catholic church blessed the actions of RCTV and the other stations involved in the coup; certainly at least two of their representatives were very prominently visible in footage taken at Miraflores during the self-swearing of dictator Pedro Carmona and the issuance of his infamous decree. How do they reconcile themselves to the fact that at least one of their media allies is guilty of criminal solicitation of money for sex, to say nothing of its even more disturbing, repeated incitements to violence? I thought the Church was supposed to be a moral force in the land. Clearly its morality is, shall we say, highly selective.

You can argue pro and con as to the appropriateness of explicit sex on TV in the wee hours, and whether that falls under freedom of expression; that’s not the issue here. What is, is the blatant hypocrisy of the Venezuelan right, which likes to present itself as a moral force of opposition to the supposed evils of Hugo Chavez–a leader who, incidentally, respects the separation of powers of a constitutional democracy to such a degree that he has even set aside a branch of national power for the moral institutions! It begs the question, then: what is their excuse for advertising not only prostitution, but violence? What is the morality behind that?

I also can’t help but wonder if the Church hierarchy isn’t covertly profiting from this moral outrage. The owners of the Venezuelan private media are extremely wealthy, after all, and the upper ranks of the Church have on more than one occasion been in the oligarchy’s corner. (The Church’s record in terms of human rights is rather spotty all over Latin America, come to think of it. A damn shame when you consider that many brave liberation theologians and clergy members have taken the side of the people over that of the oligarchy and/or dictator-du-jour. The current pontiff doesn’t exactly inspire hope for better things, either.)

What I find amazing is that any media outlet could serve as a propaganda machine for…well, this:

Right-wing vandals at work, part I…

…and II.

Yes, the opposition lets its youth wing run wild. Nice to know that they’re so into law and order, eh?

But I suppose they call that “free speech”, just as they call it “morality” to broadcast ads for phone-sex lines.

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