Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Sean Penn, American hero

On censorship in America:
And should we speak truth, we stand against government efforts to intimidate or legislate in the service of censorship. Whether under the guise of a Patriot Act or any other benevolent-sounding rationale for the age-old game of shutting down dissent by discouraging independent thinking and preventing progressive social change.

The most effective forms of de facto censorship are pre-emptive. Systemically, we are encouraged to keep our heads down, out of the line of fire--to avoid the danger, god forbid, that someone in the White House, on Capitol Hill, or a media blow-hard might take a shot at us.

But, as a practical matter, most of the limits on creative expression and other forms of free speech come from self-censorship, where the mechanism of corporate clout offers carrots and brandishes sticks. We avoid a conflict before the conflict materializes. We reach for the carrots and stay out of range of sticks.

Decades ago, Fred Friendly called it a "positive veto"--corporations putting big money behind shows that they want to establish and perpetuate. Whether in journalism or drama, creative efforts that don't gain a financial "positive veto" are dismissible, then dismissed. We may not call that "censorship." But whatever we call it, the effects of a "positive veto" system are severe. They impose practical limits on efforts to bring the most important realities to public attention sooner rather than later...
On impeachment:
One in every 32 American adults is behind bars, on probation, or on parole as we stand here tonight.

Which is to say that, globally, the United States is number one at demanding accountability and backing up that demand with imprisonment. But, when it comes to our president, vice president, secretary of state, former secretary of defense...this insistence on accountability vanishes. All of a sudden, what's past is prologue. And we're just "forward-looking."
The same people who trumpet deterrence as a justification for punishment when we speak of "crime and punishment," will boast their positive thinking when dismissing the deterrent qualities of an impeachment proceeding.
We'll close with a brief quote from Jeff Spicoli:
So what Jefferson was saying was "Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too."

Why stop here? There's more...

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