One of the great downfalls of having values is that you have to defend the rights of utter scumbags. Over in America, a batshine insane preacher is on his deathbed and most people are cheering his impending demise while only a porn star has the mental acuity to acknowledge his contributions to free speech in that country.
Likewise, I once had to defend the loathsome Dan Sova after my arch-enemies at The Economist smeared him for being an anti-Semite when in reality he’s just ignorant and stupid. He hasn’t gotten any brighter in the last two years but now he’s our glorious fifth Minister of Transportation in two years and responsible for implementing the IMF’s demands to privatize CFR Marfa and my beloved TAROM this year.
Note: for any mental midgets who think I’m somehow excusing or minimizing (or denying) the Holocaust in Romania, please read Fury Unleashed before jumping to any conclusions.
And now we come to the topic of today’s post, which is Mihai Gadea, a man that I think might be actually retarded or suffering from a brain injury. He’s the host of Antena 3′s Sinteza Zilei, the program that lobs softballs at Ponta and his fawning acolytes six nights a week.
Despite the lack of pressure to actually do anything related to real journalism, Gadea still manages to stutter through incomprehensible personal anecdotes and irrelevant asides while his guests are forced to sit and wait an eternity for him to finish before they can spew out their talking points to the comatose audience.
Last week the veteran author Andrei Plesu blasted Gadea and two other Antena “journalists” for being “plasticine people”, rightly calling them out on their complete lack of integrity. As of right now, that article has over 5000 “likes” and it clearly got under Gadea’s skin as he blasted back on his show, saying Plesu was a “house nigger” working at the beck and call of the president.
And so last night a few hundred people marched in protest at Antena 3′s treatment of Plesu and a petition was passed around to support Plesu. President Basescu said he supported Plesu but declined to participate in the protest, which was led by a number of pro-Basescu journalists and some of Plesu’s fellow intellectuals (including his comrade-in-words, Gabriel Liiceanu).
I happen to agree with Plesu’s analysis of Antena 3 journalists and clearly Gadea would denigrate Mother Theresa tomorrow if his bosses told him to do so but what disturbed me enough to write this post was what the pro-Plesu crowd was urging (my translation):
“Armed” with books written by Andrei Plesu and posters supporting him, the crowd protested in front of the CNA because it has failed to sanction the [Antena 3] broadcast.
You might remember my post about the CNA entitled The Hardest Working Bureaucrats in Romania, which I wrote as a semi-ironic piece because it is truly astounding that one branch of the government manages to regularly churn out so many rulings and fines.
A few commenters correctly noted that the CNA’s work is often quite political with the director, Laura Corina Georgescu, regularly making highly personal comments about different media outlets (she seems to be quite vehemently anti-Antena 3). Of course I come from America where Michael Powell, the son of the infamous liar and murderer Colin Powell, ran the FCC (America’s equivalent to the CNA) for a long time so political involvement in the media is nothing new. It’s still wrong when it happens but looking over the CNA’s list of sanctions against media outlets it seems to me like everyone, from every part of the political spectrum, has been hit equally hard.
But there’s a big difference between banning ridiculously racist Christmas carols and imposing hefty fines against a journalist for a linsajul mediatic (literally a “media lynching”). I hate what Fred Phelps has done and said over the years as much as I detest Mihai Gadea and Antena 3 but I still defend their right to free speech.
I have to, because that’s what free speech means. It’s always easy to defend what people say when you agree with it but it can’t truly be free unless even morons like Mihai Gadea have the right to criticize their intellectual superiors. As Evelyn Beatrice Hall once wrote about Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. And as much as I have personally criticized the media in Romania, it still warms my heart to see so many contrasting opinions on television and in the newspapers because freedom of speech is the life’s blood of democracy.
Belittling Andrei Plesu and using highly charged words like sluga to describe his character are quite offensive but I have to vehemently disagree with his supporters when they want the CNA to step in and slap a fine or a sanction on Antena 3.
I regularly have commenters on this blog who call me all kinds of insulting names and yet I’ve never once censored or deleted anyone for strongly disagreeing with me precisely because I do believe in free speech. Of course I’d prefer it if they had the guts to say these things to my face but hey, I understand, the internet is the internet and not everyone can scrape up the courage to leave their mom’s basement and buy a bus ticket to Cluj.
As ironic as it is, we need morons and fools to continue to spout their nonsense precisely so that we never fall into the trap of having only approved questions get answered. Perhaps Plesu’s supporters should put down his books for a moment and recall a little wisdom from the Bible:
For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise!