Friday, September 15, 2006

Hypocratic hypocrisy + a question of how far the first amendment should go

I refrained from discussing the Path to 9/11 bruhaha, because, simply put, I was disgusted by the sheer hypocrisy found on both sides of the debate. Let's sum up the situation: a docudrama aired on ABC on 9/10 and 9/11 about how 9/11 happened, and this docudrama featured allegations that Clinton could have done more to have stopped 9/11 from occurring. The docudrama supposedly let the audience infer that, given the USS Cole and other attacks, Clinton ignored the threat of Bin laden. There was one disputed scene wherein Defense Secretary Sandy Berger supposedly turned down getting Bin Laden. The Democrats went crazy from this. In fact, the Dems not only sent angry petitions flying about, there was a threat to pull ABC's broadcasting license for airing this. In response, ABC edited the film with regards to that particular scene in question. I want to add that Sandy Berger claims the scene never happened, but given this is clearly an issue of public concern and also dealls with a public official, it would be up to Berger, should he sue for libel, to prove not only that the event never happened, but also that ABC either knew it was false, or was negligent to include the scene. This is a VERY high bar to bass. Normally, I would be up in arms over this censorship - and I am always against censorship, but I cannot be particularly upset about this one, because, frankly, I am sick of the total hypocrisy surrounding docudramas. Three years ago, CBS filmed a docudrama called The Reagans. There was a similar bruhaha over that one, except this time, it was the Republicans who cried foul. Eventually, Viacom, parent company of CBS, aired the show on Showtime. In both instances, the networks gave into public pressure. In both instances, a form of censorship prevailed. In both instances, one political party was decrying the attempts to censor the public debate by the other political party. In other words, this is a case of completely hypocritical hypocrisy. Yes, the Republicans did not threaten to pull CBS's broadcasting license, but let's be real - there was little to no chance that the Dems would have succeeded in their threat, and furthermore, there is the special circumstance of this airing right on 9/11, and interrupted by Bush's speech. Still. The situations are rather similar, and to both the Dems and Repubs, I say what goes around, comes around! The situation is rather different, however, with regards to the TV docudrama that recently aired at the Toronto Film Festival - a docudrama involving assassination of Bush. James Brady, who suffers as a permanent cripple from the attempted assassination on Reagan's life, blasted the film. He said that it might inspire a real life copycat - and you know what, he's right. This is a question for all of us to ponder. How far should the first amendment go? Should it be accepted as part of our national dialogue that it's okay to assassinate the president? At what point does speech actually equal an open threat? Is this film something that should be allowed in America? I leave it to you, dear Culture for All readers, to ponder that one.


Thomas Forsyth said...

I didn't see the docudrama, but I heard about it. My favorite documentary on 9/11 is probably Farenhype 9/11 which is a counter to Farenheit 9/11, and contains a balance of views with Ed Koch, Dick Morris, and Ron Silver as well as Peter King and Zell Miller, even if the nutty Miss Coulter is on it, but I guess you need an Ann Coulter to truly counter a Michael Moore.

I did hear about certain commenst aimed at Berger, Albright, and Clinton, and while I think Clinton did not do enough, Bush did zilch prior to 9/11. If anything he was pretty isoaltionsit in his approach prior to 9/11. Granted the cirticisms of teh movie I have gathered are from Andrew Sullivan's blog and another criticism from a flight blog over misrepresenting Mohammed Atta's chocie of airline, which is a very clear case of slander.

I heard about The Reagans, but never saw it, and while I imagine truth was distorted, public figures are fair game, unless you get specific. A perfect counter is to do a documentary about the Carters (with Billy Beer) or a special on Chappacquiddick drawing a parallel between the lax drunk driving laws in Massachusettes and Ted Kennedy.

The 9/11 issue is heavily polarized and I think the best approach is objectviity and a proper presentation of facts. I also think the FCC should not be as subject to the whims of Congress lest something like the Fairness Doctrine re-emerges out of anger at some slight. Hopefully any attempt to yank a license out of revenge would be struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court, too.

As for the anti-Bush docudrama, I favor allowing even despicable free speech to air, though the producer should be held responsible for any consequences, and if any attempts on Bush's life occur from now until January of 2009, the producer and director should both face a minor punishment.

Personally, I feel Bush to be a vast dissapointment and that he has betrayed the spirit of Barry Goldwater, but I am a soldier and I will defend the President's life without question. I also swore to uphold his orders, as long as they do not violate the rules of war or proper order of conduct for a soldier. I also wish I could add in an exception for personal codes of chivalry, but that is implicit in the other exception.

Red Tulips said...


WOW! You summed things up so eloquently! I agree with pretty much everything you just said.

Thanks for stopping by and voicing your opinion. :-)

Jason said...

""""the producer and director should both face a minor punishment.""""

Even if he himself had nothing to do with it?

thats not very rationalistic of you.

Thomas Forsyth said...

Red Tulips> I'm glad you like. I aim to please :)

Jason> Well, I am all for free speech, but I think if you intend to be deliberately provocative you bear some responsibility for the actions, kind of liek shouting fire in a crowded movie theatre. Also if no one tries to copycat the movie from now until 09, then he's free and clear.

I belive that we are free to do what we wish and to reap any and all consequences. I only would consider this, because of specifics involved. I would never suggest this for a general criticism or a simple ill wish.

Jason said...

If a nuclear war had occured between the U.S. and The Soviets in the 1980s, would you have held the makes of The Day After responsible?

I think the reactions both of you are having is simply the knee jerk tendancy to show that you aren't like those "other" liberals and you want to distance yourself from anything perceived as TOO anti bush.

Something tells me that your reactions are all about image, and the two of you probably don't really have much of an opinion on this film outside of that.