It takes a particular kind of person to sentence someone. Let’s try to float away from our sweet little corner of hell for a second, OK? In the real world, a judge is a person whose qualifications go way beyond knowledge of the law and jurisprudence. Someone who knows the whips and scorns of Lawyerly arguments but never uses them. Thinks, ponders and has a clear understanding. A just person, a virtuous person.

Back in hell, judges are corrupt, ignorant, and incompetent. It’s hard for us to see it any other way because we’ve been here so long. This particular fact makes people in hell think that anybody can be a judge.

While Venezuelan children are born on hospital floors and die of malnutrition, perhaps the most widely covered piece of news these past few days was the suspension and eventual cancellation of the very popular and snarky radio show Calma Pueblo. Not that the limits of freedom of speech isn’t a worthwhile topic of discussion, but… dead babies.

Some context: Calma Pueblo has one of the largest radio audiences in the country. Hosted by three young comedians and aimed at an older Millennial audience, it’s a sarcastic, shameless dictatorship bashing well-oiled machine. And funny, too.

On September 18th the show received a call from a 7 year old kid. When asked by the hostess Verónica Gómez (La Vero Gómez) who his favorite football player was, the boy said “Ronaldo.” And she answered, as she would have if a 20-something would have said he was a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo: “Ah, how gay. Well.. Ronaldo, not the kid.”  

While Venezuelan children are born on hospital floors the most widely covered piece of news these past few days was the suspension of Calma Pueblo.

A double offense for the social justice warriors. Strike one for addressing the child inappropriately and strike two for using homophobic language. And, for the government, a third strike: They then asked the kid whether he supported chavismo or the opposition. Actually, asking whether you support a bloodthirsty dictatorship is something they should ask everyone before allowing them to procreate.

On Monday, CONATEL, Chávez’s media censorship agency, ordered the show be taken off the air pending further investigation as mandated by Chavez’s censorship law (Ley RESORTEME).

Because time in hell goes slower than we can remember, we also forget how things in the real world work. And even worse, we tend to normalize torture and unconstitutional crap while feigning entitled indignation for water cooler talk. The Ley RESORTEME was Chávez’s main instrument to censor and close down different media outlets. To read people’s comments saying they agree with CONATEL and that this time the punishment is appropriate and that the law THIS ABERRANT PIECE OF EXCREMENT should be applied equally to every one, chavistas and non-chavistas alike, makes it clear that we don’t have freedom of speech because we don’t understand it.

This became the week’s scandal. Everybody cracked down on Vero, insults coming from every corner of hell. Her crucifixion seems to be the one thing all Venezuelans agree on.

We can, from time to time, decide to remain neutral on some issues. The dictatorship exceeded itself, as dictatorships tend to do. The radio station overreacted by shutting down a show that was very uncomfortable for the government, as people afraid of a dictatorship would do. And Vero made a huge mistake, that should not be swept under the rug.

But it’s not clear what people want from her. You see them wanting more. More than being subjected to the dictatorship’s censors, more than losing her job, more than jeopardizing her career, more than apologizing to the kid’s parents and to her audience.

To read people’s comments saying they agree with CONATEL makes it clear that we don’t have freedom of speech because we don’t understand it.

A stoning, perhaps? Or maybe Vero’s destiny is Cersei Lannister’s naked walk of shame over embers while listening to Tarek William Saab’s poetry. What should her sentence be according to our millions of judges and diosdaditos?

One can understand and accept the result of these events, and reject the abuse of the dictatorship while sending her to the pit for her transgression. There’s no contradiction there.

We have to make an effort to remember that hell is not normal. Hell is hell. A dictatorship does not do right by anyone. You can make a choice to please everyone by laying low and holding your ground or challenging them. In the outside world, you would be able to say pretty much whatever you want.

So here it is: I really hope they get back on air, the three of them. Manuel, José Rafael, and Vero. Aguanten el chaparrón y fuerza.

Crank me up that air conditioner in hell.

___

Want to get your Weekly Arepa? Subscribe here! (We won’t spam you, promise.)

20 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with you. Big Mistake and the punishment is way overblown. Just a comment: Witnessing the public´s outrage at this blunder and its culprits I only wish they would act the same with elected politicians and their obvious failure to deliver promises.

  2. Wait a minute…as a proud and out GAY Venezuelan , I find EXTREMELY offensive that the implications of calling a 7 year old CHILD gay on a NATIONALLY BROADCASTED radio show to refer to his somehow assumed and insinuated sub-normal inability to make good decision (in sports and politics ) are trying to be SWEPT UNDER THE RUG. I do not give a FUCK whether it is the current government , la Cuarta, a democratic government or the worst dictatorship…we MUST protect our children, we need to make NO APOLOGIES for RAMPANT homophobia that has literally driven children and adolescents to commit suicide and we must uphold the communication professionals to a higher standard. The fact that they were harsh/cynical/effective critics of the lack of government we have in our country does NOT and should NOT mean that they get a free pass. In regards to the severity of the punishment, if you as a communications professional are oblivious to the fact that children are OFF LIMITS then you DO NOT deserve the platform that was given to you.

      • Because you know, Venezuelan comedy dude, being all obnoxious and offensive like a high school bully taking cheap jabs at people is super funny and witty and creative.

        Everyone knows that being purposely “politically incorrect” automatically means you are super smart and hilarious. Fuck kids. Being a try hard edgy wannabe hipster is were is at.

        Sarcasm off*

        I also agree with you. They are way too much support for their crap. And is even insulting to people who have actually been censored by the regime for fighting on a good cause.

    • I’m all for LGBT rights, but you’re missing the fucking point:

      You can’t condone censorship for something that offends YOU. You’re supporting censorship. And in the terrible mess that Venezuela is today, with freedom of expression so limited, you have the BALLS to say that a performer making a JOKE is worthy of condemnation!? And implying that removal is justified?

      Congratulations. You just achieved Gay equal rights, proving Homos can be just as stupid as Heteros.

  3. Lo que pasa es que el incidente del niño no fue lo único que le pasó factura a Veronica. Pueden leer los comentarios de los videos que subían a Youtube, y verán que casi diariamente era criticada por sus comentarios, francamente estupidos y sin contenido, que chocaban con el estilo de humor que intentaban los otros dos miembros del programa.

    Mi novia y yo escuchabamos bastante Calma Pueblo, dos o tres veces por semana, y siempre terminabamos de acuerdo en algo: qué bueno sería el programa sin Veronica.

    Sus burlas a los oyentes eran constantes, e igual de despreciables que la que le hizo al niño. Aparte de eso, su unico papel era sexualizar cualquier tema que surgiera, pero de una manera burda.

    Así que, si les sorprende la retaliación contra Veronica, es porque seguramente no escuchaban regularmente el programa. Sus intervenciones ya la habían retratado como una persona racista, homófoba, hipócrita y malintencionada, lo del niño fue tan solo la gota que colmó el vaso.

    Ahora, es evidente que al programa le tenían ganas desde hace rato, y lo del niño fue la excusa perfecta para cerrarlo. Pero, coño: se la pusieron bombita.

  4. “And funny, too.”

    That`s reaching

    They are all terrible comedians, but at the same time VTV is using kids in proselitism 24/7, Diosdado and the Zurda Konducta kids can insult , curse, and threaten the lifes of whoever they want in public and no one bats an eye. Conatel is way to much caraetabla

  5. She should have been suspended for 30 days. The program should remain on. But this is in a normal, democratic and rational society that Venezuela is not.

    Yes, what she said was wrong, but forgiving people, understand that mistakes are made in life that should not punish you, and all that you worked for and your career, on an ill advised 15 second attempt at comedy.

  6. Chavismo is brain-washing kids from kindergarten on up and you guys are all bent out of shape over this. Anyone wonder why the coutry is taking it up the ass?

    • Yes MRubio, that’s exactly what I’ve been wondering for many many years … why is it that Venezuelans take it up the ass and swallowing shit all day every day? Why ffs? Must be in their DNA is my guess since it so widespread. And I agree, Chavismo is brainwashing kids the same way Hitler did with his hitlerjugend!

  7. On an expedition into the dangerous parts of the Libyan desert, on top of a 2,000 foot mountain it took three days to climb in the burning sun, almost out of our rationed water supplies if we were ever going to make it back to Cairo alive, we uncovered a cave dug into the rock face of a cliff. We had to use a small charge of explosive to blast it open, and inside we found a stone tablet now dated as more than 10,000 years old. Fortunately, a hieroglyphtologist on our team reverse-engineered the brief text inscribed on it, with the help of a very sophisticated reverse-refinement algorithm which essentially compares refinements to hieroglyphs since the earliest know, and based on that logic of refinement, reverses it to arrive at understanding of this earlier inscription! We no longer have the tablet, because it was appropriated as national treasure by the government, and in transporting it out of our possession they dropped it, so it is now nationally treasured dust.

    But we had time enough to decipher the inscription. This is what it said: “If you don’t like the show, change the channel! That’s why we preserve the right of choice! Extra-terrestrials, go home!”

  8. Raul, I agree with you on what you just wrote! People just love to judge and condemn others, as if they were almighty and pure…. changing topics, It’s the first time I read your blog, and I wonder who your audience is. No one but Venezuelans would be interested in reading this article.
    Anayways, this comment proves how double standards we can be, first I criticize those how judge others, and I am judging them for criticizing, and then I ask you why you write in English, but I M asking you in English when I know that I could write in Spanish and everyone would understand.

    • Pana, eres tan critico, que te criticas a ti mismo! (Joke.) La vaina es que hay demasaida gente que se empatan al socialismo sin poder mirase a si mismos, ni mirar a lo que le estan haceindo a otros. Me pregunto si sera que no tienen sentido de ser. Pensamiento dictado no es pensamiento proprio.

  9. In democracies, broadcasters agree to certain standards of conduct as a condition of their licenses. They cannot say anything they want on air at any time, just as I can’t go erecting a billboard expressing my views anywhere I want, with any kind of content, any time. These are facts of life consistent with the principles of free expression.

    Dictatorships use the power to grant and enforce broadcast licenses as a means to silence views they do not like. That behaviour is not consistent with the principles of free expression, but in form, it looks like what is. The regime has been doing this for a long time in Venezuela. I am sure every broadcaster in Venezuela not directly controlled by the regime gets up every morning and thinks about this before they go to work: will I have a job tomorrow because of what I say?

    If I treat a young kid disrespectfully and idiotically as a prop for my afternoon show, in a normal country I’m going to get some very angry mail (or tweets, whatever). If I use that child prop as a foil to express my discriminatory views, I would probably get a notice in some form from the regulator giving me a first warning that I am not abiding by the terms of my license agreement.

    In this case, the dictatorship did what dictatorships do. Broadcasters who support the opposition do not have the ability, under a dictatorship, to frivolously and idiotically test the boundaries of their broadcast licenses. That is a very bad state of affairs. It is. Because people who yack on air for a living make mistakes, and they should be able to do so without being subject to arbitrary punishment.

  10. Mario Silva on his program the other night was all pissed off about the affair, played the tape, whined about the inhumanity of what went down, and declared as a member of the ANC that this sort of thing would be stamped out in due time and would not go unpunished.

    Yeah, the same Mario Silva who calls opposition leaders “mother fuckers” on his program.

Leave a Reply to Ira Cancel reply