Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Radiografia de una mentira (X-Ray of a Lie)

I just recently became aware of a film titled "Radiografia de una mentira", or "X-ray of a Lie" in English.  "Radiografia" claims to summarize the results and conclusions of a debate held regarding the "distorted version" of  facts presented by the film "The Revolution will not be Televised".  The focus and purpose of the debate: "to unravel the mechanisms of such manipulations." Although my experience with Spanish is insufficient to assess nuances of meaning, the English subtitles and much of the video clips indict the film as grossly incompetent in presenting its case, at best.  Crowd estimates do not appear supported by the videos, Chavez' resignation during a coup and while under military siege is called "voluntary", while the self-declared president (usurper?) was "forced" to resign when the lawful government was being restored.  No mention is made that Chavez was taken prisoner (or perhaps hostage) during what was called his "unsigned resignation", while the head of the coup is shown surrounded by corporate reporters.

I can't agree with comments I've read stating  this video lies every time, but some of the objections it raises are rather strange, such as pointing out that the film crew used old footage from when Chavez was initially campaigning.  The film I watched seemed to relay when that footage was shot, when the film crew arrived, and my impression was that the narration made clear the different periods being discussed and shown in the visuals.   Would it be reasonable to criticize this film and its makers based on the same criteria they use for "Revolution"?  Fallacy by opponents (like violence) doesn't justify reciprocity, other than as an illustration to show how rules that are not applicable uniformly tend to be inferior rules, at least if "understanding" is our goal.  It's like justifying violence by claiming: "He started it!" One wonders if the makers of "Radiografia de una mentira" (X-ray of a Lie) would or believe they should accept identical  "criticisms" as discounting their own claims?  If not, it is a hypocrisy they should correct.

Also, to which of the 4 points they are claiming to refute does this objection pertain?  None that I can tell.

To refute "Revolution" (original film) claims about media freedoms, for which evidence exists, "Radiographia" presents Chavez' "attitude".  Although his attitude seems admittedly (and plausibly, IMO) hostile to what he regards as mis-information, it has no relevance to whether his government allowed greater media freedom than past governments.  Yet, even this irrelevant fallacy is badly botched in "Radiographia": Chavez's statements (the "evidence") is spliced rapidly over and over with strange overlays and cuts to clips of people yelling "Assholes", "The people support their president!" giving the camera the finger, etc. in what appears to be a of ham-fisted effort at pontificating what Chavez is REALLY saying.

"Radiographia" claims "Chavez began attacking the media since his first day in office. His violent speeches promoted growing hostility within his supporters against journalists and photographers."  This is probably true.  Unfortunately, whether or not the hostility was justified on the part of the majority of the country, based on systemic criminality by elites (including private media) must be addressed and refuted for this objection to have merit.  Because that issue is not addressed, the objection cannot be held very seriously, even if it were relevant to one of the points under discussion.

The evidence presented of hostility against the media consisted of one anouncer being shoved and one man apparently throwing something too small to be picked up on this video toward a camera.  This is described as "attacking the media" with "violence and aggression running rampant".  This seems doubtful, especially when we see the single, would be thrower swarmed instantly and he appears to be the one in the most immediate danger.  The announcer is being backed up by soldiers in full combat gear, the supposed "violent" Chavez supporter appears to be single guy in a t-shirt who doesn't look like he comes from money.

In Radiographia, Thaelman Urgelles accuses the Revolution of omitting "who started the aggressions against whom", which is a criticism we expect of a four year old, but by seven, the child really ought to know that an objectively minded parent is not going to take that seriously. 

An astounding claim is made that Chavez' election was "supported by almost all the Venezuelan population", "and all Venezuelan sectors, including the media", based on his promise to "produce changes in this country".  I would appreciate the opportunity to ask Mr. Urgelles what examples he could provide of rich elites in any country or society in the history of our species who supported handing over leadership of that society to someone from outside the elites, promising reforms that would radically reduce the power and financial inequalities of the society, and reduce the relative advantage elites had previously enjoyed?  Such a claim is beyond the realm of believability.

Would Mr. Urgelles accept pre-election media clips in opposition to Chavez as evidence that this claim is inaccurate?  This would reveal whether his reasoning seeks ontological truth (accuracy in describing reality) or seeks to adherence to a faith-based ideology.  The level of criticism offered suggests the latter.

Helping rational people determine whether Chavez has committed crimes (I believe he almost certainly has) is pursued by presentation of rationally justified conclusions and supporting evidence in a coherent argument.  Passion and anger are no substitute for clear, insightful analysis.

"Radiografia" points out, undoubtedly correctly, yet  with computer enhanced video, that some Chavez supporters carried arms and stones, above.  Assuming this is true, it is relatively non-violent, given the illegal military coup which appears to have been underway.  As I understand it, the march for Chavez resignation was given government permits for peaceful protest and a march along a route proposed by organizers and the trouble began when some protest leaders directed the group to the presidential palace, which is also the residence, which would have been illegal.  Also dubious is their claimed motivation for suspension of rule of law and Chavez' resignation: that the national oil company had interfered in something - but no details or plausible narrative is presented. With organized strikes, questionable military loyalties and apparent unrest, it is hard to understand how those who are protecting the president from a mob deliberately and illegally deviating in a threatening manner can be reasonably regarded as primary aggressors, anyway.  Were/are there violent Chavez supporters? Certainly.  This does not allow those of us really interested in truth to ignore much greater violence, crimes, or even provocation by one side or another.

The film claims protesters were attacked by Chavez supporters, which is probably true - but the defense argument is ALWAYS invoked for aggression.  Why should viewers take seriously the implication that Chavez and his supporters are more aggressive than the protesters?   This question is especially salient when the description of events are more biased, with less balance, and the language used is consistently even more prejudicial than that of "Revolution".


Jon said...

I am Venezuelan, I am not rich nor any elite, understand English better than I write, I'm using google translator.

Let me tell you that it is sad to see how people abroad believe that things are in my country in a way that is not.

The documentary made ​​by the government is full of lies, such as the rich are against the government, I am not rich or middle class, and no government support. When I saw the documentary radiography happy because I thought I finally foreign people will know the reality of what happened, but it saddens me to read you this is not so.

I invite people from other countries who come to live in my country, but they live with us the people not to come to visit with the government as Sean Penn.

We are in an unsafe country, food is expensive, and if you arrive collect enough money to buy basic food, there are food shortages, because the government threatens every company, taking them off to the owners for allegedly producing them for the people but the reality is that all private food producers have led the government to bankruptcy when they have appropriated.

Well could last three days telling you what is happening in my country, but still you still think the same way.

John C. 'Buck' Field said...

Hello Jon,

Thanks for writing.

It may surprise you that I am very interested in thinking differently about almost anything, except the idea that I'm capable of reasoning and understanding.

We learn by gaining information, which sometimes comes at the cost of our previous ideas being wrong. I would love to learn my opinion is wrong, but I need evidence.

One thing that makes an opinion less credible is when a claimed someone "always does a bad thing" or "never does a bad thing".

I don't think the rich are against government itself, I think they're generally against anything that might prevent them from accumulating greater wealth.

The historical evidence on that seems clear, but the blog is mostly about evidence in the films.

I would be very interested to learn your views of what is going on in your country, especially since you went to the trouble of addressing me in English. Thank you for that.

Please feel free to reply in Spanish if you would like to help me better understand your concerns, and if you like, I will reply en Espanol.