Prosecutor General Asks Court to Ban Crime

Censor? Moi?!

Censor? Moi?!

Well, not crime-crime…but reporting on crime.

Yup, Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Diaz is asking a Caracas judge to issue an order barring El Universal from writing about crime. But not just crime, also war. And death. And physical aggression. In general. Because children.

As worded, the order requested would ban El Universal from covering maybe 50% of the hard news you see in any given paper anywhere in the world on any given day. It asks the judge to ban the paper from publishing:

…imágenes, informaciones y publicidad de cualquier tipo, con contenido de sangre, armas, mensajes de terror, agresión física, imágenes que utilicen contenidos de guerra y mensajes sobre muerte y decesos que puedan alterar el bienestar psicológico de los niños.

Because as experts have long known, living in one of the most violent countries in the world is a-ok for kids. But reading about a violent act in the back pages of a stuffy Caracas broadsheet can shatter the delicate, petal-like sensibilities of kids growing up in La Bombilla de Petare.

38 thoughts on “Prosecutor General Asks Court to Ban Crime

  1. What’s with El Nacional, then? One envisages El Universal articles with the legend, “further details of this event can be seen on P.6 of today’s El Nacional”.

  2. One key partisan provision– if the crime can be blamed (true or not) on the opposition then all newspapers must devote at least 50% of the front page to the horrible incident along with a standard statement from Maduro showing that he is addressing the problem.

    Newpapers will not self-censor even more.

  3. To be clear, this all stems from the photo a few weeks ago of blood all over a floor and a dead person’s arm sticking into the frame. It was tasteful death porn, but it was death porn. I don’t think the government has any responsibility to censor or hound the press, obviously. But the lack of death porn is one of the few good things about the Venezuelan press, compared to its regional peers. I can understand the concern, even if this is a ridiculous way to go about expressing it.

    • I’d rather be informed and put up with some death porn that I can avoid, than be free of death porn but not be informed, or find that, when I want to be informed, I won’t be able to do so. In short, I prefer freedom to comfort.

      • It’s the fact that they went to such ridiculous lengths for “death porn” that makes me sure they were looking for a cop out, an excuse to seem legitimate. They would of tried to censor violence eventually, just like everything else.

    • Come on, sapito, this is not the expression of concern. (And even if it were, it would be all kinds of immoral to focus your powers on a disconcerting violent image instead of the violence itself.) The context — increasing crime/violence, decreasing transparency, violence as a political tool — is important to assigning motive, no?

  4. So if the Chavistas in the National Assembly beat up the Opposition members, would that be “aggression fisica”? And if they beat someone to death, would that be “death porn”? Because, reading their order, it isn’t just images which would be banned. Information “de cualquier tipo” would be unlawful to publish.

    I’d say it stems from their need to be a totalitarian dictatorship, not from some bloody photo. The photo is the PRETEXT.

  5. It’s just a continuation of their new “no see úm” campaign.
    No inflation rates, no exchange rates & no news.

    Therefore it doesn’t exist.

    Brilliant plan!

  6. 1. If crime dropped by 30%, would such newspapers reduce their coverage by 30%?

    2. What is an acceptable amount of coverage to give to an everyday phenomenon?

    3. Does crime reporting benefit the audience in any way? Can it affect the audience negatively?

    • 1. Who cares? If you do not like to read about crime in the papers don’t buy it. In the other hand, someone might have a thing for reading about crime. What is your problem with that?

      2. Dont know. Neither do you or any bureaucrat. The acceptable amount of coverage will be determined by the aggregate preferences of the newspaper’s consumers. Not some random person who wakes up and says: “10% sounds about right” (by the way the law would prohibit even 1% of it so your question is irrelevant).

      3. Does “The Kardashians” benefit the audience in any way? Other than entertainment I doubt it. Can it affect the audience negatively? Possibly. I say we ban that show too.

        • Voting with their VEF. If you think your newspaper has too much gore, you buy another paper. If you think your newspaper is going soft and hiding crime from you, you also buy another paper.

          Papers have their target audience:

          People who like financial news buy El Mundo
          People who like sport news buy Lider or Meridiano
          People who like news colloquial, buy Ultimas Noticias, 2001, El Propio
          People who like their news not colloquial, buy El Nacional (supposed to be the intellectual paper) or El Universal.
          People who like their news Chavista, buy Las Verdades de Miguel, Correo del Orinoco, etc.
          There’s also La Voz, El Nuevo País, Tal Cual, etc.

            • Tovarich Dzerzhinsky, calling tovarich Dzerzhinsky, we have a situation in the Cheka’s basement. Our current torturee is in dire need of being reminded your “top 10 list of reasons why people buy newspapers”, but we’ve run out of copies.

            • Not in the top 10 reasons????
              How many reasons can there even be to buy newspapers?
              The main sections in any general purpose newspaper include: Politics, Entertainment, Economy, Social Events, Sports, Opinion, Obituaries, Classified Ads and Crime.

              And even if that person had 10 more important topics to read in the paper than crime, if the coverage were disgusting, ridiculous or unnerving, that person can turn to a competing newspaper that conforms to those 10 reasons and whose crime coverage better suits that person.

            • Yoyo,

              You seems to be saying that crime is not news worthy. That’s a valid opinion. The reason is because it is very common, right? Does weather deserves coverage? The sun comes out rather frequently.

              Do you even know how many pages of a news paper are dedicated to crime? How about to sports?

              Truth is, if there is a crime in my area, I want to know what happened and that the authorities are working on it.

              • Rodrigo, can you confirm you got the csv file with the CNE data? I want to be sure I am not sending it to someone pretending to be you.

    • 1. No. If crime in Venezuela dropped by 30%, Venezuela would still be an extremely violent country. Reporting on violent crime should remain a top priority, even if it were reduced by 30%.

      2. If violent crime is so common in a society you consider it “an everyday phenomenon” for an average person, the answer is 100%. Extra editions dedicated to particularily bad instances are entirely justified and even welcome.

      3. Certainly. It keeps one of the critical problems of the society in spotlight, contrasting it with other, more successful societies. It makes sure everyone knows violent crime is a problem that needs to be taken care of, even if some considerit an everyday, even mundane phenomenon. Whatever negative effect this could have pales in comparison to the alternative which is accepting violence in society as a nuisance, not as a vitally important issue to be dealt with.

      • I understand that you value crime reporting as a political propaganda tool, but there is no line between acceptable and unacceptable crime rates. We have to look at this in different shades of grey.

        • Anyone but a troglodyte or a Chavista (basically the same) knows that when a government allows the murder rate to increase more than 100%, that government is a complete mess. The murder rat has more than tripled since Chavismo is in power, from 19 murders per 100 000. That’s unique in South America.

        • Venezuela is not at war (the real one, with guns, bombs, tanks, etc) with any foreign country. (Like Iraq was)

          Venezuela is not in an armed civil war. There’s no rebel group attacking government military bases to seize control of the country or secede from the nation (Like Syria, Colombia)

          Venezuela isn’t government-less like Somalia.

          We don’t even have institutionalized gangs like Mara Salvatrucha in Central America.

          So why are is our violent death rate so high if there are no external or extreme factors? It can only be government incompetence to deal with regular crime and parliamentary negligence. All they had to do is build prisons, catch criminals, approve a reasonable budget for the judiciary to guarantee enough judges, and sanction laws that made it easier to fight crime.

          It would have also helped if they had made sure every kid in Venezuela had a math teacher in high school (currently not the case), if minimum wage in Venezuela (USD 67/ month) weren’t so close to the international poverty line (USD 2/day), and people could save money to better their conditions.

        • 1. Say an opposition member goes to your humble abode (your house),steals the computer you are using to express these bizarre questions you are asking, and it hits el Universal’s front page. Assuming you are the rightful owner of said computer, it is fact, not propaganda, that an opposition member committed a crime against you.

          2. Say you’re doing some errands near El Silencio in Caracas and you get shot and mugged, and it ends up in crime statistics, and thus cited as evidence of rampant crime in El Universal’s front page. it is a fact, not propaganda. What shade of information would you prefer?

          3. An informed electorate is the number one public enemy of the Venezuelan Government.
          Solution 1: Media Hegemony.
          Solution 2: Wield the power of air wave frequencies to market this idea to the masses :
          Negative Facts = instability/propaganda/lies/deceit.
          Solution 3. Don’t worry about it.

          You won!

        • The crime in Venezuela got so bad under Chavizmo that reporting on crime can no longer be considered propaganda, no matter how it is exploited. You could easily attribute tens of thousands of deaths to Chavez and Maduro and it wouldn’t amount to propaganda.

          I agree with the different shades of grey in general, but Venezuela is a pretty solid case of pitch black.

    • 3. Does crime reporting benefit the audience in any way? Can it affect the audience negatively?
      Crime reporting affects the government negatively. By virtue of laws which define criminal acts and which state legal consequences for criminal acts, government is responsible for dealing with crime, The more than tripling of the murder rate under Chavismo shows that government is not competently dealing with crime. It is a no-brainer to see why the government would not want news published about its incompetence in dealing with crime. Publishing news about crime hurts the government by exposing its incompetence.

  7. The spread and growth of crime is reportable news , nothing unlawful about that , whatever its political consequences , what should be avoided are images that are overly morbid ( everyone criticizes those) . The language of the fiscal is overly broad and lends itself to abusive interpretation , thats a different problem , but crime reporting is part of the normal fare in any newspaper. both here and anywhere else. and should not be considered restricted .

  8. It is the responsibility of all governments to provide domestic safety for its citizens. Period. The Venezuelan Government is so inept it is incapable or unwilling to do so. Just as it is failing to control health issues, such as the extreme rise in malaria cases. It simply does not care about the well being of its population. Of course they don’t want anything published that sheds light on its miserable failures.

  9. Given all the bad news and their detrimental psychological effect on the population at large shouldn’t they just ban newspapers outright?

    Orwelianismo meets joe camel…..

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