A Facebook debate about Hugo Chavez...
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez recently gloated that the San Francisco Giants "beat Bush’s team!" As a Yankees fan, I was rooting for the Giants, but as a plain old yankee, Chavez can go fuck himself with a shard of glass.
I didn't realize he's a dictator.
Leaders who brutally suppress political dissenters, rig elections, and forcefully strip private enterprise of its basic rights can usually be referred to as "dictators".
Do you live in Venezuela?
No. But you didn't answer the question.
Yes I did, albeit through implication. I also think I know where you're going with this point, although for the sake of my ability to respect the soundness of your point-of-view, I hope I'm wrong.
You do not live in Venezuela. I do not live in Venezuela. We do not know what happens in Venezuela. We do know what our media and our government say happens in Venezuela. But that is not knowledge. I do not pass judgements on things of which I have no knowledge.
Jake, for anyone to claim that you shouldn't criticize a foreign country simply because you haven't physically been there is absurd. We criticize Afghanistan for its abhorrent treatment of women, Russia for its suppression of free speech, Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians, Iran for its mistreatment of Jews, Sudan for its allowance of genocide, and America for its actions in Iraq, even though we haven't actually been to any of those places. Unless you are going to limit debate on international relations to people who have actually set foot in all of those countries (which would essentially restrict it to foreign service employees and the superwealthy), the reality is that at some point, 99.9% of the population is going to have to base their conclusions on what they read from third-party sources rather than from first-hand experience.
Of course, the people who support and/or apologize for Chavez using your argument don't really believe what they say about needing to be there. If they did, they would be incapable of having an opinion on virtually any political subject, domestic as well as international. At the very least, I know this is not the case with you, as you have expressed plenty of opinions to me before on matters about which you have no first-hand experiential knowledge.
From there, though, Chavez apologists usually rely on an expression of criticism for the media sources that report the anti-Chavez news. But why exactly is it that they assume that THEIR media sources of choice are somehow more reliable? Is it because they have some solid basis for knowing that the people who aren't as critical of Chavez are somehow more credible than the ones who are?
No, sadly, the reason is that they just assume that their media sources of choice are more dependable because... well, because they're expressing the point-of-view with which they are already inclined to agree. Essentially they commit the logical fallacy known as "begging the question" - i.e., they think that X is already true, and since Y is saying X while Z is not saying X, Y is a more reliable source... and therefore the fact that Y says X is true is proof that X is true. It's an argumentative structure that simply doesn't hold up.
What it comes down to is that Chavez defenders usually have one of two motivations:
1) They agree with his radical left-wing economic agenda and thus turn a blind eye to his flagrant violations of human rights.
2) They agree with his hatred of George W. Bush and thus turn a blind eye to his flagrant violations of human rights.
Of course, the problem with both motivations is obvious from the second half of each of those sentences.
I rest my case.