Friday, May 05, 2006

On courage

If you have been following the news just a little bit, you must be aware of this new variation of the Goliath vs. David story: George Bush getting roasted by Stephen Colbert at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.
Predictably, people's reaction to this depends greatly on their political persuasion: as Sheldon Alberts wrote in the National Post
While conservatives reacted with can't-take-a-joke outrage, liberal bloggers have spent the week hailing Mr. Colbert as the second coming of Mark Twain. In their eyes, he proved his mettle as a fearless truth teller who refused to tone down his act to please Mr. Bush or the media lapdogs who hired him for the gig.

Furthermore, the latter hailed Colbert as a national hero, for his great feat of valour:
"How refreshing to hear the truth and hear it straight. Colbert deserves a medal for distinguished service and bravery in the face of the 'enemy,' "Carolyn Jacobson wrote in a letter to the online edition of Editor & Publisher.


I don't want to get into an argument whether Colbert did break the rules or whether his act was funny - rules are meant to be skirted and everyone's entitled to his/her tastes. What caught my attention and sparked a protracted thread at the Bloviator was
the idea that what Colbert did was somehow 'brave' and 'corageous'.
No one would deny that it requires a certain type of personality, more outspoken I'd say, and yes, some guts to do what Cobert did. But to me, in order to call one corageous the bar is set much higher than that. Yes, Colbert might've been heckled by some Republicans in the audience but really what else was at stake? He knew perfectly well that nothing would happen to him and to his family. He wouldn't languish in jail or get executed and if anything his speech has only made him more famous and therefore solidified his position in the show-biz.
I, on the other hand, am familiar with examples when people paid dearly for speaking out. In 1968, a handful of young people staged a protest on the Red Square against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. One of them, Larissa Bogoraz "was arrested, tried and sentenced to four years of exile in Siberia, which she spent in a woodworking plant." - that's what I call COURAGE.
The Soviet Union is gone but there are still parts of the world where 'speaking out' can result in similar consequences. Liberals are all committed internationalists but their thinking is often ethnocentric, which is highly ironic, I think.

5 Comments:

At 8:25 AM, Blogger A. Shah said...

By your definition of courage there's virtually no way a person can exhibit this trait in . It doesn't take courage to risk public ridicule and humiliation, to say things to the world's most powerful people they never want to hear, and yes to possibly lose your job because you're being too honest. Colbert wasn't certain how his routine would be received.

Seriously Ilya I think you're searching for any reason to dump on those 'nasty liberals' yet again. Funny you don't address a single point Colbert made, or the reactions of the Bush administration- as always your only concern is to dump on the 'elitist left' yet again, it's pretty revealing.

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger Oleksa said...

possibly lose your job because you're being too honest.

Really? Do you seriously believe that was ever at stake. If anything, he might've lost his job by being too soft on Bush, I think.


Seriously Ilya I think you're searching for any reason to dump on those 'nasty liberals' yet again.

Then, tell me how can I prove to you or anyone that it wasn't not my intention? It's quite easy to dismiss what I'm saying by implying some ulterior motive.


By your definition of courage there's virtually no way a person can exhibit this trait in .

Yes, that's precisely my point. It doesn't take to be courageous to deliver such a speech in the US coz America is a free country. And that's how it should be - 'speaking out' should not be an act of utmost courage. Unfortunately, this is not the case around the world. In many corners courage is what it takes for someone to say what Colbert said.
You may say that it doesn't apply, which is true to some extent but I'm a firm believer in the universality of human rights, including that of freedom of speech so I can't help but look at it from a 'worldy' perspective.


Funny you don't address a single point Colbert made, or the reactions of the Bush administration

I did mention elsewhere that I hadn't found his act terribly funny but again, it was my and only my perception and others are entitled to hold Colbert's speech in much higher regard.
As to the Bush administration reaction, what do you want me to take notice of? They must've gotten upset, I wouldn't be suprised for a second but beside that, what else?

 
At 8:06 PM, Blogger A. Shah said...

Really?

Yes, ripping into the US prez in front of his face has consequences. He must have been wondering how it would be received and if it would affect his career IMO.



Then, tell me how can I prove to you or anyone that it wasn't not my intention?

You can't haha. I know you have a fixation on criticizing 'liberals' at the expense of almost everything else.


, that's precisely my point. It doesn't take to be courageous to deliver such a speech in the US coz America is a free country. And that's how it should be - 'speaking out' should not be an act of utmost courage.

LOL. Why did you add 'utmost' there? You're playing semantic games and getting philosophical when it suits your agenda.


On that last issue the point I was trying to make was that Colbert's act was so biting because he has so much to crticize. You avoided talking about any of the critical points he was making through his humour.

 
At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Grokodile said...

You may eventually find that some people take politics very seriously.

The president is damned near a demigod in the eyes of some. I would imagine that there are many people that would be only to happy to do "minor acts" in a bureaucratic sense, such as denying a loan, giving a ticket, searching at the airport, or whatever.

Heck, let's see him land a contract at a conservative media outlet any time in the near future.

It does take some level of bravery to take on the powerful or the establishment.

Try it some time. Get really outspoken about something and see if you don't get some "haters" that will take things too far.

Anyway, don't mistake this as criticism, but just realize that there are a lot of irrational people that don't think about things very deeply...

 
At 1:56 AM, Blogger Oleksa said...

The president is damned near a demigod in the eyes of some.

I'm certainly not one of them so I don't really know....


Heck, let's see him land a contract at a conservative media outlet any time in the near future.

He's doing quite well regardless. Why would he even think about it in the first place?


It does take some level of bravery to take on the powerful or the establishment.

Agreed. It's just my point that it wasn't the case this time. I tried to explain as to why I think so. You may find my reasons not sufficiently valid, which is ok but at least I'd be delighted to realize that you know what they are.

 

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