Ecce Veja: The Designated Blogger on Dantas’ Inferno

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Reinaldo “Mr. Hat” Azeredo Azevedo

DIOGENES: The things you must concentrate on are these: always be bold and reckless and jeer indiscriminately at everything, from kings on down. … Speak in a harsh, rough voice … In word, behave exactly like a wild beast. Forget about shame, propriety, moderation.

BUYER: Get away from me! Everything you’ve said is nauseating. It’s inhuman.

DIOGENES: But, listen. It’s so easy. Anyone can do it. No course of study required, no debates, no nonsense. My road is a short-cut to fame …

– Lucan, “Philosophies for Sale”

If anything characterizes our times, it is a sense of pervading chaos. In every field of human endeavor, the windstorms of change are fast altering the ways we live. Contemporary man is no longer anchored in certainties and thus has lost sight of who he is, where he comes from and where he is going. — The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, quoted in my Spinning the World Backwards.

Senior palace officials pressured the official state bank to sponsor events held by the Rede Vida and the Hallelujah Radio Network. It authorized the buying of monthly ads in Primeira Leitura magazine, a publication created by Mendonça de Barros, Minister of Communications under the Cardoso government who is talked about as an Alckmin economic adviser. Recently, Quest Investments, which belongs to Mendonça de Barros, was chosen to manage a new fund for Nossa Caixa. –Folha de S. Paulo, March 2006

Reinaldo Azevedo, the designated blogger of Veja magazine (Editora Abril, Brazil) recently suffered a stinging critique by journalist Luis Nassif, who has been publishing a series of case studies of the magazine that tend to suggest it is chronically, ahem, factually challenged.

Mostly on purpose, out of sheer gabbling contempt for getting the facts straight.

Which is true, in my observation, often enough that I don’t buy any Abril magazines.
See also

Azevedo responds with his characteristic crude, brainless red-baiting and long-winded, self-righteous whining about being a martyr to some sort of vast, murky and diabolical, eternal and world-historical scheme.

Gist: “Respect for factual accuracy is a Communist plot!”

Nassif is absolutely right: This is precisely the kind of claptrap we gringos have been hearing from the neocon culture warriors, with their sneering contempt for the “reality-based community’ — “the Iraqs will shower us with rose petals, as Alexander the Great was once greeted” — for over a decade now.

Filibustering while changing the subject — accused of crude, crass pumping and dumping for hire in a bid to influence business disputes and manipulate markets, they invoke, absurdly, the ghosts of Stalin and Trotsky — is the trademark of Veja‘s approach to public debate.

The epigraph to the man’s Web column is a (mild mis)transation of Dylan Thomas’ “In My Craft or Sullen Art.”

Se em meu ofício, ou arte severa,/ Vou labutando, na quietude/ Da noite, enquanto, à luz cantante/ De encapelada lua jazem/ Tantos amantes que entre os braços/ As próprias dores vão estreitando —/ Não é por pão, nem por ambição,/ Nem para em palcos de marfim/ Pavonear-me, trocando encantos,/ Mas pelo simples salário pago/ Pelo secreto coração deles. (Dylan Thomas – Tradução de Mário Faustino)

Whoever Mário Faustino is, in translating the poem, he has converted a simple declarative statement into a conditional — “(protasis=) If in my profession or severe art, I work in the still of the night … (apodosis=) it is not for bread or amibition …” — and manages to take a moon that “rages” (active verb) and make it merely “swollen” (adjective). Like it had a toothache or gout or something.

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labor by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

“We are not mercenaries, we are honest, competent working journalists”: Mainardi and Azevedo hit this note often. There is ample evidence to the contrary, but when confronted with it, Veja‘s rumor-mongers tend to resort to empty ethos arguments.

The ethos appeal attempts to persuade by calling attention to the writer’s/speaker’s character. It says in effect: “I’m a great guy so you should believe what I’m telling you.” Ethos does not concern the veracity of the argument, only its appeal.

The volume of nonexistent factoids they promote without factual foundation of any kind tends to suggest that neither honesty, or competence, or both, are part of their job descriptions, however.

The principal rhetorical tactic used in Azevedo’s contribution to this debate is the “straw man” argument: He characterizes the positions of his opponents (whom he does not even mention by name) without citing their words as evidence that their arguments and positions are what he claims they are.

I tend to think of the gambit as “ventriloquism.” Ali Kamelism (Globo) resorts to this device a lot, too.

A nossa moral e a deles

“Our Morality and Theirs”

No livro Moral e Revolução, de Trotsky, o mais inteligente da geração que fez a revolução soviética, há um texto terrível chamado A Nossa Moral e A Deles. Poucas vezes li algo tão diabolicamente justificador do crime como o que vai ali. Trotsky, com efeito, era o mais brilhante da turma, mas esse libelo elimina qualquer suspeita de que o socialismo teria tomado outro rumo se ele tivesse vencido a parada contra Stálin. Talvez tivesse sido ainda pior. Ele era inegavelmente um intelectual. E os intelectuais costumam matar com mais facilidade do que os brutos, já que são capazes de encontrar motivos mais nobres. No texto, Trotsky deixa claro que os revolucionários têm licenças que aos outros são vedadas porque, afinal, são donos da chave do futuro. Se estão na vanguarda da humanidade, os critérios com que são medidos e medem-se a si mesmos não são os mesmos dos homens comuns. Se vocês notarem, esse é o fundo regressivo, humanamente regressivo, da militância esquerdista de qualquer corrente. Eles estão certos de que a “nossa (deles) moral” é superior à moral não-revolucionária.

In the book Morals and Revolution, by Trotsky, the most intelligent man of the generation that made the Soviet revolution, there is a terrible article called “Their Morals and Ours.” Not often have I read so diabolical a justification of crime as the one you find there. Trotsky, basically, was the most brilliant of the bunch, but this little book lays to rest any doubt that socialism would have taken another path had he won his fight with Stalin. It might even been even worse. He was undeniably an intellectual.

Not having read any Trotsky, I will have to take Azevedo’s word for it — that he has read Trotsky, I mean, beyond merely Googling up the title.

Assim, tomo emprestado, para este artigo, o título do livro, submetendo seu sentido a uma torção. Eu também acho que a “nossa moral” é diferente da “moral deles”. Só que não falo do ponto de vista ou de um procurador intelectual ou afetivo de revoluções ou mesmo de alguém que se quer revolucionário — ainda que um revolucionário nos dias de hoje. Ao contrário: estou no pólo da conservação de alguns valores que vejo sob especulação. Em muitos sentidos, sou mesmo um “reacionário”: reajo a práticas que, sob o pretexto de fazer avançar a história, lustram teses autoritárias, com um horizonte de clara desmoralização da democracia.

Thus, I take a loan, for this article, of the book’s title, subjecting its meaning to a twist. I also think that “our morals” are different than “their morals.” Only I am not speaking from the point of view of an intellectual or emotional seeker of revolutions or even as someone who wants to be a revolutionary — much less a revolutionary in these times of ours today. On the contrary: I believe in conserving some values that I see subject to speculation. In many ways, I really am a “reactionary”: I react to practices which, under the pretext of making history move forward, flirt with authoritarian theories, with clear potential for undermining democracy.

Por que essa longa introdução? Tratei, nestes dois dias, da demissão de dois blogueiros de um portal. Um foi saído; outro pediu para sair em solidariedade. Dispensei-lhes certa ironia, sim. E houve quem visse pouco decoro, uma vez que, segundo certo clichê zoológico, não se deve “chutar cachorro morto”. Há um erro aí ao menos: não estão mortos. Mais: alegaram alguns que eu estava saudando a demissão de ambos, como quem vibra com a desdita alheia. Tranqüilizo os que se preocuparam sinceramente com a bonomia de minha’alma. Mudando de bicho, estamos falando de macacos velhos; conduziram de tal sorte suas respectivas carreiras, que jamais há de lhes faltar a merenda. Assim, não escarneço da miséria de ninguém.

Why this long introduction?

I was asking myself the same thing. I am already bored. I am one of those readers who demands the gist of the thing up front, inverted-pyramid style.

I have been writing over the last two days about the resignation of two bloggers from a Web portal.

More concretely: Paulo Henrique Amorim, currently employed as a TV Record talking head and interviewer — we watched his interview the other night with the federal policeman who caught “the mastermind of the Fortaleza Central Bank heist,” a fairly competent example of journalism of that kind — while writing the cheefully partisan and sensationally overwrought Conversa Afiada — the man does not like the governor of São Paulo or Toucans in general — had his Web column canceled abruptly by the iG Web portal.

Mino Carta of CartaCapital cancelled his own iG Web column in solidarity. They worked together back in the day, I was just reading. (Say what you like about Notícias do Planalto, it is a rare Brazilian book with a decent subject and name index. To make up for the complete lack of sourcing, I suppose.)

More on that tempest in a fairly insignificant teapot later.

One was kicked out and the other quit in solidarity. I bid them farewell with a certain degree of irony, yes. And there were those who thought this rather indecorous, given that according to a certain zoological commonplace, one ought no to “beat a dead horse.” But this is a mistake, first of all, because the two of them are not really dead. Secondly, some have accused me of welcoming the departure of both of them, like someone who takes pleasure in the misfortunes of others. I would like to reassure those who sincerely worry about the fate of my eternal soul. Changing animal metaphors now, what we are talking about is a couple of “old monkeys”; they have managed their respective careers well enough that neither of them is going to starve to death. Thus, I am not making fun of anyone’s misfortune.

Outros ainda disseram — e nem é a primeira vez — que eu estava feliz porque seria o avesso dessas duas figuras; seria como eles, só que com o sinal ideológico invertido. Errado. Há a nossa moral — minha e das pessoas com quem comungo pontos de vista — e a deles. Um dos demitidos, notório criador de teorias conspiratórios, vinha fazendo, nos últimos tempos, nada menos do que a apologia da censura à imprensa. Atuou de forma vil, mesquinha, asquerosa, para demonizar uma jornalista — Elvira Lobato, da Folha — e o jornal porque ambos, vejam que coisa!, nada mais fizeram do que cumprir o seu papel de bem-informar. Deu endosso a uma chicana jurídica conduzida por um grupo empresarial-religioso, atuando como obreiro do obscurantismo.

Others even said — and not for the first time — that I was happy because I was the polar opposite of these two figures; that I was just like them, only operating on the opposite ideological wavelength. Wrong. There is our morality — mine and the morality of those whose point of view I share — and there is their morality.

The question of morality is a red herring. The main signal-to-noise measure we at the NMM-Tabajara Search for Intelligence Lusophone Life use is actually more epistemological in nature.

These people are prone to saying things like, “We have no reason to believe this ‘dossier’ is anything but a gabbling forgery and lie. Nevertheless, we choose to believe that it is true. That is our God-given freedom of opinion!”

Quack.

Imagine your aircraft maintenance mechanic insisting on taking the same God-given liberties with the laws of physics.

And shudder. Or the weather lady deciding that rain is sunshine and sunshine, rain, just because it is better somehow to believe so. Watch her pointing to rain-pregnant clouds over the sertão as your crops wither in the blast furnace of the seca, and try to convince yourself that your eyes are lyinng to you and your TV isn’t. 

One of the quitters, a notorious cooker-up of conspiracy theories, has lately been advocating nothing less than censorship of the press. He acted in a vile, mean, revolting fashion to demonize a journalist — Elvira Lobato of the Folha — and her employer because both — just imagine! — did nothing more than fulfill their duty of informing the public. He endorsed the legal chicanery conducted by a religiously-controlled business group, acting as an agent of obscurantism.

He must be referring to Amorim here.

Amorim works for Record, which is owned by the Aimee Semple MacPherson-descended televangelist church of Bishop Macedo (whom Amorimm recently interviewed on Record about some legal troubles he had during the 1990s).

Which does make him liable to questions about potential conflicts of interest, it must be admitted. (Amorim does not interest me much, but I will translate his column on the dismissal for the record later, pra inglês ver.)

Amorim also brought criminal libel charges against Veja columnist Mainardi. Which did sort of seem like a silly and publicity-seeking thing to do.

Lobato has been the subject of SLAPP-like suits from the Universal Church (which owns the Record network) over her reporting on the structure and nature of its business dealings. I will try to translate some of that reporting.

CartaCapital recently ran a cover package on the dispute. A pretty balanced and informative one, I thought. I learned stuff, at any rate. Stuff that I did not have to boil to much before consuming.

CC’s informal reader survey tended to run in favor of the (apparently quite competent, reputable and reasonably fair-minded and public-spirited) journalist — who has made the subject of media concentration a specialty of hers over the years, and probably cannot be credibly accused of selective condemnation in this respect — and against the TV- and radio-owning duopoloist bishops and their pretensions to be the anti-Globo, reprising the Thirty Years’ War in the process (a challenge Globo is only too happy to take up. Reminds me of the sequel to the Incredible Army of Brancaleone, this dispute. Popes and antipopes.)

The allegedly slimy aspect was that individual church members may have been tacitly encouraged to file suit simultaneously in dozens and dozens of grotões — sparsely populated local jurisdictions all over Brazil. (Church leaders are cited denying they promoted or encouraged any such tactics as trying to swamp the Folha with thousands of little nuisance suits.)

Factoid: Brazil’s Supreme Court, I read recently, ruled on 150,000 cases last year. What is Portuguese for “certiorari denied”? You can say what you like about Dubya’s tort reform bill, but if anyone actually needs tort reform, it is probably these poor Brazilians.

O outro, de hábito aspirante eterno a Dom Giovanni de si mesmo, nesse caso de Elvira e da Folha, atuou como Leporello, exaltando as travessuras imorais do companheiro. Calma lá! Existem a minha — a nossa — moral e a deles. Não estou, e não estamos, numa guerra santa — e bilionária!!! — contra este ou aquele grupos empresariais. Não saberia distinguir Daniel Dantas de um entregador de pizza se nenhum deles estivesse vestido a caráter. Critiquei, desde o primeiro dia, como está nos arquivos, a operação Brasil Telecom-Oi. Por uma questão de princípio. E das trevas vieram os ecos: “Reinaldo é só a voz de Fulano de Tal, a serviço de Sicrano”. Dois dias depois, os que antes me atacaram falavam também contra a operação. Então estávamos juntos?

The other, an eternal aspirant to … [some kind of Gongoristic literary allusion that is lost on me], in the case of Elvira of the Folha, acted like Leporello, celebrating the immoral trespasses of his comrade.

Yada yada yada.

Calm down a minute! There is my — our — morality and there is their morality. I am not, and we are not, engaged in a holy — and billion-dollar!!! — war against this or that business group. I would not know Daniel Dantas from a pizza delivery man if either of them was not dressed in character.

Us vs. Them.

And They are part of a vast global and transhistorical Communist conspiracy. Ecce Veja.

Mr. Nassif has pointed out that Veja‘s attitude toward Dantas changed suddenly and radically from sharp disapproval to qualified support (involving an amazing amount of extreme logic-chopping), including a coverline and headline on an interview with the man, in the infamous “dossier” issue of May 2006, stating that “he could bring down the government if he told everything he knows.”

Azevedo does not address the substance of those allegations or attempt to rebut Mr. Nassif’s interpretation of the black-letter facts — Veja, I can testify, actually did publish the claptrap Mr. Nassif quotes them at length, verbatim, as having published — used to support them.

He merely changes the subject while filibustering.

I have criticized, since the first day, as is reflected in the archives, the BrT-OI deal.

The two are in merger talks over a deal that would require changing the rules on telecom ownership to get done.

If you want to know more about the practical details of the proposed deal, and the public debate over it — would such a deal improve the lot of the suffering Brazilian cellphone user, who pays rates only a First World investment banker could afford for a banana-republican level of service, notoriously? — Veja is not the place to read about it.

And from the outer darkness came the echoes: “Reinaldo is nothing more than the mouthpiece of So-and-So, in the service of So-and-So.” Two days later, those who once attacked me were also speaking out against the deal. So were we in cahoots?

From out of the trevas.

Connotations of a murky underworld of unspeakable deeds, done dirt cheap. [Cue spooky theremin music, fade in to Scully and Mulder.]

Jamais!!! Conheço “a dor e a delícia” de pensar o que penso. Antes de escrever, não pergunto se Daniel Dantas vai ganhar ou perder. Ele não é referência das minhas opiniões. E a razão é simples: SE EU ME OBRIGAR A ESCREVER PARA QUE ELE PERCA, ENTÃO É DE SE SUPOR QUE ESCREVO PARA QUE ALGUÉM GANHE. Ser pau mandado de Dantas é, com efeito, coisa muito feia. E SER PAU MANDADO DOS INIMIGOS DE DANTAS? ISSO, POR ACASO, É BONITO? Eu vivo do que me paga a Editora Abril, como pode verificar a Receita Federal. Não sou um Francenildo em particular porque, hoje em dia, somos todos Francenildos no geral, como vocês bem sabem. Infelizmente, ainda renegocio e pago dívidas de quando tive revista: dívida de pessoa privada com empresa privada. Não dividi com o distinto público o peso das minhas escolhas.

Never!!! I know full well “the agony and the ecstasy” of thinking what I think. Before I write, I do not ask whether Daniel Dantas is going to win or lose. He is not the touchstone of my opinions. And the reason is a simple one: IF I MAKE MYSELF WRITE TO MAKE HIM LOSE, THEN IT IS TO BE SUPPOSED THAT I AM WRITING TO MAKE SOMEONE ELSE WIN. I agree: being Dantas’ stooge really is an ugly thing. AND BEING THE STOOGE OF HIS ENEMIES? IS THAT, PERCHANCE, A GOOD THING? I live on what the Editora Abril pays me, as the federal tax authority can verify. I am not some Francenildo in particular because, nowadays, we are all Francenildos in general, as you well know.

Azevedo treats the business dispute in question as a zero-sum game.

There are two, and only two, sides to every issue.

Typical Veja Manichaeanism.

But what about looking at the business case as analogous to the France x Italy 2006 World Cup final?

Our team (Brazil: I have yet to face the agonizing moment when our Soccer Mom Generation is ready to mount a credible challenge to the boys with samba nas pernas) had already been knocked out by the perfidious French — zut! — so we were not really rooting for anyone in the final.

Or I was not, anyway. My wife, the descendant of Neapolitans, had a slight pro-Italy bias, I thought I detected. I personally just don’t get either the French or the Italians very well, so I was just hoping for an exciting match.

Even so, the incident with the racial slur by the Italian player and the Zidane head butt wound up inclining our sympathies to the Algerian Stallion — good player, that guy — to a degree.

Those Italians definitely were not playing the jogo bonito that day.

Francenildo was the houseman of the minister of the Treasury, Palocci (recently named to sponsor the tax reform bill working its way through Congress with all the deliberate speed of an indigestible hunk of paio working its way through your small intestine, I was reading.)

Allegedly, Palocci, suspecting that his houseman had been paid off to spy on him for his political enemies (was he?), abused his powers of office to have the houseman investigated by the federal cops.

Weird saga. Hard to know what it is really all about because 90% of the coverage has been gibbering, rumor-mongering bullshit. As usual.

Unfortunately, I am also renegotiating and repaying debts from my magazine: the debts of a private citizen with a private company.

Primeira Leitura is a martyr to the cause of free enterprise and the spirit of John Galt!

It is frequently celebrated as a martyr to a vast, sinister conspiracy by the gibbering TFP wingnuts at Mídia Sem Máscaras (Olavo de Carvalho).

In March 2006, the Folha de S. Paulo had reported:

O governo Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) direcionou recursos da Nossa Caixa para favorecer jornais, revistas e programas de rádio e televisão mantidos ou indicados por deputados da base aliada na Assembléia Legislativa.

São Paulo governor Alckmin (PSDB) directed money from Nossa Caixa [state credit union] to favor newspapers, magazines and radio and TV programs held or nominated by lawmakers from his partisan legislative base.

Wags have taken to referring to it as “Nossa Caixa 2.”

“Caixa 2” being the local lingo for off-the-books “slush funds.” Public money laundered and used for private benefit. No one party has a monopoly on the practice here, but cases like Belo Horizonte Baldy and Nossa Caixa do tend to leave you fairly slack-jawed.

Documentos obtidos pela Folha confirmam que o Palácio dos Bandeirantes interferiu para beneficiar com anúncios e patrocínios os deputados estaduais Wagner Salustiano (PSDB), Geraldo “Bispo Gê” Tenuta (PTB), Afanázio Jazadji (PFL), Vaz de Lima (PSDB) e Edson Ferrarini (PTB).

Documents obtained by the Folha confirm that the governor’s office interfered to benefit state lawmakers Salustiano, “Bishop G” Tenuta, Jazadji, Lima and Ferrarini.

A cúpula palaciana pressionou o banco oficial para patrocinar eventos da Rede Vida e da Rede Aleluia de Rádio. Autorizou a veiculação de anúncios mensais na revista “Primeira Leitura”, publicação criada por Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros, ministro das Comunicações no governo Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Ele é cotado para assessorar Alckmin na área econômica. Recentemente, a Quest Investimentos, empresa de Mendonça de Barros, foi escolhida para gerir um novo fundo da Nossa Caixa.

Senior palace officials pressured the official state bank to sponsor events held by the Rede Vida and the Hallelujah Radio Network. It authorized the buying of monthly ads in Primeira Leitura magazine, a publication created by Mendonça de Barros, Minister of Communications under the Cardoso government who is talked about as an Alckmin economic adviser. Recently, Quest Investments, which belongs to Mendonça de Barros, was chosen to manage a new fund for Nossa Caixa.

Some free, unfettered markets are freer of government interference (and Tammany Tiger-style patronage) than others.

Veja lost a civil libel suit last year over claims that a competitor (though one with a trivial market share, mind you, next to the allegedly mighty Veja, with its “four readers per copy” calculation) received the same sort of favorable treatment in return for supporting a competing political party. See

Part of the beef of Nassif with Veja is that it has also accused him repeatedly of benefiting from the same sort of political patronage. See

If you raise the possibility that these people have acted unethically, they will loudly raise the prospect that you have acted even more unethically.

“I am rubber and you are glue, everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

This is their strategy for responding to such criticisms. It is amazingly puerile.

I guess they stick with it because they think it’s working.

Eu lhes asseguro: muito melhor ser pau mandado das próprias convicções.

And I assure you: Better to be the mercenary agent of one’s own convictions.

Então não me venham com essa história. Sim, eles são lulistas; eu acho o lulismo uma mistificação no curto prazo e um desastre no médio e no longo. Mas isso não nos faz figuras opostas e correspondentes. Escrevo muito. Talvez seja hoje o jornalista que mais escreve — sim, estou falando em volume; os detratores podem continuar a lastimar a qualidade; há gosto pra tudo. Encontre-se um único texto meu em que flerto com qualquer forma de censura à imprensa. Não há. Muito pelo contrário. Adaptei Tocqueville para o jornalismo: “Os males da liberdade de imprensa se corrigem com mais liberdade de imprensa” (e voltarei a este ponto). Encontre-se um único texto meu em que justifico o esbulho das leis democraticamente pactuadas — e, pois, a justificação da transgressão do estado de direito. Também não há. Nem que fosse por distração.

So don’t give me that. Yes, they are all Lula supporters; I think Lulism is a mystification in the short term and a disaster in the middle and long term. But this does not make us contrary and corresponding figures. I write a lot.

Tell me about it.

Is the man’s head going to come to a point anytime soon?

I am perhaps the most prolific journalist around these days — yes, I am talking in terms of volume. My detractors can go on bewailing the quality [of what I write]. [De gustibus non disputandum.] Try to find a single article of mine in which I flirt with the idea of some form of press censorship. There aren’t any. On the contrary. I have adapted Tocqueville to journalism: “The evils of the freedom of the press are corrected by more freedom of the press” …

I have read Tocqueville. Toqueville was on my college curriculum. And you, sir, are no New World Lusophone Toqueville.

I tend to agree with that, in principle, however.

The devil, as always, is in the details.

Detail: Azevedo’s employer controls 100% of the print distribution market in São Paulo.

“All your newsstands are belong to Abril.”

It is astonishing, this situation. Astonishing to hear from the attack dogs of monopolists who owe their monopolies to political favors from the likes of Magalhães that their market dominance and zero-down spectrum concessions in perpetuity flow purely from the world-class excellence of their products.

Please.

I have actually consumed this dreck. Then gave it up for Lent.

Maggots in the oatmeal are not “joyful protein-enhancement energy chunklets,” no matter how hard the marketing department works to convince you otherwise.

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. –Toqueville

… (and I shall come back to this point.) Show me a single article of mine in which I justify ignoring the laws democratically agree upon — and consequently the violation of the democratic rule of law. There are none. Not even in a distracted state.

This is exactly what J.J. Rendón is always saying.

Political circles accuse J.J. Rendon of having been the architect of defamatory campaigns against presidential candidates Rafael Pardo Rueda (Liberal) and Carlos Gaviria (PDA). He denies these charges and says he always operates legally. In an interview with María Isabel Rueda, he said: “As long as it is not against the law, I have no scruples.

“Law is the highest form of morality.” Rather than the lowest common denominator of minimally tolerable social coexistence. Also a constant theme with these people. See

No one is suggesting that Azevedo lose the right to say what he wants to say. This is not a problem the man is likely to have. His employer controls the majority of the Brazilian magazine market (and is working on cornering the textbook publishing market).

If a five-star restaurant wants to serve its patrons shit on a shingle (military jargon for chipped beef on toast, amuch-reviled predecessor of the modern “meal, ready to eat,” or MRE), let it explain this peculiar business plan to the bank that lent it the money.

The attitude here seems to be that since the restaurant is the only one in town, its patrons will eat that shit on a shingle and call it caviar.

Which is about the size of it, you ask me.

I, for one, simply propose not to pay any attention to what the guy says — or money in order to have a printed hard copy on glossy paper of him saying it.

As a card-carrying member of the ancient order of the naked ape, I already have an extraordinary capacity for deluding myself.

I do not need to pay some else to do it for me. I would rather pay someone making a credible effort to help me stop deluding myself, to the extent I am capable of it.

Não ignoro que desperto a fúria de certos setores, e, quase sempre, é por ser, vejam que coisa, um legalista. Há também as reações iradas por dispensar a Lula o tratamento que merece um dos homens mais poderosos do Brasil — no caso, o tratamento de alguém que é muito crítico à figura. Outros o apreciam? Paciência. Alguns se divertiam e se divertem ainda ironizando o “intelectual” FHC? Eu me divirto ironizado o “apedeuta” Lula. Por que a ironia dirigida a um intelectual é moralmente superior à dirigida a quem não cansa de fazer a apologia da ignorância? Mas me desviei um tanto. Volto.

I am not ignorant of the fact that I awaken the fury of certain factions, and almost always this is because I am, imagine it! a legalist. There are also the enraged reaction to my failure to treat Lula with the deference due to one of the most powerful men in Brazil — in my case, someone who is very critical of the guy. Do others appreciate what I do? Patience. Do some enjoy and also enjoy making jokes about the “intellectual” Cardoso? I enjoy making jokes about the apedeuta Lula.

Apedeuta: stupid, inspid, idiotic, doltish, ignorant, unschooled.

President Squid is a high-school dropout.

Why is joking directed at an intellectual superior to joking about someone who never ceases apologizing for ignorance? But I digress. Returning to the point.

Yada yada yada.

Não me regozijei com a demissão deste ou daquele, como se fosse um Marco Aurélio Top Top Garcia e seu auxiliar fazendo gestos obscenos, comemorando uma notícia “positiva” em meio a uma tragédia. De jeito nenhum! Saudei, isto sim, um revés momentâneo de uma CONCEPÇÃO de jornalismo que defende a censura, a chicana, que não se envergonha de ser “parte” em disputas comerciais, que há muito renunciou ao esforço de fazer o próprio trabalho com excelência, preferindo submeter aqueles que supõem seus adversários à cadeia da mentira, da maledicência, da patrulha a mais tosca, a mais vigarista, a mais oportunista.

I did not rejoice at the resignation or firing of one or the other, as though I were some Marco “Top! Top! Top!” Garcia and his aide making obscene gestures, celebrating a “positive” piece of news in the middle of a tragedy.

Make a cylinder out of your left hand. Strike the top of the cylinder repeatedly and rhythmically with the open palm of your right hand, flush with the mouth of the tube.

The hollow percussive sound that results is a crude metaphor for somebody being, ahem, outraged in an extremely intimate manner when they would rather not be.

A Globo TV film crew used a telephoto lens to capture a private moment in the presidential palace as this government advisor was watching the Jornal Nacional on TV during the crisis over the TAM aviation disater at São Paulo’s Congonhas airport last year.

See also

Garcia claimed the obscene gesture — made iconic by the evil, grinning little monk (Fradim) of the 1960s and 1970s cartoonist Henfil — was a gesture of indignation because he thought Globo’s coverage was viciously slanted nonsense.

Yada yada yada.

Os meus leitores habituais sabem muito bem quando estou dando uma opinião — o que faço muito. E falo não como quem recebe as tábuas da lei ou faz download do divino, não com vocação professoral ou sacerdotal. Até porque opto com freqüência pela ironia, pelo sarcasmo até, está posto que vai ali um ponto de vista bem particular, expresso numa página pessoal.

Yada yada yada.

Mais liberdade à liberdade

More freedom to be free

Volto, então, àquela questão da “liberdade de imprensa que se corrige com mais liberdade”, conforme prometi. Uma das maneiras de praticar esse princípio é discordando, sim, aberta e frontalmente, deste ou daquele — mesmo quando jornalista. Sei que muita gente não gosta disso.

I return, then, to that matter of “freedom of the press that is corrected by more freedom,” as I promised.

Azevedo is a man who keeps his promises.

One of the ways of practicing this principle is to disagree, yes, openly and directly, with this,that or the other opinion — even when one is a journalist. I know that many people do not like this.

The concentration of media ownership in Brazil is choking diversity of opinion to death.

And Azevedo is its messenger.

Sou duro na divergência ideológica quando considero necessário; divirjo, às vezes, com acidez e um tanto de humor corrosivo. Exponho-me a reações. É do jogo. Já me chamaram “lacerdista”, “Amaral Netto” (ainda não mostrei aqui a pororoca…), sei lá o quê. Já me vincularam a esta ou àquela correntes do catolicismo (não sou de nenhuma, mas não seria crime). Reitero: tudo isso está no terreno do aceitável, ainda que certas acusações tenham o intuito de isolar o acusado numa bolha criada pelos “preconceituosos do bem”. As farpas partem dos que se querem porta-vozes de uma espécie de iluminismo na neutralidade. Não é, não foi e não será jamais a minha praia. Insisto: ainda estamos no terreno da disputa democrática — nem que, por trás dela (ou junto com ela), haja pessoas e veículos se posicionando no mercado das idéias e no mercado em sentido estrito. Todos precisam, afinal de contas, encontrar e manter seus leitores — se possível, ampliá-los.

Yada yada yada.

Os casos em tela são bem diferentes. Alguém me acusa de “lacerdista”, e eu posso até devolver um, sei lá, “petralha”, “tocador de tuba” ou “dualético” (para empregar meu neologismo). Mas se está, aí, longe do banditismo, dos tais “interesses subalternos”, do jornalismo que vende servicinhos e servições, da defesa de formas veladas ou explícitas de censura à imprensa. No exemplo já citado — o de Elvira Lobato, da Folha —, não saí em defesa “da” jornalista, mas do jornalismo; não escrevi em defesa “do” jornal, mas da liberdade de informar. Nesse caso, sou mais do que solidário a um princípio: sou um militante.

The cases are very different. Some accuse me of being “Lacerdist,” and I can fire back with [other insults.]

I bought a copy of Veja in 2003, I think it was, which contained a password allowing access to online conent to purchasers of the newsstand copy.

The password was “the new Lacerda” (NOVOLACERDA).

On my personal bookshelf at the moment: An out-of-print study of Governor Lacerda, his Tribuna da Imprensa, and the UDN-Varguist newspaper wars of the 1950s and 1960s, called Lacerda x Wainer: O Corvo e o Bessarabiano.

Yada yada yada.

Or the freedom to disinform, which is more in Veja‘s line.

Não manguei da desgraça de ninguém. Aplaudi uma pequena vitória da liberdade de imprensa. Sempre que a moral deles sofre um revés, a nossa moral — a do estado democrático e de direito — deve comemorar. Nem que seja brigando.

Yada yada yada.

Yanking someone who disagrees with the guy off the air suddenly is “a victory for the freedom of the press.”

What he means is that when Fox News won a case in Florida affirming its right to introduce untruths into a series by its reporters on a Monsanto bovine growth hormone product, that, too, was a victory for the freedom of the press.

The freedom of the owner of the gazillion-jigawatt megaphone to order you to scream into it that the Tutsis have already massacred hundreds of thousands, and here is where to pick up  your free machete …

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