Saturday, February 04, 2006

No clue on Human Rights

I read of the State Department's apparent caving into PC pressure, and forgoing a long-held committment to human rights from All Headline News:
State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper says, “These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims. We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”
Where to start? Well, first I checked out the State Department's web site, and found the directory:
OFFICE OF PRESS RELATIONS (PA/PRS)
Director Tom Casey
Chief Press Relations Serv. Julie Reside
Press Officer for SA, AID, L, PRM, D Nancy Beck
Press Officer for NEA, AC, NP, PM, VC, P Susan Pittman
Press Officer for EUR, A, DGHR, IRM, RM, M Brenda Greenberg
Press Officer for EAP, CA, EB, H, IO, E Louis J. Fintor
Press Officer for SA, INL, INR, OES, G Amanda Batt
Press Officer for NEA, ECA, IIP, M/OBO, S/CPR, R Joanne C. Moore

and, finally, WAY down the list,

Press Officer for AF, DRL, HIV/AIDS, S/WCI, T Kurtis A. Cooper 2109 202-647-2492
What do those initials mean?

AF Africe
DRL Democracy, Rights, & Labor

(Earth to Cooper - the right to freely express your opinions, however inflammatory, IS a human right)

He clearly should have an understanding of the importance of a free press, as this part of his job publishes this report, which extolls the wonderfullness of access to a free media, and its importance to democracy. I can't believe that he doesn't see the irony.

HIV/AIDS Self-explanatory
S/WCI Apparently a symbol for a fax number the he can be reached at
T No idea

Who is Kurtis A. Cooper? I searched for him (I started to say "Google" him, but I didn't want to open that censorhip issue), and found several interesting things.

He spoke out when Nepal arrested protestors:
"The United States has called repeatedly for the king to release detainees, lift house arrest and restore civil liberties and freedom of press," US State Department spokesman Kurtis A Cooper said.
Good, he seems to understand about freedom of press - I was a little worried about that.

He's apparently been sent with unpleasant messages before (via the OC Online Community:
The Bush administration has postponed punishing Saudi Arabia for restricting religious freedom, giving the U.S. ally six more months to show it has made progress in its treatment of religious minorities.

One year ago, the State Department declared that religious freedom was absent in the Arab kingdom. Under U.S. law, the Bush administration could have imposed sanctions such as trade restrictions — as it has done with some other countries.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice notified Congress last week that she had authorized a 180-day waiver of action against Saudi Arabia "in order to allow additional time for the continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues."

Rice raised the issue last week in a meeting in Washington with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and stressed the importance of continuing to work on it, said State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.
So, is he personally on the fence about religious freedom? It's not clear from this article.

The culture at State hasn't changed much since Condi took over. It's still the place where employees worry about what other countries think, instead of pursuing goals that set the tone for the discussion. I realize that it's a slow process to move the path of a dinosaur, but, come on - this is freedom of the press!

Tags = News and Politics

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to make a couple comments:

1. Cooper is a spokesperson, therefore his comments are representative of this government agency, rather than his "personal" beliefs.

2. Freedom of speech is not unlimited or indefinite under the First Amendment. For example, libel and slander are tort actions a privite citizen may take against another for communications.

3. "[W]orrying about what other countries think" and "setting the tone for discussion" are not opposing elements. Its called diplomacy, more generally.

4. Overall, your notion of "freedom of the press" is oblivious to the particular political issues and events you are discussing. Western Democracy's idea of media liberty is based upon the public's need for information, unbiased at that. For example, a government corruption scandal is something the media should not be repressed from reporting. However, the case of the Danish political cartoons has nothing to do with the public's need for information; it is merely a crude and offensive commentary meant to incite hatred and breed violence.