If you still believe the myth there is freedom of expression in the US then I am afraid you will have to think again. But before you do that here is some news that you can chew on before you make up your mind.
CNN has given Octavia Nasr the boot. So what's so special about that, you might ask? A lot of people get booted from their jobs every day except, of course, the 'big banksters'.
They get hefty bonuses or rather pay themselves hefty bonuses, when they 'retire'. Never mind the crimes they commit. But what 'crime' did Octavia Nasr commit to get herself unceremoniously thrown out of CNN? Nothing much if you are a 'free media' lover. All she did was to say something nice about Lebanon's Ayatollah Hussein Fadlallah on his death and that too on her twitter and not on 'CNN's World Report'.
And what was it she said that sent the big shots at CNN in such a fury? All she said was 'Sad to hear of the passing away of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah …one of Hezbollah's giants whom I respected a lot".
That's all. And she was forced to quit. How's that for free speech in the land of the free!
What went wrong -- if wrong is the right word -- for Octavia Nasr is not that Ayatollah Fadlallah was a Muslim but that he was a founder of the Hezbollah resistance movement and because of that he was perceived as an enemy of Israel. In all fairness to the American media, there is still an element of freeness where journalists can report on matters that affect the people's interests - like the oil gas leak.
They have the liberty to thrash BP to their hearts content. But when it comes to Israel there is absolutely no room to manoeuvre and journalists like Nasr, Helen Thomas and a host of others have to slant news relating to the Middle East conflict in Israel's favour.
Octavia Nasr did grovel in front of her 'crapaganda' masters at CNN. She sent in her apology hoping she could stick to her 20 year career at CNN. But she had crossed the Rubicon and had to be taught a lesson so that other anchor people won’t run away with the idea that the American media is free. Helen Thomas too had sent in her apology to her publishers which in this case were the Hearst media giant. But her bosses and peers wanted her out.
In the case of Nasr, like in the case of Thomas, not surprisingly their colleagues did not come to her rescue. They could easily cite the 1st Amendment and take the matter to courts. But then we are being naïve, aren't we? Wasn't it Florida's Supreme Court that awarded George W. Bush the presidency when he had lost to Al Gore? If he wouldn't take up cudgels against this injustice, what courage can you expect from a mere journalist?
The irony is that both Octavia Nasr and Helen Thomas are of Arab/Lebanese origin. Maybe their emotions got the better of them eventually. Such things do happen to some human beings.
The writer is the Vice President of Sri Lanka-Palestine Solidarity Movement