There appears to be another fatality in the war on free speech and no it’s not some Danish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet of Islam, nor is it a tea party/birther who insulted the lineage of today’s President of the United States. Rather it was a CNN Middle East correspondent, Octavia Nasr who had worked for that network for 20 years all because of a less than 140 word expression of regret at the death of a prominent personality from her country of birth, Lebanon. There is no free speech among American institutions when it comes to views about the Middle East that do not conform with convention.
Ms. Nasr didn’t ask anyone on CNN to air her views, nor did she express them during a report she made on the air, rather she “tweeted” her expressions of regret or sorrow in a medium that doesn’t accept more than 140 characters and for that her 20 year career came to an end. Her employers probably didn’t blink an eye when they told her, albeit circuitously that she has no right to freedom of expression or belief if it contradicts corporate media’s own. This act of censorship, along with the furor created over Helen Thomas’ words, highlights the thought control which permeates corporate media when it comes to issues regarding the Middle East.
At the very same time Larry King is interviewing an Israeli Prime Minister in an attempt to soften his country’s image where very little if any rebuttal will be made to Israel’s claims of righteousness in the face of overwhelming proof of their murder, Nasr was handed her walking papers because she expressed her sorrow over the death of a man with whom she had personal contact during a very tumultuous time in Lebanon’s history. She isn’t the only one to have felt that way about Fadlallah.
Frankly, no one is able to express sympathy towards an enemy of Israel, the darling of US media, nor against Israel itself. Nasr’s firing was another among many shots across the bow to those who dare oppose the demonization of Israel’s enemies, be they Lebanese, Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians and on the list goes. Free speech is not free within the ranks of corporate America and perhaps, to paraphrase Glen Greenwald, all institutions should just tell everyone in the beginning you have no right to expect the 1st amendment applies to you; rather you must accept what others consider acceptable and not acceptable to utter, even in your private life, in order to avoid any further illusions of freedom.