Friday, August 14, 2009

Bullshit or Not: Hugo Chavez Edition

There's an old sketch film called Amazon Women on the Moon and one of the bits is a parody of the old Leonard Nimoy show, "In Search Of..." called, "Bullshit or Not?" with the tagline "Bullshit or not? You decide." It's a line I like so much that I've stolen it for an occasional series of posts.

This time, let's discuss one of the less controversial comments from Venezuelean President Hugo Chavez,

“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.

The government’s broad nationalizations and asset seizures have gone far beyond the oil industry to include coffee roasters, cattle ranches and tomato-processing plants.

If the golf course closings go forward, the number of courses shut down in the last three years will be about nine, said Julio L. Torres, director of the Venezuelan Golf Federation. A project on Margarita Island, designed by the American architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. and intended to be South America’s top course, was halted because of financial problems.

Most of the closed courses are in oil regions, near Maracaibo in western Venezuela and in Monagas State, in the east, and were initially built for Americans working in the oil industry. Mr. Chávez’s purge of dissidents from the national oil company focused suspicion on the golf courses, which were seen as bastions of the old elite.

A housing shortage has also pushed the government’s hand, Mr. Chávez said last month, when he questioned why Maracay had so many slums while the golf course and the grounds of the state-owned Hotel Maracay, a decaying modernist gem built in the 1950s, stretch over about 74 acres of coveted real estate.

“Just so some little group of the bourgeois and the petit-bourgeois can go and play golf,” he said during his television program.

Backing up Mr. Chávez, a noted baseball fan, state media here have gone after golf.
Is golf a bourgeois sport? Are golf courses a waste of land that could better be used for the good of the larger community and not just the well-healed, non-plaid-pantsed few?