China won't die laughing
WASHINGTON -- Dictators. Always so humorous.
Take China's communist officialdom. You've probably heard about the "South Park" episode last week that the Chinese government didn't find amusing. And the fake apology from the comedy show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
No? Well, then, you must live in China, where free speech isn't actually allowed and where the episode in question -- "Band In China" -- has been expunged from the cyber airwaves. The plot of the show is, as usual, silly with a sting (and too complicated to summarize in this limited space).
Basically, characters familiar to "South Park" fans make fun of China's policy of censorship -- well, whaddya know -- and Hollywood's kowtowing to China by tweaking films to suit Communist Party sensibilities.
As if on cue, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey drew backlash from several Chinese entities for a tweet last Friday expressing sympathy for the protesters in Hong Kong. "Fight for freedom," Morey wrote, as any red-blooded American might. "Stand with Hong Kong."
You'd have thought he had said Chinese basketball players can't jump. Jeez.
But, of course, Americans support pro-democracy freedom fighters everywhere. China exports cheap junk. America exports freedom -- in speech, in religion and in military support. Except when she doesn't, as when President Trump reportedly told Chinese President-for-Life Xi Jinping that he'd remain silent on the Hong Kong protests as long as trade talks were ongoing.
This was in June, long before Trump also suggested that China investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Funny how authoritarians seem drawn to one another. Rather than discuss the spark that ignited the protests -- a proposal to extradite criminal suspects from Hong Kong to China -- the president of the United States essentially said "no" to free speech and "yes" to censorship.
In other words, last week's "South Park" episode hit all the right notes for freedom and democracy and all the wrong ones for China, which, apparently, has no sense of humor, especially regarding itself. Any criticism deemed anti-government spells doom to the truth-sayer, an operating principle that applies as well to businesses and corporations conducting business with China.
One would think that such a large, prosperous nation could withstand a tweet of no real consequence. But a dictatorship can't countenance the slightest dissent, lest chaos -- the wolf that sniffs at the doors of the self-anointed -- sense a hint of weakness or fear on the other side. As the Hong Kong protests have escalated to violence and vandalism, the wolf's tail is surely wagging, while Beijing's patience is tested.