Thursday, March 08, 2007

Borat Banned in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, the real country that is home to Sacha Baron Cohen's fictional reporter Borat, has banned his website, because it is offensive to Kazakh's.

The [State Department's] mention of Borat was an unusual celebrity cameo in the middle of a weighty human-rights report looking at the way people are treated around the world.

Kazakhstan was the subject of a particularly scathing write-up, in which the oil-producing former Soviet state is accused of whacking its political opponents and having courts that are best described as kangaroo.

The report also cited limits on free speech faced by domestic media critical of Kazakhstan's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

And as for the working conditions for journalists in Kazakhstan, Borat's oft-repeated fear that he would be executed if he turned in a lousy story wasn't that far off the mark.

Why our State Department is lamenting Borat's banishment from Kazakh internet access is somewhat beyond me. Perhaps it is true that free expression is not a reality in Kazakhstan, but that Borat is offensive to the people of that country is not any kind of shock. Especially since he uses their .kz domain.

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