Thursday, September 07, 2006
beware the sirens.....
Remember when newspapers and anchormen brought you the facts and allowed you to form your own opinion? You do? Wow! You must be in your 90s! No offense to our "seasoned" readers, but if you remember that kind of news, you may have also been around to vote for Coolidge. You might smell it coming already, and I'll tell you upfront. I'm about to beat a dead horse for a few paragraphs. I'm going to do it differently, though. Kind of like beating it with a pillowcase filled with quarters as opposed to the conventional bat.
Media. I know I've already written about it in a couple of my first posts here at the shelf, but this will be from a slightly different perspective. There are good journalists, but most are not. I know we've got to get our news somewhere, that's obvious. What stinks is that typically we receive it with a slanted or fully distorted twist to it from both ends of the spectrum, just a lot more on one than the other. The media wouldn't even be a problem if those who consume it would either stop doing so, or filter it properly. Yet, we do have a problem.
The average American is frequently a lazy thinker. We enjoy having our opinions fed to us. We say we don't, but that's what honestly happens a majority of the time with some people. You stand in line at the supermarket waiting to buy your toilet paper, or liquor (depending on how your day has gone) then you casually glance at your local paper and read the headline: "Boys steal more than girls" You rush home and tell your spouse about thieving little boys and back it up by citing the paper. Much to your chagrin, your significant other laughs to tears while explaining that the article was about how male little leaguers tend to steal bases more than female soft-ballers due to testosterone levels and the ever present desire to risk death by a speeding baseball. Now how do you feel? That's just an example of a misleading headline. But! Look at the damage that can cause.
If only headlines were the singular problem we face. The epidemic we face is of misleading stories and sound bites couched in cleverly crafted journalistic opinion. The sources of these diseased articles lure the uneducated, like Homer's sirens to their ultimate destruction. Instead of golden locks and auburn hair, these sirens are wearing 'press' passes. Instead of causing physical destruction, they lead the "thought deficient" to a mental destruction. The unaware subject consumes the infected messages and confidently spouts them to others, but is quickly made a fool, as was the Emperor on parade in his new clothes. The key to defeating these ink stained harpies is to either identify them for what they once you hear them, or ignore them all together.
It is staggering the amount of people I meet that give credence to the baseless ideas presented by these presumptuous pundits. They are oh, so presumptuous. They presume that simple double talk and word play will fool everyone in this country. They have forgotten one thing. Those immortal words of (usually) "honest" Abe: " You can't fool all of the people all of the time".
The first portion of that historical statement which I left off is the hope and truth that reporters live by " you can fool some of the people some of the time". The job of those in the "know" is to keep the balance in this country. Those who are fooled should never outnumber those who are not. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves as to the truth of what we see, hear, and read. We do this through study, pondering, and thinking for ourselves. When we do this, we defeat those who would defraud us of truth, and independent personal perspective.
Our fellow bloggers have done this a time or two. That's how Dan Rather painfully learned the little known portion of Lincoln's quote which precedes the famous statement saying "if you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem". If we do not filter the information given us, and learn our history and the truth of today's news, we shall surely pay the price of ignorance. I heard a great example of this on Monday's Rush Limbaugh's show. (Our friend Laura at Laurasmiscellaneousmusings may have heard this as well as she seems to listen to rush often). As I listened, Rush received a caller who proceeded to go over a litany of topics that she had obviously learned about from the hollow pens of pseudo journalists. First, she asks why we use force instead of negotiations and U.N. assistance with our current enemies. Rush gently advised her of the old adage "peace comes only after victory", before suggesting that she should ask Saddam if sixteen U.N. resolutions brought about his defeat and capture. The caller mentioned how hard it is today to buy gas and put kids through college, although, it was soon discovered that she had neither kids nor car. She mentioned that healthcare is so bad that her neighbor chooses between food and medicine regularly, and no one will help her. When asked what she has done to help, she says that she has gone to the store for her. Rush asks " but have you bought her any food?" To which the caller replies (after stuttering a bit) "well, no". That sounded a little hanky to me. She closes out the call by stating that conservatives rig the poles and prevent democrats from voting. She backs this up by stating that people in Ohio (the caller was from NY by the way) waited in line for six hours to vote early and left due to discouragement. Rush fired back with some form of response. In my head, I thought, if every person who is registered, actually voted, how long would we wait in line then? Giving up due to long lines is not being disenfranchised. I have heard of people who waited longer to buy Springsteen tickets. Yet people can't wait in line long enough to help choose a president. Iraqis got blown up and shot at while waiting many hours to vote. In my opinion, if you waited six hours and left before voting, then if your man loses, you're only allowed to complain about it for six hours. That's it! Six hours out of the next four years. After that, shut up! Sit down! And be prepared for the next one. I have no doubt that the caller got her uninformed opinions from mainstream media outlets or backyard gossip without any investigation of her own.
I don't normally listen to Rush Limbaugh, but my favorite sports commentator, Colin Cowheard, was on commercial break, so I tuned in to pass the time. I am personally not a "Rush" guy. He's okay, but I find that I agree with Colin more about current events and politics. He has the "average Joe" thinking man's perspective and is not afraid to go against the grain if he doesn't agree with the popular opinion. He seems to truly think for himself, as opposed to Rush Limbaugh who seems all too often to just tow his party's proverbial line.
Speaking of sportscasters with an opinion: does anybody ever listen to Keith Olbermann without laughing? He's an idiot, a "useful idiot" for the left-handed thinkers. This man is a prime example of listening to what others say, with no research of his own, and putting it out as fact for all to hear. The only thing this accomplishes is passing his unfounded arguments down the grapevine of the uninformed. Here is a perfect example of his unfounded arguments and general speaking from his rear. There are people in this country who channel-surf through talking heads, and take their word as gospel. They feel that somehow they are stocking up on information nuggets for ammunition to use in a debate. They are actually just piling up "fecal nuggets" until an informed American can smell them a mile away. It's tragic and very common. It's our neighbor, our friends, and our family members. We can't be afraid to discuss politics anymore. That's how we're going to keep the balance in this country. We must be as Orpheus who sang an opposing melody to protect his crew as they passed the sirens. We must learn an opposing melody. Become properly educated in the topics of the day, and share it. Don't shove it down people's throats, but don't be afraid to peaceably discuss your findings. Protect yourself and others from the cursed tune sung by those whose purpose it is to sing us to our destruction. Just remember, in all things, think for yourself.
Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.
All you know about the American scene is what you read in newspapers and magazines. Somebody else's impressions hashed up for lazy people. If you don't feel it yourself, you've learned nothing.