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Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

I feel as though I have been liberated.

I’ve been in with a cold pretty much since the year began.  Sorry to have gone quiet on you, but I can’t seem to write when I’m all hopped up on cold medicine.  Snuffling and under the influence, I find it impossible to remember how I started a sentence by the time I get to the end.  Either my sentences are too long or the Tylenol Severe Cold Formula has kicked in.  Whichever the case, I didn’t want to put you at risk.

But, all better now.

I’ve spent the past week nursing my shattered feelings as well my cruddy health.  The events in Tucson have left me stunned and speechless – a rare occurrence.

Of course my first reaction is, as always, thank heaven the lunatic was able to buy a gun.  Congrats to all those in congress who voted to end the ban on assault weapon sales in 2004.  Way to go.   Great idea.  Really worked out.  What’s next? Grenade launchers at Sears?

Those who are supposed to lead spend more time pandering to the lowest common denominator than governing or inspiring us to higher ideals.  It is sad that in the face of this gun related tragedy there is not enough courage among our alleged leaders to do anything about the problem.  If the guy had showed up with a knife instead of an assault weapon, how differently this might all have ended.

But even more than our refusal to address the corrupting influence of the gun lobby and all well funded special interest groups, I am more concerned with our interpretation of the first amendment than the second.  The sad events in Arizona have raised troubling questions about the tone of our national conversation.

The President has called for a more civil discourse.  There even seems to be some movement, a real effort on the part of many, to agree to disagree more agreeably.

Of course, the big quitter from Alaska is still determined not to lead — though hardly anyone’s asking her to since her formal refusal to do so at the state gubernatorial level.  I guess Grizzly-Pit-Bull-Moms do believe that their day has come, but they don’t believe in having the good manners to say “I’m sorry for rhetorically targeting you for assassination.”  It is a shame she doesn’t even possess the good taste to shut up about herself at someone else’s funeral.

I’m sure Quitter Palin will support my first amendment rights to call for someone to please blow her head off — with votes and the remote, of course, since declining television ratings would be worse for her than losing another election.  I know that she’d endorse my right to call for her desperately media hungry family to be chopped up into little pieces — by the critics, of course — and fed to the dogs of public opinion, all poetically speaking.  Isn’t that my right? And she doesn’t seem to mind what people say about her.  She’s been such a good sport so far – right, Mr. Letterman? Tina? Katie?

In fact, it’s not at all clear that the deranged young man in Tucson was inspired by the irresponsible words and oaths of those politician and pundits who are abusing their considerable power in office and the media.  It is interesting to me though, how quickly the topic came up and how much longer it has persisted than the story of the tragedy itself.

I continue to believe that we confuse the right to free speech with freedom from taking responsibility.  Shouting fire in a crowded theatre is NOT different than calling for an angry and heavily armed electorate to “reload” or saying that if ballots don’t work, bullets will.  Attaining the age of consent comes with rights AND responsibilities.  Calling for the assassination of anyone, metaphorically or otherwise, is calling for their assassination.  Calling Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Killer”, as one irresponsible television hack repeatedly did, was a key and undeniable element in the man’s recent assassination by domestic terrorists.

These don’t seem to be free speech issues to me.  Still, I’m not sure how I would want them enforced.  I suppose civil penalties seem the most likely, but that puts the burden on the victims.  Perhaps fines? But then who to enforce? I am more afraid of the return of McCarthyism than all the bombast on all the cable news channels.  I miss the old days of personal responsibility and editorial discretion that preceded the 24 hour news cycle.

I do still firmly believe that we need to reclassify prejudice and the irrational hatred of others as mental illness.  In fact, I think we could also broaden the definition to include ignorance.  I don’t think people suffering these maladies should be locked up or drugged or given shock treatment.  I’m not sure anyone but the most violently disturbed should be — the shooter in Tucson, for instance.  Ignorance and prejudice are undeniably mental conditions though and happily the cure for both is the same – education.

Meanwhile, I begin this New Year with hope.

I hope we will move toward a more civil discourse.  I hope that our leaders will do more leading and less pandering, baiting and posturing.  Most of all, I hope that as we demand our rights to free speech, or to keep and bear arms, or to petition the government for the redress of our grievances that we take up our responsibilities with equal fervor.

We can’t all just quit and get a gig on Fox.

 

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Olds

When I watch or read what purports to be “the news” I believe I’m justified in the expectation that the information I’m receiving is in fact new or, at the very least, accurate.
Recently, a friend of mine had a change of heart about her religious affiliation (guess who.) She spoke earnestly of the growing conflict she felt between her faith and the church. It was a part of a discussion she was having on her Facebook fan page. Because she is who she is, her Facebook conversation became international news.
She was very generous about it. She gave interviews to network and cable television, NPR, newspapers, magazines, who knows what all.
Every interviewer asked her if she had parted company with the church because her son is gay. She said no. She said that she had been a supporter of gay rights, long before her son was born or out. She said she thought the church’s persecution of gay people was evil. Further, she talked about a whole host of reasons for her decision of which the church’s medieval persecution of gay people was only one a part.
Still, in story after story it was reported that Anne Rice left the church because her son Christopher is gay. They also often added that Christopher was a gay rights activist. He’s my best friend. I can tell you that while he does advocate equal rights for gay people, he is in fact a novelist.
She told everyone who asked that Christopher’s sexuality was not the reason for her decision. It made no difference. The “olds” media — for I no longer think it qualifies as “news” media – told the story they wanted to tell. It wasn’t true, it wasn’t accurate and, hence, it was not news. It was just the story they wanted to tell. It was Olds.
It’s midterms this year and the “olds” media has decided that they are going to tell the story of how the angry American voter is throwing incumbents out of office. It’s not true. So far, only 7 of over 300 incumbents up for re-election have been voted out. But they just keep saying we’re angry and voting the bastards out.
I am angry. But I’m angry because obstructionist Congress people and Senators are playing politics in a time of dire national crisis. It has nothing to do with incumbency. It has to do with inaction.
The “olds” media doesn’t care what I think. They don’t care what our votes indicate. There is no real effort being made to report on what isn’t happening and how upset we are about obstructionist politics. The “olds” media wants to show the right wingnut fringe with teabags hanging from their hats and report on the left wing drowning in disarray and ennui.
But to the people getting stuff done or the stuff they’re doing, why bother?
There’s some actual real problems that we need help with but why report on that when there’s some nuts freaking out about a religious community center being built in a depressed neighborhood in south Manhattan? And I mean the nuts on both sides.
The Fox olds network is so caught up in this not-a-story that they are now calling one of their own principal stockholders a terrorist for helping fund the project.
There are places and groups in the country with 20% unemployment. People are dying for want of healthcare. We STILL have not repaired New Orleans five years after Katrina. The Gulf of Mexico is flamable. This community center is simply not news.
But the lack of news doesn’t stop the “olds” media.
When they find a story they like, they just keep telling it until we believe it’s true. That just doesn’t sound like news to me. But it does sound familiar.
First, you create a problem that may or may not exist. Then you begin telling people about the problem until they believe it is a problem. Finally, you come up with a story that explains the problem and you tell it over and over again, until people believe that story.
It’s called advertising.
We have become conditioned to learn in a very specific way. It’s actually quite sophisticated. It requires years of media saturation and a whole belief structure built on this problem solution model.
It works like this. Bad breath prevents people from hooking up. Use this potion, tablet, strip, gum, whatever to fix your breath and get laid. Sales of said potion/tablet/strip go through the roof. Ergo, everyone’s getting laid right?
No.
Why? Because the story “Bad breath prevents you from getting any” isn’t true. Do a random breath check of those leaving the bars in pairs and see for yourself. Or better yet imagine, this: There he is. He’s dreamy. She’s just your type. He’s smiling. She tosses her hair flirtatiously. He’s coming this way. It’s late and it’s been a while. He offers you a drink. But oh no, he had garlic for dinner, so never mind. Yeah, right. Like that happened.
And I say this as a man who is physically addicted to Altoids and who hasn’t been asked out in years.
What we used to call the news has become advertising.
We must cut taxes for rich people so that the poor and unemployed will have a chance. There will be a stable Afghan government by next summer. Immigrants are causing unemployment. I am your fierce advocate.
If the “old” casters say it to us often enough, it won’t be true, but we’ll believe it.

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