Saturday, December 8, 2012

Post No. 184: Why We Need a Constitutional Amendment Taking Away Freedom of the Press (and Media)

© 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

Believe it or not, we actually drafted this piece before NBC’s Bob Costa had to do a spin move following his comments about our “freedom to bear arms,” following the murder-suicide by the professional football linebacker last weekend.

We do not really feel that freedom of the press should be eliminated. (Well, at least not this week.) We were simply trying to get your attention.

However, you have to admit that many, patriots and non-patriots alike, are concerned about these 3 things involving the news media: (a) the accuracy of reporting; (b) the role played by corporations which have a primary responsibility to shareholders to generate maximum profits; and (c) whether it is truly fair and balanced.

My News Station is Red Hot; Your News Station Ain’t Doodly Squat, addressed 28 of the 475 concerns Americans have about reporting the news.

Several Fellows, including the Laughingman and the Logistician, consider Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet to be their role model. They want, “Just the facts, ma’am,” with no subjective twists, turns, spins, or embellishment. The Optimizer and the Inspector argue, on the other hand, that we have families to feed, and that no honest, self-respecting, red-blooded American values truth in the news, but rather wants to confirm their worldview.

Despite our differences, all of us respect individuals who exhibit clarity of thought during difficult times. We’ve seen 2 examples recently, both reported by the Mainstream Media. However, not enough attention has been paid to the facts as interpreted by folks close to the events.

That two parents of slain African-American minors, within weeks after their deaths, had the clarity of mind to make the comments we cite below is powerful, and provides some measure of hope for the future of race relations in this country.

Before addressing their comments, a few other thoughts about how we listen to or read information. Prior to his departure, the Logistician forced us to, frequently at knife point, watch the broadcast of the BBC World News, and prior to 2003, read the International Herald Tribune. He claimed that only by following a media outlet outside of the U.S. could we get an accurate appreciation of what is going on here.

The View is fortunate to have followers from around the globe, including some from Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, and Italy, most of whom worked in the US at some point.

Over the weekend one of our British followers, Sobriquet, in response to our post, Why Dumping on BP is a Bunch of BS, wrote of how it appeared to Brits that the American media coverage of the Gulf spill emphasized that it was a British company primarily at fault, with little attention focused on complicit American players.

Back to the deaths in Florida, the first is the case of George Zimmerman, who shot an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in February. The second shooting death involved teenager Jordan Davis, shot by Michael Dunn after words were exchanged between Dunn and Davis and several teenage friends, regarding the volume of their music.

In the Martin case, while many of the race-baiters and talking heads had so much to say about everything in the Universe and its contents, Martin’s Mother, Sybrina Fuller, said something so pure (and lacking in invective) that most of us missed it. She said that in her heart, she felt that Mr. Zimmerman simply made a mistake and harbored no malice toward her son.

In the Dunn case, the Father of the slain teen earlier this week said that there was nothing which he had seen or heard to suggest that it was racially motivated. In his opinion, Mr. Davis was overtaken by anger, and had a gun readily accessible. He plans to maintain this position until facts motivate him to think otherwise.

This is powerful stuff, coming from the parents of children who predeceased them. We should all strive to be so objective and philosophical under such circumstances. According to The Logistician speculation and unfounded statements, are inherently malicious (and dishonest, even if later shown to be accurate), and should be left to those who desire to perform some societal disservice.

Speculation, as to what is in the minds and hearts of other people or what motivated them to engage in aberrant behavior, is something which, like Trayvon’s Mother and Jordan’s Father, we should keep to ourselves if we think it.

One reason we like to engage college students, is that we find them to be not as ideologically rigid, and thus more tolerant of the views of others. Such an attitude leads to creativity, innovation and new ideas. It’s just common sense that once one party attacks others, certain parties take on a defensive posture, and the exchange of ideas and the search for the truth take the route of the hibernating bear. Our hats are off to the parents of Trayvon and Jordan.


  1. The sad fact is that there is no way to control the media. The key is not to let the media control your mind. Listen to all sides and decide for yourself what pieces of the story best fit together to produce what is to you a plausible narrative. You will never have all the data, so you will never know the complete truth about anything. That's the nature of reality.

  2. You said it better than we did and with fewer words. Thanks, as always.

  3. I agree with you. I have only one question... In the HuffPost article you link to about Jordan Davis, there was a movement for a "Remembrance" of Davis by turning up the volume on your car radio. Yet, it also had, as a theme, "respect each other's differences". Wouldn't that have been what Davis and his friends should have done? Respect Dunn's desire for less volume and turn it down? And thereby removing the antagonism that set off Dunn? Just a thought.

  4. We do not know what happened at the scene. We probably have 5% of the facts at our disposal. We do not have enough information upon which to base such a judgment.

    On a somewhat related practical level, we too have been annoyed at the high volume at which the music of others has been played, and we wonder why it is "necessary" to play it at that level. Our concern with respect to vehicles, however, is that we find it difficult to believe that the drivers can hear approaching sirens, screeching tires, kids in street playing, Mothers calling out to their kids to watch out, etc. It seems to us more of a safety issue than anything else. Even if the car is parked, the decimal level could be damaging to the eardrums.

    We strongly suspect that some folks play their music at a loud volume to make a statement about their independence. We can not, and do not wish to, speculate as to what was going on in this instance.

    Some might ask the question, assuming the worst imaginable level of loud playing in the universe, could that or should that have prompted the man to use his weapon?

    Thanks for prompting us to view another angle of the story, as always.

  5. No, I do not believe that loud music justifies murder or mayhem. But I also do not understand anyone asking or demanding respect without a willingness to have it be mutual. That is, instead of asking people to play loud music as a sign of support for the slain teen I would ask them to turn it down for 15 minutes because, regardless of what happened after Dunn allegedly complained, that would have diffused the situation and would have extended a modicum of respect for Mr. Dunn and take away his reason for anger. Let's call it "compromise".

  6. Some others may, but we here at the Institute just don't have the facts enabling us to adequately and competently comment on the dynamic present at the scene. We can imagine your construct being potentially applicable, but that would be pure speculation on our part.

  7. I understand and I have no more information than you, just that which you provided through the links you embedded. I merely mused upon those facts, as presented, and offered my opinion on the matter based upon them. New facts might alter that opinion, I would admit.

  8. Getting back to your point of how all of us have some degree of bias, there was some major news story involving a crime some years ago, and they interviewed people on the street shortly after the crime. Some overwhelming number of people had already made up their minds as to guilt and innocence prior to the completion of the investigation and the disclosure of the facts.

    As we have often noted unfortunately, there is only so time in a day, and so little time that people are willing to spend delving into the facts of an incident that does not directly involve them, and this leads to the use of bias and prejudice.

    It's more efficient to get through our lives. People do not have the time or energy or motivation to "vet" everyone with whom they come into contact or see in the media. Quick assessments are made frequently, so that people can "move on."

  9. Thus explaining why Zimmerman is suing NBC... We take what information we are given, run it through the filter of our biases, some of us deliver the result to the public, and some of us spread it among our friends and acquaintances. You are absolutely correct that it takes more effort than the average person is willing to make to gather all the facts and overcome biases and make a sound judgment. It's probably why we select people to do that for us; judges, juries, etc.
    Most of us are too willing to make that snap judgment based on information sources that cater to our own biases. Which is why I preach that people need to read and view those news resources with which they do not philosophically agree.


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