Saturday, June 23, 2007

When Did it Become Acceptable to Progress in America by Refusing Competing Ideas to be Heard?

In a recent on-air Fox News segment regarding high school drug and sex education, a Colorado high school student's defense of in-class drug education bothered ultra-conservative republican host Bill O'Reilly enough for the host to became slanderous. O'Reilly, supporting the idea that open discussion of drugs and sex only leads to promiscuity and addiction, was infuriated by the idea that Boulder High student Jesse Lange felt he gained "good real-world advice" from a recent school-wide forum on the topics. Play the interview below.

In the video, as Jesse slowly presents a convincing display of calm rationale, O'Reilly begins to speak progressively louder, eventually starting to cut off the student's sentences before counter-points can be made. Then, in the piece de resistance, O'Reilly, representative of the show he runs on the network he owns, loses his remaining poise and yells Jesse down: "I know what you pinheads think".

The main issue to me: If O'Reilly is confident in the basis of his ideals, why is he constantly attempting to suppress the information of his opponents? Is this what his republican viewers -- Republican Americans -- condone and support? Is it acceptable to progress forward in America by refusing competing ideas to be heard at all? Because that is exactly the message that is being delivered to millions of Fox News viewers every day.

Think this is a one-time occurrence? An over-reaction? After all, O'Reilly did bring Jesse on to speak his opinion on the show, right? Wrong. They're constantly up to sophisticated spin work. Don't take my word for it: and fight tirelessly every day to bring attention to the horrifying techniques now regularly employed by Fox News. On any given issue, the network will occasionally bring in a single voice of opposition (up against two competing conservative voices), and upon inspection it's clear that the ultimate purpose in this 'debate' is to lynch the opponent, thereby strengthening the resolve of the conservative ideal. When stronger debaters begin to challenge the agenda, Fox pulls the plug: "Shut Up", "Turn his mic off" and the mid-sentence "Thanks for your time" have become staples of the network. Play this video below for a collage of their best work.

But as is human nature in our new high-speed information world, the obscenity of this censorship quickly piques our concern and just as quickly fades away; the heart of the problem for which this is a symptom escapes unscathed. I'm asking: what exactly is the root of this repeated censorship, and why is it tolerated by the viewers of Fox News? Is it accepted out of fear? Ignorance? Aggression? Patriotism?

I contest that misinformation and the suppression of any average American's point of view is becoming an accepted and desired method of maintaining the order of the existing conservative ideals.

I contest that in the face of the rational disciplines of science and democracy (and the least popular campaign in Presidential history), conservative proponents are beginning to exhibit a cornered-dog mentality, and those that feel threatened will do anything to defend themselves from a perceived loss of power.

I contest that the few who have the most to lose by the progress of diplomatic peace and capitalistic new enterprise actively and knowingly use their power (through private media outlets, for instance) to persuade the less fortunate to feel that they will also lose in a new America.

I contest that these same less fortunate conservatives are never even remotely exposed to the science, democracy and diplomacy that aims to strengthen America in the inevitable global fight for social and economic progress.

I contest that most people at Fox News feel that they're contributing to the safety and success of America, while they simply protect the bank account of the handful of people who run the station.

I submit that in these changing times, those in power callously believe that the only path that will lead back to a conservative Republican Christian America is to ensure with full force that competing ideas are suppressed and remain unheard, regardless of the long term consequences.

Finally, I genuinely hoped that this insecurity-driven, groupthink method of 'progress' would not be reflected in the direction of the upcoming new generation of the Republican Party, but if you've at all been following the GOP Republican Debates...

... then I have to say that a preemptive nuclear strike on a country sounds no different to me than a preemptive verbal strike on a person's opinion.


NeilV said...

If you're doubtful as to whether my rhetoric has any real world value, I beg you to look at your television set and ask yourself one question: could even the slightest biasing of a constant, infinite flow of information affect the opinions of millions of people?

I say yes, and also say it's hardly a lost cause. The problem only lies with those who don't see any bias at all. The solution is simply to be aware of the bias. The method is to educate people at a young age to make their own decisions about life. I'll flesh this out in another post.

Lauren said...

Time will only tell if critical thinking, like your own, will surface through the votes of the American people. As the internet continues to flourish as an interactive forum for the exchanging of ideas, it seems possible!

I believe that the tools are in place for people to access uncensored and unbiased thought. It now depends solely on the will of the people, on their desire for education from an unfiltered source.

The net is undoubtedly a looming threat for the ruling order, capable of breaking the public free of their chokehold on information (there are 10 major companies that control most of what we see and hear in the media... down from 50 in the early 80s...yeesh). These giant conglomerates are a presence online, but they do not control everything.

we gotta take the power back!! ;)

Anonymous said...
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NeilV said...

Yeah, although things can seem somewhat desperate, we are on that positive trend from 50 to 10. So as long as we all keep the checks and balances running, the system will naturally balance.

I.e. you mentioned Colbert was a great parody of O'Reilly, and I personally think that sort of mainstream message has a lot more effect than just the comedy it generates.

Heidi said...
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Heidi said...

Thank you for your considered and well-written essay! It is my wish that this kind of critical thinking and the commentary it invites proliferates in our society.

tmac said...

Murdoch is a machine..... he owns 39% of media outlets in the US now. Think of the power this one man holds on the influence of American society. Congress tried to limit ownership at 35% but through is strong lobbying efforts and under-the-table book-deal promises for Senators he successfully was allowed to maintain his stake.

I should cite this stuff but I think I read it in the Economist last week. Lauren is right... we gotta take the power back mothaf*ckas!

Anonymous said...

Fuck Murdoch.

Mladen The Terrible said...

Good read. you made some interesting points that i cant disagree with. I must advice you though that CNN is not much better then fox news. They both deliver the same info in preety much the same manner, minus the hardhead attitude of the Fox network which includes, as you pointed out, the treatment of guests..

bill o'reilly is a fag though.

I'l end it on that note.

vel said...

Lauren said..."Time will only tell if critical thinking, like your own, will surface through the votes of the American people." I think that if we look back at the past 2 elections, the people obvbiously can't be trusted to make an informed decision about who should be running the country. I was in Ohio at the time of both elections, and I heard stories about people being turned away from the voting stations. In the past election, I believe Bush won the most number of votes by any president up until that point, but the Republican party is quick to forget that John Kerry won the 2nd most in history. Now with regards to access to free information, I think that's a little bit of wishful thinking. Think about it, 10 companies controlling what we see, hear, and ultimately think? That's kinda scary. The checks and balances are in place as long as you have a deep pocket, big business and privatization are taking over so really it really doesn't come down to voter turnout or reliability or any of that wholesome goodness; it's all about who's got the most money.

vel said...

Forgot to comment on the Republican issue regarding preemptive nuclear strikes...are you insane?! Is Rudy Giuliani Nuckin Futs? Never, under any circumstances should that be an option. I find it funny that America is so worried about Iran's Nuke Program (and everyone else's for that matter) when they're the only nation that has ever nuked another country.