Extra, Extra, Freedom for Sale
Some may say this column is me biting the hand that feeds me. I don’t take money for bombarding the Enterprise readers with my opinions and I am eternally grateful for this valuable outlet. I appreciate and respect anyone who gets the news out. They work hard, long hours. Forget the pay. It is a labor of love. That said, I do think that all media sources should take a hard look at how they report the daily ugliness. I better explain; quickly.
Freedom of expression used to be held in high esteem. Most of us read or watch the news to be informed. Unfortunately, others twist news to their own advantage. Billionaire’s have been gobbling up whole networks. The news should not be subjected to the political expedience of wealthy individuals. Objectivity, so elusive in general, goes right out the window when a political agenda takes over the boardrooms.
How do people use the media? It’s painfully easy. Mike Ferrell’s fight to overthrow the death penalty has made him almost as famous as his role as a wisecracking medic on MASH. In his book Call Me Mike he said his personal experience with group counseling and prisoner interviews has convinced him most people crave attention. That’s a perfectly normal desire unless it becomes obsessive. We recently observed the 35 year anniversary of John’s Lennon’s murder. Chapman, a Beatles fan, freely admitted he killed John Lennon because he craved immortality. When attention hungry fans jump onto the playing field the cameras cut to a commercial or the commentators talk until the offender, never put on camera, is led off to jail. There’s a lesson in this and it seems odd that sports would lead the way with this tactic.
Closer to home, three unarmed men were killed when they tried to rob a local marijuana grower. That’s certainly news. Medicinal marijuana is a hot button, here in our rural county as well as across the country. Still, in the aftermath I read how this triple murder wouldn’t have happened if growing pot wasn’t allowed in the area. Well, when a convenience story is robbed do we hear a clamor to close down the strip-mall stores?
Not showing ugly events does put a burden on the media. Gruesome scenes of bombing and political atrocities remind us that the world is a dangerous place. My problem is that subversive groups freely admit that they want to use the media’s pervasive reach to promote their causes and recruit members. It would seem like a no-brainer to not give them the publicity they crave, regionally or internationally. Yet, during CNN’s coverage of the Redlands massacre my eyes drooped at Anderson Cooper’s parade of “terrorism experts” who solemnly agreed that a primary terrorist goal is to the U.S. And what killers can’t buy, we give to them for free.
Our politicians certainly haven’t missed this message. The GOP’s major strategy, is to scare out the vote. Voldemort, the super-villain of the Harry Potter saga was “He whose name can not be spoken.” Taking my own advice, I refuse to use the name of one candidate who sees the office of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln as just another entertainment venue. For him, the TV camera is a weapon. The early predictions of this unmentionable’s demise have been wrong because a lot of our society seems to believe his tripe. The polls prove that some of those-on the couch end of it all publicly frown at the insanity while deep down they believe or want the bombast to be true. If the campaign numbers sag many politicians wave the flag or double-down on the fear card. Ratings are all that counts.
Our Constitution is sacred, until it isn’t. People who are up in arms about the 2nd Amendment are okay when a few well known loud mouths demand we round up Muslims like we did the Japanese. “We’re at war” people scream. “Go ahead and take a few freedoms, just make me safe.” Unfortunately, ISIS is not a country, it’s a concept. And the San Bernardino killers, the Boston bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Roof were not crazies and they were in the country legally. Cherry-picking the Constitution or choosing just how much of a democracy we will allow some citizens is wrong.
There is only one logical way to stop helping radicals; report the news but don’t show names and pictures. Don’t give the insane the attention they crave. This puts our news hungry society at a crossroads but Frost’s road “less traveled by” hasn’t been all that lyrical lately.