Ferguson and the role of race

I used to tell my kids that anyone telling you anything is trying to sell you something. A point of view. A car. A vacation. I also told them that telling the truth can be done in ways that it becomes a lie. “ABC Co made a 20% profit” vs “ABC made only a 20% profit”. Same facts. Throw in some voice inflection and you have a totally different story. Omit the context and you can make any statement have any meaning you want. Add a derisive snort to “ABC Co made a 20% profit” and you could infer that ABC shouldn’t have been making a profit at all. The question every listener should always have is ‘what is the reason the speaker is telling me this information?’

The folks reporting from Ferguson have been practicing the art of the spin from the first report. From endless incomplete and context-less numbers and ‘facts’ to the aforementioned simple colorizing of the words, every side has decided to put race above all else in the telling of the tail of the story.

Why?

The simple reason is that it sells. In a time where the news biz is, to put it mildly, in a state of change, getting people to watch, read or login is more important than what that brightly colored story might be doing. We already live in a constant state of seige when it comes to political correctness and long gone are the times when the “truth” can be told forthrightly and factually. Essential is the need for abstraction and obfuscation when the facts might point out a situation where the PC police may storm down doors.

Could selling the news be the sole reason for the lack of clarity and bias in the reports? Anything else is speculation and starts to cross that line between fact and conspiracy. However, it’s wise to keep in mind how much of the news is owned by corporations and people with very specific agendas. CNN and Turner Broadcasting certainly bring a liberal slant to the arena. No one can dispute that the Fox people have taken the ‘fair and balanced’ tagline to be an obvious joke.

So there are three very clear factors influencing the reports from Ferguson (and everywhere else): political correctness, the need to sell the news and the beliefs and agendas of those funding the reporting. Underlying all of this is the case that many Americans are undereducated and the fact that we are a very very polarized nation.

The truth is that racism is alive and well. The truth also is that, for whatever the reason, black males are more likely to commit crimes and be the victims when it comes to police violence. Despite that, stories that have race as a component can still be told factually and honestly. They NEED to be. Importantly, the media should telling stories WITHOUT resorting to involving race unless it’s a primary factor. The nightly news has largely dropped the “two fill-in-the-color men robbed the…” line for “two men robbed…” instead. Unless there is a request for public help, how does the race help?

This egalitarianism is not always because race is unimportant. Often, it’s because the PC police don’t want race mentioned. That is part of what is happening in Ferguson. White cop shoots unarmed black teenager scream the headlines and soundbites. Ferguson police force only has three black officers is another tagline. These are deliberately inflammatory statements when unaccompanied by context. How many cops are there on the force total? How many blacks applied? These questions and numbers aren’t sharing space on the front page.

There is a disturbing ‘other side’ to this pc-filtered news media. Each outlet, unless they wish to be known as biased (and therefore attractive to those in the audience seeking a voice that validates their own viewpoints), knows the line they must toe in order to keep at bay the pc police who are hanging on every word said and every image broadcast. Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center watches for the jews, the good Rev Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for blacks, La Raza spokesmen for the latinos, all wait for just the hint of anything they can spin into a racist remark.

There are other stories and concerns wrapped up in the Ferguson story. Important concerns. Why are so many cops outfitted like soldiers? Why are armored personal carriers part of the police arsenal? Have the people they police changed that much? Or have the police? Which is the cause and which the effect? These are concerns and questions, especially in light of activities like those of the NSA, that should come out of the preppers forums and into the mainstream media. That’s not the subject here.

Watching John Oliver the other night, I saw him use these same techniques. Numbers with no context. Facts with no numbers. He said there was no correlation between the fact that the young man had robbed a store just moments before he was shot, then offered jokes about other non related incidents. Jokes? Is anything about this a joke? Normally Oliver takes a very biased, progressive viewpoint on any subject he’s going to rant about and that’s why people tune in. It’s why I tune in and I don’t often agree with his sentiments.

What’s true here is that a policeman shot and killed an unarmed man. That alone, without resort to color or weapons or any other factor, should be of concern to all Americans. Why our media – and in response, just about everyone else from the president down – needs to amp up a story with a headline like that should also be of concern to all of us.

Every time anyone tells you anything – they are trying to sell you something. Mom telling her kids to look both ways before crossing the street is selling them on safety. Johnny telling Jenny how cute she looks today is selling himself. The math teacher telling his students that 2 plus 2 equals 4 is selling knowledge.

What is our media trying to sell us? The message is so confused that even the doublethink of Orwell”s 1984 is less ambiguous. In that world, people knew the truth was both a lie and the truth. They accepted that the truth of yesterday became the lie today. Our world is more like that world than we care or want to admit.

Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.

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~ by Mad Prophet on August 26, 2014.

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