Sticks and Stones

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Every so often,
some dirty little news story surfaces which, despite my best efforts
to ignore it, seizes the national (in)attention with such disproportional
ferocity that I can't help but sit up and wonder at its origin.
While my interest in the often-incoherent ramblings of shock "journalists"
approaches nonexistence, the reaction of the media and the "victims"
to the recent flap over radio host Imus' comments regarding the
Rutgers female basketball team should instruct us all on the nature
of modern media, business in general and the role that consumers
and advertisers play in the policies of both. Ignoring the obvious
fact that such inconsequential blather serves, most importantly,
to distract us from the very real dangers that government poses,
I'd like to focus, instead, on what this incident says about American
society, in general.

Sensationalist
conflict sells. The media perpetuates that conflict by reporting
it. Race-baiting publicity hounds like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson
are products of that reporting and depend almost entirely upon it
for their recognition and income. These parasites could not promote
their divisive propaganda without the endorsement (or demonization)
that that reporting provides. Rev. Sharpton's demand that the FCC
do something about this "hate speech" should come as a
surprise to no one. As trivial as this story seems, it points to
the much larger problem with Americans: their belief that no problem
exists that a little government intervention can't solve. The free
market solution, the simple act of looking away, of withdrawing
one's support of a commodity that one finds reprehensible, simply
doesn't cut it. Nothing short of blood will do.

Sharpton and
Jackson don't want revenge, though. Whatever they may say, they
really seek to engender a culture of victimization, which cements
their positions as racial whistle-blowers in the minds of the "victims"
and guarantees a paycheck to these perpetual pot-stirrers. Few seem
to be saying, though, that this issue really should exist only between
Imus, his employers and their advertisers, who make their decision
to withdraw funding for the show (or maintain it) based on the reactions
of the viewers or listeners.

And what about
these supposed victims? One of the players was quoted as having
said "this has scarred me for life." Really? For life?
It seems hardly possible that what amounts to a schoolyard taunt
should or could scar anyone for life. Please, let's grow up and
move along here, folks. Paying attention to such drivel only lends
it power.

Do we really
want to tell the rest of the world that, far from being the hardy
individualists who fought off the largest empire in the world to
attain the freedom to say and do as we like, we now can't reach
over and hit the power switch on a TV or radio when we hear
something that we don't like? Of course, that assumes that
they don't already see us in this light. Since I find it difficult
to imagine too many countries worldwide whose subjects haven't already
boarded that over-the-cliff bullet train to servitude, I can't see
that our image matters much. What matters is how we see ourselves
in relation to authority and how we act towards it as a result.
We are only the slaves that we make ourselves. Do we really want
to move names into the same category as sticks and stones? I pray
that on this issue of freedom, we can someday look back and say
that we knew at least as much about name-calling as any five-year-old
child.

April
14, 2007

Matthew
Hart [send him mail] is a musician
and songwriter who resides, for the time being, in his home state
of Oklahoma.

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