• 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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