Tag Archives: broadcasting

A Thought For the Day from Edward R. Murrow

Murrow QuoteEnough said.

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Filed under media, media ownership

Things that could get me to toss confetti in 2013

ConfettiThere are things that could get me to toss confetti for 2013.   Not many, mind you, which would justify the consequent vacuuming, but a goodly handful.

#1. The Senate of the United States of America does something constructive with the FILIBUSTER rule.   The original rule was intended to prevent the willful trampling of minority points of view, but the abuse of the rule is now part of the clichéd “Washington Gridlock.”  There is a delicate balance between Majority Rule and Minority Rights, but Obstruction for its own sake is not a laudable occupation.

#2. The Republicans in the House of Representatives eschew the  Hastert Rule , under which a majority of the majority party caucus must agree to the passage of a bill before a vote can be taken on the House floor.  This might have been a lovely idea if the current majority party caucus weren’t the replication of that other cliché– a wheelbarrow load of frogs.  Governance requires compromise, and compromise demands the admission that we don’t always get everything we want.  Ideological posturing is not a substitute for principled discourse.

#3.  Someone in a position to do something about it finally figures out that arguments over raising the debt ceiling are academic at best and consummately silly at worst — rather like announcing that because I overspent my budget for this holiday season I’m going to chop up my credit cards and not pay the bills.  Aside from being the most fiscally irresponsible action imaginable, it’s also a manifestation of the idea that the full faith and credit of the United States is some kind of bargaining chip in ideological squabbling.

#4. The National Rifle Association (aka No Rational Argument) stops pretending to care about the right of our citizens to keep and bear arms, and honestly announces that its ultimate intention is to promote the sale of as many firearms as its manufacturing donors can create.  After that, it should be far easier to discuss comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and banning military style assault weapons.

#5. More people, perhaps even more people in the national media, stop referring to “The” government and start calling it what it is — OUR government.   “The” government calls to mind the institution which cracks down on Moonshiners, or enforces school integration, or ignores calls to make Jefferson Davis’s birthday a national holiday.  “The” government didn’t decide to integrate public schools — “our” government did. “The” government didn’t decide to enact regulations to prevent air and water pollution — “our” government did.  And, “The” government didn’t create the Food Stamp (SNAP) program — “our” government did that.  And so it goes.  Continual references to “The” government is an unfortunate holdover from the Reaganesque caricature of government designed to promote the financial health of the economic elite by appealing to the discontent with those laws “our” government enacted to promote OUR general welfare.

#6. Our representatives on Capitol Hill learn to say “____ isn’t the end of the world as we know it.”  I could do with a great deal less hysterical hyperbole.  “This is the Largest Tax Increase In The History of the Universe!”  Probably not.  “This is the worst violation of human rights ever!” Probably not that either.  “This will create the worst calamity known to man.” Probably not.  “This will destroy our ____.”  Again, probably not.  Excuse me while I chuckle at the pomposity of this meaningless prognostication.

#7.  Journalists who seek to inform me via the television set prove to be (1) knowledgeable about the subject under discussion, and (2) include fact checking as part of the “context” of which they speak so often.  If a statement made by a politician is factually inaccurate, they will tell me; and I hope they’ll be able to offer a correction.  I really don’t care if they are correcting the record in the wake of Left Wing Larry or Right Wing Richard’s pontification.  The object of the exercise should be to impart accurate information so far as it can be known — I can get my “entertainment” elsewhere.  Bluntly, the “he said, she said, and then he said” reactions from professional chatterati or elected representatives is less entertaining than a good professional wrestling match, which at least has the grace to admit it’s a scripted farce.

#8. Somebody finally declares the Culture Wars over and done with.  Our contemporary version appears to incorporate a toxic dose of good old fashioned misogyny.  Women make up about 51% of our population and telling them they cannot have an abortion (even in the cases of an ectopic pregnancy or as the result of a rape) is paternalistic to the core.  Worse still would be telling them that their employer can decide if their health insurance plan covers contraceptive medication.

#9.  On a related note, it really doesn’t do to blame God for everything.  I’d cheer the week that some blowhards weren’t showcased in the media for pronouncing God’s Wrath for … whatever.  Hurricane Katrina — God’s wrath for a Gay Pride gathering? Really?  God’s wrath because we don’t pray hard enough?  That certainly doesn’t explain the attack on congregants in the Knoxville Unitarian church.  God’s Wrath because we don’t have organized  prayer in schools? Huh?  No one at Columbine High School, Platte County High School, Northern Illinois University, Virginia Tech University, or Sandy Hook Elementary knew how to pray and practiced it regularly? Spare me the Westboro Wannabes who “know” the mind of God better than a six year old child.

#10.  The confetti will fly when we begin to have a serious discussion about global climate change without having to incorporate the phony “science” offered up by the fossil fuel industry.  No, there isn’t a “controversy” here. And, no reputable science deflects our responsibility as human beings for the contamination of which we are clearly capable.

Speaking of the Almighty, there’s an old story about the man caught in a flood which seems appropriate at the moment.  “Why, he cried out to God, am a trapped in these flood waters?”  The Almighty, sorely tired of listening to the wailing, said, “I sent you warnings.” “When?”  “When?” responded the Deity. “When indeed.” “I sent you warnings on the radio. You ignored me. I sent you warnings in television broadcasts, and you ignored me. I even sent a deputy sheriff to personally advise you to evacuate. And, you ignored him too.”  ….

We’ve been visited with major named storms, watched ice caps diminish, seen glaciers disappear… and all together too many people are ignoring the warnings.

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, ecology, energy policy, family issues, Federal budget, filibuster, Filibusters, Global warming, Gun Issues, Health Care, national debt, pollution, public health, racism, religion, VA Tech, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Republican Sectarianism and the Radio Broadcaster

It’s nice to hear from honest people speaking honestly.  For example, the owner of Reno, Nevada’s KKFT-FM radio who pulled the plug on a broadcaster because a discussion of LGBT issues didn’t fit the “conservative” station format. [RGJ]  No surprise that the station is a Fox affiliate.  What is surprising is the knee jerk reaction to any discussion of LGBT issues as intrinsically “liberal.”

The owner and manager of the station must not be aware of, or is antithetical to, the efforts of LGBT conservatives, who are CPAC members,  host internet sites for information and talking point distribution, and political networking.  See GayConservative.Org.  Additionally, he must have missed the advertising purchased during the Tampa convention in which Log Cabin Republicans and YCFM offered a defense of marriage as a primary social institution. [Advocate]

The second aspect of the reaction which is disturbing is that the station manager’s action only serves to further constrict entrance into the Republican tent.  Eliminating a program because a topic is controversial in some quarters informs other quarters that not only must the message be acceptable but the messenger also.   Discussions of gay marriage do not have to be  diametrically opposed diatribes between Focus on the Family and the proponents of gay marriage.   They don’t have to be, unless it’s predetermined that there is “no other side,” and divergent opinions are heretical and must be suppressed.

Major religions define heresy as the adoption of illegitimate or inauthentic beliefs and practices deviating from the standards or tenets of the faith.  Repression of inauthentic views (as defined by the institution) goes beyond disagreement. A sect which adopts some (but not all) of the illegitimate tenets may still be identified with the larger institution.  However, step too far beyond the bounds, as did the Beguines, the Cathars, the Hussites, or the Lollards, and the group finds itself outlawed.

Removing a program from a conservative broadcasting affiliate is an action more analogous to the dissolution of the Beguines than the accommodations of the Anglican Church after the Restoration.   At some point the institution, often in the case of religious organizations, becomes exclusionary or  “confessional” in nature rather than inclusive in structure.   The vision of a political party becoming a confessional entity is systemically narrowed.  The function of a political party is to win elections.  However, a political party winnowed down to a confessional faith artificially and unnecessarily diminishes its effectiveness in the service of ideological purity.  Ideological purity is vital in some religious realms to achieve salvation.  It does not augment the ability to win elections.

Finally, the action taken by the station manager simply adds yet another example of hypocrisy to the scales by which we measure ‘fair and balanced.’ Being fair doesn’t always require being balanced.  Only in the most radical corners of alternative universes is the Earth flat, is the female reproductive system capable of differentiating between friendly and hostile sperm, and should rain forests be bulldozed to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Balance doesn’t always require fairness.  A balanced discourse is one in which divergent views are recognized as legitimate — they do not have to be acknowledged as accurate.  I may, for example, argue employment numbers are a lagging economic indicator, and as such may lend credence to the proposition that they usually should not be combined with more short term variables like stock market prices to create a picture of economic decline, stagnation, or growth at any given moment.  However, I have to acknowledge the proposition that whether they are immediate or lagging, they are what they are — and the U6 numbers should be incorporated into any meaningful discussion.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but the station manager’s action was neither fair, nor balanced.

It’s acceptable to categorize arguments in almost any facet of American politics as ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible.  That more than a few proposals are ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible doesn’t mean  there aren’t people who legitimately believe in them.   It’s when institutions de-legitimize beliefs which don’t align with their confessions of faith that the process of ‘burning heretics’ begins.  A person need not be singed or burned in order to be drummed from the corps of believers — drum out too many and the institution is in danger of devolving into a sect.

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