A New York Times article, “Why Spin Is Good for Democracy,” caught my attention like a large pile of cow dung on the trail, or rather front page. Unlike the author David Greenberg, Rutgers University Professor of History and Journalism and Media Studies and Who Knows What Else, I loathe spin. The article is a fine example of mind-numbing spinning of spin itself, as if we all needed that.
“Spin, on the other hand, has an impish quality; it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Spin winks at its own truth stretching. It signals to the journalists who report it and the audiences who consume it that they’re getting a partial, even insincere, version of events. But it also suggests that this grazing of the truth is no grounds for alarm, because, after all, politics has never been the realm of dispassionate truth-telling.”
Likely, Greenberg is working a spinner’s vein of paid speeches and publications, ever pushing spin as some kind of wonderful thing for democracy in an onslaught of blather from the comfy bastion of his buffered academic sinecure. His essay might as well have been called, “Why Nonsense Is Good for Democracy.”
It is nearly impossible for me to fathom those like Greenberg who actually enjoyed watching former White House Press Secretary James Carney (or now Josh Earnest, though not a journalist) blatantly lie to the press and public and openly display just how corrupt journalists like him could be.
In light of the recent veiled (ha!) threats aimed at the creators of the television show South Park… by bloggers on Revolution Muslim's website, we hereby deem May 20, 2010 as the first 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' Do your part to both water down the pool of targets and, oh yeah, defend a little something our country is famous for (but maybe not for long? Comedy Central cooperated with terrorists and pulled the episode) the first amendment. - Molly Norris (prior to April 20, 2010)
I'm against my own concept becoming a reality.... If I had wanted to be taken seriously, I would be thrilled, but now I'm horrified because people did take it as an actual day. The one-off cartoon is not good as a long term plan because it's offensive. - Molly Norris (April 20, 2010)
………………… - Molly Norris (after April 20, 2010)
Ideology blinds. Ideology always trumps reason and fact. It is thus sad when ideology corrupts journalists, as it evidently and seemingly increasingly has been doing. Facts are ignored and even suppressed. It is also sad when ideology corrupts organizations, whose essential goal is to promote freedom of speech like PEN, American Library Association, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).
Sadly the New York Times has been accelerating into the abyss of All the News That’s Fit for Left-Wing Ideologues. As a dissident writer and cartoonist, my creative mill demands the absurd and inane, which is why I consult that newspaper every day. So, I had a strong feeling one of its op-eds, “Diversity Makes You Brighter,” written by two professors, Sheen S. Levine and David Stark, would border on vacuity, which is why I read through it… several times.
First, what we are really dealing with today is FORCED diversity—social engineering and indoctrination, whether you, dear citizen, like it or not—, as opposed to educational immersion in foreign cultures, which many students voluntarily seek to experience. In the op-ed, the two professors fail to mention how their “experiments” in diversity might have been performed in accord with the precepts of scientific statistical analysis.
They fail to mention how many subjects were included in the “experiments” (a sufficient number to extrapolate?) and how they possibly determined that the Joe White subjects were intellectually equal to the Joe Black subjects… and how they managed to conclude that a group of all Joe Whites was inferior in learning capacity to a mixed group of Joe Whites and Joe Blacks. It all sounds insane, n’est-ce pas? In fact, to produce valid scientific evidence from such a subjective concern as diversity would seem highly unlikely. How could the two professors not realize that? Were their conclusions pre-determined?
So, what is civility? Why do those who call for it usually not even make an attempt to define it? Columnist Jeff Jacoby did not define civility in his Boston Globe essay, “American Politics Needs More Civility, Not Less.” He evokes the incivility of those who’ve compared Obama to Hitler. But why evoke that or even Obama's implying people who disagree with him are no better than Iranian Islamist hardliners? Instead, the focus should be on Obama’s purposeful lying about Benghazi, the ACA, etc., as well as his lack of transparency in the Iran deal, and egregious hypocrisy (lavish lifestyle vs. income equality blather and stonewalling/secrecy vs. most transparent president in history blather). Oops, am I being uncivil?
Vagueness, of course, enables facile evocation, right and left, and in between. In reality, the call for civility is often a thinly-veiled ploy to push citizens to march in lockstep with a given ideology or even with some undefined code of behavior, always uncritical in nature. But without criticism, problems cannot be addressed and thus cannot be resolved. The call for civility serves to buffer those in power, be they leaders of a particular ideology, politicians, academics, or whomever.
Periodically the call for civility rises, especially, in academe and politics, two places where focus should not be on civility at all, but rather on democracy, especially its two cornerstones of freedom of speech and vigorous debate. The Charlie Hebdo massacre, provoked by freedom of expression, inevitably brought on the call for civility (i.e., stifling freedom of expression). Yes, the murdered cartoonists deserved what they got because they were uncivil, that is, disrespectful of Muslim fundamentalists and Islam. Openly criticize the latter and, of course, risk being labeled an islamophobe, that is, an uncivil critic of Islam. More recently, Donald Trump provoked the call for civility regarding his criticism of illegal immigrants.
...While Simultaneously Boasting Advocacy of Free Speech.
So anyway, the thing that I come to — I used this phrase on TV the other day— the rise of the “but brigade.” I got so sick of the goddamn but brigade. And now the moment somebody says ‘Yes I believe in free speech, but,” I stop listening. “I believe in free speech, but people should behave themselves.” “I believe in free speech, but we shouldn’t upset anybody.” “I believe in free speech, but let’s not go too far.” — Salman Rushdie, regarding the Charlie Hebdo massacre
Free speech does not mean inoffensive speech. It means all speech, left-wing and right-wing and in-the-fuck-between… with, of course, the exception of speech that calls for violence and that violence is LIKELY to occur due to it. Heavy constant indoctrination, however, is creating a populace that tends to disagree with legality.
Rare it was for me to engage in a free-speech fight with a free-speech advocate. Usually, the response was either very brief, as with PEN America Executive Director Susan Nossel and National Coalition Against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin, or simply non existent, as with PEN New England Executive Director Karen Wulf and New England First Amendent Center Executive Director Rosanna Cavanagh. When such free-speech organizations are challenged, oddly they usually prefer not to respond. After all, how can one challenge organizations devoted to free speech? Well, quite simply, one can and should when those organizations behave hypocritically and have become politicized and/or prove incapable of accepting outside criticism (i.e., free speech).
“All the feel-good videos, songs, stories, posters, and conversations have done squat,” notes Global Free Press publisher Trevor Hill in “Humans We’re Losing the Race.” So, why yet another conversation… which will do squat? The answer is quite simple: free expression of an opinion in a democracy. The following reaction to Hill’s conversation is a feel-bad conversation… which will also do squat.
One might question, however, the do-squat conclusion. After all, the multitude of conversations about race have become a multimillion-dollar industry, making some people lots and lots of money, especially in the realm of academe. Think of the high salaries and life-time sinecures of the multitude of superfluous professors, directors, and chancellors of diversity, whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the conversation about race.