Archive » March 27, 2008
CAMPAIGNS SHOW ELECTORATE, MEDIA TO BE VACUOUS
By Kevin Swanson, Contributing Writer
Campaigns show electorate, media to be vacuous
If I heard U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., correctly, heís been quoting an old saw about politics and calling this the ďsilly season.Ē Itís that time of year when politicians run around trying to get elected. But if you allow me to exercise some poetic license, I believe the silly season, much like the flu, has become an epidemic.
People appear to have abdicated their right to form considered opinions and have become silly.
Evidence to the point:
Let us for a moment consider a recent silliness. Now, to be honest, I havenít seen or heard what Obamaís pastor said, but it must have really been something to stir up this flap as seen in the media. I have a question though: are the opinions expressed by Pastor Wright not the same opinions voiced around America every day? In the court of public opinion, the media would have us believe that Obama is guilty by association. Secondly, if this were Buddy OíBrianís priest from some small church in Anywhere, USA, it might have made the letter to the editor column in the local newspaper.
Iíd like to venture a hypothesis that, so long as we insist that no one speak ill of government or America, the problems that we face wonít get dealt with; I believe that is what I heard when I watched Obamaís speech regarding this issue.
However, rather than proceeding logically, establishing a protocol to test this hypothesis and then draw a conclusion based on evidence, the media is content to report and re-report and re-report the original story. Itís as if the media has some idea that by dissecting this issue over and over again we will gain some insight into who Obama is. As a former science teacher I can tell you, the more times you dissect something the less recognizable it is; sixth grade boys love to chop things down to indistinguishable pieces.
Opinion: If this isnít silliness, I donít know what is.
Have our schools failed us so badly that we canít watch a man while listening to his words and decide for ourselves what his values and conduct will forecast? Why do we need commentators to tell us what to make of something? At what point did we abdicate our ability to think?
The conspiracy theorists among us might say that itís a plan by government to provide such poor schooling that the electorate wonít be able to think critically for themselves. That would allow the electorate to be manipulated, with the media as an unwitting accomplice, by the politicians. Sound far-fetched? America elected and listened to George W. Bush when he said going to war was a good idea.
Which is the greater silliness?
A- To listen to a man personally to know what he thinks.
B- To listen to sixteen people give their opinions on what he thinks?
The term disenfranchised has been used of late when speaking of the voters. Itís a fancy way of saying driven to apathy. Are we really so silly that we need to watch something be chopped to bits? If people will eat entrails on TVís ďFear Factor,Ē maybe we are.
The media has disenfranchised me by engaging in silliness.
Obama issued a challenge; at least I heard one. Unless we acknowledge differences of opinion and discuss openly and honestly those differences, they will remain just that. One of the rabbis at a school where I once taught at once told me, ďYou donít have the right to argue with someone until you can defend their point of view to their satisfaction.Ē I think he and Obama would have gotten along very well.
Kevin Swanson, M.S., is the former vice chair of the Commission on Human Relations, Los Angeles Unified School District.