This week I want to talk about free speech, the media and that which
comes out of our mouths. This should be excellent bed time reading
and is presented to you in five acts.
Act I Just a movie?
“Broadcast News” was a darkly comedic movie that dealt with the state
of television news in the mid-eighties. I remember a portion of the
movie in which one of the broadcasters warned of changes to come;
changes which would make the news lighter and much less meaty. It
seemed unlikely at the time, unfortunately that time has come.
Act II Entertainment Tonight
It seems “real news” and “entertainment news” has become a blended
mess. I don’t know the actor, Robert Pattinson, so it seems odd that
I should know as much as I do about his relationship with fellow
actor Kristen Stewart. In the past, celebrity information would have
been restricted to “entertainment news” however I can now hear news
about my favorite celebrity (who doesn’t exist) right on the local
television news program. There is no safe place on television news
from gerbil-like social lives of the famous.
Act III The paper on your porch
I see the last refuge of real news in the small-town newspapers and
radio stations. The resources of local media may be small however
they seem to understand the spirit of the first amendment. I see the
recent efforts of local media in the Thief River Falls city
government problems as integral to solving these problems. What would
have happened without the efforts of local news media is quite
simple; a malevolent silence and continued lack of transparency.
Act IV Free, responsible speech
The importance of the first amendment is that citizens are protected
in their right to speak out against their government. The right of
free speech also carries the responsibility of accurate speech. I
become a bit furious when people make a statement and lack the
ability to substantiate the opinion with fact. I call these
statements “flavored air” as its owner must feel that as long as they
are breathing they might just as well scent their breathe with
whatever odd, unsubstantiated thought they happen to be carrying
around at the time. These statements are second in their negative
effect only to the half-truths broadcast by subjective news media.
Act V Why did Miley cut her hair?
Free speech is also a blessing to any standing government as words
are a much gentler hand to create change than the tumult of revolt.
Real democracy craves the opinions of the people of which is consists
as that that is the only road to legitimate governance. If the people
are not allowed their first amendment rights then they may invoke
other rights which protect them from a fascist government. Freedom of
the Press was created as our first amendment to protect us from our
government as it created the other amendments. It is as important to
the life of democracy as any physical protection from outside
invader. Maybe that is why I get a little offended when the press
can only tell me why Miley Cyrus cut her hair.