Constitution

“The People Have A Right To Know”

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

In the movies, the justification given by our character of sleaze as to why he/she felt compelled to publish a personally harmful/embarrassing story (usually in the tabloid venue) with no societal relevance, is:  “The people have a right to know.”  I’ll have to take the movies’ lead on this since I have never had the opportunity to confront a gossip monger and demand to know why she/he felt compelled to print such harmful material.

But, rights are spelled out in the Constitution.  Nowhere did I see an open-ended clause saying, “The People have a right to know.”  It does say the People have a right to blab what they know, but, nowhere does it command that The People be informed of anything.  Do I really have to know that Councilman Big Shot had a bed-wetting problem when he was a child…  or NOW, for that matter?  In the pursuit of my alleged “right to know,” is it right for me or anyone else to snoop around in people’s private lives looking for embarrassing anecdotes?

Would The People also have a right NOT to know?  Oh…   yeah!  You just change the channel or don’t buy the offending publication.  But, the purveyors of sleaze (a.k.a., The Press) know what The People will buy, and the popularity and profitability of their product attest to that acuity.  People like to see others as less than themselves.  By golly, we just need someone to pick on.  It is especially satisfying to see persons from a higher moral, social, or economic plane get a little mud on their halos, evening gowns, and tax returns.  And, if we join others in the ridicule of some hapless (preferably defenseless) target, we have a common bond in the cowardly persecution of another…   we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  It isn’t right (read “moral”), but, it is legal.  And, it is an indigent part of the uglier side of human nature.

Pandering to humanity’s darker side does produce larger audiences (read “big bucks”).  Going native (cheap and petty) now and then seems to bring in the customers for even the “classier” media, possibly more so for broadcast than the legitimate press.  How much mileage did media of all kind get out of flaying the psyche of that young entertainer caught in the wallow of sudden fame?  Paparazzi, tabloids, entertainment media, main stream news media, all joining to publicly ridicule a lone soul derailed by the suddenness and scope of celebrity status.  Did you people get a real thrill out of beating up on a kid?

Her every move documented, her every misstep ridiculed.  Why, you even pretended to be concerned with the “Well, she’s in rehab…   again!  (Wink)  (Wink)”  news lead-in.  As a matter of speculation, how  much did negative and malicious press contribute to her troubles?

But, all of you (and , this includes the morning DJs who feel compelled to deliver a good-morning laugh at someone else’s expense, have sure as hell made it to my piss ant list.  Which list, under MY freedom of expression, I have the right to maintain.  And, I have no legal obligation to leave you OFF the list.  To restate your own mantra, “Pandering media has the right to know that they are piss ants.”

Next up:  Yellow journalism is alive and well

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Responsibility

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

As in accountability and blame for.

That good ol’ First Amendment gives to all of us the right to broadcast our views and news, either wirelessly or via that old-fashioned Gutenberg press (Version 1442.2012)  Print it, text it, blather it.  Used to be, only those with expensive and difficult-to-use printing devices or broadcasting equipment could get the goods out there, but, now anyone with a computer and web access has the same avenue as the big boys.  Just write, text, or talk whatever comes to mind, punch a button, and, WOW! everyone in the world can instantly share.

This constitutional freedom of (ex)press(ion) does not specify that the grantees (that be us) exercise due care to not hurt the feelings of other persons.  In fact, libeling other persons, inciting public unrest or sedition, and endangering national security are just about the only restraints on the expression of opinions while telling stories about all them other people and events.  So, emphasizing the sensational, salacious, and sleazy ain’t aginst th’ law…   maybe in poor taste, even malicious…   but, not illegal.  So, if not Big Brother, then, who does arbitrate the good, the bad and the ugly of our social literary mores?

Drum roll, please…

Cue the trumpets…

READY?  …We the People! (with a big “P” just like “The Press”)  Ain’t freedom grand?  Every time we pay attention to some item (broadcast, i-net site) or lay our money down for a book or other publication, we “vote”, as a society, on what we want to know and how we are told about it.

Information is packaged just like hard goods.  How to books, biographies, fashion trends (okay, my list is about 200 pages long, so I’ll just say…) …you get the picture.  The packaging itself is a marketing tool.  Hard goods (say that cordless hair-dryer you’ve always wanted) with attractive pictures and clean wording describing the product;  books and magazines with glossy, imaginative cover designs; celebrity and current trending periodicals with surprising pictures and tantalizing headlines;  tabloids and news outlets winging it every issue.  Getting the attention of the audience is paramount, and, the marketing that The People pay attention to is the marketing that proliferates.  Tired of seeing all those lurid tabloids at the check-out station?  Sorry, but, The People have spoken — at least enough of them to make the genre profitable.

Now that we have that settled, I’ve been wanting to talk to the rest of you about your choices of what is “good.”  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to tell you how to think, but, c’mon…   really?  The Simpsons and that  whole genre for all these years?

I… apologize… for that.  Entertainment choices are a whole different field.  Escapism can take many forms, and, we might lose ourselves in anything (action, satire, comedy, romance, nature…) while seeking relief from the daily reality.  Anything to restore balance to our manias.

But, really…   The Simpsons?   …lest you think I am intolerant, I did tune it in once and saw that  w-h-o-l-e  episode.  I’ve been doing avoidance therapy ever since.

Dense populations (numbers, not a surfeit of bone heads) means big markets for everything.  (Oh!  Just received a quick-note from the Marketing Management Association.  Says, “Don’t be so quick to rule out bone heads as viable and lucrative market targets.“)  O-kay…   moving right along, we got your internet, lots of restaurants, clubs, smart phones, computer games, land-a-date-if-youre-lucky, identity thieves, the evening and local news, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, e-Bay, tons of bail bondsmen, and bunches more of marketers.  All after our money.  None wanting to wait in line.  Each eager to touch us first.  That advertising scene is one frantic jungle.

Next up:  “The public has a right to know”

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Who Needs a Stinking Resume?

Posted on February 15, 2012. Filed under: Constitution | Tags: , , , , , |

At the onset of this little venture, I imagined I should have a post or two outlining my experience in this sort of thing, and, why you should take the time to consider my offerings.  However, my cynical nature took over, and, I thought, “This will just be about my opinions and views on things.  I got plenty of experience in expressing all that.  Any readers coming this way will have to hear what I got to say before they can decide for themselves whether they resonate with it or are repulsed.”  I don’t need a resume to sound off, and, you sure don’t one to decide like or dislike.  What’s nice is having the freedom to express, and, the  freedom to consider, viewpoints.

Yet, another diversion.  I did want to go on about me a little more, but, that last line brings us earlier than expected to the primary goal of these writings:  WORDS.  More specifically, the misuse and misapplication of words, according to me.  The current subject, freedom of speech, brings up one such expression,

…The Fourth Estate.  Wikipedia has a detailed and informative entry on the origins and applications of the term, but, as I get the gist, it refers to power and influence brokers operating outside the parameters of an established government.  While many of these organizations are labeled “fourth estate” by third parties, some like the allusion to power and privilege and take on the mantle like a cber’s handle.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Press.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution reads, in part:  “Congress shall make no law…   abridging the freedom of speech; or of the press;”  The Constitution — the supreme law of the land — goes to great lengths to delineate the parameters of power for the enumerated principals, to wit, Executive, Legislature, Judicial, and, even though an afterthought, The People of the United States, for whom the original 10 amendments were penned.

Excuse me!  For whom?  The People!  Not a piece of machinery called “the press” nor a select group of people who call themselves “The Press,” but, every person of the United States, with or without a press pass.  So, we (you and I) are the Fourth Estate of power, sharing and acting on popular ideas and initiatives.  We do not need Brian what’s-his-name (a national t.v. anchor person) feeling like he has to “examine the issues and explain them” to us; like Bryan, we stumbled our way to the bathroom this morning and took care of business just as efficiently as he did.  We can decide what the issues mean for ourselves.

Fourth Estate, my onager.  Journalists, reporters, and anchor persons all have niches in my cache of cynicism and resentment.  Michele Malkin sums up their on-screen pomposity nicely:  nothing but teleprompter readers.

Next up:  Getting back to me.

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