“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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Passion: The Intervention

Posted on March 4, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

C’mon!  Get outta here!!  PCs got passion?  Sneakers got passion?  If you doubt that, pay attention to those television ads.

The “how to” guide I read that introduced me to this blogging thing makes the innocent observation up front that, at some point, I must get passionate about this pursuit if I wish to be “successful” at it.  Fair enough, I can concur with that usage, but, the author almost lost me a few paragraphs later when, in lieu of the word interests, he plugged in passions — repeatedly.  Within the context of that author’s point, I — like the cheetah — would have “checked out all the interesting choices, made a selection, then broke into an all-out passionate sprint toward the goal.”  Actually, had I written the manual, the words passion and passionate would not have appeared at all.  There are too many other words available without resorting to perfunctory HYPERBOLE.  The use of passion here is way overstating the effort.

Passion, it seems, is perceived as being a mere synonym of interest, but, passion is not a synonym for anything.  Using it as such says, “Look, everybody, I’m ignorant but Bertrand Russell used the word wrong decades ago, and he is a Great Learned one, so it must be a refined word, and, by using it indiscriminately myself, maybe you will mistake me for a Great Learned Refined Person.”  Maybe that sounds a bit mean-spirited, but, I just get riled up over this repeating-by-rote-because-it-sounds-refined thing.  And, it’s not my fault either, because PBS is the one that sensitized  me to it.

Passion is not a choice.  It is an imposed condition, a restless beast caged within, responding only to the command of its master, the mysterious Psyche.  We do not schedule its release, it is just suddenly there like a lightning-torched forest fire, and we succumb to its power, either in anguish or mindless exhilaration, so long as it rages.

How about it, writers and speakers?  Let’s get Passion off that street corner, pandering that which defines it to every trite expression that walks by and every product or service looking to really appear relevant.  Have you no sense of shame?  (I shouldn’t have asked that question; I know the answer.)

Next up:  I dunno.  It’s a new week, I’ll think up something.

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