Posts Tagged ‘absurdities’

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TWELVE WORDS

June 21, 2009

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“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities,

can make you commit atrocities.”

I know. I know. It’s just a bumper sticker.

But words are powerful. I wrote them down and drove off. As I continued running my errands that day, the sentence stayed with me. When I had the opportunity, I did a little “googling.”

With the exception of one word, the sentence is a quote from François-Marie Arouet, whose pen name is Voltaire. (He used the word “those” instead of “anyone.) After doing a little more research, I learned that this man was a bit of a non-conformist in his day. A contrarian, much like me.

A few days later, I was visiting with family and as is often the case, I started hearing FOX News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. “We’re losing our freedoms, one by one.” “We’re slowly becoming a European country” and “Our image around the world is weakening.” I listened to about three minutes of it, temporarily excused myself, and called my wife to tell her I was on my way.

As I was driving home, I remembered the Voltaire quote. While I know that no one in my family is capable of committing atrocities, I also know there are those who listen to hateful language from TV commentators and radio talk show hosts, day in and day out, that take these words to heart. Sadly and pathetically, some act on them.

Police officers killed in Pennsylvania because the shooter believed that President Obama was going to take his guns away. Where did he get that idea?

Dr. George Tiller murdered for performing legal medical procedures. Where did this gunman get the idea that Dr. Tiller was illegally killing babies?

To be sure, Bill O’Reilly is not Walter Conkrite and Keith Olbermann is not Tom Brokaw.

The 21st century, while bringing us incredible information technology, has also forced conventional media to move away from truth-telling to what has been called “Tabloid Television” and “Shock Radio.” The days of truthful television and radio “news” programs are all but gone.

If you are looking for the truth, unfortunately, you have to search for it. Fortunately, we have the internet. Yes, there’s plenty of spin there as well, but there are also plenty of facts. It’s not hard to discern the difference. The internet was responsible for the outcomes in the 2006 and 2008 elections. People started researching the “facts” heard on TV and radio, learned the truth about those “facts,” and voted accordingly. The corporate “noise machines” were not able to control the message, regardless of how many TV affiliates, radio stations and newspapers they owned. TV and radio ratings are becoming less and less significant. Internet traffic to news and information/video websites is the future.

Hearing absurdities from commentators is entertaining. Hearing them repeated by family members is something entirely different. My reaction is a mixture of surprise and sadness. The surprise is that these are educated people with good jobs and young families. The sadness – and concern – is for the children. What’s the take-away message for them when they hear their parents talking like this? No hope? No freedom? No future? No security? Hate? Fear?

Just a bumper sticker?

Really?

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com