Mainstream Media Denial

Here’s what’s wrong with your anti mainstream media views.

First, the mainstream media is not one thing. It’s not a monolith that’s owned by one group or one dude. There are multiple companies all competing for your attention. They all have certain things in common and they all have flaws but they are not part of some liberal plot to make you ignore all the hidden plots or to make you miss what’s really happening.

They want your attention and they will do what they have to in order to keep you watching. That’s why more mainstream news doesn’t do as well as Fox. They do tend to have more journalistic standards, they don’t always tell people what they want to hear, they try (and sometimes fail) to present events and the facts surrounding them in the most verifiable and neutral way possible.

I’m not talking about editorials or opinion stories. I’m talking about the news, presented as it is, with verified facts, as neutrally as possible. This is another spot where the mainstream media fails to grab your attention the way that Fox grabs the attention of their viewers. They don’t editorialize in as blatant of a way. They are in the words of Donald Trump, the failing news, because young people and more left leaning people don’t get their news from television.

The news reflects the opinions of society in a lot of ways. They call black protestors thugs and they call white terrorists mentally ill lone gunmen, but they also have a set of journalistic standards that they follow and usually it ends up giving them the best set of facts available at the time that they report on something. If there’s a shooting then you can be pretty sure that CNN, MSNBC, or CBS will report what they know and they’ll wait until they know more before saying more. Fox, Rebel, and a whole host of online news sites spanning the field from left to right will often say much more and often they will find themselves wrong once the facts come out.

In one recent shooting among many, it was widely shared that members of Rebel Media made the claim that the assailant was a Muslim when in fact it turned out that it was another white guy. This isn’t by accident, they just don’t care the way that organizations that follow a standard of journalism do.

I’m not trying to say that they’re perfect. They make mistakes, they frame things badly, they’re very American centric and they are deeply rooted in the neoliberalism and capitalism that funds them, but they aren’t making shit up or engaging in coverups the way that some members of society seem to think.

I think that it’s actually a bit of a marketing ploy by news outlets and online personalities to make people doubt the quality of journalism that comes from some of these organizations. It makes some people seem more reliable if they can cast doubt on the media that makes them look like crazed conspiracy nuts. If Fox says there’s a caravan of immigrants invading America and CNN says that it’s a small caravan thousands of miles from the border, then Fox needs you to think that CNN is lying. They need you to be afraid and they need you tuning in. It feeds their ratings, it feeds their advertising, and it feeds the political ideology that they’re paid to push.

When someone online claims that the mainstream media isn’t telling people the whole truth, it’s because they’ve heard it from some other source that they trust more. They’re not thinking critically and though they imagine themselves to be the few who can tell the difference and who see what’s really going on they’re buying exactly what they’ve been told to buy.

We say in our intro music that a lie can travel a thousand miles while the truth is still putting on its shoes and that doesn’t play out anywhere as well as it does in the battle between right wing punditry and the “mainstream media”.  For every hour that Fox and the supposed alternative media outlets are on the air they can infest the world with dozens and dozens of little lies that work to turn regular people into angry, hateful, frightened zealots.

As with most things I don’t have a solution but I do think it’s important to remember that while the mainstream media isn’t perfect they are one of the barriers between us and a descent into authoritarianism.

What’s the deal with globalism?

So I’m sure that everyone has heard of globalism or “the globalists trying to take over the world” but if you’re like me then you may be confused about what that means. I thought I would try to take a bit of a look at some of the information on “globalists”.

First off the word globalist or Globalization simply means the interaction between people, companies, and governments around the world. As technology and ability to travel has increased so has the impact and instances of globalization. This has increased trade, exchanging of culture and ideas, as well as migration of workers and citizens.

This doesn’t seem to big of a deal to me but that doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. Globalization means that multiple countries can have different kinds of impacts on each other. I know that I spend a bit of time criticizing capitalism these days but one downside of globalization in a capitalist system is that countries that don’t embrace capitalism the way that more powerful countries want them to can face sanctions or other restrictions. It can also mean that companies like those in the United States can hire workers in poorer countries with less regulations and less worker unity which can increase their profits but also hurts workers on multiple fronts.

Still, it can also allow for the United Nations to band together and sanction countries that break international laws on things like torture or using chemical weapons. Like with many things globalization seems to be a way to help or hurt different countries depending on the way that it is implemented.

While globalism has a long history stretching back to when ships could travel long distances and different economies and different political ideas could travel with them the conspiracy theories that we’re seeing a lot of today seem to have started in the late 1980s or early 1990s when the term New World Order came about. The New World Order or NWO is considered by those who believe in it to be a secret group of elitists who conspire to rule the world with an authoritarian world government which will replace all the sovereign nation states.

I don’t really have the time to get into all of the different conspiracy theories that go along with this but they go back quite far in history and a list may include, various end time predictions, Freemason conspiracies, the Illuminati, Zionism, The British government taking back over it’s colonies, and many more.

To bring us up to date, one of the things that Donald Trump ran on during his campaign was his fight against globalism. He left it relatively undefined, but he talked about it in much the same terms that most people think of it. Hidden forces, running things behind the scenes, infesting society with the news media, running governments, and running the financial institutions of the world

Some conspiracy theorists reject the use of the term globalism as the mainstream accepts it. They believe that it means there is a group of people who want to take over the world and install a one world government that essentially fits any boogeyman that they can conceive of. From Alex Jones to Lauren Southern to Donald J Trump, they all reject globalism. To quote Lauren Southern, former “journalist” for Rebel Media, “Globalists almost always sneer down their nose at tradition, disdain national culture, laugh at religion and generally despise the West while holding a creepy affection for the third world.They want open borders, cheap labor and antinationalism to benefit their business and political visions, and are all too willing to shaft the little people to achieve it.”

And you know, even if that were true much of it doesn’t sound all that bad. Tradition is stupid, national culture is arbitrary, religion is foolish, and the West is not necessarily the best.

So, I’m not sure where to leave this. As you can see globalism is a real thing that has different effects on different people but isn’t quite the giant evil conspiracy that the far right portray it as. If I’m spitballing here I’d say that many people like Donald Trump take full advantage of what globalism really is while also believing in the conspiracy version because the real globalism helps them profit and using the talking points of the conspiracy help them retain power and influence over their far right supporters.

What’s the Deal with Rape Culture?

According to Wikipedia, rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.

Some of the behaviours included in that are victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these things.

The term itself came about in the 70s and was meant to show the ways in which society blamed the victims of sexual assault and normalized sexual violence. Again according to the wiki, at the time most Americans assumed that rape, incest, and spousal abuse were rare. The concept of rape culture made the claim that rape was actually common in American culture and that it was one of the ways that societal misogyny and sexism were revealed.

Two main books came out at the time that discussed the topic Noreen Connell and Cassandra Wilson wrote Rape: the first sourcebook for women and Susan Brownmiller wrote  Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. These books included a number of first hand accounts of women who were raped and had the intent to show that rape was far more common than was generally believed.

There was also a film in 1975 titled Rape Culture that discussed rape of men as well as women, contained interviews with victim and rapists and examined the medias impact on societal attitudes towards rape.

So, rape culture is essentially a culture in which rape is excused in a number of ways. Victim blaming, focusing on false accusations, accusing all women of making false accusations, and calling rape “rough sex” are all examples of how rape culture excuses the act of rape. Victim blaming can also take a variety of forms including calling attention to the victim’s past promiscuity, pointing out what the victim was wearing, claiming that the victim didn’t fight back enough,  or claiming that the victim shouldn’t have drank so much. There’s also the tendency for some people to just call women who come forward liars or some people just claim that they deserve it for some reason.

Susan Brownmiller brought up 3 ideas in her book Against Our Will that helped bring awareness to some of the myths about rape. First, she pointed out that any woman can be a victim of rape. Victims aren’t tied to any specific age, size, ethnicity, or status. They are not bad or misbehaved women. There is no personal characteristic that leads women to be more likely targeted for rape.
Second, she pointed out that any man can be a rapist. Not just evil men or the mentally ill, which feels ableist just saying it. Men of many different stripes are rapists and as much as the crime of rape is evil they can be just another normal dude who feels entitled to women’s bodies. They can even be supreme court justices.
And third, rape can occur in many different ways and doesn’t always fit the violent forceful rape in a back alley type model that we were kind of taught about for much of the past. We can now say that this can include things like date rape, or situations where someone is too inebriated to consent, or situations where things start off with consent given but change and consent is revoked. They can also include spousal or partner rape which is something that at one time was considered not actually rape.

One of the ways that rape culture is perpetuated is by various acts of sexism which reinforce norms that may foster disrespect for women or disregard for their well being. This can include things like sexist jokes aimed at making all women seem dumb or sexually promiscuous, or it can include slogans of fraternity like “bros before hos” that place the status of one’s male friends above the dignity and well being of women.

There are different takes on what causes rape culture with some claiming that it is about power and dominance while some others disagree and claim that there is no single cause but that it can be rooted in other social aspect of culture. This idea wasn’t fleshed out entirely in my reading, but it may tie to the previously mentioned acts of sexism in which some men consider themselves entitled to women’s bodies or they have such a denigrated view of women that they barely consider them to be people with autonomy. This seems to be something I’ve seen in something called bimbo culture in which women are considered to be nothing more than sex dolls with no personality or autonomy of their own separate from the men they are meant to give pleasure to.

Rape culture is considered always changing and adapting so that it will be considered legitimate. Currently much of rape culture is filtered through lenses of gender roles and heteronormativity but that could change if it suits those who commit rapes and are in positions of influence over culture. An example might be when someone like Donald Trump who has pretty massive influence says that he doesn’t believe someone who has come forward as a victim of sexual assault then a lot of people will start talking about not believing victims of sexual assault.

­That’s all I have for now but I think that’s enough


The Danger of the Far Right

The Danger of the Far Right

I wanted to write a rant on the far right and their rise to prominence, the utter fear for marginalized people that this fills me with, and the need for action of some kind to stop them from carrying out even more harmful acts or gaining any more power but I keep getting caught up in the details.

There’s a reason that there are multiple people writing books on this subject from multiple angles. The far right isn’t just one thing, it’s many. They are well funded, totally propagandized, living in an alternate universe, and they’re a danger to everyone around them. They could also just be the guy in the cubicle next to you and you might never know it.

So much of the information that I’ve been reading, listening to, and talking to people about needs to be spread but the way to do that isn’t clear. Even the direction we go with it isn’t clear. Should we inform people about extremist groups? Should we share with them the history of right wing extremism? Should we help them understand the link between the extremists and the mainstream conservatives? How about drawing a line through ideology from rich white guys who don’t want to pay taxes to propaganda machines that they fund to extremists who take action by shooting innocent people?

Where do we even start to educate people who think that right and left are just two different types of ideology and not the literal difference between dangerous and safe?

There’s a reason that Hatewatch exists on the SPLC website. It’s not because of leftists who break windows. There’s a reason that the stats show an overwhelming majority of terror attacks within the US coming from right wing extremists and not from leftists or Islamists.

Some people like to paint terror with a particular color and or describe it as being from a culture other than their own but they have to be dishonest or ignorant to fully embrace that. Terror is almost entirely white in North America and it is overwhelmingly christian and conservative. And the right wing media like Fox and Rebel actually embrace that though they try to hide it. They still talk about refugees being the danger you could face when it’s actually your flag waving neighbor. They talk about the left harassing Tucker Carlson at his Mcmansion or they talk about politicians who can’t go out to eat because people won’t serve them but they completely ignore the hateful rhetoric they promote and the actual death that it causes.

And I’m not even talking about policy. I’m just talking about the way that Fox news and AM radio turn white men into extremists who think that the government is secretly run by the jews who want to take away all their guns and eliminate the white race by breeding them out of existence.

Even typing this all out I feel like it sounds crazy. It sounds like I’ve turned into a left wing conspiracy nut. Except the evidence is there. You can actually draw a line from economists to wealthy investors to news outlets to extremist groups and when you throw Donald Trump into the mix emboldening these people to action that’s when you get the stuff we’ve been seeing for the last month or two.

I’m honestly terrified not just of the actions that can happen in the short term but of what can happen in the long term if this stuff isn’t acknowledged and dealt with. The left is losing in America and if they lose there then that shit can move anywhere. The rich are fully willing and able to subvert democracy if they think it infringes on their freedom and they consider any taxes at all to fall within that category. They will continue to stir up the extremists and they will continue to undermine politics if it means they don’t have to give their money away.

You can see it in everyday politics. The right wants to cut taxes to the rich at all costs. They use wedge issues to separate people and polarize voters. They often pass laws and budgets that they publicly claim will help the middle class and they blame any failure of that on lower income earners and any marginalized group that they can. The link between the polarization of extremists and the dissemination of their message is the media. The internet makes it easy for these people to connect but it’s the media that sends the messages. “Those people are your enemy. Those people are a danger to you. Those people hate you and hate your country. They hate freedom”

This is the message that is sent to conservatives all across the world, not just America and not just Canada. It’s a message we need to find a way to counter. I’m not sure how but we need to do something because things are already pretty far gone as far as I can tell and they just seem to be getting worse at an alarming pace.