Posts Tagged ‘2021 Nobel Peace Prize’

Didactic Interlude

October 10, 2021

            This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognized two journalists, Dmitry Muretov and Maria Ressa, “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace” No coincidence that here, in the polarized politics of the US of A, journalists are the favored whipping boy of diverse ideologies. Here, in central Ohio, journalism is essentially whatever the Gannett corporation dictates it should be, retaining ownership of just about all the small town papers as well as the Columbus Dispatch (and many more outside the state’s center). How does all this square up — ”the precondition for democracy,” the media being the source of the demise of democracy, and the monopoly on what locals are privy to see and know about their small towns? Today’s Newark Advocate provides some insights as to how this is. The headline “Newark south end residents say they live in fear in their neighborhood” (Kent Mallett, 10-10-21) is pretty sensational. It effectively positions the reader’s response. The extensive article starts off with “South end Newark residents say they live in fear of people they see on the streets who may be on drugs or struggling with mental health issues, probably homeless, and possibly stealing from the area.” It then transitions to being about a “problem” (the source of the fear), and what is being done about it (the community’s response). This then transitions into how the problem is being dealt with by the city (the community) which covers police and carceral services as well as non city behavioral health resources. Mayor Jeff Hall, who is on record as being opposed to spending any city resources to address the problem, is quoted by Mallett: “Mayor Jeff Hall told the residents, “I’m sorry that’s going on in your neighborhood. It is a complicated issue, it’s not an easy one to fix, but that doesn’t mean we ignore it. We’ll have discussion. When you come in, we talk about it, so it’s not to deaf ears, trust me, we do talk about it.”” The bulk of the article bemoans a lack of police resources, the Covid challenge at the County jail, and the hope for a new outreach program through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. Interwoven throughout the reporting is the underlying tacit understanding that homelessness, and the homeless, are “the problem” (for if they had a residence they wouldn’t be generating fear throughout the neighborhood). “It is a complicated issue.” (Newark Mayor Jeff Hall) Really? If your gas gauge shows empty, you fill up with gas to solve the problem. Speaking of which, the city promoted the destruction of perfectly sound, inhabitable community housing stock for the sake of the development of an urban truck stop on N 21st street (with no provisions for replacement). Mallett does let this slip (just barely) with: “The federal moratorium on evictions ended recently, and Licking County evictions have increased from 136 in the first quarter of the year to 158 in the second quarter to 219 in the third quarter.” But this is followed up by a one line nod to a grassroots effort to address this debacle. Analysis finds the bulk of the article to perpetuate the misinformation that homelessness and the homeless are “the problem” not able to be solved by city government resources. It furthers the misconception that evictions, as well as being without a house, are inextricably linked with criminality, mental health, and a lack of moral compass (aka personal responsibility). “It is a complicated issue.” (Mayor Jeff Hall) Bull shit. Other cities, both here in the US of A as well as abroad, have dealt with it through providing housing for those without any. In Newark the misinformation molding the perception of those finding themselves without a house is reproduced and perpetuated by a monopolistic news journalism which bolsters the ideological polarity that undermines “the precondition for democracy.” Nowhere in Mallett’s report was any alternative view, approach or outlook on the matter of housing those without a house presented. Across the US of A (as well as elsewhere) the problem is being addressed and met. Why not here?