Posts Tagged ‘Free Speech’

Matters Of The Streets And Social Media

November 9, 2018

The impromptu late night demonstration outside the Washington DC home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was all over the media map this week (commentary as well as reporting). The event itself, as well as any media coverage (commentary or reporting), embodies the current socio-economic condition of American culture (political, economic and social). Some reporting of this particular event placed it in line with other such spontaneous “restaurant” protests (where various political leaders have been held to account while sitting down to enjoy a meal. Foodies will claim that everyone is entitled to enjoy a good meal). Analysis finds two of the many reports or commentaries available to further underscore American culture: Protesters Target Home Of Fox News Tucker Carlson by Ashraf Khalil for AP and Anti-Fascist Protesters Target Fox News’ Tucker Carlson At His Home by Antonia Blumberg appearing in the Huffington Post. Both are from the same date, 11-8-18. The contemporary “online” account of the Huffington Post favors the personal, social media oriented emphasis – “Police responded Wednesday night when anti-fascist activists showed up at the Washington, D.C., home of Tucker Carlson and began banging on the door and shouting threats like, “We know where you sleep at night.” The Fox News host wasn’t home and neither were any of his four children. But his wife was there and quickly locked herself in the pantry and called 911.” “Carlson has drawn criticism for his rhetoric on immigration, for routinely promoting vitriol toward Democrats, for defending nationalism and more. The host is well aware of the animosity of his critics. He recently complained he can’t eat at most D.C. restaurants because people frequently yell insults at him. “I don’t feel threatened, but having someone scream ‘Fuck you!’ at a restaurant, it just wrecks your meal,” he said on a National Review podcast.” and various online, social media only related responses and activities. The traditional AP account stressed what used to be referred to as an objective and factual event – “Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that officers were summoned to Carlson’s home Wednesday evening and found about 20 protesters and a commonly used anarchy symbol spray-painted on the driveway. A brief video posted on social media by a group calling itself “Smash Racism DC” shows people standing outside a darkened home and chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight. We know where you sleep at night.” [which rhymes]” “The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that they welcome and support all expressions of free speech and First Amendment rights but that “defacing private property” is an obvious violation.” as well as responses by various named individuals. Both reports gave the official Fox News statement. The difference in the two accounts highlights the distinction between “the streets” and online social media as contested places for the exercise of democracy, freedom and the exchange of ideas. We are all familiar with the POTUS dominant reliance of social media to intimidate, and its outcome. “The streets” have always been an open though un-secured environment (“They were threatening my family to get me to stop talking.” Carlson who “called in to talk with substitute host Brian Kilmeade.” and capitalize on the event). Which leaves the unanswered question – which is more civil, “the streets” or social media? Analysis uncovers the unspoken but even more pressing concern of civil discourse within the framework of public private partnerships. Given that Fox News is a de facto privatized ministry of information for the current administration (indeed many of the people working for the administration are from Fox, and vice versa), how can such an institution be politically confronted and held accountable within a civil landscape that gives legal precedence to the private (“”defacing private property” is an obvious violation.”). In Newark, how would, rather, how could one politically dissent or hold to account the policies of Grow Licking County? Demonstrations in front of the Licking Chamber of Commerce headquarters would be disparaged as a replication of the Carlson encounter. Ditto for any civil acts of protest towards policies or actions taken at the Canal Market, the Ice Rink, LC Transit or even JobsOhio. Analysis finds the split between “the streets” and social media to underscore the androgynous nature of public private institutions where accountability is forever deferred. Who benefits from the vast financial influx of tax payer funds? Who is ultimately responsible for the failed  transportation network in Newark? Are these matters of “the streets” or of social media?

Free Speech, More Than You Imagined

October 26, 2018

A week with so much, where to begin? Some of the events of the past week were the mail bombs sent to those critical of the Trump administration (what does “critical of…” mean?). Never able to be upstaged, the POTUS held various rallies in which he championed attacks on the press (literally) as well as heaped vitriol at other “enemies of the people” – democrats. The news of the week was the noncommittal back and forth of the news media regarding whether there is a correlation between Dear Leader’s words and the violence that attends them. Well, the FBI has apprehended the alleged “domestic” terrorist (gets the “domestic” moniker, along with Timothy McVeigh). This leaves the POTUS crowing about how he’s kept America safe. All of which Analysis finds hearkens back to the primary rallies, 3-12-16 to be specific. At this rally outside Dayton, Thomas Dimassino rushed the stage, spooked the presidential wannabe who was immediately “saved” by the secret service.  ““I was ready for him, but it’s much easier if the cops do it, don’t we agree?” Trump said.” (Dayton Daily News) The previous day’s rally in Chicago was cancelled because of a bloody melee at the venue. At the Dayton rally the future POTUS attributed this turn of events to “professional wiseguys” and claimed it was a “planned attack by thugs.” Back in Ohio “A few other protesters were led out earlier in the rally, with Trump once telling security to, “Get ‘em out of here” to cheers from the crowd.” At the time the news was the rhetoric, with any correlation to violence being only tentatively hinted at by a news media fumbling around, unable to make the connection (the press had never seen anything like this. And if it’s novel, it’s news). Analysis finds it revealing that the “deep state” whipping boy that gets so many cheers (and jeers) at POTUS late night rallies is precisely what he relied on, then and now, to keep himself, and now the country, safe (folks like the oft maligned FBI). It has been speculated that the rally phenomenon that the POTUS relies on to stay in the spotlight is akin to the dead heads that followed the Grateful Dead.  So many of his interviewed supporters are from another state, and wouldn’t miss a rally, go to every one they can. Something the “fake news” news media is getting wise to. Zero live coverage of these is creeping in. But that same media (whether fake or not) this week quibbled about whether there is any connection with the advocacy and embrace of violence as a solution, and the violence cultivated and flowering currently within the U.S. Even Joe Biden couldn’t help but make the astute, for Joe, observation that “Words matter.” (how ‘bout black lives, Joe?). But maybe it is more than words, and the cat is already out of (or in) the bag. Jim Sleeper presented a difficult essay in Salon the other day: America’s “free speech crisis” takes a darker turn: How corporate power got us here From the “free speech” campaign of 2015 to cry-bully Brett Kavanaugh and the bombs of October: A brief history. The gist of his argument (not a simple one to communicate, or grasp) is that corporate speak is already part of our “conversation” (a word the liberal intellectuals have loved to Zombiehood!). And the language of corporations (business) is strictly censored  (no free speech) when it comes to minding the store (dancing with who brung ya), but heavily antagonistic, fabricated and aggressive when dealing with the other, the competitor (a “free speech” of anything goes if it will brings down the enemy). This already is found within most parlance – school, church, place of employment, local politics. As Sleeper puts it “Instead we’re told that the disease of political correctness has spread throughout corporate culture and the media. That’s getting it backwards, as I argue in a just-posted Los Angeles Review of Books essay on how hollow, seemingly anodyne commercial speech seeds and provokes the hostile speech that’s swirling ever more virulently all around us.” Serendipity would have a local example appearing in today’s (10-26-18) online Newark Advocate – St. Francis de Sales pastor threatens shut down of St. Vincent de Paul (Kent Mallett). More convoluted and complicated than the Sleeper essay (and down right byzantine) the event described is one where a local economic provider (there’s that corporate speak again) has strong armed administration (corporate speak again) of the St. Vincent De Paul housing program (and more corporate speak). The controversy swirls around the program’s transitional housing being restricted to only pure, or righteous (celibate, other worldly, fill in the blank) single or lawfully married adults, with maybe their own children. Sleepovers are verboten. This eliminates the undesirable unmarried who are or have “partners” as well as any “Other” (with or without partners).The non-profit entity’s qualifying clause for who will be empowered by the transitional housing (there’s a bunch of corporate speak) is in violation of another chief source of funding (more corporate speak), the United Way and like entities. All of which flies in the face of their mission statement: “”Organized locally, Vincentians witness God’s love by embracing all works of charity and justice. The Society collaborates with other people of good will in relieving need and addressing its causes, making no distinction in those served because, in them, Vincentians see the face of Christ.”” No corporate speak there with all the “love”, “embracing”, “charity and justice”, “people of good will”, etc. and “the face of Christ.”