Wednesday, April 2, 2008

assignment: neil horsley

neil horsely himself posted this video on youtube.

i told neil, " news and rhetoric should not be confused. news does not cast moral judgment. rhetoric does and also calls for action."

he replied to me right away: The very subjects chosen as "news" proves a moral judgment is being made by the news media. Why report when a law is broken? A moral judgment has been made by the news media that breaking the law is bad. Every news report telegraphs a moral presupposition that is obvious to people with eyes that see and ears that hear. Oh wait! Now I see why you didn't understand that news DOES cast moral judgment.

my statement to him is, "the idea of news and the application of news are arguably two different things. for practical purposes, the lines between news and rhetoric are fuzzy. but the idea of news and the idea of rhetoric are different."

"news does not report violations of the law because it is bad but because logically, it violates public safety and compromises the integrity of the marketplace. its goal is to bring attention to conditions. the analysis of those conditions is up to the viewer.

"rhetoric is different from news because it overtly dispatches a call to action. the news tells you that your neighbor has been robbed. the manipulative rhetorician tells you to buy a gun because you are next. you could argue that the news also encourages you to find means to protect yourself but this is only through inductive reasoning on your behalf."

i am curious how he will respond to this but i do not expect it to be very insightful. neil is the type of man who relies on violence to get his point across.

if you follow this link read the description that he gives his video, you will see: "This provides a good overview of the abortioncams project as well as the kinds of media attacks the project creates."

Look at the last part. This video is a good overview of the kinds of media attacks (Neil) creates through his videos.

This is fascinating to me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

assignment: who gave me my rights, p1

i want to reflect on the idea of rights because those ideas are strange. a right, such as the right to free speech, is a legal guarantee. and a legal guarantee is an agreement between two parties. one party makes a promise to another party that some property shall not be removed nor shall its quality be compromised.

we might not give it enough thought but common sense would tell us that there must be a third party to ensure that fairness plays out. that referee must also be detached enough from the situation enough to make an objective and fair judgment. but also, he must be involved enough to make an informed and educated decision. there must be a balance between two conflicting extremes.

when we talk about the first amendment, who is making the promises and to whom are those promises made? the promiser and the promisee. when the bill of rights were drafted, the us government made a promise to the american people.

this is an important distinction to make because legal guarantee is issued, it creates an exclusive relationship between the promisee and the promiser. no third party should ever be held accountable for this promise.

for example, if you purchase a product with a lifetime guarantee, you are buying a promise from the company that manufactured that product. that company has made a promise to you that if that product fails under any circumstances, they will either refund your money or replace the product. under no circumstances would that company go to your neighbor to cover the cost. even if your neighbor was the one who broke it.

likewise, free speech is most effective and least controversial when applied to situations that are exclusive between individual american citizens and the government. it ceases to make sense and is most controversial when applied to situations that do not involve the government and the government is called to act as a third party.

in other words, just as your neighbor did not make the lifetime guarantee on the product, your neighbor never granted you the freedom to speech.

so should the bill of rights be reworded? your freedom of speech does not mean "say whatever you want about whomever you want" but "what whatever you want about me"

further, in what forum are you guaranteed the right to free speech? in the newspapers? in the streets at night? when you are drunk and incoherent?

who upholds these rights? how is a referee selected? is it up to the government to police themselves into following through with these promises, when it is most often in the government's best internist to break those promises?

the bill of rights for example, is a promise between the us government and the american people. how can we select an objective third party, who is neither the us government or the american people and yet qualified enough to reside as the authority and involved enough to care?

oil! by upton sinclair

i was so impressed by the movie, there will be blood. i started reading the inspiring novel.

i have been trucking through it little by little and i suppose that a better reader would be done with it by now. a friend has been giving me a hard time, claiming it to be a testament to the quality of the book rather than my inability to read and for some reason i feel hurt by how he gives me the benefit of the doubt because i really enjoy the book.

i suppose that i must take my time to appreciate every development and nuance in this story much like a good christian would approach a romantic relationship.

contrary to what the title might suggest, the oil industry is more of a setting than a subject. oil! is a story of internal conflict and political values.

there are many differences between the book and the film. but paul thomas anderson never intended to make a film adaptation of the book. for example, the film focuses on mr. plainview with sort of a citizen cane story structure.

the book focuses on his son bunny, the idealist, more as a lense by which sinclair critiques the capitalist aristocrats. there is a recurring theme of privileged who, in their nativity and pride, take their wealth for granted and turn their nose up at the hard work that endowed them.

this theme is introduced subtly but early on in the story.

first, a boy named paul runs away from home because he disagrees with his father's evangelical beliefs and practices. later in the story, paul returns from world war 1 russia, having lost faith in his country and embracing communist ideas.

second, the oil king's daughter criticizes her brother bunny for sympathizing with the working class. she insists that the oil workers are filthy and godless creatures and not fit company for people of privilege.

and most of all, bunny's sympathy forms friendships and political brotherhood. when the oil workers go on strike, bunny's integrity is in check. he must choose between loyalty towards his friends and his family.

i do not feel it is too much to say that oil! is equally as important and relevant as huxley's brave new world.

every serious journalism student should read this book. sinclair is like the godfather of investigative journalism. he's the first muckraker authors and arguably just as relevant today as he was, seventy fives years ago when the book was written.