Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You're Up Next

Amidst the raging health care debate verging on political war, the issue of overhauling the newspaper industry has squeaked out of the dim and into the limelight. After pronouncing the rapid success of bailouts, the legislative brainwork is now proposing a multi-billion dollar newspaper bailout which the President supports. This corporate news media bailout would work to brace most metropolitan areas with one newspaper and aim to solidify the mainstream media's decaying yet sole power of newsmaking.

But what strings will be attached? Surely, the President nor Congress will give away such lavish terms without asking for something in return.

Yes, the scenario is just a repeat of simlar actions taken in other industries. But, in the previous bailouts' cases, they were industries which actually makes up a significant percentage of the American economy. These include the automobile industry, the health insurance industry, the financial banking system and now the news. However, such proud boasts of achievement under these takeovers fail to hold merit as the automobile industry is collapsing, new healthcare 'reform' is being run by Big Pharma and the financial "regulators" like Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke have boldly declared the "end of the recession."

It is in these fabrications and past the fragile veil where our rulers' own words tell the largely unrealized truth.

Yet, there is somehting even more sinister in government relying on the free press and the free press, the government. And it's become no mystery that the corporate media is full of abstractions and opportunistic mischaracterization of history and the present. At the behest of interested corporations, our free press is fast becoming a tool of special interests willing to cause harm in order to achieve political aims.

President Obama has now verbally pondered a chance at regulating press if given the go-ahead. It is no coincidence that many in politics have already accused the President of influencing the media's coverage to distort political realities and marginilize outspoken opposition. Such a claim is not outrageous, after all the description is quite strikingly reminiscent of a time not so long ago under President George W. Bush.

Even worse, in the same speech in which he touted a media bailout, President Obama had harsh words for independent journalists, many of whoms volumes of in-depth and respected work helped fuel his presidential campaign. President Obama chided that, "I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding." This analysis of the exploding blogosphere cannot be farther from the truth.

Signaling a bailout/blackout to end independent journalism the President in his carefully placed words has shown contempt for the First Amendment and free speech. Suggesting a possible tax of online news sites including blogs, President Obama's comments fit as a historic parallel to those of King George III's attempt to regulate American media by the much reviled Stamp Tax Act of 1765 that aimed to limit free political discussion. Yet, let it be of note that King George's tax only emboldened the opposition and began the swirl of events that culminated in the American Revolution.

Today is no different, In a day where growing numbers of citizens count themselves as political independents and the loss of credibility of the corporate government complex, this barbaric proposal is an obvious means to stifle the innate human right of free speech.

Simultaneously, the FCC has proposed a new "net neutrality bill" plan for congressional approval which would create a department of government whose sole purpose would involve acting as an adjudicator of news coverage and speech.

Hence, if an official within such a department took the opinion that something published was offensive, hateful or aggressive speech they could effectively silence the speaker by simply removing the content, or the site and surveilling future internet activity and/or written and spoken comment.

So dangerous and pervasive this system could be, that newly sparked extensions of legal intelligence sharing between the Pentagon and local law enforcement could effectively use a "net neutrality" act to harass and force out bloggers and many other journalists. It is a hazardous precedent that only blurs the rule of law and makes a mockery of free speech rights in America.

And for President Obama who seems to believe whole-heartedly in the corporate dream
of micromanaging America, he must know that all attempts in history to do so have utterly failed and any new attempt, no matter how powerfully and aggressively it is applied, can succeed.

This attempted coup of our First Amendment rights will never succeed due to the highly personal and humanistic nature of thought and speech. While such a regulation may be enacted, it can be circumvented always, albeit not easily, with guided and true resistance. Creating another perceived crisis percipitated in order to pass an ill-advised law is and will no longer be a way to silence others.

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