Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Mmmkay, one more time just to re-instill that sense of perspective. The New York Times reported on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on Page A-1 above the fold, 34 times over 37 days. They did it 32 days in a row. Our oh-so-objective and oh-so-unbiased free press at work there…not in the business of telling you what to think, nosiree.
How many times in the days ahead will you see a mention of this…
Two women are accused of soaking a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute with gasoline and burning her to death after she reported that one of them had robbed her.
On January 11, [Mia] Sagote allegedly slammed [Leslie "Jill"] May into a wall, threw her down and punched her because she had not collected a $150 debt from May’s boyfriend, police said. Witnesses said they saw Sagote drag May behind a trash container later that day, strip her clothes off and take her cash.
May reported the crime the next day. After Sagote found out, she and [Leslie] Siliga forced May into a car; the two women stopped to buy gasoline, then drove to the parking lot of the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play and set her ablaze, police said.
We won’t be hearing about this thirty-two days in a row. Trust me on that one.
Let’s explore for a few paragraphs why I think this is the case.
See, I have this theory about journalists. They become journalists in the first place, because they want the world to be better. They want to become reporters for the same reason Clark Kent did…except they don’t have any spandex on under their clothes and they can’t fly. They don’t want to be liberals, they just want to make things better.
Make things better, by telling The People what’s going on, so we can make better decisions. Perfectly logical.
But then they start to think differently from “real” people. And when they realize that, this weird relativity sets in. They think the people on the outside, are the ones with a different mindset. Like when a large boat shoves off from a dock, it seems like the dock is moving; just like that. They become separate from us. And they know it. But they think the non-journalists are the ones who’ve changed, while they have stayed the same. Relativity at work.
Why do they start to think differently?
Part of it is they are inclined to, because of artificial selection. This is something Rush Limbaugh has talked about, and I think he’s got a great point here. They became journalists to make the world better; if you are conservative-minded, you don’t imagine journalism as having a lot to do with making the world better. It is simply a profession where things are seen as they really are. If you want to make the world better, you should go into something where you have the authority to change things. So…by the process of selective induction, journalism leans left as more new journalists are recruited into it.
The other part of it is something I’ve not heard Rush or anyone else discuss too much. It’s an artificial sense of danger. Journalists are the source of our information, and on occasion they persevere through imminent danger to life and limb in order to fulfill that role. Now, I don’t know how often they do this — maybe they’re all a bunch of adrenaline junkies traipsing through Baghdad, or maybe the embedding-with-infantry thing is an occasional thing that very few of them do, and only rarely. I don’t know the answer to that, and it really doesn’t much matter. The point is, there are some hardships to be endured — or the illusion of hardships. Or some combination of form and substance of hardship. And this leads the person who learns information, to the conclusion that his version of information is the best version of information. If he brings that information to someone else, and that someone-else comes to a different conclusion, then something must have been lost in the translation. After all, the first-hand information guy is the one enduring hardship, he must know best.
It’s easy to see the appeal of that logic. And yet…if it held, every time our elections came around our journalists and our cops would be pushing the same candidates and initiatives. Cops are exposed to danger much more often than the rest of us, too. And yet, it doesn’t happen that way. Whenever the police and the newspapers push the same candidates, you’re not hearing from the “police,” you’re hearing from the police unions. I’ve been following this for a few years. The pattern holds. Cops back conservative candidates, cops’ unions back liberal ones…and the journalists go with the liberal candidates.
So either our journalists are exposed to a different brand of danger, or else they’re not exposed to danger at all…or else, if they’re exposed to the same danger the cops get to face every day, that danger doesn’t have the same effect on both of them. One profession or the other isn’t quite soaking up what they’re being dunked in. All of those things are viable possibilities; like I said, I don’t really care which one is correct. I don’t need to.
Journalists don’t have to be journalists for every long, before they start to see the world differently. And they fall into this trap of thinking the boat is standing still, while the dock is moving. If the readers have different opinions from the journalists, the journalists must work harder at communicating more effectively. There’s no way they can be wrong about what’s happening, and what should be done about it.
This has a lot to do with something I’ve noticed about people in general. How to absorb facts and translate them into opinions about the state of affairs — it’s a personal process, and it is shaped mostly by the dangers to which one is personally exposed. By the time we’re about twenty-five years of age, we’ve settled on some methods for doing this that we’ll take to the grave, and those methods have been shaped by the dangers that have confronted us and the things we value. Now then. What kind of dangers confront journalists who are less than twenty-five years old? Well…I think when we exclude folks twenty-five years old and better, you can pretty much forget about the embedded reporters in Iraq. Maybe, just maybe, there are some specialists in there. Photographers. People who don’t make decisions about how news is reported…and probably won’t. But it’s probably a fair generalization to make that a journalist who is still deciding how to draw inferences from facts, forming the habits he will one day use as an editor to decide what millions of people in a city are supposed to be thinking…suicide bombers and IED’s don’t have very much to do with the dangers that will mold and shape those habits.
I’m taking it as a given we’re talking about ingratiating onesself, versus being ostracised. Young journalists who are just learning how to see the world, worry about one thing. And that one thing is staying good with the “in” crowd.
That is practically liberalism defined.
And so there you have it. They don’t go to journalism school to become liberals. They don’t graduate from it wanting to be liberals. They just end up that way. By the time they are confronted by a personal danger that might inspire a different way of thinking about things, the way a beat cop might be so confronted — they’re past that critical age of twenty-five, and they’ve molded their intuitive instincts around the objective of going along to get along.
Once that happens, there is this fallacy that whatever biases they might have personally, might “taint” the substance of what they report to us. That is a falsehood. A personal bias on the part of the reporter doesn’t taint the news; what it does, is give the news a good shove in the direction of the bias, at which bearing the news coasts endlessly, picking up speed, until the personal bias is just a mooncast shadow compared to the result. Over time, the contaminating effect on the news becomes more and more pronounced, and still the journalist can’t see it. He still thinks the dock is moving while the boat stands still.
After all, he has a job to do. His job is to “inform” us.
And he can tell how good of a job he has done, by the opinions we have after he’s given us information.
And if our opinion doesn’t match his, why, he must not have done a very good job. He’ll just have to try harder next time. And the next time after that, he’ll have to try harder still.
Getting back to this poor drugged-out hooker who was burned to death. I’m pretty confident we’ve heard the last of this. Journalists, after all, on balance don’t approve of the death penalty. Most of us are a) in favor of the death penalty, or b) would overcome any objections we have to the death penalty, if we were made aware of more stories like this one. I’ve commented on this several times before: People who oppose the death penalty, are simply people who forget — usually consciously — the limitless capacity of people to inflict atrocities upon each other.
Our journalists know this. But they don’t like the death penalty, and if the news was brought to us, we’d be less likely to agree with our journalists. And so, you see, the profession of “news” becomes a discipline in which — ironically — secrets are kept. And there you have it. The profession of journalism rises in the morning determined to set the standard to which other supposedly noble professions can aspire. And it retires for rest that evening, having thoroughly corrupted itself in a way few other professions ever will. The rest of us, rather than tolerating the misinformation and non-information, opt for alternative ways to get our information, and in this way the industry commits a slow suicide. Suicide by being the opposite of what it genuinely wanted to be. It’s a real tragedy.
Abu Ghraib we gotta talk about night and day. “Jillie” the prostitute screaming in agony as the flames leap off her body…that’s something we don’t need to know. It might incline us toward ideas our journalists would not like us to have.
What to do about these perpetrators who took the time to buy gasoline for an obviously pre-meditated crime of such unimaginable cruelty? Were I in charge, we’d be pondering once again the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. Thanks in no small part to our journalists, we’ve formed a habit of “reviewing” the prohibition against cruel-and-unusual punishments, selectively, in circumstances where the outcome is likely to be an expansion of the prohibition and a restriction of the punishments. If the immolation of Jillie the prostitute were to inspire such a review, the outcome would likely be the opposite — punishments thought unconstitutional beforehand, are allowed in the aftermath. Wouldn’t it be more balanced if the pendulum was to swing the other way once in awhile?
We like to wring our hands and whine endlessly about whether murderers can feel their organs shut down during a lethal injection procedure. These evil hags covered a woman with gasoline and lit her up. Ever see gasoline burn?
The word “useless” doesn’t even begin to cover some of these whimpering doubts we’ve been convinced to nurture about our justice system.
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