Neo-conservatives, Media and Democracy

If the United States is to remain a great nation, Free Speech must be held high. It is the light by which democracy finds its way. This profound contribution to the success of our nation and an enlightenment of the human condition, coming only through centuries of struggle, is one of the crowning achievements of civilization and surest supports.

As long as the small and narrow remains a common denominator in human society, it will remain under threat. It is appreciation of the ability that free speech has to ennoble that is itself, the evidence of greatness and means by which we are conducted to the wide vistas that are the human heritage.

Now, restraint on this fundamental support for our free nation seeks to arise. Certain parties within our nation’s administration have sought to withhold truth from the citizens of this nation to whom they have the responsibility of presenting truth. The mass media, whose large corporations and financial interests are most responsible for upholding the banners of free speech, when government seeks to fail, has been slipping toward the harmful enticement of elevating profit above the obligations of journalistic integrity. News, the lifeblood of a democratic society, has been distorted through the emphasis by which it is reported.

Organizations that strive for wholeness and journalistic accuracy can be marginalized in favor of advocacy in a culture that relishes and the simplicity of the sound bite. Being subtly moved to the side brings loss of news leadership and results in the loss of mainstream revenue. Outlets that report news more favorable to government or popular opinion and reduce emphasis on pertinent information unfavorable to policy or prevailing views are rewarded with access to the halls of power and robust profits. But the consequence of attending more to the bottom line than to the real wealth of necessary information and perspective that is democracy’s lifeblood is the soon impoverishment of everyone’s bottom line, including those who first acted to misinform.

During the Administration’s rush toward War with Iraq, articles advocating invasion received first place attention in newspapers and by media throughout the country. Articles that questioned the rational behind the invasion and the evidence supporting that rational were buried within the obscure back pages. When the folly of haste began to make itself obvious our nation’s leaders sought to hide behind the fiction that the intelligence they were given was wrong. Now that White House insiders, such as its former press secretary Scott McClellan, are opening up about the extent to which the Administration stove to distort the information it was giving the press and public, the current Administration ties to hide behind the fog of personal attack on McClellan’s character, a man known well by that administration and vetted to represent it to the world. The viciousness of these attacks bear sure witness to the truth which he reveals.

A Government that fulfills its democratic mission of responsibly securing its citizens rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness will find no threat to the conduct of its affairs in the public exercise of individuals setting before the world their thoughts concerning law and policy, regardless of whether those thoughts involve reasoned criticism of rules and strategy currently in effect. If a people value democracy, the coercion of both the state and of individuals on the free expression of reasoned thought must be limited. Bad news must be free to travel or bad circumstance will.

Free speech enables the informed development of a culture able to make better the world in which all of us live. Education, Knowledge, and Reason, all of which enable our greater purpose, are lost in unreflective pursuit of particular ends and by silencing viewpoints that might otherwise help avoid improbability, irrelevance, and untruth, the ways by which we frequently and systematically go wrong.

Our country can serve its purpose of being a shining city on a hill only so long as its lights of sound and open dialogue are richly supplied with the fuels of knowledge and reason. Reason soars from the ground of sufficient and relevant evidence. Reason soars and takes its adherents with it. Reason soars like a white crowned eagle, but leaves the “crazies in the basement” – (President George H.W. Bush), those practitioners of the ‘noble lie’, the oxymoron called neo-conservatism, who delude themselves that they have anything more to offer than a simple lie. Let them be known for what they are: not Neo-Cons, a contradiction in terms, but simply Cons.

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