Our Free Speech Conundrum
Fox News and right wing media (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, Alex Jones and Info Wars, et al) are broadcasting fear and hate to anyone who will listen. They bear a huge share of responsibility for the current attack on our Democracy.
Since we believe in our 1st Amendment, since we treasure free speech, even if it is propaganda, lies, skewed “facts”, and conspiracy theories, we believe that such speech must be tolerated and we expect citizens to see through and ignore it. It’s our free speech conundrum.
It seems the speech on the right is carefully designed by intelligent, although twisted, people who have been able to analyze the unhappiness, disappointment and anger of people who got shafted by a changing economy and to use this negativity to foment anti-government sentiment (and anti-liberal sentiment), to whip up once-complacent middle class white folks to accept a twisted interpretation of those economic changes that shocked them.
The Real Long Con
It was really a massive con job to get “extraneous” Americans to blame the liberal agenda (the safety net, the regulations, the unions, the human rights laws, the protections of undocumented immigrants, the acceptance of rights for women and same-sex marriage, and much more) for deeds that were perpetrated by the wealthy (The Great Factory Migration, The Great Recession). To me this truly is the greatest long con of all, the one that prepared the way for this “President for the haters and the frightened, and the dispossessed”, and this Republican party who only intend to sideline the middle class and the poor even more than they already have been.
It is a terrible irony that the right-wing media gets to exploit the left wing’s passion for protecting free speech and other rights that are cornerstones of a democracy, of our Republic. The right wing is, meanwhile, using free speech to take away free speech and freedom of religion and human rights, and to steal money from the poor to give to the rich. The right wing also has convinced a segment of Americans that redistribution of wealth down the ladder is wrong (socialism), but redistribution of wealth to the wealthy will somehow benefit us all.
If we lose our Democracy because we love it so much that we have no offense against lies and propaganda, will that be sad, or patriotic? Are there any strategies Dems could use that do not trample on our rights but will stop this assault on the American government and the American people by the right-wing media and the entire Conservative-Republican bloc? The Dems are playing defense, not offense while the GOP is aiming, for some unfathomable reason (money, religion, fear) to dismantle our Democracy and sell it to the highest bidders on the right.
Defense or Offense
Dems are on offense in terms of finding fresh American folks who will run for office in 2018 and there is a strong grassroots resistance — but the right-wing media is a powerful force, continuously pumping skewed information, that we have not found a way to combat. This right-wing media now energizes the Trumpers who are aggressive and arrogant, who feel entitled, and who bash anyone who gives voice to “liberal” speech. They feel no compunctions about depriving others of free speech because, apparently, à la Animal Farm (George Orwell), they feel some speech is better than other speech.
The Trumpers love to turn liberal complaints about the right back at the person who levels the complaint (I’m rubber, you’re glue; everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.) It is like arguing with a toddler. You cannot converse with a right winger because they refuse to engage and only spew brainwashed nonsense and that brings us back to the right-wing media.
The right-wing media should, of course, be able to speak, but they should not have the right to dominate the conversation. They should not have such a giant chunk of network time and they should not be allowed to call the propaganda they broadcast “news.” 45 is trying to shut up mainstream news because it does not skew as far to the right as he would like. This is one front that requires that the left brainstorm to create an effective strategy of offense. We are losing the propaganda war but we are correct in not wanting to use more propaganda to win the war. If we can’t cheat by employing mind control strategies, can we at least stop the President’s campaign to proliferate right wing news and denigrate any other news? Is just calling the real “fake news” out whenever we see it going to be enough to counteract it? Do we have any laws on our side now that the FCC is obviously in “enemy” hands?