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Is the media the devil?

Editorial #6: In which, despite previous comments to the contrary, strong political feelings are expressed. No issue is more important to a journalist than our (that is, everybody’s) First Amendment rights. The freedom of speech and religion is one of the defining concepts of American society, and minor battles are fought all the time trying to define what “free speech” truly is, and where the lines should be drawn between obscenity and protected speech. One of these battles is being fought right now between Hollywood and Washington about the issue of marketing R rated movies to underage viewers, and thus corrupting their innocence, because evil seeps into children’s hearts and minds through their precious bodily fluids, or something like that. There’s less than a month before the elections; of course they’re trying to win the confidence of the core voters: parents worried about their kids, and politicians are trying to win political points any way they possibly can.

Still, despite the political maneuvering going around this issue, the belief that “we have to protect our children” is one of the most common reasons given for why we should limit or restrict such personal freedoms as the freedom of speech. I don’t really intend to go off on a rant about how it should be the parents’ job to raise their kid properly and to keep a kid from going to “bad” movies, or say how I’ve been watching R rated movies since the early days of my youth and I’ve turned out reasonably well (I think). You’ve heard all of those arguments before, and as correct as they may very well be, they’ve been beaten to death and turned into trite cliches by now.

My point is more of a general lament about how politicians seem so against media in general, which seems quite ironic and backward since the media is the key component of 20th Century politics and it’s only reason for existence. Yet politicians seem to spend most of their time complaining about it. For conservatives, it’s the “liberal media,” for liberals, the media is controlled by capitalists completely unconcerned with anything other than making money.

Vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman has attacked Hollywood continuously for it’s immorality and repeatedly called on it to reform, “or else.” In the second presidential debate, the most rapidly growing medium in the world, the Internet, was named only once. How did they refer to it? As a place for grassroots political and social movement? As a place where nearly any good, service or idea can be found for one willing to search hard enough? No. The Internet was apparently responsible for the Columbine massacre.

I suppose in the end my argument is pretty conventional. The media has become a scapegoat for all of our social ills. Immorality is caused by our watching too many dirty movies. People kill each other because they are allowed to go to porn sites on the Internet. While people used to say, “The Devil made me do it,” the media has replaced the Devil as our new Tempter.

I realize I’m not a perfect person. I fully admit that I do evil at times, whether intentionally or unintentionally. But I don’t need to blame something else for that; I take responsibility for my own sinful nature because it’s the only way that I can fix my personal flaws, and the only way I can take responsibility for my good qualities. You can’t take credit for your good characteristics without responsibility for your flaws.

However, we seem to have a society that wants a scapegoat for the blame. So the Internet takes the blame for Columbine. “South Park” takes the blame for kids swearing. We have a society where we look at the symptoms of the illness as the cause. But you don’t have a cold because you cough. You cough because you have a cold.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know. But buying a shack out in Montana, putting up a fence and buying a rifle seems a more attractive option as the days go on.

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