Tag Archives: Media

It’s Not Michelle Bachmann’s Fault

This may surprise my readers who know that I lean toward the political left in my social and economic belief system, but the popularity of Representative Michelle Bachmann, and others of her ilk, is not her fault.  She is not responsible for the voice she has gained on the national stage.  The responsibility rests in our hands.

As Americans, we choose to whom we listen.  We have selective hearing when it comes to national candidates.  We buy newspapers that have her name on them.  We listen to the news when commentators discuss her politics. We click on the links to her interviews.  We are wholly in the driver’s seat of giving Bachmann a sounding board on the national stage.

If we are unhappy that this candidate has free rein to blather on that evolution and global warming are in dispute, or that she would rather not discuss the ability to cure gay folks of their disorder of homosexuality after she wrote about it in her book, then we must stop paying attention.  If the only people who listen are the relatively tiny number of Tea Party supporters, she will never win an election; but listen we continue to do.

I happen to believe in evolution and that it was the process through which God created the world.  I am aware that scientists have been wrong in the past and that they speak the most accurate truth they have available to them today. I believe that there are differences in cultures and that all cultures are equal and valid. I also believe that polarity does not make either side wholly correct or wrong.  I believe that knowledge and wisdom will direct us toward a middle path.

When Ross Perot ran as an Independent for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996, he was considered by many to be too “out there” for the mass consciousness; however, he did garner 29% of the vote.  He had radical, but workable ideas for the economy and understood the machinations of government.  In contrast, Bachmann, and all the Bachmann-lights that have appeared on our political landscape are contenders for our highest office in a major party.  These individuals have a similar level of scientific understanding as the members of the Flat Earth Society, yet they continue to flourish.  How is this even possible?

When they look back on this era, what will historians write about our politics?  Will we have had Michelle Bachmann as the 45th President of the United States?  Will the medical research laboratories in America shut down because she wouldn’t fund research that didn’t fit through the narrow filter of extremist right wing beliefs?  Will people say of us the same thing they say about the German population who followed Adolf Hitler during the 1930s and ’40s: that we just didn’t choose to see what was ahead, or were too afraid to have our voices heard?

The truth is that we are giving credence to an ignoramus who does not understand history, economics, and science.  She is not an ignoramus because of her beliefs, but because she chooses not to learn what every person who inhabits the White House should know; that she represents all Americans, not just a select few.  We are validating her presence on the national stage whenever we do not turn off the television when she is on.  Viewership is money in the hands of the media.  When the dollars disappear, so does Michelle Bachmann.

Michelle Bachmann spoke this direct quote, “I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize I’m not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist.  I’m not a deep thinker on all of this.  I wish I was.  I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

If I’ve learned nothing else in my life, I’ve learned to believe what people tell me about themselves.  I don’t listen to people who admit they don’t know.  I don’t trust people who tell me they have a history of being untrustworthy.  I don’t spend time with people who show me they do not respect me. I turn off the television and don’t click on online links when Michelle Bachmann is the topic.  It’s that simple.

So, if we find Mrs. Bachmann in the White House, who should we turn to when American’s can’t feed themselves even though they’re working, because Bachmann believes that “if we took away the minimum wage – if conceivably it was gone – we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level,” and racial inequality grows under her administration because she believes that “not all cultures are equal?” We must look in our own mirrors to find the responsible parties, as we do after every election.  That is why this will be my last word on Michelle Bachmann.  I choose not to give any more of my time or energy toward her presence in the political whirlpool.

If we find her in our White House, it won’t be Michelle Bachmann’s fault, it will be our own.

Privacy and the Public Persona

Vultures hard at work

Culture vultures hard at work

As aggrieved as many people are for the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, one can understand how the outpouring of sadness and sympathy can turn into a national near-obsession.  That being said, one must also find the brake pedal for the intrusion into a celebrity’s private life, especially for the sake of the family.  This level of feeding frenzy is reminiscent of vultures on a carcass.

As the national media has covered the death of Michael Jackson, every one of the channels has discussed his will, the custody of his children, the relationship he had with his father, and even the paternity and maternity of his children. 

Has his family not one iota of permission to grieve over the loss of their son/brother/father in peace?  Is it not enough that we have used Mr. Jackson as fodder for our discussions about his unusual behavior, questionable actions, and ever-changing appearance for the past forty years?

The man is dead.  Dead.  There is no more Michael Jackson in the assemblage of six billion people on the planet.  Certainly his music lives on, as does his family; however, can we simply allow his passing to be handled respectfully and lovingly? 

We are culture vultures.  We scavange on every morsel of information as though it were our last meal.  We tear apart every facet of a celebrity’s private life as though we had a right to it because we spent a few dollars on their albums.  We are shameless as a people when it comes to our celebrities.

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was Commander-in-chief, not one newspaper ever showed a photograph of him in his wheelchair.  Not one outlet discussed his polio.  Certainly, no one discussed in the newspaper or on the newsreel about the infidelities within his marriage.  It was understood that President Roosevelt deserved his privacy and that this level of exposure would be detrimental to our society and standing in the world of the day.

We haven’t one ounce of that sense left.  We’re like the fools who shoot guns in the air because we have them and we want to show our power.  We don’t give a damn about where the bullets land.

Enough already.  Enough!

The news media is making the news, not reporting the news.  They have not got a clue as to what is appropriate any more.  Between our government and our media, we are a shell of our previous selves.  

What a tragic statement about who we’ve become – a bunch of Jerry Springer guest-wannabes who shout at the top of their lungs to make their point and battle on subjects they know nothing about. 

Isn’t it time we go back to our trailer parks, have a cool one, do some honest self-reflection about who we’ve become and how we got here rather than dissecting the lives of people we’ve never, ever met?

Both Sides of the Door

InfidelityAs someone who loves history, I have to ask the question, “What exact day was it that it became acceptable to live one way behind closed doors and another in the public arena?”

Those of us who have been around for awhile know the answer to this question:  “It’s always been this way.”  The challenge for many now, however, is that with the burgeoning of worldwide media and our willingness to release the taboos of what we discuss, we are seeing ourselves for who we truly are.

With the most recent revelation that the Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina went to see his mistress, Maria, in Argentina, our news media have glommed onto the storyline that the Republicans have again had to face another scandal.  Interestingly enough, because we are realizing that this is an all too common situation, we are finding excuses to continue reporting it nonetheless.  Specifically, the concern about leaving the state without leadership during his absence has become the hue and cry from reporters. 

That, frankly, is balderdash.  The truth is, we want to skewer and grill this man for his infidelity.  The shame in all of this is not so much that Governor Sanford was unfaithful, it is more that he is reflecting our national values in the open air. 

His wife, First Lady Jenny Sanford, has been dealing with Governor Sanford’s infidelity for quite some time.  Now, she is having to contend with his public apology and the ramifications of having the most deeply personal part of her life discussed by strangers in the media.  It is an intimate matter between the two of them.  Certainly, his indiscretion affects his state; however, on the marital front, it is solely between the Sanfords as a married couple.  It is none of our business.

Since time immemorial, one spouse has been cheating on another spouse.  In some cultures, it was done openly and accepted as part of the general marriage agreement.  In other cultures, it is understood that this would happen, with the sole caveat that the wife should never see or hear about the mistress.  Generally, it is men that have these permissions; however, in some places, it is equally acceptable for men and women to have dalliances with others while married to their spouse.

Our puritanical beginnings here in the United States of America have provided us a rationale to stand in pompous judgment over those who currently choose to be unfaithful.  The ironic part of this is when one of the loudest voices bellowing the chastisements is found to be committing the same disrespect against their spouse. 

Our hypocrisy has risen to a new level of absurdity in this first decade of the twenty-first century.   We are still startled and disquieted by others’ decisions to have intimate relations with people outside of their marriage. 

When are we going to recognize that this is far more common than we are willing to state out loud?  When are we going to accept that fidelity is a voluntary action that not everyone is willing or able to maintain?  What will inspire us to decide that a couple’s decisions behind closed doors regarding what they will or will not accept in the marriage is between the two of them and no one else?

I value monogamy.  I now live monogamously.  That hasn’t always been the case, but it was a choice I made for myself a long time ago.  I do not, however, expect anyone else to live this same way, nor do I judge them as lesser or worse for choosing to live without fidelity in their marriage, so long as both people are aware of what is happening.

My issue comes from the lack of integrity that is being shown and the dismissal of personal responsibility for those around the people who choose to live mendacious lives.  I will not stand before anyone’s Creator to answer for their actions; therefore, I cannot wave my gavel and strike it on their souls based on evaluations rooted in my belief system. 

Governor and First Lady Sanford must choose their own lives as they see fit, as we must all do.  As a people, our only concerns should be the running of the government and the choices we make as individuals and couples.  That’s all.

I propose that we look to our own lives to assess if, first, we are acting in a manner consistent with the beliefs we genuinely espouse, second, we ask ourselves whether our external personæ match our internal veracity, and third, we stand in compassionate support of those who are struggling in these areas.   

If we are doing these three things, then our values and views on the world will be strengthened.  As it stands right now, we are like ravenous vultures looking to pick apart those who have stumbled in their own value system, as we all do from time to time.

Ultimately, it comes down to the  query whether the face we see in the mirror is the same face that is being seen by our brothers and sisters.  If it is, then, I suspect, we are in great shape.  If not, then we must look at ourselves again.

Compassionate understanding should be the real news.  That would certainly shake things up pretty dramatically.