Don't Pre-empt Fairness (8.12.08)
Treat others as you would like to be treated- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This was the law for Israel.
This began early in God's revelation to Israel: "You shall do no injustice in judgment, you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly" (Leviticus 19,15)
Fairness is open to debate surely, but at a minimum it includes that we would listen to what people say and watch what they do, not assume what they say and do. The matter of fairness- it's key to any form of civilization. It's upon us always because eveything important in life is shared with others- stuff like water, love, food, oil, roads (do you love bicyclists and pedestrians or just want to run them over?), power, honor, money and people. All this good stuff has to shared, and shared fairly or we are mocking God's standards.
But we live in an age of the pre-emptive military strike- we bomb first and communicate later. Technology is supposed to make wars cleaner and faster, don't you know.
And this mode of violence has spilled over into how we communicate, especially in our mass media (hurricane watchers are now "embedded" with emergency personnell), and how we treat each other. The advertized lead of every story on cable has become a pre-emptive strike. No communication allowed, just "kill" the enemy. But what if our enemy is my, or our, "neighbor."
It's shock (can you belive that!) and awe ( it's must be true- pretty people are saying it). We are bombarded by the the lead strike, again and again and again, until we turn off the tv, or start to buy into this schlock.
This all before anyone has heard anything close to the whole story itself. I was watching one of the cable-empires the other day (in fairness to them they often have more substance and provide more interest than the decaf networks and their postcard depth). You know the format- there's respected guests or commentators, one anchor-pre-emptor god, and one fodder guest or commentator.
Well the fodder guest (who can't be too pretty or handsome because that might mess us the pre-emption) tried to make a point that the pre-emptive empire striker did not want to hear. For thirty seconds the network god spoke over their chosen bogeyman as if going to a break, like a bratty kid telling Mom he had to go to the bathroom, "now", "no really Mom now", "Mom now", when he just wanted his empire platform back.
When this lack of fairness in media communication can't be hidden, when the propaganda betrays greed and ratings, out is trotted the appearance of fairness. If you can't be actually fair, at least you can appear so! The fatherly voices, the blathering descriptions of how good the host has been to his little guests, the sexism of always couching one's blatherings in non sexist language, the unrepentant repentances, all the while the empire is about to strike again, readying another pre-emptive torpedo.
For as any scoundrel in politics, in war, the judiciary, law enforcement, media or church, any Pontius Pilate knows- it's the the appearance of fairness that is important. The more paen odes to it, the better tv it is, ah which is a better way to pre-empt fairness, don't you know.
And now of late there's the ideology of fairness, as long as it seems fair, it must be! But wait, I thought fairness was a queston of fact and judgment, there or not, something to be determined by the facts and worked out? "No" says our media culture, it is all about appearances, anyone's God given right to it be damned.
This appearance is even easier now in a time when the media itself is the message. Now that "might makes right" in politics, in war, in business, why not all social discourse, why not the media too? Might makes right. Soon we'll be asked to say "Might makes fair too." Since we already know that might makes folks nice and might makes efficiency, and might makes us clean and mighty too, by simply repeating itself again and again.
Somebody tell Dylan Radigan at CNBC- he said off script the other day to no one in particular, and with no conviction and a shrug of the shoulders that it was his job to ask which banks were getting the 250 billion from the treasury! But no one was talking about that, or much interested in his soliquy. Yes Dylan, trust your gut, it's a fair question, don't defer to your great and mighty big brother. Remember fairness. Trust trust your gut Dylan, ask a queation once in a while, or drink the cool aid of our shock and awe culture, where might makes everything OK, if not fair. Yet anyway. And remember Dylan that at least your ATM still has money. Rest easy brother, thinking of that.
Ah perhaps it's time to turn to our favorite internet blogger with their laptop at the kitchen table. They may have more invested in fairness than the media shock and awe folks.
Peace Out Brothers and Sisters.