6. Controlled Mass Media Part 2: The Marketplace of Ideas

Do Not Expect The Opposition to Tell the Truth Either

Do Not Expect The Opposition to Tell the Truth Either

The Internet is probably the most heavily controlled media on Earth; only it is controlled by chaos.  China could save billions of dollars if its government realized that total chaos is a more rigid censor than absolute control.  The Internet has become a mass of rumor, fact, confusion, paranoia, defamation, conspiracy theories, and deliberate misinformation.  All the Chinese government needs to do is hire a couple of hackers to begin rumors like the government is putting obedience drugs in the water, Israel is funding the Secret Police, or that Bush is secretly manipulating Chinese jobs, and there would be no need for censorship.  The population would take care of that themselves.

I first came across this unique form of censorship four years ago when I was co-moderating a Yahoo! group called Do Something America.  It took a little effort, but the group owner and I rid the board of most of the violently insane “net nuts”.  We even managed to do some cooperative actions, like calling our Congresspeople over the stolen 2004 election.  Then things started to change. First it was the rumors that Karl Rove was being indicted by a grand jury.  As I mentioned before, such rumors undermine the grand jury system and would invalidate any such indictment.  Personally, I think that the White House itself was behind those rumors, as they guaranteed that Turd Blossom walked free.

I tried to get people to check their sources before they posted, but I was fighting a losing battle.  I felt like the little Dutch Boy trying to stem a flood by sticking appendages into a leaking dike.  It seemed that every net nut in the U.S was posting the most incredible idiocy.  Most of it concerned Israel.  Hitler’s International Jewish Conspiracy was alive and well and living in Do Something America.  Israel was behind Sept. 11th. Israel was behind all the ills of the American economy. Israel was behind the Iraq war.  Israeli art students were spying on the DEA office in New Jersey.  These “articles” came complete with broken links and no way to verify the information.  The harder I banned and deleted, the more nonsense flooded the board.

Not that it would have made any difference.  The more idiotic the post, the more it had been cross posted to other Yahoo! groups.  It wasn’t just anti-semitic idiocy either.  There was a lot of AIDS denial, absurd Sept. 11th conspiracies–it got to the point where the idiocy so outweighed the factual information that I simply gave up.  The other Yahoo! boards were worse.  I just left Yahoo! to the net nuts.

With no regulation of Web content, there is no standards for truth or accuracy.  This reduces the Web to the same meaningless drivel as Fox News.  Worse, all the paranoid idiocy acts as a smoke screen to undermine the legal process.  When you have a bunch of loonies marching down the street demanding government investigations of the patently absurd, it drowns out the voices of those of us who want investigations of the provable crimes committed by the Bush Administration.

Of course we can depend on the Libertarians to be the loudest voice preventing us from fixing this problem.  Libertarians fight off the establishment of standards on the Web as hard as they fight the establishment of standards on all other media.  To the Libertarian, lies, misinformation, bigotry, and defamation are all part of free speech.  Requirements that statements be true and verifiable are considered censorship to the Libertarian.  Laws that protect minorities from defamation bring on accusations of oppression.  Libertarians deliberately confuse fact with opinion, and claim that an requiring an opinion to be stated as an opinion is a threat to their First Amendment rights.

One AIDS denier whom I banned from Do Something America, and later ran into on another board, called this nonsense The Marketplace of Ideas.  According to him, everybody should be free to post anything that they want without consequences, and it is the reader who has to pick out what is true or untrue.  With that sort of logic, Bayer can use rat poison for aspirin filler, and it’s up to the consumer to tell if it’s safe to take.  Nobody has the time to check every piece of drivel that comes through the Internet.  Besides, a lot of the conspiracy theories are backed with either the logic of madness or the logic of some damned good PR agents.

The lack of journalistic standards, enforcement of defamation laws, and prevention of rumor mongering reduces the Web to Fox McNews.  The only people who have anything to fear from establishing standards are the corporations.  Reliable information would cause their downfall.  If Bush was not protected by a fog of conspiracy theories, he might have been prosecuted for the actual incompetence that led to Sept. 11th. The statement of opinions would remain protected free speech as long as such opinions do not lead to harm to individuals or minorities.  So the establishment of standards would not silence Libertarians as they claim.  It would only cause the end of the most damnable form of censorship ever created.

These Millionaires are Asking Me for Money?

These Millionaires are Asking Me for Money?

15 Comments on “6. Controlled Mass Media Part 2: The Marketplace of Ideas”

  1. […] wktf wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptIsrael was behind the Iraq war. Israeli art students were spying on the DEA office in New Jersey. These “articles” came complete with broken links and no way to verify the information. The harder I banned and deleted, the more nonsense … […]

  2. rcameronw says:

    Maybe one answer might be to withhold judgement on any rumour from a source that doesn’t have a well-established track record? It’s surely very easy for people to go onto an internet forum and just make crazy stuff up off the top of their head – just as it’s always been very easy for people to sit around in bars talking conspiracy nonsense, or stand on street corners handing out paranoid pamphlets.

    I wonder if the problem might be more that we’re still not fully used to differentiating the online equivalent of unregulated bar-talk from more reliable online sources (be that the website of the New York Times, the BBC or Human Rights Watch)?

    I remember reading that when the free market was first introduced in Albania, thousands of people were ripped off by cynical pyramid schemes that most of us who’d grown up in a western country would have spotted a mile off. But at that time many Albanians simply hadn’t learned the basic skills that would enable them to tell a good deal from a complete scam.

    I sometimes wonder if we might be seeing something similar now, with the way so many consumers in this new ‘marketplace of ideas’, having for so long been spoon fed our news by journalists who saw it as their job (sometimes at least) to protect us from nonsense, still find it difficult to avoid being gulled by the information equivalent of a ‘pyramid scheme’. I do think there’s some hope that over time people will ‘wise up’, and that we may end up at a point where the population as a whole is actually better equipped at differentiating between truth and ‘truthiness’ across the board.

  3. billdunlap says:

    Information should not be a “buyer beware” situation. One of the reasons that both the neocons and the Libertarians have been so affective at misinformation is that we as Americans grew up trusting our information sources. This is because we had laws protecting us from dishonesty until about 1981. From that time forward, the government has been dismanteling our legal protections. It is time to use the law and our Constitutional rights to once again safeguard our sources of information so that they may be once again trusted.

  4. US Economics says:

    The good is oft interred with their bones.WilliamShakespeareWilliam Shakespeare, Julius C?sar. Act iii. Sc. 2.

  5. Adastra says:

    Sorry, Bill, but information is always a “buyer beware” situation. With the very best of intentions any source might be passing on nonsense as fact, unintentionally of course. Those who want the truth must develop a reliable “bullshit detector” and screen what they hear or read. I make a habit of letting whatever information I hear remind me that it may be misinformation, disinformation, propaganda or advertising. Until I try it and it works, I try not to believe anything I am told in any medium.

    I call it “creative paranoia.”

    With love under will,

    Bob, Adastra,
    The Wizzard of Jacksonville

  6. billdunlap says:

    There is always room for error. Mistakes happen. Sources lie. Reporters have their own soapboxes. The problem is that there are no longer structures in place where mistakes and deliberate errors can be corrected. There are no longer stuctures in place to hold liars accountable when they are discovered.

    It comes down to this. Where there are no structures, there is chaos, and chaos is the most fertile situation for a dictatorship to arise.

  7. billdunlap says:

    Adastra, mistakes always happen. Sources lie to reporters. Reporters have their own soapboxes. The problem is that the structures used to correct the mistakes are no longer in place. Also the structures that make people accountable for deliberate lying are no longer in place. This creates chaos, and chaos is the most fertile ground for true dictatorships to grow. Look at the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon.

  8. reprindle says:

    You may not realize this but the net is not so chaotic as you might think. There already is a great deal of censorship going on. Conspiracy ‘nut’s are not the whole problem. The anti-conspiracy nuts are worse.

    Just because someone says something whether absurd or true doesn’t mean it’s believed. Calling for absurd government investigations is not a product of the internet. H.L. Mencken writing in the teens and twenties already knew what the ‘boobocracy’ was about.

    Leave the internet alone. We’re all having a good time.

  9. billdunlap says:

    Another possibility is to go after the corporations who abuse our trust.

  10. reprindle says:

    Bill: Here’s my take on the situation, right or wrong. We, the US, the World, is entering a Time of Troubles that will last indefinitely.

    The political and social situation is, of course, difficult but the damage has already been done. If done by conspiracy the conspirators have been successful; if not, then mankind is too stupid to exist so it doesn’t matter.

    The environmental situation is critical but nothing can be done about that. The population is reaching implosion levels and at some point within an additional billion or so people the planet will no longer be able to support the population. So like it or not there will very likely be billions of casualties at least beginning in the not too distant future and accelerating, if it hasn’t already begun.

    So, while like yourself I rail at situations I don’t care for I’m not as concerned as I may sound, although short term is more important in a person’s life than long term.

    I just figure we’re going ninety miles an hour down a dead end street. For myself I don’t care what anyone says or how they say it although I prefer something ridiculous or funny enough for a laugh.

    I’m thankful I at least lived out most of my life in the sunshine before it went too far. I saw it coming but I didn’t think the disintegration would be so fast.

    So, I say, live, love, laugh and be happy. I agree that there is no freedom without limits but the concept of self-control is what has been lost. Just try to stay out of harm’s way.

  11. billdunlap says:

    It is not in me to give up. How happy will you be when you have lost your job or income and your home? The time is coming. It is time to start thinking outside of the box. It is time to abandon the propaganda of the corporations and start looking into our own interests.


  12. reprindle says:

    Bill: Your reasoning seems OK but I can’t follow your conclusions. I have never been accused of being inside the box. We have only bankers left the industrialists have all left the country. They aren’t the problem. The socialists now led by Obama are creating the problems. I can’t follow your connections.

  13. reprindle says:

    Oh, you are a socialist.

  14. billdunlap says:

    Excuse me but calling Obama a socialist is an insult to the socialists. The man is a Republicrat through and through.

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