Noam Chomsky characterizes the Revolutionary War period as engendering the “vicious repression of dissident opinion.” The repressive measures to which Chomsky alludes have become portents of the myriad repressive policies and suppressions of dissidence that bleed out of Revolutionary times and spill well into the present. The late Howard Zinn corroborated Chomsky’s observation with stressing that, only “seven years after the First Amendment became part of the Constitution, Congress passed a law very clearly abridging the freedom of speech” in America—the Sedition Act of 1798.
“It’s a scene that has played out repeatedly across America: A white cop stops a black teen. Sometimes there is an exchange of profanities. Maybe an arrest follows. Mostly, these events are forgotten, except perhaps by those involved. But a handful are not. That’s the case in Ferguson, Mo., where an Aug. 9 encounter between Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson ended in death, explosive violence, protest and another bout of national soul-searching about race.”
Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.
One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed "crazy", as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually "crazy" are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge).
Despite the well-intentioned efforts of organizations such as Prometheus Radio Project and Free Press to reform the media landscape, these efforts have only played into the hands of the government and the corporations who control it. This is the nature of reform, nothing more than a discussion about how to make the jail cell more comfortable - leaving intact the established relationships of power, control and finance. In the case of Prometheus Radio Project, they have fallen victim to their own historical revisionism, forgetting it was a national campaign of electronic disobedience (the Free Radio Movement) that forced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revisit the issue of low power community broadcasting.
A 22-year-old Idaho man named Michael J. Watkins stands accused of killing a patas monkey inside Zoo Boise last month. According to the Associated Press, “Prosecutors contend Watkins concluded a drunken evening by trying to steal the animal but wound up bludgeoning it to death after it fought back.” Here’s the version being offered by Watkins’ public defenders: “He and another person entered the zoo in the early morning hours; the monkey was taken from its cage, after which Watkins tried to throw it over the fence -- to free it. When that failed, the monkey turned on Watkins, who killed it in self-defense.”
In a Nov. 9, 2012 article, New York Times reporter Michael Wilson informed us that in post-Sandy NYC, the “hunt” was on for “that most deeply despised boogeyman,” the one “who creeps in behind catastrophes” to prey on the “helpless huddled in the dark.”
Was he speaking of the pandering politicians who exploit misery to create photo ops and spout more empty promises?
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: David Morse, a veteran independent journalist and long-time member of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay) has settled his lawsuit over the University of California - Berkeley Police Department’s (UCBPD’s) improper arrest, imprisonment, and seizure of journalistic materials during a student demonstration he was covering as a journalist. In exchange for Mr. Morse’s agreement to dismiss the lawsuit, the University of California Regents have paid $162,500 and have agreed to modify UCBPD policies and procedures regarding acceptable means of seeking materials from a journalist or anyone possessing materials with an intent to disseminate to the public and have also agreed to conduct extensive training sessions for UCBPD officers regarding protections for journalists under federal and state law.
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