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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Terrorist Activities

Terrorism: "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes." That's what the dictionary says. Of course, the FBI has a more directed definition. They say it is "perpetrated by individuals and/or groups that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature." Okay, so terrorism is the act of spreading terror for a particular agenda. I think we're all fairly comfortable with the definition of terrorism.

Why is it, then, that we don't recognize it when we see it?

Oh, we recognize it when someone from a foreign country or someone from an extremist religion or someone from a domestic anti-government militia group, for instance, does it, but not when it's right under our noses.

I've been reading a lot of late about students walking out of class and people marching for safety. Again and again they shout, "We don't feel safe at school!" A nationwide study said that only 3 in 10 students feel safe in school. Then the Miami Herald reports that the black students at the Parkland high school felt less safe because of the presence of police officers. Cops don't represent protection to them; they represent "more chances to become a victim of police brutality." Now, that's terror. And that's what terrorism is about. Terrorism is aimed at creating fear or terror for their own personal purposes. These kids are terrorized. Who's to blame?

A short while after 9/11 and the new rules for air travel security were in place, one of the local network news outlets was going to air a show about how dangerous air travel was -- the holes in the system. I read the advertisement and asked the reporter why. "Aren't you just spreading terror?" He (actually responded and) told me, "No, the people have a right to know." "But," I countered, "I can't do anything about it and I have no recourse. It appears to me that the only possible response is don't fly anymore or choose to risk death." He disagreed. But I call that "terrorism."

We have the vast media complex that operates under the First Amendment that guarantees, among other things, the freedom of the press. And they march to some undocumented "right to know." They bring to us in living color the immediate sensations of what is happening at the moment. They show us the devastation, the pain, the evils, the trauma. Because, well, the public has the "right to know." What they don't tell us is the other side of the story. For instance, we'll see the horrors of highway deaths, but what they won't tell you is that the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is roughly 1.18. That is, your chance of death on the highway is extremely low. They don't tell you that part. People are afraid to fly often because of reporting about plane crashes, but we know that statistically you have a much higher chance of dying on the highway than in flying. Or take this current fear students are reporting. Why? Well, understandably, 17 kids were killed in a high school shooting on Valentine's Day this year. What we are not told was the real numbers. Something like 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings since Sandy Hook. That's bad. Now, there are more than 50 million students enrolled in elementary and secondary public schools in America. If you do the math, then, you'll find that the chances that any student in America would be shot in school is roughly 0.00086%. The school shooting rate for kids in America is less than 1 in 100,000.

Does this mean there is no problem? Not at all. One is too many. I'm not saying there is no problem. In fact, the numbers of school shootings and the numbers of injuries and deaths in these shootings is on the rise. That's a problem. (Note: "Guns are the problem!" does not take into account the fact that guns have been around for centuries but this rise is a matter of less than a decade. There is some other problem.) What I'm saying is that the fears caused by the reporting are not rational in relation to reality.

If terrorism requires an agenda and I am claiming the media is perpetrating terrorism, what is their agenda? Well, of course, that's how they make a living. That's their income. And that's before we factor in their politics and such. A media outlet opposed to guns, for instance, would certainly air a gun story in the most terrifying light to accomplish their anti-gun aim. And no media outlet is without bias.

Much of how we live is driven by these irrational fears perpetrated by media coverage. Now, rational terror might be when you see a bus bearing down on you at high speed. That ought to scare you. I'm not suggesting there are not things that should scare you. I'm suggesting that we are allowing the media to be terrorists for their own ends, be it income or other goals, based on the Freedom of the Press (1st Amendment) and some unsubstantiated, insubstantial "right to know" which ends up driving our lives without a genuine link to reality. (If you think they actually believe in your "right to know," ask them about their sources and the like. "Oh, no, you don't have the right to know that.") They produce more terrorism, more terrorists, more copycats, and their own terror for their own purposes. ("Stay tuned for more on this story coming up.")

Am I advocating censorship? No, that would be like gun control. It's not the freedom of the press that is the problem; it is the character of the press. It is the character of the public. I'm suggesting that character is the problem and we're not addressing that at all.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Interesting take.