Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: / Teaching / Society / social order / media /

2002 09 11

The purpose of the media is to regulate
(to the best of its ability)
which messages flow where, at what velocity, with what momentum;
and which stagnate.

Some stagnation is accidental, some is sabotage.

On average, on any given day, how many murders are there likely to be in the United States? How many crimes involving hand guns? How many traffic related deaths (whether in the air, on the ground, or both)? I don’t have answers off the top of my head but I have every confidence that I could learn an official answer to such questions without much difficulty. Neither would I doubt the official answer: I would not assume that orthodoxy was far off base. Neither would I assume that errors were deliberate. These are things about our selves that we know.

Now: on average, on any given day, how many children around the world get blown to pieces by accidental contact with US-installed anti-personnel land mines?

If I called my local paper or went to my local library and asked any of the questions in the first paragraph, I’d find citizens of some competence trying to be helpful. If I ask the question in the second paragraph I’ll get a very different reception.

I’d expect a similar reception if I asked how many acres more land the US stole from Indians in 2001 in violation of still more joke treaties? How about if I asked when the Virgin Mary had her first period?

Noam Chomsky makes an important point about the media and public awareness in an interview published by The Hindu. The immediate subject being American atrocities in Afghanistan, Chomsky says that those responsible for controlling public opinion can’t say: not because they know the answer and won’t tell, but because they don’t know the answer themselves. They don’t know because they don’t want to know. And they wouldn’t tell if they did because they don’t want you to know.

He illustrates: How many Vietnamese were killed in Vietnam during “Vietnam”? If we ask how many Germans were killed by Nazis during WWII, how many Jews, how many gypsies, how many homosexuals, how many dissidents, we’d get very specific figures: estimates of course, but that’s the nature of the beast. But those atrocities “belong” to the “enemy,” you see. There’s nothing taboo about knowing the unspeakable behavior of enemies.

How many homicides have



That’s a different class of question.

Anyway with regard to children and land mines, I don’t know if anyone has a figure, but it can be known that if anyone did have a figure, the figure would not be small. And of course if children can have accidents with land mines left lying live about a country we’ve “helped,” so can adults, dogs, porcupines, and tigers. With regard to Vietnam, no one knows: because no one kept track. But knowledgeable estimates weigh in at around four million. That’s


I was visiting an old college roommate some years back and he was expressing great concern that some compensation was finally forthcoming for Vietnam veterans suffering complications from exposure to agent orange. How about the Vietnamese
we exposed to agent orange, I asked? Bill was shocked. And not happy. He’d never thought about it! Was consequences of agent orange our main topic of conversation over the remaining time of my visit? No. It didn’t come up again. Bill had never thought about it and I am confident that Bill did his best to continue not to think about it. No, no, no: it’s the  other guys we’re comfortable blaming.

My NEWS module, together with a number of other modules, accuses media of misrepresentation. This piece accuses media of selective non-representation. (It matters naught if we don’t know that we’re doing it: it does matter whether or not we are doing it.) That first such module here I put in my Society as Kleptocracy folder. This belated addition will begin a scrapbook of media-related thoughts.

Media Menu



You want answers to the above questions? Read that Chomsky interview. Ask him further. He doesn’t put in efforts, enormous efforts, investigating this stuff.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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