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Monday, December 17, 2012

The Real Reason...

For the past four days, I have sickened myself, not only following the tragic events in Newtown, CT, but the raging stupidity of the response to that.  Yes, we mourned for children of families we never met, or never will meet.  We also scrambled to our favorite talking points.  Those who were pro-gun now fear that President Obama will take away all their guns.  Those who ar anti-gun called for the President to...what else?...take away all our guns.  Some have said that this is God's judgement on a world that does not believe in him (of course no one says that when kids are gunned down in Comptin, CA or Bedford-Sty. NY....but that's another rant, all together). Atheists say this proves that there is no God anyway because He would not allow this to happen if He was in control (with the exception of Compton or Bedford-Sty.....sorry).

Some have blamed the lack of availablity of mental health care (bogus, because in America mental health care is basically "here's a bag of pills, knock yourself out...NEXT!" Ex.: Ms. L. Lohan...). Some have blamed the President.  Others have blamed right-wing talk radio.  Still others note that we're all going mad because of the latest impending-end-of-days Dec. 21 (which we'll all be bitching about the morning of Dec. 22.)....

Same shit, different mass atrocity.

Now for most of this weekend, I have spent enormous amounts of time trying to tell my Facebook and Twitter brethern, sistern, and transgendern that this problem goes deeper.  That we on the planet have a collective broken soul.  It is that, I believe, that must be healed.  And this goes beyond being born-again or finding whatever Higher Power you believe in.  It means that you have to take steps after that prayer to effect that healing.

But blaming (fill-in-theblank) is much easier than looking in the mirror and realizing that YOU are the problem and that the solution starts with YOU.

Obviously, I have lost my communications skills.

Thankfully, some else has not.

A bit of intrudction here is in order.

"Bond.Jane" was born in Portugal, and has lived the last decade in the UK.  We came together through our love and writing of Once Upon A Time fan fiction (A great sample of her work is "Atonment."  Give it a read, and, if you will, send it to the OUAT producers so they know exactly what direction the show should go......but I digress....).  The other day I wrote a Storybrook response to the tragedy, she said some kind things, and we started to discuss it.  What follows, with her permission, is her response to mine, and it spells out in beautiful detail what i have been trying to say.  I have left all typos and misspellings in.  When someone speaks from the heart, its best to present verbatim.

As for the the US and the UK... well, yes... there is a difference there which is this one: we do not wake up to news of a massacre in a random school by a random boy that for all accounst was a quiet one. And that is mostly because there are no guns on the high stree, every joe dick and harry do not have a gun in their drawer and there simple is no where to buy them.

Crime here is one on one. And it is terrifying, silent, with knives. Face to face.

Let me give you some background here. I am Portuguese. I have only lived here for 9 yeras. All my liofe was in Portugal, a small town there and, as I was teaching, even smaller villages. And there is this that I have noticed: everybody is involved in every one elses business. Society demands things of you, minds your business, whether it is the shape of your parents, your teachers, your parent's friends, your neightbours. You do not have space to be alone. Even depression is a different ball game there.

I guess that what it creats in you is accountability. To yourself and other.

I read a while ago, here in the Uk, that the most common motor deseases are those associated with avoidance of contact. People are so desperate to avoid contact with others that they have all these sorts of deseases like knee, elbow, neck and even eye repetitive motion stress. Check it out one of thewse days on public transport. You'll be surprised at what you see. Or maybe not. People are so desperate to avvoind contact with others that they do not now what to do with their angly body parts so as not to touch.

I think that is very telling: we are so detached from others that we simply forget to look at others- even the ones we do not know- as people that got here the same way we did, that are made of the same material that breathe the same air, that have their own sufferings and joys.

Yes, you are right. We are broken. Our capacity to establish connections is broken, we do not know how to reach out beyond the barrier of our own skin. And that has nothing to do with God or with guns. It is about accountability. There is none. To others or to ourselves While there is always a shrink waiting to excuse and absolve you, while there is aq blame laid at the feet of violent computer games or sports or films, we will never be accountsble. We will never hold ourselves accountable.

We find it diffcult to say "mea culpa". And it seems, that it is being made easier for us to hide behind the excuses more and more.
End quote.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

From 2008: Air America Head: Rush is..........RIGHT??

From 2008....

Conservative talk radio has worked itself into a tizzy lately over the rumored revival of the Fairness Doctrine -- the FCC policy that sought to enforce balanced discussion on the nation's airwaves.

As the founding president of Air America Radio, I believe that for the last eight years Rush Limbaugh and his ilk have been cheerleaders for everything wrong with our economic, foreign and domestic policies. But when it comes to the Fairness Doctrine, I couldn't agree with them more. The Fairness Doctrine is an anachronistic policy that, with the abundance of choices on radio today, is entirely unnecessary.

Instituted in 1949, the Fairness Doctrine obligated stations to "afford reasonable opportunity" for opposing views on topics of "public importance." At the time, most cities outside of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles had only a few stations. AM radio was in everyone's car and home, but there were just three or four stations per market. FM radio was still a quarter of a century away from commercial success.

Policy makers who introduced the Fairness Doctrine were worried that crafty special interests could overwhelm the airwaves with one-sided propaganda and tilt elections, sway public sentiment or foment civil unrest. Their fears were understandable. Joseph Goebbels effectively used radio in service of the Third Reich.

Contrary to what some people would have us believe today, the Fairness Doctrine was primarily an issue on TV, since radio didn't have much talk. Until the 1970s, AM stations had a steady diet of music with a couple of minutes of news at the top of the hour. But by 1978, music had migrated to FM, leaving AM in a programming lurch. The history of media is replete with new technologies stealing the content of the ones they supplant. Motion pictures killed vaudeville; radio was full of dramas and comedies before Jack Webb and Jack Benny switched to TV. As for AM radio, it was not until Rush found an audience on WABC in New York City in 1988 that the AM operators knew what to do with their once mighty stations.

The conventional wisdom is that Rush's success depended on the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine. Some say that if he had to make time for opposing opinions, Rush would have flopped. Personally, I think he is most entertaining when he is dismantling opposing arguments. He's successful because he is a superior entertainer.

Rush created the new AM template, and it spread like wildfire. When programmers and sales managers get a whiff of success, it is cloned in every conceivable way until the audience, once grateful for innovation, tunes out.

So why didn't liberal talk radio flourish as well? There are several reasons, none of which has to do with a lack of talent. Bill Maher, Al Franken, Stephanie Miller, David Bender, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow all have the chops.

First, boring hosts made the occasional, unsuccessful foray (sorry, Mario Cuomo). Second, some talented lefties like Mike Malloy were cast into the abyss of right-wing talk radio where they were completely out of place. (Radio is a mood servicing drug; format purity rules.)

Finally, most broadcast owners are conservative. Programs like Rush's have made them rich, so the last thing they want is to mess with success, particularly if it entails airing opinions they don't share. Trust me, it took us years to get them to play rock 'n' roll.

No one tried a national, 24-hour liberal station before Air America Radio. When we founded Air America, we aimed to establish a talk network that lived at the intersection of politics and entertainment. Of course, we were motivated by our political leanings. But as a lifelong broadcaster, I was certain that at least half the American audience was underserved by conservative talk radio. Here was an opportunity to capture listeners turned off by the likes of, say, Sean Hannity. The business opportunity was enticing.

It never occurred to me to argue for reimposing the Fairness Doctrine. Instead, I sought to capitalize on the other side of a market the right already had built.

When conservative talking heads wave a red flag about the possible revival of the Fairness Doctrine, they know it's a great way to play the victim and rally supporters. But I'll let Rush continue with his self-righteous indignation -- and if I want, I'll tune into Rachel Maddow, or one of the thousands of other voices that populate radio today.

Mr. Sinton was the founding president of Air America Radio.