Rupert, Dad, & Me

Wait?   News Corp illegally obtained phone numbers of dead soldiers’ families to eavesdrop on their calls and harass them after their sons and daughters died fighting to protect the very laws said company was breaking with impunity while promoting a political agenda of moral superiority?

It can’t be true.  My dad watches News Corp’s Fox News programming and he said they’re fair and balanced.  This is probably just an isolated incident contained and separate from any of News Corp’s other subsidiaries.  Fox News couldn’t have been lying to my dad and making a mockery of our freedom of press the same way as News of the World.   It would be insane to think that all these years Fox News was acting with the same impunity in the very sovereign mine and my dad’s forefathers died fighting to protect.

I got worked up once and told my dad that Fox News was lying but he set me back straight.   I showed him evidence of Fox editing clips from different year’s footage of like events to misinform the public to make a certain person or party seem other than the unedited footage would make them seem, but it was heresy and I came to my senses.  I had a silly little moral dilemma whereby I thought to myself:  how can a news organization manipulate the news to give me information that flies in the face of truth?  What could be wrong with the truth and wouldn’t a news organization be held to the truth by way of the law?  I saw some more sites and TV shows dedicated to exposing the same lies I thought I was seeing, but it turns out it’s all a big elitist conspiracy by them damn book readers and secular academics.  Thank goodness dad set me straight and I saw through all that and came home to roost. 

I needed some corroboration for these crazy thoughts that were again creeping into my head because of this story unfolding on July 11, 2011 and thought i’d do some fact checkin’ of my own.  I checked foxnews.com’s website on July 11, 2011 and searched the HTML of every individual page on their entire site for the words: Murdoch, News of the World, and News Corp and knew the story couldn’t  be true when I couldn’t get a single match to those keywords.  So it must not be that big-a-deal.  I mean if it were really newsworthy that News Corp funded criminals were pissing on the laws of our allies with impunity, surely I’d be able to find those keywords on the most read news website in the world.  I mean, those laws were in the UK anyway and they’ve got nothing to do with News Corp’s actions in the USA.

Finally, I searched using Fox News’ search function and turned up four hits.  That’s weird I thought: I just searched every page on the site individually for the exact same key words and couldn’t find a story, then when I used the search function on the home page, I turned up four hits for each of the same keywords.  Good thing I wasn’t just a regular ol’ Fox News friend browsing the site and knew exactly what I was looking for, ’cause shucks I wouldn’t have found that story.  I was surprised the story wasn’t more obvious on foxnews.com because I saw Rupert Murdoch on a different news station and he was in London closing down the News of the World organization and pulling over $4 billion USD out of his bid to buy Sky News in order to shore up a stock buyback of over $5 billion USD for News Corporation as the share price plummetted amid these ugly and unfair allegations.   I was having trouble reconciling these stories for a moment, but then I remembered that Fox News is Fair & Balanced and it’s best just to trust them.

I ended up reading the story  from Fox News’ website and it turns out it wasn’t so bad, the liberal media was just spinning things to sound worse than they are.   It sounds like their Fair & Balanced motto is going to shake off this latest mainstream media witch hunt propaganda baloney.  I’m reassured now that Fox News wouldn’t lie to me or my dear ol’ dad.  Thanks Rupert; for lookin’ out for dad & me.

…and for goodness’ sake…pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Unthinkable respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

-Albert Einstein

Persian Letter Series: Letter 8 – Usbek To His Friend Rustan, At Isfahan

This is the second post in a series of posts examining excerpts of Charles Montesquieu’s book Persian Letters.  Each post in this series examines a selected excerpt for study and discussion.  The following is an excerpt from Letter 8:

I appeared at court in my earliest youth.  I can truthfully say that my heart did not become corrupt.  I even undertook a great project: I dared to behave virtuously there.  As soon as I had recognized vice for what it was, I kept away from it; but approached it again in order to expose it.  I took truth to the steps of the throne.  I spoke a language hitherto unknown there:  I put flattery out of countenance and, at the same time, astonished both the flatterers and their idol.

But when I saw that my sincerity had made enemies, that I had aroused the ministers’ jealousy, without gaining my sovereign’s favour, that, in a corrupt court, I could only preserve myself by my own feeble virtue, I resolved to leave.

Comments on excerpt above:

This passage jumped off the page to me.  Like so many other nuggets from this book, it gave me great pause.  The most interesting thing about studying history is realizing the things that always change and the things that never will.  This is one of those things that will never change.  It could even be classified as a ‘psyaxiom’ like I’ve started writing posts about under a tag by the same name.   What he’s saying here is that people of a corrupt nature don’t want the truth.  Not only do they not want the truth, they’re threatened by it; especially when the truth you’re pointing out forces those corrupt people to see the corruption within themselves.

People who are subconsciously unjust always seem to be able to rationalize their behaviour at the conscious level.  If you have the self-actualization and honor to blow the whistle and call the foul on yourself, you most assuredly have the ability to point it out in others.  When or if you do this, you force those people to acknowledge their own ignoble behaviour.  Instead of recognizing unjust behavior as such, those who are ignoble would seek to shoot you down and marginalize you:  “how dare you ignore my falsely spun image and see through to the truth” they will always seem to say with their angered expression.  To encroach upon those in power for the want of justice would more likely get you killed or beat down than it would awaken those to see things more justly.  It is difficult to be raised and raise your children to seek truth amid society’s desire to see a fabrication as a more valuable ideal.  But, seeking the truth has its rewards as well.  The path that leads to truth may get rocky, but that’s the path you must go.

When I think about the Baron’s words here, I’m reminded of the serenity prayer:  God grant me the strength to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Persian Letters

The Persian Letters(1720), written by Charles Montesquieu, was a precursor to some of his greater contributions to the 18th century enlightenment and society.  He’s better known as a political theorist famous for the separation of powers in a republic; most notably the separation between executive, legislative, and judicial powers.   His book Of the Spirit of Laws (1748) was his masterpiece and was more influential than any other book on the founding fathers who wrote the constitution of the United States of America.  The Persian Letters is a good start-off book for anyone interested in reading Montesquieu as it is a much more laid back and easy read than his other works.  The book makes observations of politics, fashion, and religion in 18th century Europe; often times with a healthy dose of satire.  Freedom of religion is another concept Montesquieu influenced us with and is perhaps just as important as any other freedom a person can have. This book demonstrates very well Montesquieu’s disdain for religious intolerance and religious persecution.  Many of my favorite quotes from the book that will be shared in this post series have to do with Montequieu’s view and insight on religion.

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The Communist Manifesto

I’ve spent a good part of my life talking about how great it is to live in America and how Communism is bad.  I studied sociology and knew that there were different political systems and different economic systems, but I never really ventured to study them in depth.  I never contemplated a bigger meaning of it all or how it all fits together.   One day, while talking smack about Communism and the Communist Manifesto I was asked “have you ever even read it?”  Ah, such a simple question.  It was hard to make an argument about something I hadn’t even read.  The answer was obviously no;  I had not read the Communist Manifesto.  Now that I have read it, I’d like to give my take on it.

There is a fundamental flaw in the Communist Manifesto in that it is not a stand alone idea.  It is not an idea conjured from a blank sheet of paper.  It is born as an “Anti-Capitalist” philosophy.  In order to succeed, a philosophy should fundamentally parallel a natural process in some manner and be able to stand alone.  This is no different than the evolutionary principles of natural selection in the wild:  those which are not best adapted to succeed eventually die off.  A sociopolitical philosophy based entirely on unnatural principles while intoxicated with a hatred of Capitalism is one that is destined for failure.   It’s not entirely difficult, however,  to see the seductiveness of a “new” concept when the discord of the “old” concepts are described so accurately and succinctly.  But, the Communist Manifesto does not do much more than describe the struggles of previous ruling class / working class dichotomies.  I find weakness in this document in its utopian sales pitch even as I cannot find much argument in the cycle of proletarian uprisings and revolutions that are evidenced within it.  My belief is that the struggles and revolutions of all the societies that have gone before us are perhaps better viewed as part of our natural evolution as human beings.  An analogy comes to mind to describe what I think I would say to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels if they were alive today:  don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

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