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Studies in Hypocrisy From the F-Word to the New York Times
T he hypocrisy that runs deep in this culture is amusingly illustrated by the fact that while the F-word has become standard operating language, especially under conditions of emotion or stress, and for the political right as well as others, for the right-wing base and many Republican cadres and allies it is the ultimate in immoral and “indecent” language, and its use in the media is fought with great energy. On the one hand we have Vice-President Dick Cheney using the word on the floor of the Senate telling Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, “Fuck yourself”; and George Bush himself saying to Wall Street Journal journalist Al Hunt “You no-good fucking son of a bitch. I will never fucking forget what you wrote!” Karl Rove told Ron Suskind his thoughts about one political enemy: “We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. Like no one else has ever fucked him.” Right-wing judge Laurence Silberman, exulting over an attack on Senator Paul Simon who had harshly questioned the credentials of Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court justice, said: “You nailed him! You fucked him!”
It is also the word of choice among our boys fighting for freedom in Iraq: “We’re here to give you your fuckin’ freedom, so back off,” as one GI put it to Iraqi protesters. And on-site reports of GI sweeps and violent entry into Iraqi homes regularly report “fuck” as the word of choice by the invaders as they beat and push the terrified householders around.
Why the deep concern of the righteous? An important reason is that the word is about SEX, which is bad and best treated by abstinence and (in later years) darkness. The F-word’s use might cause children to ask for an explanation, which would force the righteous into evasions and talks about stork-delivery, when they don’t want to lie.
FCC boss Michael Powell has responded to the push of the righteous, with the FCC ruling in March 2004 “that the use of the ‘F-word’ during last year’s broadcast of the Golden Globes violates the federal statute…the gratuitous use of such vulgar language on broadcast television will not be tolerated.”
This hypocrisy works out well for the right wing as they dominate both the media and the work of an agency like the FCC. Thus the contradiction and hypocrisy are not given much attention and rules against indecency can be used as a selective club to keep the media in line.
Sex in the Media
closely related profusion of hypocrisy flows from the fact that
sex sells, so that the commercial media, under competitive pressure,
use it aggressively in both ads and programming. Women are displayed
in ever more provocative clothing (or lack of it), poses, and actions.
The competitive ads for cures for erectile dysfunction and frigidity
show couples looking ever more satisfied from just-completed sexual
encounters and sex-saturated programs like “Married by America”
and “Desperate Housewives” have proliferated, heavily
represented on the Fox network. Frank Rich notes that “Fox
remains the go-to network for Paris Hilton (‘The Simple Life’)
and wife-swapping (‘Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy’),”
and that “The Murdoch cultural stable includes recent books
like Jenna Jameson’s
to Make Love Like a Porn Star
and the Vivid Girls’
to Have a XXX Sex Life
, which have been synergistically, even
joyously, promoted on Fox News by willing hosts like Rita Crosby
and, needless to say, Mr. O’Reilly.”
Rich also notes, “None of this has prompted an uprising from the red-state Fox News loyalists supposedly so preoccupied with ‘moral values’.” Of course, none of these programs offer a positive view of pro-choice and gay-lesbian rights, but still the willingness to tolerate adultery, open and public sex, and de facto pornography is impressive. Of course these programs are offered by a network that supports aggression, torture, official lies on a grand scale (historically “off-the-charts,” as Mark Crispin Miller points out), a destruction of the welfare state, racism, and subversion of the U.S. constitution, with implied moral and political values that apparently appeal to the loyalists. The programs watched by children should help integrate them into a culture of aggression, domination, hierarchy, and militarism.
The Pro-Death Constituency
T here is a substantial overlap between the folks who oppose abortion and those who support capital punishment and perpetual war. Thus the self-designation of these people as “pro-life” is a serious misrepresentation—they favor preserving the life of fetuses, but are in favor of a variety of policies that injure or terminate life once it emerges from the womb. They could, with rather more justice, be called the “pro-death” constituency as their preference is for protecting undeveloped life still devoid of personality, while they are less concerned with protecting the lives of humans who are fully sensate and members of the human community. In fact, many of them are positively eager to see mass death imposed on people who stand in the way of their country’s projection of power.
Many of them are extremely fond of Sharon’s Israel, recently in an intensified phase of ethnic cleansing, busy rendering life miserable and killing large numbers of another set of non-Caucasians. Political commentator Bill Berkowitz also calls attention to a current Christian fundamentalist compassion deficit: “Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their websites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami” (www.workingforchange.com).
Thirty years ago I coauthored an article on “Moral Consistency and the Abortion Issue” (with Robert Edelstein and Mary Herman, Commonweal , March 22, 1974) in which we carried out statistical significance tests on the relation between voting on an extremely restrictive anti-abortion bill in the Pennsylvania legislature and voting on a series of bills that would have (1) reinstituted capital punishment, (2) expressed opposition to the Vietnam War, (3) continued payments to welfare recipients, and (4) eased up on parole requirements for prisoners. The first two votes provide measures of legislators’ reactions to the direct termination of post-fetal life. The other two are crude indicators of concern with human welfare. Our statistical analysis of the votes of Pennsylvania legislators showed a strongly significant correlation between votes for the anti-abortion bill and votes for reinstituting capital punishment and support for the Vietnam War (and against easing parole requirements; there was no significant relationship between anti-abortion and pro-welfare votes).
This article aroused strong emotions among some readers of Commonweal , but the statistical findings were never challenged and they point to a linkage that is fairly obvious. It follows that there is no way the anti-abortion crusaders can justifiably call themselves “pro-life.” When they and the mainstream media use such terminology it should be assailed and corrected.
The New York Times and the Mrs. Jellyby Syndrome
T he New York Times has long suffered from the Mrs. Jellyby Syndrome, a disorder described by example in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House , where Mrs. Jellyby spends all of her time organizing efforts on behalf of the distant natives of Booriaboola-gha, while paying no attention to the poor state of her own family. Among many other illustrations, the Times displayed this ailment at the time of the big Pittston strike in 1989, when the paper had no interest in this major home-grown struggle but paid devoted attention to the simultaneous strike of miners in the Soviet Union. Of course, the political basis of this differential attention was obvious: the Times is anti-union, but has always been pleased to support union activism in distant places where it is causing problems for target/enemy states. In the same time frame as the Times was giving indignant support to the mistreatment of Solidarity in communist Poland, it was completely silent on the even more brutal crackdown on unions in Turkey, a U.S. client state.
Recently, the Times has devoted massive attention to protests in the Ukraine and the deficiencies of the voting process in that far-off land, including the contradictory findings of exit polls and official tabulations. In fact, from November 1 through December 31, 2004, the paper had 118 articles on the Ukraine and its election, with 17 running on the first page. Meanwhile, protests in their own country and election abuses here were of far less interest and concern to the editors. There was a protest of an estimated 16,000 people at Fort Benning, Georgia, on November 19-21, against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, long (and still widely) known as the School of the Americas, and also widely known in non-establishment sources and Latin America as the “School for the Assassins” given the great importance of the school’s trainees in the rise of the National Security State, death squads, torture, and military dictatorships in Latin America. (Two-thirds of the people named as high level killers by the UN-sponsored El Salvador Truth Commission had been trained in the School of the Americas, and School trainees were leaders in the overthrow of democratic governments and instituting reigns of terror throughout Latin America.) The New York Times did not even mention this protest.
There have also been innumerable protests and studies claiming that the recent U.S. presidential election was stolen. In Ohio, for example, there have been rallies at the state house, hearings, numerous lawsuits filed, and a great many affidavits and testimonials to electoral abuses that in the aggregate could easily have determined the election outcome. Ohio election officials are resisting subpoenas and there is even evidence of corruption in ongoing recounts ( Democracy Week, “Ohio Recount Steeped in Fraud” www. truthout.org). Congressperson John Conyers held hearings on the abuses and appealed to members of the Senate to help postpone the Electoral College vote till matters are cleared up.
One participant in the protests, Gary Polvinale, writes, “Ohio is screaming the truth at the top of its lungs, literally, and no one hears us because of all the noise of the media silence.” He has a point. The Times has never mentioned that “State officials have outsourced and privatized America’s voting system” and that with 99.4 percent of votes under machine control, “It’s an open invitation to vote fraud with minimal chance of discovery” (Lynn Landes). The Times has not mentioned the Conyers hearings in any news article and in its 36 articles that refer to the question of possible electoral fraud in Ohio published between October 1 and December 31, none pull together the wide array of evidence and no editorial or opinion piece calls for a full recount in Ohio and elsewhere and a postponement of the Electoral College vote pending such inquiries, let alone a new election. Their one extensive article on the abuses, devoted strictly to deflating the claims, fails even to mention electronic manipulation and Republican control of the machines and software (Tom Zeller, “Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly Grounded,” NYT, Nov. 12, 2004).
As in the case of the 2000 election theft, the Times is not about to challenge an election result that pleases the business community and where a challenge would cause right-wing frenzy. The Times has pointed out that in the Ukraine the Supreme Court declared the voting abuses so severe as to nullify the election, but the paper doesn’t point out the irony that in this country the Supreme Court has only thrown its weight into confirming electoral abuses to permit their candidate to win (in 2000). Abuses in an election in the Ukraine are one thing—the establishment as a whole is happy to condemn that election and demand a rerun—but for this country, no thanks.
Edward S. Herman is an economist and author of many articles and books.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.