In Defense of Journalism and Having an Opinion

Several weeks ago I told myself they are coming for Rex Murphy next. And it has happened.

There is something sinister occurring in the world. I’ve watched it for some years now.

An element of society has set themselves up as judge and jury. All they have to do is point a finger, and with magical power like the wand of a fairy godmother, the subject is transformed, only, not into an elegant beauty, but rather into a despicable, contemptible wretch. What follows is a sort of feverish glee in shifting the tide of public opinion and completing the humiliation, the shame, and the degradation.

This act of pointing is all that is needed. Once a target has been identified, sensitivity readers comb through fifteen years of Facebook history and find one comment that suffices as evidence to flay the defendant. There is, of course, no defense attorney and no jury. To assume to step up in behalf of the victim is to become a similar public pariah. All it takes is one identifiable microagression, even if it is only a quote, not an original thought, and that is enough for a guilty verdict. Microagression, by definition, according to the Merriam-webster dictionary, includes that which is said unconsciously and unintentionally.

Those pronounced guilty are placed in public stocks and made a spectacle, to the chants and jeers of the media who work the crowd into a dizzying and dangerous frenzy. J.K.Rowling is a recent victim.

The petty crimes of mis-speech and wrong-think have been elevated to criminal status equal to the act of homicide. If Rex Murphy can be indicted then we are all in danger of being caught in this irrational witch hunt where intent is irrelevant and errors are committed unconsciously.

Rex Murphy identified the bigger problem and tried to mitigate it. He tried to be a peacemaker, rather than an agitator. He tried to bring us together, one nation under God. Like a father who commends his children for their good effort. He acknowledged and praised diversity of background and thought. But the agitators would much rather stir up dissent and fan dying embers into raging flames, intent on lighting the whole forest on fire. They thrive on a brilliant show of their own making. Today is a dangerous time to be a tree.

Heritage minister clarifies government won’t be licensing news outlets following backlash

February 3, 2020 news article by Terry Pedwell

Commentary

The Liberal government is revising Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws and it’s a good thing somebody is watching. As a blogger I am particularly interested in the need for freedom of speech online. The idea of licensing news sites does not sit well with me at all.

A report released last week, called “Canada’s Communications Future: Time To Act,” compiled by a panel of “independent broadcast experts” included the following recommendation, as posted in the article:

that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) or another regulatory body control licensing of all companies creating “audio, audiovisual, and alphanumeric news content.”

The article concludes by stating that,

The CRTC currently issues licenses to TV and radio broadcasting outlets but does not regulate content on digital outlets such as Google and Facebook, on websites or in print.

Let’s watch that it stays that way.

More information on the CRTC’s plans to regulate Netflix’s Canadian content can be found in a January 29 CBC article by Eli Glasner.

What to Write About – Leave a Legacy

I don’t very often talk about content in writing. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve touched on this subject before.

There are messages out there that need to be shared. A few questions I always ask myself:

1) Am I the one to speak about this?

2) Where/to whom do I talk/write about this?

3) What is the best format/presentation method/platform?

5) Is now the time?

I think for awhile Facebook hijacked my ideas in the sense that it was where I posted short scripts, rather than blogging them or writing a book. As writers we need to determine what specific message we are to make a priority and write about. After this we determine when and where and how we will deliver the message.

This morning I read a couple of blogs I follow. I noted this in one blog: The Russians, for their part, wanted paralyzing chaos and to destabilize the United States politically — Mission Accomplished, Ivan. This blogger posts political content and adds personal commentary. The reason I chose this quote is because I see a lot of material these days that is causing destabilization and I think as writers this is something we could respond to. I would add that Russia does not get all the credit for chaos and destabilization.

Another blogger I follow, who is an inspirational writer of poetry, confessed today that she is actually a “political junkie” on Twitter. She deviated from her usual form and wrote about being moved to tears by a mother who lost her son this past week when a passenger plane was shot down over Iran. She felt the need to draw attention to the plight of Iranians at this time.

I hear from more and more people who are distraught by what they see around them and want to speak out. Don’t allow your voice to be silenced when you have a conviction that you need to speak. Some things need to be said, even if there are repercussions.

Although our privilege to speak freely is being challenged, today, silence is not the answer. Wisdom is.

Count the cost. Be courageous. Be considerate. Be prayerful. Think through what it is you want to say, then choose your words carefully.

I read this recently:

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. – Elie Wiesel

As writers we have a very significant role. We communicate a message that has the potential to influence others. We pass on information. We help people look at things from different viewpoints. This can be encouraging to some while it is threatening to others. Once again, I do not believe the solution is for people of good intentions to remain silent.

What is your motivation? Why do you write? I am encouraged when I see writers who aim to achieve good in the world. As we have seen, there are those whose motivation is less lofty.

In deciding what it is we want to say, it is also helpful to know exactly what it is we are doing. One person may want to document their journey. Another may want to give a commentary, or an evaluation. Some write to teach and share information. Others feel the need to alert people to current events or developments.

Occasionally people write cathartically, as a form of personal therapy. Some want their words to soothe and heal and bring comfort. Others write to entertain with wit and humor.

Our personality will incline us in a certain direction. A few people have expressed a sense of “call” to communicate a specific message or to deliver it in a very specific way. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what sets us writing but I think it’s safe to say it is interest and concern.

Whatever your content, whatever your style, I encourage you to contribute. Your voice is unlike anyone else’s voice. What you have to say matters. Together we can work towards creating a more insightful, more caring and more peaceful world. We can address some of the chaos and hopefully bring a greater sense of stability. Let’s leave behind a legacy for those who will follow. Your voice could be the one someone has waited for.

Why I Left Facebook at the End of the Year

Each of my WordPress followers pressed the “follow” button for a slightly different reason. When I follow someone it is because I have found their writing interesting or motivating in some way and I want to keep track of them and be able to read more of their content. When I think that this is the reason someone follows me, I feel strangely moved. There are days when writers need to be reminded that someone really does care and wants us to write more and will be looking for our content.

I had a very meaningful time on Facebook for many years. It was a place where I felt I could go to be encouraged. People on Facebook cared. And I cared about them. I tried to post encouraging comments. I “liked” numerous posts. And my friends were very responsive and kind.

I have moved a number of times and Facebook became the place to keep in touch with people I no longer saw in person. I considered myself to be very blessed with my group of friends. Oh, it was an odd mix, but I loved it. A few friends didn’t agree with my political leanings and challenged me from time to time and I enjoyed the fact that they expressed alternate views. I reexamined my points of view. It forced me to look at what I believed from a different perspective.

My tendency was to share links to relevant news and often I added a paragraph of commentary. Many of my friends frequently expressed their appreciation for this as I pulled up pieces that weren’t commonly seen by everyone. However, I began to notice that I was no longer getting responses to my posts. I decided to do a survey of my friends and discovered that my closest friends were not seeing my posts. I began to suspect that Facebook did not like what I was posting and was reducing my distribution. When I mentioned this to my husband he thought I was making it up, so I kept watching and eventually I got the confirmation from Facebook itself. According to them I was posting false news. One piece of “false news” was a link to a letter that 500 scientists sent to the United Nations, claiming that climate change science is complex and we do not know the exact correlation between human activity and climate change. I was told by Facebook that if I continued to post this type of “false news” I would see my “overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.” But they had already done this to me for a year or longer.

If you say anything that questions the current politically correct dialogue–and I tend to do this–then you are labelled as a false prophet, in other words. There are names the politically correct side has for you. These are conversations you are not allowed to have. I am not even talking about whether, or how much, climate change is impacted by human activity. I just want to give both sides the opportunity to speak. But today we are in a society where this kind of dialogue is no longer allowed–not even on Facebook–and Facebook is going to enforce this. It is not only Facebook, however. When I went back to the original site on Google where I obtained the article, it was blocked.

I never considered myself as a threat before, but apparently I am a threat to Facebook. One day Facebook stopped me from posting a link to an article written by a doctor about how doctors suffer as a result of not being able to be open about their struggles. It looked like a harmless article to me but I received a pop-up that said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other persons on Facebook have reported as abusive. You can find it at this site. It is entitled The Conspiracy of Silence (World Mental Health Day).

In a way, Facebook ultimately succeeded in silencing me completely because I left Facebook. But I was silenced on Facebook for a long time before that. After a decade or so on Facebook I know my friends and it is not normal for me to have ten posts that have no response at all from any readers. And this happened again and again. Several times I did a survey and the result was the same. My friends had not seen my posts. They had no idea what I had been posting during the week.

Some person or algorithm did not like me so it silenced me, and very effectively. I finally became weary of it and I went off of Facebook.

But I do not believe we ought to be silent. The article I tried unsuccessfully to post, that was written by the doctor, contained this quote, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” – Elie Wiesel. We cannot remain indifferent. We need to find creative and effective ways of expressing our views, while practicing patience and tolerance with those who oppose us.

I think it is extremely saddening that a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, and friend has to leave behind all of her dear contacts because the mail carrier reads her mail and deems it not fit for distribution.