Friday, July 15, 2016

False Equivalence: A Beaver's Tale

"You're one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan."

Eric Wemple of the Washington Post exhaustively documents another example of "respected" professional journalists telling the Beltway's same gargantuan lie for the one millionth time:
Top Beltway reporters promulgate absurd false equivalence on Clinton, Trump

By Erik Wemple July 14 at 3:57 PM
After documenting the myriad ways in which Donald J. Trump has been openly enacting an all-out war on the media, and comparing those examples with the handful of ways in which Hillary Clinton has "offended the notion of a free press", Wemple notes the obvious:
It’s a lopsided tally, no matter your politics.
And yet...
Yet two highly respected Washington reporters — Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal and Jeff Mason of Reuters (outgoing and incoming presidents of the White House Correspondents’ Association) — see nothing but equivalence. They have co-authored a piece in USA Today under the headline “Trump, Clinton both threaten free press.” The gist emerges from these two paragraphs:
The public’s right to know is infringed if certain reporters are banned from a candidate’s events because the candidate doesn’t like a story they have written or broadcast, as Donald Trump has done.

Similarly, refusing to regularly answer questions from reporters in a press conference, as Hillary Clinton has, deprives the American people of hearing from their potential commander-in-chief in a format that is critical to ensuring he or she is accountable for policy positions and official acts.
That’s preposterous...
Yes, it is preposterous.  Obviously so.  And yet, year after year, highly-paid professionals who obviously know better keep telling slight variations of this same, preposterous lie over and over again.  Their reward for this service is continued employment.

Year after year another group of largely unpaid citizen journalists keep right on calling out this obviously preposterous lie and the people who profit by repeating it.  Their reward is marginalization, derision, and exile.

I have worked many jobs in my life in the public, educational and private sectors and one thing they all had in common was this: wherever you find the staff all in nodding agreement with some project or policy that is obviously ludicrous and/or doomed to fail, it is inevitably true that they are doing so because someone waaaay up the food chain has ordered them to do so and made it either subtly or bluntly clear that they can either get with the fucking program or clean out their desk.

Longtime readers may remember me writing years ago about one of my favorite absurd examples of a powerful and completely unaccountable ruling class overtly breaking with reality and their own codes of conduct, and forcing their underlings to go along with the farce just because they could.  The story comes from the annals of the Big Hat Church and it is why the mighty Beaver was really a Fish (this is the short version from wikipedia with emphasis added):
Until the 1980s, the Roman Catholic Church forbade the consumption of meat on Fridays (limited to Lent Fridays in Spain as a land of crusade). In medieval times, meat was more expensive than fish; making meat taboo forced austerity on the believers. Professional fisherman were granted favor and economic advantage for various Papal 'gifts', and hence, fish became the 'meat' officially sanctioned by Rome. There was no Papal condemnation for fish consumption on other days, but penitent souls were required to eat fish on Fridays.

French Canadian fisheries were suffering economically until it was learned a penitant offering could be made to their local diocese, thus assuring their financial future in much the way their Roman brethren benefited. Fish, hence, became favored by the Catholic institution rather than taboo.

As a side note, in the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church classified the tail of beavers (which is covered by a scalloped skin) as "fish" because it was a delicacy favored by the clergy. Thus, beaver tail was for some time the only non-proscribed meat allowed during Lent.
For many years now, a powerful and completely unaccountable ruling class has been enforcing a lie as obviously ridiculous as declaring that beaver is really fish.  They have done it by rewarding those who toe that line and banishing those who do not.

Who those people are, specifically, and what motives them to continue to force this toxic charade to go on through brute economic pressure would make a terrific story.

Too bad we no longer have a media capable of telling it.

1 comment:

Neo Tuxedo said...

My good friend August J. Pollak retweeted a succinct summation of the situation, and I think I'm going to start boosting it:

As you can see, it's you in six tweets, which could easily (like Alisa Zinov'yevna's summary of Objectivism) be recited while standing on one foot.

"Oh, I haven't done a numbered list of Obviously True Things That Are Nevertheless Inadequately Understood in quite a while, so here goes.
"1) There are people who have said for years/decades that GOP & conservative movement is a racist/sexist/xenophobic know-nothing goon squad.
"2) There are other people who have denied this, and those who have pretended left and right have equal and mirror-image flaws.
"3) Every day brings increasingly undeniable evidence the first group has been right, and the second has been spectacularly wrong.
"4) Media & political elites should make this a key factor in deciding who[m] to listen to, quote, and take seriously going forward.
"5) The end."