The IUSB Vision Weblog

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Dear Chuck Norton: A Reader’s Response

Posted by iusbvision on September 25, 2007

Dear Chuck,

It is unfortunate that your “editorial” opened with commentary concerning an incident that was an attack on an unfortunate fellow male’s ego, (Who was this poor unfortunate fellow? You? Maybe?) by a decidedly “uncivil” act perpetrated by an obviously immature, poorly educated, ill mannered, egocentric, young “lady” ( “young” is an assumption, since I cannot imagine a mature women acting like this, and “lady” is used in deference to the over used description of a female dog usually embraced by these so-called ladies ).

Chuck you asked, “What is it with so many people today?” I guess maybe the answer is whether you only see the ones like the aforementioned young lady or the ones who unlike her go out of their way to be nice to their fellow human beings. I would prefer that we see and hear about those whom return smiles and have a nice thing to say to the clerks at the local super market, or to passersby on the sidewalks of campus. Then again that was not the intent of your editorial now was it? No your editorial became a rant against the so-called left-wing. A description used to label any person who is not in line with the ideologies of the right-wing activists.

You use the word “tolerant”, a blatant dig at those whom you call left-wing activists, when you make the claim that, “…the more “tolerant” among us repeatedly vandalized it.” “It” being the College Republican display board. You have made an assumption that only those with left leanings would “defile” the said board, the implication being that a “heavy” burden was put upon the College Republicans. I do not know what was done to the board but your “vandalism” may have been the perpetrator’s version of the “right to free speech”, a tenet of the U.S. Constitution the “Vision” rightfully spoke up about and defended in its first edition. I in no way condone vandalism of a destructive nature but if a specific branch of the so-called left-wing were to acquire their own display board I am sure they would have to put up with “extremists” of the right-wing “vandalizing” it.

Chuck you then spoke to us about the “hate mail” you receive that spews, “…a litany of warm and fuzzies…” and “…the myriad of colorful metaphors…” WAHH!! (read here’s your pacifier). I don’t want to read about your whining because people are sending you hate mail, if you continue to write exclusively right leaning dogma expect those who disagree with you to write emails full of vitriol back. What I care about is the infinite number of email that piles up in my “spam” file of Viagra ads, Nigerian scam lotteries and the like. Why doesn’t somebody filter these before they get into my email files? My Yahoo account does not seem to have a problem doing that? Oh, and by the way, isn’t suspending the posting privileges of any person to the Vision a form of restricting their right to free speech? (I know, I know I’m arguing semantics here.)

It was unfortunate that your editorial became a rant against the media and even though you did not come out and say it, the “liberal” media. Right, Chuck? I noted this at your displeasure of the awarding of a Pulitzer to the AP. You stated, that an AP reporter was only a few feet away from the murder of three Iraqi election workers by insurgents. Before I am willing to fully accept your version of the events described I would have like to know your source for the information that the AP was tipped off and were in complete safety. You imply that the AP reporter should have done something to prevent the atrocity, but you did not say what it was he should have done. Should they have alerted the U.S. military to the actions of the insurgents? As a journalist, are you saying if you were in that particular reporters position you would have alerted the military? Do we know the full story about the how’s and why’s the reporter did not tip off the military? You mentioned previously that newspapers, “argued in a lively manner as to why their point of view was correct and the other papers were wrong.” Resulting in the, “average citizen that was exposed to debate…with an applied critical thinking process…” Then you expect me to take at face value your displeasure of the actions of a AP reporter. Where’s the other side of the story?

Chuck and in an almost ironic twist, your last narrative is about a professor who was censured by Ashland University where he was employed because of his work, writings, etc. related to his research concerning objectivism. But yet you expound about the suspension of the posting privileges of a professor on this campus. (I know, I know we have already gone here.)

Chuck if you must rant about the “wonderful” life of the right-wing, do not couch it in an article supposedly about the incivility of society. Society is not uncivil albeit there are individuals within society whom are uncivil and as such do need to be reported, reprimanded, etc. by their fellow human beings and they must be reminded that we are a community of people and as  such

“C’mon people now 
Smile on your brother   
Ev’rybody get together
Try to love one another right now Right now, right now.”
– Youngbloods
Or is that too liberal for ya?

Rick Kiefer

For the record and in the interests of full disclosure there is no Rick Kiefer enrolled at IUSB this school year – IUSBVision

10 Responses to “Dear Chuck Norton: A Reader’s Response”

  1. Chuck Norton said

    So what would possess someone to write a letter that confirmed exactly what I was talking about? This letter is simply dripping with venom and hatred. You can feel it. It has been my experience that there is no way to effectively communicate with those who are so manifestly motivated by hate but, we can make a few observations.

    I find it interesting that he seems to claim that vandalizing someone else’s communication, is free speech. Such an intellectually dishonest and self serving “logic” is perhaps typical of those motivated by hatred. To believe that vandalizing someone else, or censoring someone else, because you believe that your position is so correct that the ends justifies the means meets a classic definition of Stalinist thinking as I have recently witnessed. Of course violating someone’s property or engaging in a hecklers veto isn’t protected speech at all.

    As far as all this left wing/right wing nonsense he is complaining about. As far as I know Ashland University is a private religious college. While I don’t know what their politics are it is possible that it could be what the complainer above considers right of center.

    He did ask a legitimate question though; what was the source for the AP knowing about the killing in advance. The source was the AP. After some denials at first the AP did admit that it had foreknowledge of a demonstration that was going to be put on by insurgents there and the AP also told Salon.com (a left of center news site) that it did have a relationship with the insurgents. The AP said it knew that something was going to happen, but it did not know exactly what was going to take place there. It is important to keep in mind that a time before when the AP was told of a demonstration by insurgents the insurgents killed and burned and than hung the bodies of four American contractors in Fallujah. So it is not as if the AP had no idea what to expect.

    Since the author of the letter above is so caught up in the whole left wing/right wing angle, he may be curious to know that a founder of the Daily KOS web site, perhaps the most influential blog on the internet for the American far left, said in regard to the deaths of these contractors, “screw them”.

    It is a humorous irony that the first venomous, dripping with hate response of the year I get is not in response to anything I had written that was controversial but, was a response to a column about tolerance. It speaks volumes.

  2. The AP issue is a tricky one as far as the principles of journalism are concerned, in my opinion. Essentially, the role of the media is meant to be a passive one – though of course these days corporate ownership and segment marketing have pushed media to attract an audience of a particular political spectrum. Nevertheless, the ideal remains that the media is meant to be a silent observer, and that within that ideal lies a greater good.

    An case in point is a CNN series some time back that had a look at life within the community of Iraqi insurgents, that was intended to give a perspective of why people would want to lay violence on their fellow countrymen, and in many cases commit suicide in the process. Theoretically, the CNN reporter – Anderson Cooper, if I’m not mistaken – who moved about with the insurgents for some time, could have ditched the people he was reporting on midway in order to provide whatever information he had at the time, that could have saved some lives.

    But in staying as the passive observer, he stayed true to a larger, overall goal – to relate the news as completely as he could gather it, and in doing so providing the most accurate picture possible of the situation, eventually intending to give the people who make decisions the information they need to solve problems, create bridges, and in the end, save lives.

    It’s a tough equation to follow, and not everyone may agree with it, but it is at least a concept that every professional journalist has to consider in the line of that career. Chuck, just between us, let’s consider it something akin to the Prime Directive of the media.

    And while I’m here, I’d like to add that while I might not agree with all the opinions of Rick Kiefer, I don’t think that his tone was hateful.

  3. Chuck Norton said

    Andrew,

    CNN, or the AP for that matter, are rarely the silent observer. They often have an agenda or a narrative they wish to promote. I can give countless examples, one that comes to mind was when CNN was not reporting bad things about the Saddam regime and was shilling some of his propaganda to keep access.

  4. Chuck,

    As I mentioned, it is taken as granted that just about all news organizations are to some extent market-run and segment orientated.

    Nevertheless, there are occasions which allow journalists to do what they are supposed to do, i.e. act as a passive observer. In these cases we should view those instances as moments of clarity, and not let their failings otherwise take away from the journalistic ideal achieved, even if fleetingly.

    Just because it is not done as frequently as it arguably should be, does not mean that the principle, when applied, is inherently flawed.

  5. archangel7681 said

    Shouldn’t a journalist be a human being first, and a journalist second? If a journalist sees an atrocity going on, they should act on it, not report on it. I am reminded of the Rodney King beating. There was a bystander that videotapped the entire event. Instead of watching a fellow human being be beaten, he should have dropped the camera and called the police (I know the police were the guilty party), but the new police officers could have intervened. I don’t consider myself a pure journalist, but I know that if I were writing about the crime at IUSB and I saw a woman being mugged or slapped by a man, I would intervene, and not simply report on the crime and ask authorities to deal with it at a later time. That is just my opinion, but then again, I’m sure the AP does not have me on thier recruitment list either.

  6. That’s why this issue, this concept of the duties of journalism, is so hard to practice. I remember years ago, a veteran journalist talking about how after seeing the horrors of war zones, he felt so powerless as a journalist and thought of leaving the very profession in which he was such an icon. What kept him going was the knowledge that his duty – to report – would somehow get the message to the public and save more lives than he could as an individual in the battlefield. We all play our roles, and sometimes we can’t do everything.

    I understand your perspective on the Rodney King beating, and I also see your point in your hypothetical situation. But the role of the professional journalist – the career reporter – is different. It is one where he intentionally goes round the world and puts him/herself in situations which first and foremost require the world to know what’s going on, which is intended to have a greater good than what one more set of hands and feet could ever hope to do.

  7. archangel7681 said

    I still think the story would be reported. If given the opportunity to both help out a single person in the short term and help the greater good in the long term, I think the journalist should do both. If the journalist intervenes, he or she is now an eyewitness to the event. That act does not keep the event from being reported. That particular journalist may not be able to break the story, but getting the glory should not be the ultimate goal for the journalist. I believe that this line of thinking is what leads to government leaks of classified information and shotty journalism we in America have become accustomed to, especially from the NY Times. National security and the greater good take a back seat to being the next Woodward and Bernstien. Being first with the story becomes more important than the story itself. I am reminded of when Rueters News came out with the statement that they would not call terrorists terrorists. Why? Because they were passive observers and their only role was to report the news. I’m sorry, but I completely disagree. If a news agency is tipped off about an atrocity that is about to take place, the people in charge have a duty as a global citizen and a human being to report it to someone who can intervene and stop it from happening. If they fail to do so, the blood is on their hands just as much as the actual terrorists.

  8. archangel7681 said

    This is exactly what I am talking about.

    “News Photographer Tackles, Apprehends Fugitive on the Loose”
    The story can be read at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,299260,00.html

  9. I think we will then have to agree to disagree on this point, but again, it’s not that I don’t see where you’re going with it. There is a very moral core to what you’re saying, there’s no doubt about it.

    I just don’t think it’s realistic. Once again I think the Anderson Cooper coverage of an inside view of fundamentalist Islam would never have been possible otherwise. Another case would be New Orleans; let’s say one were put on a helicopter with the mission of reporting the hurricane disaster. That kind of reporting is a 25-hour a day job, from one segment to the next, with enough time for video editing, retakes, just confirming the information. At what point does one just forgo one’s purpose to let people know about what’s happening and just use the helicopter to airlift people from rooftops? It’s not a balancing act – if helping those in direct view is the goal, then no journalist would be able to work, and all we have eventually are vigilantes with communication degrees, and military news. If one were reporting poverty in troubled spots in the world, at what point do you sell your camera (and your return ticket) to feed starving children?

    One can’t do both in the real world of journalism – reporting crime at IUSB is quite simply on a completely different scale – and if one is there in the field, one has to believe that there is a greater good in getting the news out. The journalistic mission is not about the glory – or at least not entirely about it – but the greater social benefit of having the information in the hands of public, and remaining a passive and objective observer.

    Being a social worker or a policeman or a soldier are very noble causes. One just can’t be a career journalist at the same time.

  10. Interesting ideas from both sides.

    I agree that a journalist should be a human being first. It is interesting though, that both of you seem to have a different perspective on what the “greater good” actually implies. Jarrods perspective illustrates that the smallest of good deeds is far more important than one mans conceptualization of “the greater good”. In other words, if one individual sees an atrocity, then they have a responsibility as witness to it to do something when they witness it (given that they bear the capacity to change the circumstances as a sole individual).

    Andrew, on the other hand, illustrates well that there are certain circumstances in which one man, as witness to an atrocity, may see that the only way to help is to give information to those who contain the capacity to do something about it. Both men in both circumstances are attempting to do the right thing.

    There is a probable problem with this logic in modern day journalism. It is that sensationalized news is far more important to the individual than “the greater good”. Although I will agree that illustrating information to those who have the capacity to help is important – many journalists are not attempting to do so. They are attempting to break news that draws far more sensationalism. In this sense I will agree that by Andrews definition, “These are not real journalists.” Then, however, our argument becomes moot. As Jarrod is illustrating a real journalist is one who has a commitment to doing something within their capcity to help if they are witness to it – and Andrew is agreeing that a journalist who bears witness to an event they personally do not have the power to change on their own has a responsibility to portray that information to the general public so someone can. You both are, in a sense agreeing, but at the same time, looking at two different sets of circumstances.

    Circumstance I: There are instances in which a reporter could not possibly on their own help those who are involved in the atrocity. (e.g. the hurricane)

    Circumstance II: There are instances in which a reporter could very well have given the information to law officers who could stop the atrocity, or have themselves stopped the atrocity from occurring on their own, but didn’t, because they would rather portray sensationalized news.

    A journalist with each story may have had the capacity to do something directly that could have stopped an atrocity, but instead found it more beneficial to “break” the story than help the greater good. Both of you would seem to agree this man is no journalist. In the story Jarrod posted, where the man helped stop the runaway, I am sure Andrew would agree he did the right thing by not just letting him escape and reporting the story.

    I may have misrepresented your points, be sure to correct me if I have. Great discussion though!

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