As promised we are entering the next stage of evolution for The Unspoken Ethic. When I started this blog I had one goal in mind, to tell my story of one of the hardest trials I have ever faced. To give people some insight into who I am and to throw some ideas out there from a perspective that we don’t normally consider them from. As time went on, I took a different approach taking on a philosophical tone towards things that I liked and related to. Time has moved on, like the world itself and I started noticing myself changing tones again. It is time for that change here, but as we all know what has left a mark on us, becomes something we stick with as we are creatures of habit. Over time, I kept seeing increasing signs, or maybe just opened my eyes to those signs a little more, and so even as I officially start down this path, I am forced to recall an unfinished battle from the place where I began this journey.
The above picture was of the Facebook post that started it all for me. It was written days after I went to stay with a friend and work on their farm, after leaving my wife. This was part of the 16 pages she printed out and gave to authorities as she filed a restraining order against me in the face of me being 30 miles away and refusing to talk to her when she called. I would also add that this was the only post printed that was missing it’s comments……miraculously. Here for the newbies to my site is where, once these printed comments came to the Roane County sheriffs station, one among them decided to circle half a sentence and took it to a circuit judge who signed off on an arrest warrant. Days later while I was in the process of cleaning and rehanging a storm door that had been blown off in a big storm a couple years before I had the county sheriffs, the state police, the FBI, Homeland Security and a K-9 unit roll up on the farm and take me into custody. Three days later I found out through a phone call that my arrest had made national news. WOWK TV handled it locally, FOX NEWS blasted it everywhere.
Now I have kept a decent eye on this over the years and the furthest it ever moved on Google search was 8 positions down on the first page when I would search my name. Earlier today I checked and the link shown in the above picture now goes to a blank page. As of late last year even, my mugshot came up among the first of my pictures and today it was nowhere to be seen accept on a Facebook page for West Virginia mugshots dated from August 29th 2013. As far as any reports surrounding it, I could find nothing, but I assure you as this picture shows, it happened.
I had spent 8 days in jail, and upon my release, made possible only by the prosecutor dropping my bail from the highest it could be for charge, which was 150,000 to the lowest 500. No press was present that day at my pretrial. I was released the following day. Now aside from my public defender who was not much more help to me than the following 2 that my case would be shunted off to over the course of the year it was in the system, I had family who had asked their attorneys what I should do. The consensus was to sit on my hands and say nothing. I kept an eye to see if anything had developed in the news. I was not contacted, no one was. The more I thought about my situation, the more I realized, that if I had to wait for my trial to have my side told in a small town court system where I was an outsider, it would be AFTER the only thing anyone who could be selected as a jury was exposed to the very INCOMPLETE version of the story ran by the press. The above was my response. I did not care about the risks. I believed that the rather careless reporting with it’s lack of any details beyond what would make the sheriffs department look like heroes, flew in the face of due process, considering it was the only version of the story put out to millions of Americans, not to mention any from the town where a jury of my peers would be selected. You always hear about the freedom of the press, but you never hear about how they use that freedom to interfere with the constitutional rights of the American people. Because they could not be OBJECTIVE, I was at greater RISK of being found guilty over a statement that was misrepresented in it’s context. If they had done their job, they might have looked at that post, because it was in FACT a PUBLIC POST. That half sentence would not be the only thing.
At the time of my arrest I had been doing volunteer work for a local community theater for the better part of 5 years. In that time I had served on the theater’s board of directors, which in turn saw me be invited to be part of the East End Alliance Halloweast committee which was formed by Charleston city officials to develop the East end of the city into an art center. The Halloweast committee planned and organized the yearly Halloween fundraising event made to help raise money for the task of turning the East End into an art center. While volunteering for this theater, we had made a deal with a locally started sci-fi/horror convention, which at the time was in it’s second year. Our theater’s building would house part of the conventions events. We and the convention people did a fair amount of cross promotion for one another. The picture that was referred to in the police report was actually part of that cross promotion and was in fact part of the volunteer work I had been doing. Now it seems to me, that the judgement of that picture came from yet another high profile media buzzed shooting, a judgement that did not include anyone bothering to look for the facts behind. You can go to my Wikipedia page and see that I have a history with this particular Local Theater Kanawha Players, and their minutes by the laws of a 501c3 are PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE. This ends MY PERSONAL experience with the bane that Partisan, non objective press and mass media has become to our society. Below is the link to my Wikipedia page.
Below is a link to an interesting article on writing headlines, the psychology of headlines and what makes for a successful headline. It states that in their study 8 out of 10 people only read the headline, 2 out of 10 read the article’s content. This is important when considering the immense growth of the internet and social media sites in the last decade. The growth of social media has added a rather dangerous element when combined with mass media outlets that are biased in their content. You see there is a rather important factor to consider when 8 out of 10 people only read the headlines and 2 out of 10 people read the content and that is when that content is biased in any way 10 out of 10 people come away from the article ill informed and that number grows exponentially when the biased or misinformation hits the internet in the social media circuit. This headline study also hits us with the success of negative superlatives and how online those headlines using words like: “Never” “Worst” had an average CTR (Click Through Rating) that was 63% higher than headlines with positive superlatives. They go to say that another study of 100 posts on tech site showed that headlines utilizing violent sounding words like: “kill” “fear” “dark” “bleeding” and “War” also had a higher number of social shares. Now where it comes to the media it is no secret that your local news will run a story of a bad wreck on the interstate that killed 3 people, sometimes hours later when clean up is no longer causing traffic delays and the wreck itself does nothing to change any kind of traffic laws in the area it happened in. Why this is considered news when it has no bearings on most of the viewership remains an unanswered question. Another unanswered question would be if they are intent on giving us “News” that essentially is not news so much as “life” and the sometimes unfortunate occurrences that befall people why not run stories on the estimated number of people who pass by that same spot on any given day, including the day of the wreck, that nothing happens to? This type of reporting turns the 3 people killed in an unfortunate accident from being people that are remembered fondly by a handful of family and friends into the people that are remembered by 10,000 viewers as the unfortunate people that were killed in an accident. This in turn leads us to another question. How much of how people view things like headlines utilizing negative or violent sounding words has been influenced in the course of time by the media? To be fair you also have to consider that when nothing happens, there is no news to tell and so through informing us when something occurs, the media automatically perpetuates attention to the negative by default. Are people negative by nature, or have we been conditioned to only pay attention to the negative instead of the whole picture? When we ask this question, we begin to see where opportunists, pushing agenda, take advantage of the system designed to inform people as a means to manipulate them instead. This too, is a very dangerous element. I will get more into this, but first I want to leave you this link to the article I have been writing about and yes, as you can tell by the title of this entry, made use of. It’s not so fun when the tables turn is it?
The power of the media to inform and influence has been well documented and in fact is the reason the press was given freedom under our Constitution, but freedom as we have always heard said here in America, is not free, there comes with it both sacrifice and responsibility.With this said it begs the question why there are politically partisan media outlets. Editorials and Magazines excluded, although I feel strongly that any News source that runs editorials should hold these editorials to account where stated “facts” are concerned by requiring reference points for where these numbers and facts come from. Below are 2 examples of this not being the case. Both editorials are focused on the DACA issue, however one is conservative based while the other is liberal. Again this leads to another question: If news is just news, just complete facts, Why then is there even such a thing as (left leaning) or (right leaning) NEWS? How much has this played a factor in the divide of our people who once considered themselves simply Americans into a SPLIT between conservatives and liberals?
If you are still not convinced by that dear readers, here is another article making use of war time propaganda tactics. At what point do we begin recognizing this type of “reporting” as detrimental to the unity of our people?
It’s not just us here in America either. Lets take a look at a news source for one of allies. Remember 8 out of 10 people are only going to read the headline, what does this headline tell you? What the other 2 who actually read it get is how often young royals get away with things like this and even sometimes the older ones as well and it states an example of that. What it does not state is that this incident caused the royal couple any grief at all from the higher ranking royals……In fact you get left with the question: Who besides the people WRITING this article are even bringing attention to this breaking of protocol like it means something more than how it is even presented in the article itself?
While it’s nice to know we are not alone in the problem of an inflated press, I’m more concerned about our yard at the moment, but I wanted to show that inflated agenda driven press is a problem for more than just us. Let’s return now with another recent story that broke with 2 sides. In the face of #MeToo and #Timesup movements, strong emotions become a factor, sometimes, so much so that people are compelled to accentuate for the sake of making the movement stronger. This is a double edged sword as you see here in these 2 articles. Here by making a story more than what the person coming forward intended for it to be, giving that the main person involved in the accusation has been old news for awhile now, we get our first real close up of how the media creates situations that will in all likelihood do more to scare real victims away from coming forward with their stories. A lot of these people have remained quiet because they are nervous about coming forward, common sense dictates that when they start seeing media twist victim’s stories to be about something more in order to push an agenda, it will do little to encourage them to stand up. It will also amp up the drama to the point that people will start getting hit for nothing, because, and I can vouch for this due to my case, over the “climate” it creates, or after enough of that happens, what was once a movement will become a trend that no body can put any stock into. Is it worth that?
Now I come to the part where I return to the subject matter that once got me into trouble, but never the less I feel this needs to be addressed. That would be the topic of recent school shootings. Before I continue just for argument’s sake I want to state that NONE OF WHAT I SAY IN THIS PART IS A THREAT TO COMMIT ANY VIOLENT ACT. Some people had a problem with that concept the last time I just wanted to make that clear. Lets start with a chart that takes us from 1980 to 2012. A chart that shows all 137 incidents of fatal school shootings and the 297 people killed in those. Does it surprise you to see how the numbers start jumping in the latter half of that 32 year span? You always hear about the effects of violent video games and television programming, you hear about bullying and bad parents and I estimate some of these get more credit than they deserve while others don’t get enough, but how much of a change does our advancements in communications play a factor? One thing I noticed was the steady increase that coincides with the rise of the internet.
2014 rolls around and a new non profit organization called Everytown pops up. There are 2 things worth noting about this organization against gun violence. The first is that they created a very broad criteria base for what they consider to be school shootings. You will even find one of the original 18 school shootings that made their list was a suicidal veteran who called the police and told them he was suicidal before shooting himself in his car while in the parking lot of a school that had been closed down already, another was not even a matter of someone going psycho, in fact the person directly at fault was a cop for carelessly not paying attention when a 3rd grader fired his gun in it’s holster while the cop was sitting on a bench. Fortunately no one was hurt or killed in the incident. The second thing worth noting about this group is how much stock a lot of the media puts in the numbers they provide. Below is an article that notes all of the above. You will find that I chose this article from among the 2 that I found that states this group’s blatant scare tactics while pushing an agenda for gun control, because it is everything that earlier editorials were not. The writer gave reference points that could be clicked on to view the source, they even called out their own paper for being one of the ones that briefly used this groups numbers. It’s important to note that there are many good things that remain about the press and the media, I just firmly believe that we can no longer ignore the less favorable and downright dangerous ways that it has also misused it’s freedom at our expense.
Now lets discuss this knack the media has with it’s intense focus on these events to make celebrities out of murderers. Below is an article that again gives many reference points including a link to a study that looks into the copycat factor of many of these mass shootings. If the media is aware of this information you may ask Why are we not as likely to see these findings on the “News” during these moments of crisis as we are a group like Everytown’s? Why the bias?
So lets do the list shall we? In this entry I have covered and given examples for comparison how the media has misused it’s freedom to:
1.Interfere with due process.
2. Design how the facts are presented to shape a story.
3. Use war time propaganda against our own people other AMERICANS.
4. Escalate the effect of emotion over reason on social issues to make a bigger story at even the expense of victims.
5. Use sensationalized numbers for the sake of pushing the agenda of gun control on the people.
6. Make celebrities out of murderers and in turn, YES, make themselves accomplices, however unwittingly to the further killing of our people.
…….And I did it ALL without screaming “FAKE NEWS” even once, I might add.
This entry is about breaking down the disease that is effecting our society. Now I’m not saying the media is solely to blame, because it isn’t, but it does play a factor. Social media plays another as does groups like Everytown that can’t grasp that reality is all the truth you need to scare people with and the instant gratification of readers thinking they are actually informed experts over reading a headline. There are many factors that combine into the perfect storm. They all have to be considered if we are to find any real solution.
One small way that media can help solve this issue from their end, would be to STOP RUNNING COMMERCIALS DURING NEWS BROADCASTS. I say this because with talk shows, game shows, sporting events, syndicated series, prime time award winning shows, any network has plenty of programming to make money running ads. Our NEWS BROADCASTS, should be to inform and educate us, that is, as our forefathers believed, highly important to our people and our nation and it should not be used as a tool for profiteering. When it is, of course the network will go out of it’s way to make sure it has enough viewers to that news broadcast to get a number of ads in. It becomes a controlling factor by which it operates and we have seen the effects. Anything to keep the buzz going, even over a tragic event makes it profitable while it deeply effects the foundation of this nation which is it’s people. I don’t have a problem with big business, I would even be all for finding a reasonable way to supplement whatever they would lose running news programming without commercials, but the media needs to step back and look at it’s place in the mess we have to deal with moving forward.