It has been a bad and bloody few months. From the brutal mass murder at the offices of Charlie Hedbo to the tragedy in Copenhagen, the purportedly cherished Western values of freedom of speech and freedom of the press came under attack from religious extremism. The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, which exploded in the immediate aftermath of the Paris killings, was supposed to symbolize a collective opposition to any restrictions (imposed or self-imposed) on free expression.
Everything that Prof. Christensen writes is well-taken.
But nothing he writes is hardly new! The fact that self-censorship and overt censorship exists, and is a natural result of the privately-owned, advertiser-serving, capitalist media has been known for a long time. Herman and Chomsky's 'Manufacturing Consent was published in 27 years ago, and the works of various other media scholars, notably Dr. McChesney, and the organization FAIR, dates back at least a far. Almost everyone here has the experience of being censored from the comment sections of major newspaper's comment utilities and even their letters to the editor (and sadly even some "progressive" news sites who should know better).
The more shocking thing is that we have never organized to take vigorous action about it. We should have long ago, organized our protests in the street not at the edifices of government but at offices, broadcast facilities and presses of our capitalist media outlets.
Yeah, it's about us not organizing.
The 1% (of society) purchasing political heavyweights to thereby control what goes into law is the fault of us not organizing.
Monsanto/Dow and other gen-tech makers of monstrosities are not to blame. It's the fault of us not organizing.
Single Black Moms didn't organize and that's why they get paid less than married white males.
If there ever was a time when the playing field was balanced, and power equitably shared, then this idea that the fault for what's been in motion a LONG, long time--like a snowball rolling downhill--is due to people NOT protesting would be fairly taken.
Human beings on virtually every continent are fighting similar battles. And there are so many! A person would have to be a committed activist to at least 10 causes to keep up this "need to organize" idea, and how then would they make a living when it's a proven fact that wages for most have not kept up with costs of living?
People have organized and made gains in taking power away from the ruling oligarchs of each and every era. The game is harder now because the kinds of weaponry at the disposal of today's deciders is pretty horrifying.
People are fighting fracking, lousy wages, the closure of public schools, the privatization of water in some places, the deportation of Hispanics, that Black Lives Matter, that rape does not belong in our culture, particularly on college campuses, that it's time to divest in oil, and so much more.
Turning the critical issues of our times ONTO The People by suggesting that the malfeasance of others is attributable to others' lack of protest is the logic that says that the woman got raped for not fighting off her assailant or screaming NO! loud enough.
Actually, there has been a lot of organizing, (are you involved in any?) but it would have been more effective had its street actions target the media's offices instead of government offices.
I think that most people both here and abroad underestimate the corporate influence over the media. When an event like the Charlie Hebdo killings occur, the average citizen believes that the outrage is driven by the protesters rather than the media driving the outrage. Seldom does anyone on either side of the Atlantic debate the manipulation of the MSM or the lack of manipulation by outfits like Charlie Hebdo. Though the French were quick to adopt the phrase "I am Charlie" (Je suis Charlie), this could never occur in the U.S. To begin with, anti-clerical newspapers exist throughout Europe, but none exist in North America. If you doubt this, just ask yourslef when was the last time you stood in line at a supermarket or newstand in North America with a bunch of newspapers displaying anti-Christian headlines and pictorials calling for the abolition of our faith in God?
European censuses have revealed that over 90% of Europeans do not believe in the existence of a God or in the 'creation theory'. It would seem then that the public would embrace such atheist views, but in reality that is not the case. Charlie Hebdo and other newspapers of their ilk, have tiny paid subscriptions with most Europeans despite having several anti-clerical outfits establish themselves in a host of countries stretching from the U.K to Russia. This is because most Europeans judge them to be 'over the top' and by comparison a sort of 'atheist fundamentalism' that doesn't resonate very well in a society that has had to deal with clashes of extreme interpretations of both religious and non-religious ideologies for thousands of years. Instead most members of society go about their business each day aware that such extreme views exist, but secure in the knowledge that their influence is weak at best.
In the U.S. by comparison, around 90% of Americans do believe in God and that Earth was created in 7 days by THE supreme being. If any newspaper in the U.S. began publishing cartoons of Jesus having anal sex with a cow or writing endless articles mocking evangelists and their faith in the U.S., the reaction most likely would be both swift and violent with the full support of the State. Americans would be far less tolerant than their European kin to ignore some seemingly outrageous blasphemy that targeted their core beliefs from even a small, independant newspaper... unless of course the message was specifically anti-Muslim. The double standard is lost on most of our literate society because the litmus test is never applied in this manner. Instead we unconditionally accept the mainstream version of events, place our own misguided spin on it and never give a second thought about how our opinions and thoughts are shaped by what we see, hear and read.
The violence in Paris and Copenhagen plays right into the hands of corporate media in an ironic sense that the MSM will use a wide brush stroke to condemn the attacks as an attack against the freedom of the press while never really defining what a truly free press means. While the readers here at common dreams and other non-mainstream internet outlets have spawned a small amount of critical analysis of the events that have unfolded, the majority of people have accepted the MSM narrative that the attackers "hate our freedom" and will subsequently move on to the next news item.
The corporate malfeasance, that manifests itself in our daily ingestion of well funded propaganda, should be the main story rather than the opinions of a handful of fringe publications that have managed to incite some anger abraod. But until the public rejects our mainstream narratives precisely for refusing to ask the relevant questions we need to promote the public interest, we will contine to subject ourselves to the subtle brainwashing that 1% need to keep us in line.