....LMB: "Separated at Birth"....

April 11, 2003

I think me and this columnist could be pals:

There’s almost nothing you can’t get away with doing to an American. Take away his health insurance and he’s likely to fall to his knees in gratitude. You can tell him to his face that you’re pulling funding for his kids’ schools in order to bail out some millionaire stockbroker in Connecticut who overbet the peso–and he not only won’t get mad, he’ll swell up with pride and burst out singing the "Star-Spangled Banner." You can even steal his pension and gamble it away in Vegas, and the most he’ll do is sulk a little.

In those rare cases when an American gets mad, what he usually does is wait four years to vote for an identical candidate. Push him a little farther over the edge, and he may flirt with a hopeless third-party politician or write a sarcastic letter to the New York Times. And when he becomes disconsolate, when he finally decides to take to the streets, look out–because now he’s a real threat–standing in some park or other publicly sanctioned place, and chanting goofy slogans while carrying a poster of George Bush with a crayon-drawn forked tail.

The White House expected the Iraqis to line up like redcoats with their muskets drawn in single-rank formation because that’s what we do. Whatever they tell us the permissible means of protest is, that’s what we do. If the permit for the demonstration is at an abandoned drive-in fifty miles from the nearest town, we show up there, brows furrowed and banners waving, in huge numbers. While the generals point at high-tech maps on all the major networks, we sit there babbling into the crackly dissenter line on C-SPAN at two in the morning. There would probably still be kings playing croquet on the grounds of Versailles today if the tactics of the French revolution had been like this–better heed us peasants, messieurs, or we’ll send twice the usual amount of mail to our congressmen.

We’re so accustomed to following the "rules" of political engagement that when someone like Michael Moore breaches decorum for thirty seconds to sabotage his own Oscar acceptance, enormous numbers of us actually consider this a real act of brave defiance, and not the quixotic, colossally insufficient gesture it was.

The whole point of opposition is to make sure that the people who are making decisions know that there will be consequences if they go too far in ignoring the public, or at least a plurality of it...

After a while, it’s simply not dignified to freak out over each of these things individually. The dignified thing to do is to recognize once and for all the essential nature of what we’re up against, and then fight it. Don’t write petitions or make appeals, don’t sing songs, don’t wait for someone up there to change their "minds." Just fight it. And make it hurt...

For years, corporate America and the media have tried to convince us that buying things is a political act, a way of expressing our individuality (Fruitopia instead of flower power, Nikes sold to the tune of "Revolution," peace signs on the walls of Starbucks). Well, let’s call their bluff. Let’s non-participate. Let’s go on consumer strike. Pull a slowdown. We don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to voting for politicians, but when it comes to buying, where our existence is actually necessary, we have a thousand choices a day. It might be the only method we have of making the decision-making class pay attention to our concerns.

Hell, let’s try something, anyway. Because what we’re doing now is just what they expected–nothing.

It's what I've been saying all along, and why I haven't been throwing myself headlong into the "peace rally for peace" actions. They would not "make it hurt." In a way, peace rallies help legitimize the regime in power because now they can say "see, look how tolerant we are, we allowed hundreds of thousands of people to protest."

What would've made it hurt? The same sort of chaotic "shut down the city" actions that took place in San Francisco and New York City, that simultaneously disrupted the status quo and pissed off large segments of the population. Some peace demonstrators denounced the "shut it down" folks for alienating the population that the rally types had been courting for months. But it's a trade-off, and I don't see any way around it.

Which is not to entirely dismiss all the hard work of mainstream peace protesters. I think that the efforts and massive rallies may have helped minimize the American violence in Iraq; the Bush administration knew that it was being watched, and was probably more careful.

But I was despondent early on. I could think of plenty of actions that would "make it hurt," but nothing that would hurt enough to get the Bush administration to back down. They had so much to gain that I could not think of any action (especially in the numbers required) that could counterbalance that gain.

So I thought that my time might be better spent researching and writing, trying to spread "the truth" via my various tiny outlets. But our columnist friend had a thing or two to say about that as well:

People like me are part of the problem, too, which is why I’m even on the subject. I could make myself feel better about things by writing glibly about this or that government lie, but that’s really what it accomplishes–making me feel better.

In fact, the whole business of keeping track of media deceptions has become an unusually ridiculous exercise, and one would need a thousand pages a week to even begin to do a decent job of it.

You have to wonder after a while whether this is a good use of my or anyone else’s time, racing to keep track of the unceasing string of sensational headlines that turn out ten minutes later to be idiotic fabrications.

Or, I suppose we can sum up all of this:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

Posted by Jake at 02:53 PM | TrackBack (0)

Yeah, I absolutely agree. Most protests give credence in the U.S. government. "Look at these stupid peaceniks, don't they know that they have freedom of speech, and therefore are stupid when they protest US." It's depressing to know that free speech doesn't mean jack.

Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart in my town has TV monitors (with smiley faces on them) all over its stores, blaring government pro-war propaganda from CNN. Yes, Oceania has arrived...and it's brought to you by Wal-Mart.

"You are watching Wal-Mart TV"
(chanting in unison) "We are watching Wal-Mart TV"
(cue ominous music)

Posted by: Eric at April 11, 2003 06:04 PM

dear mr.minister of propaganda,

i'd have to say, if i was really into this activist shit, i'd have to agree with you and your columnist buddy in regards to methods of activism. its too bad he misquoted the general, but i guess that's cause he nabbed it off of everyone else who had done the same thing.

i've always felt the same.for activism to actually work it's gotta hurt. sure, there's been plenty of instances where peaceful protests have changed government opinion, albeit mostly at the lower levels of govt, with a smattering here and there at the federal level. but what types of ways are you thinking, jake, of "making it hurt" to actually be effective to change policy...not just the current middle east situation, but in other areas as well. i realize you're not advocating outright rebellion(which in my humble opinion would be one of the most effective ways of activism...if i were an activist). um you aren't advocating that right? so if not, then what are some more effective ways? hitting the pocket book? that'd require a large number of people to organize together and move in one direction for a long time. that's doubtful it'd work. so what other ways are you thinking?

your old pal

Posted by: art at April 11, 2003 08:00 PM

SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY WATCHED IT ON TELEVISION-We can spend all of our time tracking the media, asking for retractions of lies and begging for unbiased reporting, but we need to realize that the Ministry of Information is not going to change.They know who they work for, even if alot of us don't.We also need to realize that the major media is our enemy, even more so than Bush.Just like Hitler, Bush could never have achieved, consolidated and maintained power without the assistance of the propaganda ministry.When a war or any other major news story breaks, what is the reaction of the vast majority of people? They glue themselves in front of the TV for their booster shot of propaganda.And we wonder why the majority of the American people think that Saddam was behind 9/11 or why support for Bush and the war increased after the war started, misinformation in-misconception out.The only way to turn things around is to get people to seek out alternative sources of news.TV is the brainwashing tool of choice, but it is OUR CHOICE to sit their and accept the propaganda. In order to change peoples habits on a massive scale and before the next war starts, we must challenge the 30-40% of the people opposed to the war to turn off their TV sets until our troops are out of Iraq.It's not only the easiest form of protest, should not cause any backlash and it would be the most powerful act those who are opposed to the war could take.It doesn't matter to the broadcasting companies if some of us can see through their lies.They make just as much money when we watch as when someone who buys into their fasehoods does.The economic and political impact of this simple action would costs the broadcasting industry and their corporate sponsors billions of dollars and considerably shrink their ability to brainwash the public.When the politicians wake up and find out that they spent all of their time and energy, as well as mortgaging their souls, to buy TV adds that nobody will be watching, they will be forced to organize at the grass roots level to talk WITH us, not using the TV to talk AT us.Imagine the shock and awe of the broadcasting executives when they wake up and discover that atleast 1/3 of their audienced has vanished.The anti-war movement needs to appreciate the incredible amount of power the hand with the remote control gives them.Cancel your cable TV and tell them the reason why.If you have kids that are forced to watch CNN or other networks in school, demand that they be excused from watching it or be given access to alternative sources on the internet.Encourage everyone you know to quit watching.During World War II, the civilian population was forced to make great sacrifices due to rationing.Is it asking too much of us who oppose the war, to give up government propaganda, obnoxious entertainment and inane commercials? People have been known to survive without TV and their no law presently that requires us to watch it.NO PEACE, NO TV! The only thing we have to fear is misinformation itself.

Posted by: lazlo at April 11, 2003 11:18 PM

"There?s almost nothing you can?t get away with doing to an American......" What is even worse there are millions at the gate that want to be treated like that... Ohhh wait, that does not support your argument.

How about this other thought: "Media, which ultimate goal as a for-profit organization (most of tem anyway) is giving the public what it wants and there really isn't a huge conspiracy by a big group of Dr. Evils CEOs.

Posted by: Robert at April 12, 2003 02:12 PM

Ummm... what you're talking about is called terrorism.
People in the middle east know the only way to make a real impact, to make people hurt, is to resort to violence. They know that actions speak louder than words.
History is peppered with non-violent heros - Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc. But the only way to make a fundamental, lasting change is to resort to violence.
Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Patrick at April 13, 2003 08:16 AM

Robert makes a good point. It's more about systemic insanities than outright conspiracies.

Posted by: Eric at April 13, 2003 04:29 PM

Well, the root of all the problems is individual stupidity and laziness. You can bitch all you want about the government and media feeding us lies, but why do so many people so willingly swallow? Because they are irresponsible peices of shit who won't take the time to learn any better. George W. can get on TV and moan about how Saddam is a brutal dictator, and hardly anyone says, "Yeah, but he did all those horrible things when he was Your daddy's ALLY." Instead, 60% of them now think Saddam was the mastermind behind 9-11. We are largely a nation who loves to be lied to (90% believe Prayer works), and that includes you Nader 2K voters. You apparently bought Ralph's horseshit line that there was no difference between Bush and Gore. I am no fan of the Lying Media Bastards, but I have run out of patience for the poor misled citizens. They have more power than people think, if they'd just think. PS I know this contains no solution...Happy Armageddon!

Posted by: Scott at April 13, 2003 05:59 PM

hee hee. i liked that one scott. happy armageddon.
gotta remember that one.

Posted by: art at April 13, 2003 11:58 PM

I think that piece of shit story is the last straw for me. I try to give all opinions an equal chance but the whining is just getting to much. wah wah..I'm right and everyone is wrong. wah wah..we really are the majority even if there are more of them than us. wah wah..WE are the protestors, how dare you question us. wah wah..no one is paying attention to our protest so lets "make them hurt"
Spoken like a true terrorist.
Guess what you fascist fuck..I like my neighborhood and if you try to hurt my family, my friends or my neighbors I will hurt you back. Funny how the thing all the protestors hate the most is when people just refuse to convert.

Posted by: WTF? at April 15, 2003 09:09 PM

WTF, you are misunderstanding what I'm trying to say. No one is intending to "hurt" you, or your neighbors or family. In fact, the "hurt" is more figurative than literal, the way that you would "hurt" a businessman by boycotting his company or the way you would "hurt" a politician by not voting for him.

Almost every part of this article was about bypassing the "let's try to convert everyone to our cause" and skipping straight to the "let's try to influence the people in power instead." Under this strategy, you, your neighbors and your family are pretty much ignored. So you should actually be more pleased with these ideas, because the nasty protesters will leave you alone.

Posted by: Jake at April 15, 2003 11:43 PM

Sorry about the language of the 1st post. I felt attacked. I guess the main problem here is that I beleive democracy is the best system and you don't. Why else would you beleive in "bypassing the "let's try to convert everyone to our cause" and skipping straight to the "let's try to influence the people in power instead. That is exactly what wealthy lobby groups do to get around the will of the majority. Why would I like it any better from your lobby group.
Protestors ONLY option in a democracy should be to bring their point of view to the public attention and let people decide for themselves. It's called debate and you have to accept that you will sometimes lose and decisions will be made you disagree with..that's democracy.
Of course your free to vote the way you want or buy (or not buy) the products you want. Everyone does that whether they think themselves protestors or not. But your call to "make them hurt" whether figurative or not is not called for.

Posted by: WTF? at April 16, 2003 10:33 AM

Quoting WTF.

"Of course your free to vote the way you want or buy (or not buy) the products you want."

Not true.

"Everyone does that whether they think themselves protestors or not."

Not true.

much love,

Posted by: michele at April 18, 2003 01:24 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ®.

contact: jake+at+lyingmediabastards.com

Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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