Entry #18

The Media Owns You


The Verdict is in! And the people have taken to the streets! My question is this: Where was all this anger, where was all this protest, where was all this demand for justice, when 1,100 poor workers died in the garment factory collapse in Bangledesh? Oh that's right, everyone was too busy buying Bangledeshi manufactured "Boston Strong" t-shirts and mocking my second hand shoes. The whole nation is up in arms about the verdict in a trial involving the death of one. Most people have expressed their anger and frustration with words over the internet, many have taken to the streets in the form of peaceful protest, and a small minority have lashed out with violence. There is injustice and cause for outrage in this world everyday. The mainstream media gets to decide what the people will be outraged about. This artificialy high profile case is the media's dream come true. The story has triggered an overwhelming reaction which is generating millions of dollars for all of the networks. More importantly, the backlash is of no consequence to any corporate entities. The mass protest and public outcry isn't hurting anyone's profits, so why should they care?

Yesterday the highly anticipated verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial was released. Zimmerman who was charged with 2nd degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, was aquitted of all charges. If you are unfamiliar with this case you can read more about it here: www.everywhere.

We are all entitled to our own opinions about the case and the verdict. I have mine and you have yours. I'm not going to get into my feelings about the case itself. However, I will say that I saw a lot of people settle on their own verdict long before this case even went to trial. The fact remains that there were people on that jury who spent weeks in a courtroom watching a trial and taking notes. You were not one of them. The media wanted you to believe that you were by feeding you their own far left and far right versions of the story but the fact remains that consuming skewed news stories does not make one an expert.

For the sake of this blog, I will sit right on the fence and say this: Trayvon Martin's death was tragic and senseless. I feel deep empathy for his family and friends. And I absolutely believe that Zimmerman was an untrained overzealous wannabe vigilante who absolutely created a situation that ultimately led to Martin's death. I am also open to the possibility that Martin could have easily taken different actions to avoid this fate. When examining this case, one has to take into account that if a few minor things had gone differently in the confrontation, this could have resulted in a court case where Trayvon Martin was on trial for the murder of George Zimmerman. The only thing that I do know for sure is that I did not witness the incident and I did not sit in a courtroom and witness the trial.

I am not outraged that people are outraged. I am merely disappointed. I am disappointed in two ways: One I am disappointed in so many people's unwillingness to have a rational discussion about the case. I have read countless facebook posts by friends who essentially state that anyone who wants to argue against their point of view, should "unfriend" them. How do we expect to learn anything or have any perspective by shutting out those who have an opposing view? I have also seen/heard people talking about the case in the same way that most news outlets choose to; that is taking one side or the other and ommiting the facts that don't fully support their side of the argument.

Second I am disappointed that people have been so easily manipulated and distracted by this story. In addition to the other very similar murder cases going on right now, there are so many more big picture issues to focus on- women's reproductive rights, drone strikes, force feeding at guantanemo, the list goes on... People have taken to the streets in mass protest over one isolated incident that the media has successfully sensationalized. 

At the start of this piece I bring up the factory collapse in Bangledesh. This tragedy is an example of an outrage where we all have the power to take very direct and effective action. Walmart, Gap, Target, Woolworths, and Kmart have all refused to sign legally binding agreements to improve safety standards at their factories. Where are the protests? Where are the calls to boycott? We're talking about over 1,100 people dead as a result of greed! Not arguable self defense, racism, or fear, GREED! The cynical part of me wants to think that people just aren't willing to take a stance on issues if it requires any personal sacrifice (and I'm sorry to break it to you, but expressing your outrage about the Zimmerman verdict, takes zero personal sacrifice). But ultimately, this isn't about people ignoring larger issues and injustices, it is about the media ignoring them. It's time we start ignoring the media or at least seeking out more than what they force feed us.