Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The strength of democracy is in the education of its people

Bill Moyers:

News is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity.

Delivering a closing address at the National Conference for Media Reform Moyers extolled the changing media landscape, beckoning a bright new future where the public controls the information they consume:
Pat Aufderheide got it right, I think, in the recent issue of In These Times when she wrote: "This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services … low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public — a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power."

But Moyers also contemplates the threat to democracy by contemporary Pharisees:
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

Calling upon citizens to take action against those dangers, Moyers closed:
We’re big kids; we can handle controversy and diversity, whether it’s political or religious points of view or two loving lesbian moms and their kids, visited by a cartoon rabbit. We are not too fragile or insecure to see America and the world entire for all their magnificent and sometimes violent confusion. "There used to be a thing or a commodity we put great store by," John Steinbeck wrote. "It was called the people."


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