Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Amendment Fundamentalism - Making A Lie As Good As The Truth - Hate Mail

Human culture isn't static, there is no point in the past when the knowledge and methods and beliefs and practices and institutions that human beings have come up with represent a time and place when you can say all that was known about anything was the last word in it.   That is true of medicine, of various branches of science, it is true of scholarship in everything from the arts and humanities to history, and all other branches of formal treatment of human thought and understanding.  If there is one thing that is certain, people will learn new things about even the oldest bodies of knowledge, sometimes overturning long time thinking about those, sometimes the new view of things will be so compelling that the old way of thinking about something will fall to that new thinking and then the next phase which will, possibly, lead to that new way falling in the future.

Fundamentalism is a pretense that some aspect of human thought and culture isn't susceptible to that reality, that, as time passes, as new experiences come up, as ways of life and thinking change the ramifications and implications forced by those new exigencies won't have an impact on the way that a body of writing will be seen.  In the most commonly critiqued forms of fundamentalism, Biblical, Islamic, etc. the absurdities that fundamentalists assert about their preferred scriptures are widely seen as ridiculous, clearly at variance with the changes in life, in culture, in the conditions of life which arose since the set-point the fundamentalists want to go back to might have been, temporarily, relevant, which may have made sense in the time and place that held force.   I will say that fundamentalism about religious texts robs them of their most powerful and important role in human culture by insisting that they are not relevant to the culture which, no matter what the fundamentalist romantically desires, will not return to those conditions.  That is the reason that anti-religious atheists will insist that fundamentalism is the one and only way that people are to consider religion as being, that atheists are in agreement with fundamentalists in insisting that a fundamentalist view of religion is the only real way to see it and that anything else is illegitimate.

But this is about another fundamentalism, the one which we confront in the complete inadequacy of making believe that a country fed lies can maintain egalitarian democracy and, so, a decent life for its citizens.   The role that lying by the media, on behalf of rich people and their interests has become one of the main themes of my blogging, of my thinking about why liberalism has failed so abjectly in the United States.   It has become one of the major conclusions of my study of the time period when liberalism went from its high point in the 1960s to its first gradual and then steady and now plummeting decline that it was when the media was allowed, by a liberal Supreme Court, to lie about politicians with complete impunity, that you can see the decline of liberalism from that ruling in 1964 and gathering momentum as courts dominated by the appointees of Richard Nixon and future presidents, using the very same First Amendment interpretation of the advocates of that ruling to vastly enable the total dominance of electronic media in the very period when it rendered the print media which the people who adopted the First Amendment might have recognized fell into general political ineffectiveness.

It is as insane for liberals to hold that one is not to talk about the role that that interpretation of the First Amendment, adopted by the Warren Court fifty years ago has had in the defeat of liberalism, of the disaster that has overtaken American democracy.  It is insane and irresponsible to the ultimate degree when it is lying about Hillary Clinton and Al Gore and Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter, allowed under its permission for the media to lie with impunity which has greased the slide into the disaster of Donald Trump.   It is an insistence that we not learn from what resulted from that decision, it is to take a fundamentalist stand, though it is more commonly euphemistically called "absolutism" instead of what it really is, a fundamentalist refusal to acknowledge the changes wrought by that idiotic decision.

It is as insane as some Imam insisting that the Copernican model of the solar system is not to be believed or some insane fundamentalist preacher to declare that women mustn't be treated for pain during childbirth.  That the fundamentalism involved is non-religious doesn't change the fact that that interpretation has been tried and its results have been disastrous.

There is every difference in the world between holding that our laws should not protect lies and the Trump raving about preventing the internet from permitting the truth to be told.   It as always a total and appalling dereliction of duty for judges and justices to maintain that it was beyond them to figure out what was a lie and what was true, that's what they took the job to do, supposedly.   If they can't do that, their profession is a fraud.   If they don't trust their colleagues to do that honestly instead of using their office to benefit those who lies benefit and the truth harms, they have a moral and professional duty to say so.   After four decades of Republican dominance of courts, it wouldn't surprise me if that isn't the case,  the Republican party is the one which has most benefited from the Sullivan Decision as it has the line of First Amendment "free-speech - free-press" cases that used its thinking and language.

If we don't face that reality, if we don't find some way to allow the truth to be told while making lying expensive and dangerous for the liars, you can kiss egalitarian democracy good-bye because that's what it's going to take to get even as much of that as we had back.   That is the lesson of the experiment the court started in 1964, we've had fifty-two years to see what happens when lies are benefited.

One of the big differences between what I advocate, making it possible for people who are lied about to sue for effective redress and effective punishment, is that it doesn't put the power to pursue that in the hands of the executive of the government or in the police powers.  It puts it in the hands of those who are wronged.   It is entirely different from what Donald Trump seems to propose which is to used the power of the presidency, the corrupt FBI, the corrupt Department of Justice to restrict speech and the press.   Putting that power in the hands of those wronged, UNDER CIVIL LAW INSTEAD OF CRIMINAL LAW makes it an entirely different thing.   So, your accusation that I'm advocating the same thing that Trump is couldn't possibly be more wrong.   In fact, Donald Trump, as a massive liar and libeler would be vulnerable in exactly the same way he should be when he defrauds the people he suckered in the past.

As someone who generally adores Rachel Maddow (I watched the video you linked to), I'd like to hear her or someone at her level, the few of them allowed to appear on American TV, to really, really deal with the role that lying by the media has played in producing Donald Trump and the Republican-fascism that rules our country, admitting where that started in the "free speech- free press" dogma of the 1950s and 60s.  That was where it started to really have an impact on the collective mind of the American people as they were told those permitted lies to, unsurprisingly, inform their voting decisions.

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