Friday, September 13, 2013

Million vs Two Million

To my son Tommy,

As always I try to keep you informed of current events of your life for posterity purposes.  I picture you reading these letters twenty years from now and getting a better picture of what was going on in the world.  Often however the media chooses what we see as current events.  This would be fine if they weren't so ready to create drama and manufacture tension or outrage or compassion for the sake of ratings and profit.  They aren't the only ones who exaggerate or blow things out of proportion for their own ends.  A current event is a perfect example of this.

A couple days ago, on 9-11-13 in our nations capital we were supposed to have a couple demonstrations or marches.  I think it despicable that people try to use the memory of this date to emphasize and underscore whatever message they are selling, but you got to love this country who protects everyone's right to speak their mind every day of the year no matter the circumstance.

The first was the "Million Muslim March" whose name was later changed to a "Million American March Against Fear".  The second was the "Two Million Bikers To DC" ride.  The bikers were supposed to be an anti protest for the Muslims.  They were denied a no-stop permit which meant if they did do their ride they would have to obey traffic signals.  I am sure the permit was denied because you can't close down major roads in the middle of the day with DC traffic but the media and some small minded people jumped on the fact with race bating tenacity.  There was a bunch of politics and a bunch of hype and media trying to set this up as a show down.

The only thing this really showed us was neither of these groups can mobilize and neither of these groups can count.  For the "Million American March Against Fear" there was evidently a whole twenty person turn out.  For the "Two Million Bikers To DC" ride the turn out seemed to be much harder to count with the lowest estimate around three thousand and the highest estimate around seventy five thousand.  I suppose it is tough to count bikers as they ride around in circles through DC streets.  All sides tend to exaggerate their numbers but it is tough to lie about a couple dozen people standing as opposed to thousands driving around.  I guess the bikers "won" if you consider winning intimidating the twenty person turn out from the other side.  I might have missed the entire point but to me, if you say a million or two million...and you mobilize less than twenty five will not be taken seriously.  Perhaps neither group had a good enough message.  I am not sure what the real message was on either side.  Had the bikers just rode to remember the souls we lost, I would have thought this admirable.  Instead the media played it out as an anti protest and I am just a person who thinks anti-protests fall under the "two wrongs don't make a right" category.  And the media totally left me in the dark about the message for the other march as did their own groups vague description and name change.  But honestly it doesn't matter.  A couple months ago someone took a ruler to a foot long sub they bought at Subway and it was ten inches.  You should have seen the outrage on the internet.  That sub could have been the tastiest sub ever and it didn't matter.  Well these groups, or the media, just promised a foot long and a six inch sub and delivered a one inch sub and a crumb.  Just like the Subway sub isn't judged on taste, it doesn't matter the groups message at that point.

I am not sure which lesson I want to give you here.  Do I warn you against falling for media hype?  Do I point out how many media outlets will resort to most anything to keep up ratings and profits?  Or do I focus in on the lesson that when you oversell your message and under deliver you lose all credibility no matter how good or bad your point is?  No, I think I want you to focus in on how people in this country, whether they can pull two million or twenty, whether they are protesting for a good cause or out of spite, no matter which date they choose, each and everyone of them has the right to assemble and speak their mind.  You can disagree with either side or both sides but in our advanced and complicated democracy, we defend their right to say whatever it is they have to say.  God willing, the worthwhile messages prevail, even if the media can't sell it for ratings.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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