Thursday, May 13, 2010

Intellectual freedom - a distraction?

May 13, 2010
Colorado, USA

Dissident Daughter Information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment - WHAT!!! (scratching my head, stomping the floor, tempted to throw the remote at the TV where I first heard the "distraction" comment)

I repeat - WHAT!!!

President Obama told graduates at Hampton University recently that in the virtually unlimited access 24/7 multi-media of today's definitely tuned-in environment, information has become a distraction that is putting undue pressure on Americans and the country.

Interjection: Uh - I have to argue that a severe LACK of information (oh let's use the term NON-EXISTENT GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY) is likely the bigger culprit.

Obama said:
[snip]'re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; none of which I know how to work, information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment. All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.

Interjecting here: Last time I checked, my iPod only gives back what I put into it. I can safely say I am not getting subliminal information from the little stinker that I did not plan on getting from it. Better yet, I am not wearing a tin foil hat. I get mostly Clapton and whatever audio book I recently downloaded. I know XB and PS have lots of new features but are most gamers actually surfing for information via that medium as opposed to using their computers or phones? Nah - I think they are totally engaged in kill and be killed games.

It is rather odd to hear the President who fought so hard for his Blackberry to: 1) feign ignorance of how such things like iPods and iPads work and 2) condemn the plethora of information that may be accessed from multi-media devices and call it unhealthy for America. It is a given though - there is a good bit of "factual" information circulating out there in both audio and video format that politicians, including Obama, would rather not have subjected to the people's "truth meter".

Obama continued:
[snip] It's a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can't stop these changes, but we can adapt to them.

'Nother interjection: We CAN STOP CHANGE that is not healthy for this country or the freedom of the people - it is called the VOTE.

[snip] With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who's telling the truth and who's not. Let's face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I've had some experience with that myself.

Interjection: For certain, the President, the Speaker, almost the entire administration, not to mention those rascally purveyors of deceit in Congress have had a little difficulty with the readings on the "truth meter". For clarification see: Conservative Blogs, Fox News and Talk Radio (you know I tune in just to see or hear the liberal reaction when someone utters the four-letter word -- Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck...)

Obama continues:
[snip] What Jefferson recognized, like the rest of that gifted generation, was that in the long run, their improbable experiment - America - wouldn't work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy to those who didn't have their best interests at heart. It could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged; if we held our government accountable; if we fulfilled the obligations of citizenship.

The success of their experiment, they understood, depended on the participation of its people - the participation of Americans like all of you. The participation of all those who've ever sought to perfect our union.

Interjection: WOW! Those last two paragraphs had to have hurt to say -- Did you hear that Tea Party Patriots? It is your duty to stay informed, engaged, and to hold the government accountable. The President, surprisingly enough, quoted Thomas Jefferson (who I am certain did a donut in his grave) during the speech: If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, Jefferson wrote, it expects what never was and never will be.

Is it me or are we getting mixed messages here? Are we getting too much information or not enough information or are we not getting the purified, homogenized, white-washed (oops! is that racist?) liberally-filtered information this administration would prefer we have?

All is good... stroke... all is well... stroke... we have everything and everyone under control... don't bother your silly little head with all those tiresome details... stroke... or the truth... stroke... stroke... stroke...

I don't know, it could just be me - but it sounds like the President does not trust college graduates or even regular ol' hard-working, multi-media-loving Americans to disseminate the information we actively pursue and absorb. It sounds like the President does not believe we can tell the difference between truth and fiction. It sounds like the President does not believe that his slyly contrived rhetoric can pass the "truth meter" test unless all other information from specifically targeted sources is called into question. It sounds like the President would like to control access to information (at least some information). Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck, Beck...

It sounds like intellectual freedom is under attack. My personal opinion on the matter is: IT IS. If this administration cannot control what you say, they will control the means and ultimately the venues utilized to say it. If this administration cannot control what you read, watch or listen to, they will seek to banish those sources of information by whatever means necessary.

Again -- If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Duly noted Mr President -- knowledge, truth, information -- for all people -- real knowledge, unbridled truth and unlimited access to information and ideas is the path to freedom. Americans should demand nothing less.

Intellectual freedom is: the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular or (and here's the obama-bugga-boo) conspiratorial.

Just for the record: I maintain the right to choose for myself the information that empowers me.

I will leave you with a few wise words:

We must speak and debate openly and independently, without fear of rebuke from the government, if we are to maintain the exchange of ideas that supports intelligent voting, legislation, good government and ultimately, freedom. And the point of this government is in turn to protect our right to those very debates that support such exchange of ideas; they are the essence of liberty and the project of the American democracy. -- Judge Andrew Napolitano, A Nation of Sheep
The video

Source: Fox, President Obama Bemoans Modern Technology in a Commencement Speech Big, Obama to Grads: A Little iPod Is a Dangerous Thing Washington (full text of the speech), Obama to Grads: A Little iPod Is a Dangerous Thing The White, Remarks by the President at Hampton University Commencement

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