Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On Freedom of Speech.

A couple of days ago the UK government published a list of persona non grata - a list containing the names of a number of Muslim people. To pretend that the target are not the Muslims, they also put two Americans on that list. Banning people from entering the country is a sovereign right of any state. For example, the US does requires long interviews for people who want to visit, people are often expelled, etc.

So last night on my way home I tuned in to an AM radio station (yes, they still exist). In the US, the am frequency is usually occupied by small radio stations broadcasting talk shows. The vast majority of them are political shows with a few sports channels mixed in. The political shows are inhabited by conservatives ranging from mildly insane to crackpots. I think Rush Limbaugh lurks on AM radio as well.

The particular talk show I came across was not Limbaugh. It was a man who had two female co-hosts. In 5 minutes he managed to insult the females (by suggesting that their place is in the kitchen), the French (they spend the most time eating and sleeping because they are lazy), the Japanese (they manage to drink a lot every day) and the French again (they are lazy socialists). The female co-hosts would occasionally make approving comments on what he said. But the spigots opened when he started ranting about the Brits banning a fellow conservative wingnut Michael Savage. he is one of the two people banned from entering the UK because of his hateful speech.

In five minutes this radio personality managed to use the following propaganda techniques:
- name calling;
- transfer;
- false analogy;
- either/or fallacy;
- faulty cause and effect.

That's one heck of a list. For someone who has been trained for critical thinking, recognizing these fallacies is easy. But given the popularity of such shows among a certain segment of the population, my guess is that either they do not see these problems when they listen, or are quite comfortable with it as long as all kinds of lefties and other undesirable people are bashed.

While listening to this was not very pleasant (some say that this is entertainment only), I had a choice of tuning back to my FM radio stations and listen to whatever I liked at the moment. That's what I call freedom of speech - they are free to speak but I have no obligation to listen.


Hayaser said...

what does any of this have to do with our Hayutyun???

nazarian said...

I can't think of a direct connection. But this could be a good example of how, even though I think these kind of shows are done by crackpots, media should not be censored by the government or anyone else.