Comment: Watch the Packaging

We have never lived in a more duplicitous age of mass-communication.
Partisan propaganda is becoming more insidious and sublime than
ever before.

Here’s the classic setup:

1) First, the delivery: matter-of-fact, neighbourly, and gently

2) Second, the offence: more than just choosing a random offender,
but an offender who acts as a subtle metaphor for a greater (more
dire) concern. For example, rather than choosing someone who (let’s
say for naive reasons) refuses to honour fallen WWII soldiers,
choose someone who is also a university student. Student council would be
perfect: corruption at the root of education. Suddenly (seamlessly) your target
becomes indicative of a classic hate-mongering cliche: the
ungrateful and radical liberal post-secondary environment. This is
the classic stereotype – worked great in Cambodia.

3) Third, compound the offence with a black and white conflict:
heroes and villains. Follow the naive student’s debacle with an
earnest recapitulation involving inarguable tales of those who
bravely fought for our freedom from fascism. Talk about how evil
lurks at every corner and does not care about the democratic rights
of civilians, and how the only tonic for this insidious evil is a
militarised environment: soldiers, police, guards, controllers.
Slowly draw this together with the events proceeding September 11th
2001 and proudly unfurl the [place country here] flag.

4) Fourth, summarize. Condemn the naivety of post-secondary
environments – portray them as liberal oases for myopic elites, while
our downtrodden guardians fight without asking for thanks, against
an all-pervasive evil which is thankful for student dissent.

5) Conclude with a question for the general public: who’s side are you

This is the overarching style indicative of news media formats
today: rhetorical, manipulative, and hate-mongering. It’s all in the
packaging, not the individual stories themselves. Who wouldn’t
believe the student is a naive idiot? Who wouldn’t believe that
soldiers put their lives on the line everyday? Put the two together
and you have cause to be suspicious about what goes on in
post-secondary environments – about the students, teachers, and
those who defend their rights.

It’s similar to documentary filmmaking: there’s no such thing as
objective. The minute you edit footage you are making an intentional
move to direct the discussion in a particular way/format. Words like
‘fair’, ‘balanced’, and ‘objective’ have been twisted like toffee in
the last five years. The end result is: you’re on your own.

Utilize critical thinking at all times. Ask yourself if you’re being
shown the big picture or simply baited. Ask yourself if there is a
perspective that isn’t being allowed into the picture. Ask yourself
if the questions asked are not actually questions, but assumptions
(ie. How long until Quebec separates?).

When you turn on the news, you have no friends.


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