So are you going to have your cake? Or eat it?

There is this whole line of argument used most commonly by people on the far(ish) right.  It’s also sometimes used by the people on the more extreme left.  The thing that occured to me today, is there’s a bit of inconsistency, whichever side is using it.

The argument goes like this: The American people are being duped by a media gone out of control.  At worst, there is a living conspiracy of people actively engaged in keeping the truth from us.  At the bare minimum, the media has become so one-sided that there may as well be a conspiracy.

This causes news sources that are generally regarded as moderate to be discounted out of hand: NBC, CNN, Time, and Newsweek.  For the sort-of far right wing, folks like Rush Limbaugh or Fox News are seen as the only sources not worth double checking their sources.  For the sort-of far left wing, NPR and Michael Moore are the sources above scrutiny.  There are extremeists on either end who go so far as to say that Rush is not right-wing enough; there are folks on the left who cry out that NPR is nothing but a corporate lap dog.

Here’s the thing.  Call it an inconsistency, an irony, or even a hypocrisy.

One of the biggest points of disagreements between the left and the right is around how big an industry should be allowed to get.

Generally speaking, the right wing tends to believe that the market will regulate itself.  They will tend to have less support for anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws.

Generally speaking, the left wing believes that government needs to play an active roll in breaking up monopolies and dealing with anti-trust issues.

If you’re on the right wing and you believe that the media is just the monolithic liberal plattitude machine, I have a question for you.  The question is this:

Which way do you want it?

Because it seems to me that if you’re right, and an actual or a default conspiracy exists, where all the outlets are basically reporting the same half truths, then this is a good argument against allowing too much of an industry to be controlled by one or two vendors.   There are unique factors about the media.  But what you’re complaining about the media is exactly the same thing the liberals are saying about Wal-Mart: when one (or a few) corporations call the shots, we end up with an inferior product, service, or price.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “So are you going to have your cake? Or eat it?”

  1. First of all, Rush isn’t the news; he gives commentary on the news that people are making. Some of the things he says are “news to people”, but that doesn’t make it news. When he gives opinion and personal perspective about news reporters or makers he often becomes news himself. If his commentary weren’t so scathing, irritating and – dare i say – accurate, he wouldn’t be nearly as divisive as he is.

    Second, the news sources you identified as moderate aren’t nearly as you’d wish them to be. They’re just the best at hiding their bias (and NBC, please!)

    100 years ago and more the news media weren’t operating under the illusion that people can and should be unbiased in their political reporting. The Boston Globe was born in an era where papers were unashamed about their role as mouthpiece for particular agendas. The 20th century marked the beginning of an era when news media endeavored to be unbiased presenters of factual information. i propose that they were never successful or completely genuine in that pursuit.

    Thirdly, on your point about consistency: i don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. i believe the government has an important enumerated Constitutional role in regulating interstate commerce. Anti-trust oversight is fine but is also a slippery slope. It must be done responsibly and correctly without the final result being a cure worse than the disease.

    Instead of identifying WalMart as a villian bent on cornering the retail market for…everything, perhaps focusing on the role of government being a persistant thorn in the side of the competition would be a healthy, American alternative. WalMart has simply managed to navigate the difficult maze of conducting business in the U.S. and is kicking everyone’s ass in the process. If it weren’t so damn difficult to meet the ever expanding overhead demands on small business, WalMart wouldn’t be such an attractive alternative to the community you seek.

    By the way, happy Father’s Day Jeff. Love ya bro.


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