Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Valuable Insight

Her fiction is variable, her advice on how to succeed in the indie-fiction market is dubious, and most of her other tirades run on for far too long -- yes, it’s Fran Porretto, He Who Cannot Shut Up Before Blunting His Point, saying that -- but all the same, Sarah Hoyt "gets it" to a degree many other opinion writers don't:

The big power of the industrial media complex right now is the power to destroy. They no longer have the power to burnish the image of their darlings, or to make us believe counterfactuals.

That's a large change from the Old Media's prior period of dominance, when, entirely because there was no alternative to them, they could knowingly promote complete falsehoods and get Americans generally to accept them as facts:

If they had the same sort of control over the streams of information/entertainment that they had back in the 40s they would have pulled off their stated goal of making this administration the second coming of FDR. In fact, the more we learn about FDRs effect on the economy of the nation, the more that seems distressingly likely. If they’d had even the type of control over the media that they had back in the early 90s, we would too believe this first lady is a beauty queen, instead of rolling our eyes at the covers proclaiming this. (No? We did believe that Hilary was efficient and intelligent, which considering she advanced in life the old fashioned way – by marrying a man who did – was quite a rasper.)

Which doesn't mean that the Old Media has been utterly defanged:

The bad news is that there is something that they can still do and do quite handily. Heinlein observed in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress that it’s much easier to make people hate than love. Our media has lost the ability to make us dote on their darlings, but they can still turn public opinion against anyone they choose.

It’s not very rational; it’s not very sane; they don’t even try to make it plausible. Instead they tell a big huge whopper – Sarah Palin made rape victims pay for the rape kit, say – and then keep repeating it, making jokes about it, using it as a throw away line by late-night comedians you know “Oh, well, of course she’d have cut the deficit. The American people would need to pay for its own rape kit.”

And suddenly it’s everywhere. Part of it is coordination, of course, and part of it is the willingness of marginally attached left groups to jump in on the buzzword of the day, which happens not through conspiracy but through the fact that these people desperately want to be cool and be like the cool people they see on TV.

I don't often feel this way about one of Mrs. Hoyt's columns, but this time, please read it all -- not because you're guaranteed to agree with every point therein, but because her concluding recommendation desperately needs to be evaluated morally. If it's:

  1. The best countermeasure to the Old Media's destructive powers, and:
  2. Morally acceptable;

...then it should be deployed and practiced widely. But what if it isn't?


A Reader said...

I have my doubts. At first glance, it seems clever and potentially effective, but at second glance, the idea of shading or shaping the truth seems dangerous. If what we are experiencing now is a Cold Civil War fought with ideas, in which legislation, regulation, and mass communication take the place of both the ammunition used and the battlefield on which it is used, then one of the primary measurements of success is the credibility of each faction. Lose credibility on a given subject and one loses the battle. Lose enough battles, and one loses the ability to continue fighting.

The Confederacy had a similar problem at the end of the WBTS. Individual units might be exceptionally brave and capable, but they were outnumbered and outgunned. Both General Lee in Virginia and Generals Johnston and Hood fought desperately to keep Grant and Sherman away from Richmond and Atlanta respectively, but when a fraction of the Union Army outnumbers the whole of the Confederate Army, even the Confederates' victories tended to be Pyrrhic. Hood abandoned Atlanta to save his army but ended up bled white near Nashville while Sherman burned his way across central Georgia. In the same way, Lee bled Grant through one defensive battle after another, but the attrition in officers and men from all those rear-guard victories cost him the opportunity to counter-attack and drive Grant back across the Potomac. Under the right circumstances, even victory can defeat a combatant.

While physical ammunition can be fired without risking the value of the other rounds in the magazine, if the shell one fires is an idea, then a misfire can be disastrous. If one were to propagate a meme in good faith which turns out to be incorrect or even deliberately misleading, the next thing one says may be taken less seriously, even if it is scrupulously documented and totally accurate. If one is found to have lied, then the other rounds become duds.

The greatest thing we have in our favor is the fact that our myths are true. The individual is of infinite value. He owns himself by definition. Force and fraud are wrong. We can point to counterexamples, like the tens, or hundreds, of millions of humans killed by regimes which denied this premise as support for the idea that our way of life is better. It may be harder in the short term to live free and to live well, but it promotes the life abundant rather than resulting in work camps, cattle cars, and mass graves.

Weetabix said...

I tend not to read her very often because her posts are so very long for the content. The content is fine, mind you, I just get distracted before I get to the end.

But, if her concluding recommendation is that we need to make fun of the left when it says something stupid, I think it's morally acceptable. We're not lying if we say that the advice that "We have to pass it to see what's in it" is incredibly stupid. I didn't get that her intent was to lie as anon seems to have done.

And if we evaluate ridicule of stupidity from the standpoint of "love others as you love yourself" I'd say it's not entirely kind, but I'd rather someone let me know when I'm being stupid than let me continue being stupid. "Instruct the ignorant" after all is an act of mercy. This might be the only way to get them to understand that their ideas are stupid. Reason hasn't worked.

Is that what you read as her recommendation?

Francis W. Porretto said...

Well, Miss Hoyt seems to me to be recommending that we take liberals' statements (or portions thereof) out of context when possible and deride them that way. That strikes me as not cricket, and I don't think it would be to our advantage in any case.

Weetabix said...

If your interpretation is correct, I agree with you.

We play fairly, not because the opposition deserves it, but because we do.