Sunday, September 23, 2007

That Jena business: it's time to stop watching television news

Since I don't watch TV, news of the "Jena Six" passed me by. I kept seeing references to the topic though, so when Google News suggested an AP article by Todd Lewan I read Black and White Becomes Gray in La. Town. It's a persuasive summary; from it I concluded that Jena's racism level is at least American average, but probably not above the 80th percentile. I suspect a jury of enlightened rationalists would have punished at least some of the Jena Six, though with more creative and useful sentencing.

The story is thus mostly interesting as an example of how narratives are created in America's divided communities, and I suspect the real criminal here is American television news (CBC, NCB, ABC and Fox in particular*) and the people who persist in watching it.

Now, you might question how I can say this, since I told you I don't watch TV. Well, I do sometimes catch network TV news when walking through airports or sitting at restaurants. In the seconds before I can avert my gaze the shocking stupidity of it shines through. On the other hand, I read a lot of print media, and it's not so bad.

America, stop watching television news. It's a drowning beast that will grab onto anything above the water line. Just turn it off. Now.

* What about radio talk shows? Good question. I can't comment there, because it's been years since one of those accidentally crossed my radio. I mostly listen to podcasts these days ...

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