I very seldom torture myself by watching CNN or Fo

first_imgI very seldom torture myself by watching CNN or Fox, but yesterday I was stuck in an airport, unable to find a spot where CNN wasn’t blaring. So, after some grumbling, I decided to use my confinement as inspiration. You can, after all, gain a lot from people and things you disagree with. A book by Judge Robert Bork once helped me refine my own thoughts. I disagreed with the man in quite a few ways, but his intelligent and erudite arguments helped me to clarify my own. Alas, there were no intelligent and erudite arguments on CNN. Aside from the trivial and the inane (A school in Teas added a film class! Improve your golf swing!), CNN had two big stories that they beat to death. The first was Ebola… be afraid! Evidently, a TV cameraman contracted the disease while filming the disease in Africa. (And there’s a huge difference between central Africa and the modern West.) That’s tragic, of course, but it’s hardly news. What it does, though, is put a face on a fear. (“Oh my God, that could be my son!”) And that’s what CNN lives on—your fear. Some day, a real plague is likely to strike CNN’s audience, but the last real pestilence was in 1919. In recent years we’ve had H1N1, SARS, the bird flu, Gerry Ford’s swine flu, and others. All of them ran at length on TV, keeping millions of fearful eyes focused on their broadcasts. Yes, if someone you know has Ebola, it’s a real tragedy, but CNN is milking human weakness by pounding this story. Living by fear is the low end of human existence and not something we should either promote or accept. Then came a very excited Wolf Blitzer, talking about a 19-year-old kid in Chicago who expressed an interest in ISIS. I’m from Chicago, and I can tell you that with a bit of time and a handful of twenties, I can find a Chicago kid with an interest in just about anything you want. You want a Satanist? No problem. For a thousand bucks, I can deliver him, on camera. Maybe you want a neo-Spanish Inquisitionist? That’ll cost a bit more, but I can deliver him too. (Neo-Nazis, of course, are free on the Internet.) And you don’t have to take it from me; there are a lot of FBI agents who do precisely this for a living. Most of the recent “terrorists” have had FBI mentors. That’s the way it’s done these days, and I’ll bet that they made friends with this kid too, just before they made their hyper-publicized arrest. The moral of my story is this: Fear bypasses reason. The people who want us to act without thinking have long known this. It’s time for the rest of us to stop playing the dog to their Pavlov.last_img

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