( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Our founders were brilliant people. Really. They were. One of the very best things about the first amendment is the idea that we get to hold each other accountable for those things we say and do. This isn’t civil or criminal accounting, but social accounting.
Before we showed the world what the value of expression is for society, people were limited in what they could say, “because it might disturb the powers that be”, or maybe they valued their head being attached to the rest of their body.
Free speech and tolerance are linked together in a most powerful way. If we tolerate bigots, for example, we will live in a world filled with bigots.
Why is this?
Not everybody does the work to properly socialize, and they won’t do that, unless they feel some need, or pressure to do it, which is the core of what the First Amendment is all about.
One would think a public figure, like Dr. Laura would know all that stuff. So how come Dr. Laura is packing it up, when she could just do a show on boundaries, highlight it as a learning opportunity and continue on rather easily?
The real story here is all about validating racism, bigotry and theocracy, and the cost of that vs the money to be made. I believe the cost of doing that has risen considerably in the last few years, and let me tell you a little bit about why that could be:
Somewhere around 23 percent of us have one or more of these issues. Why 23 percent? It’s my observation that the poll numbers for Bush supporters were hovering right around that number during the time when pretty much every other American “got it” and failed to support President Bush. I like to call them 23 percenters, just because.
Those people left over as hold outs are currently known as “the base” today, and are well served by most popular, conservative branded media, and they are the most loyal media consumers there are!
Some time ago, a deal was struck in the Republican party. That deal was the economic elite powers that be –your top percenters, needed votes to push through policy that was favorable to them building bigger fortunes. That wasn’t going to happen without a solid base of ordinary people, and that’s not easy, because casting those votes is against their best economic interests.
Enter the “big tent” idea! Everybody, who has some social axe to grind, was welcomed into the party. Pro-lifers, theocrats, racists, bigots, corporatists, you name it! All of those people are regularly shown lip service on their pet issue, and the trade-off is consistent and regular votes against their economic best interests. We see this play out today with endless, near impossible to resolve wedge issues, polluting the civics every where to drive voters to actually vote.
The wealthy people don’t care about social issues, because they’ve got enough economic power to largely avoid them entirely, free to live as they will, because they can afford to do that –often anywhere in the world, but they need those votes to build the fortune.
That’s the deal. That’s where most of the party is at, and that’s the source of conservative media, with it’s beginnings 25 years or so ago, with the rise of Rush Limbaugh on the AM dial. He blazed that trail of affirmation and validation, essentially proving there is a clear and consistent market for those willing to pander to racism, theocracy and bigotry.
Most ordinary people healthy because they’ve socialized. They know discrimination like that is wrong, and that’s the end of it. The first amendment means we get to call people out for known wrongs, like bigotry, racism, and theocracy. When we do this, up and coming people feel some real, material pressure to do the personal work needed to just get along like everybody else. This is a good and healthy, and beautiful thing. Without it, we would live in a much more ugly world.
Those of us who, for whatever reason, didn’t, or won’t do that, have a affirmation and validation need. That social push back is everywhere, because of how the First Amendment works, creating a real demand for media that is favorable to discriminatory causes. This is why those 23 percenters are the most loyal media consumers that exist! They will listen regularly, write that letter, cast that vote, buy that product, and make that donation more often than not, because they are seeing real value from the effort that goes above and beyond simple “entertainment” as it is so often branded.
Pandering to these people, essentially validating their racism, theocracy, bigotry is worth a lot, because when it happens on traditional media, they get to escape that social pressure! They’ve got a source that says, “it’s ok, we understand, and it’s not your problem, but THEIR PROBLEM”. When around non-discriminatory people, the standard line is, “that’s just entertainment, like you know? Comedy!” When they are alone, it’s that vital affirmation and validation of their issues, and that’s worth gold.
For a long time, doing this was a growth market! In many ways it still is, because these people exist in every media market there is. Selling discrimination, or hate, is a lot like selling sex, in that there are always eager consumers. It’s different from selling sex, because selling sex isn’t always wrong, but selling racism, theocracy, and bigotry is!
The difference between then and now is the Internet and with it, the rise of new media to compete with and check traditional, or old media. This has significantly raised the cost of validating bigotry, racism and theocracy (among other things). I personally believe working efforts to increase that cost, like what Color of Change did with (((GB))) is the right thing to do, because if doing this stuff costs too much, it will stop, or be moved into less prominent view.
That’s where I believe the conflict is. The cost has grown higher than Dr. Laura is willing to endure. The official line is “her rights were violated”, the truth being what she does now costs too much.
So how will the Internet deal work out? Simple. I bet she does a pay-wall kind of thing where those that need that validation can buy into it, forming a nice little club, where everybody feels better about things they probably shouldn’t. The price will be high enough to discourage all but those that really need the material, and no higher.
Ever notice how frequently conservative Internet media access is behind some “Premium” account? Ever notice how infrequently that’s true on the net in general, and on the left, in particular? Who really pays for social and political commentary, given there is so much of it available? Ever wonder that? Well, now you know.
Will Dr. Laura join that crowd behind some pay wall, or do something else? It will be entertaining in a very real sense waiting to find out!