standards

A New Normal

Have you ever heard the phrase “defining deviancy downward”?   In the early 90’s, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan sparked controversy by using this phrase to address what he and others believed was a devolution of our socio-cultural standards.  Essentially, Moynihan suggested that we were allowing behaviors previously defined as “deviant” to become accepted as “normal” behavior.  He suggested that American society was beginning to accept what was previously unacceptable.  In a May 23rd video, Robert Reich describes various facets of contemporary instances of what he sees as defining deviancy downward, a devolution that is occurring right before our eyes.

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As always, this seekingGood blog encourages you to think for yourself.  Better yet, do some research to expand your knowledge of this issue of devolving values.  Perhaps you do not agree with these ideas at all.  Especially if you do agree, you might want to take a look at a dissenting view which appeared in a 1994 edition of Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.


Robert Reich is an American political commentator, professor, and author. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. If you find this video interesting, you might want to check out Professor Reich’s YouTube channel for frequent videos of this kind, posted under the name ResistancE is FertilE.


NOTE: This video was originally posted on YouTube on May 23rd, 2017. Mr. Reich makes references to what were then “current” events.

 

Monitoring News Bias

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You want to know the “truth”, right?  As such, surely you spread your reading across news sources of varying political perspectives, right?  One can only hope your quest for truth is, indeed a quest and not self-administered salve to soothe intra-psychic fears about your future and the future well-being of those you hold dear.  “Truth” is larger than that.

Should you venture into the wild, attempting to get differing perspectives on current events, how can you know if what you are reading is valid?  If understanding the political leaning of any given site is important to you, check out Media Bias / Fact Check.  (MBFC), a news outlet evaluation site which describes itself as the following:

  • Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC News is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices.
  • MBFC News’ aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting.
  • Funding for MBFC News comes from site advertising, individual donors, and the pockets of our bias checkers.
  • MBFC News follows a strict methodology for determining the biases of sources. Dave Van Zandt is the primary editor for sources. He is assisted by a collective of volunteers who assist in research for many sources listed on these pages.
  • MBFC News also provides occasional fact checks, original articles on media bias and breaking/important news stories, especially as it relates to USA politics.

Just type in the name of any site you are interested in and see what MBFC has to say about it.  Try searching for sites you know.  Try “The Guardian”, “Reuters” or “Breitbart”.  You can also get a list of many outlets that MBFC classifies together – Right-Bias, Pro-Science, Left-Center-Bias, etc. (nine categories in all, including “Conspiracy-Pseudoscience”).   Of particular interest is the category which MBFC considered the Least Biased.  You will notice that these MBFC lists are quite long as they included media outlet from all over the world (ever considered getting your news from the Bangkok Post?).

One of the advantages of MBFC is its employment of differing evaluation criteria during its daily analysis of various news outlets.  For instance, MBFC analyses a site’s relative factual reporting as one criterion.  This criterion focuses on whether the information presented by the site is verifiable.  However, a different criterion considers whether a site presents “biased” stories, which is not the same as accusing the site of “false” reporting. A site might present actual facts, but presents those facts couched in a slanted presentation, presumably with the attempt to sway the interpretation and opinion of readers of those facts.  Such bias can be seen in the use of loaded words, the choice of which stories to tell, what details to reveal and which to omit, for instance, all of which skew the whole truth of the situation.  Comparing even these criteria–and there are others–can be helpful for identifying the nature of the proposed “truth” being presented.  Perhaps MBFC’s greatest value is that the site presents many listings which provide direct links to outlets you might not have heard of (and might find quite informative).

The Media Bias / Fact Check site could be quite useful for anyone, regardless of socio-political orientation.  Give it a look.  You might learn something.

 

Expand your horizon and your mind! 
Read something you do NOT believe and see what happens!


DISCLAIMER: The seekingGood blog does not necessarily endorse the MBFC site except as a possible help in the evaluation of media sources.  As always, do your own research and think for yourself.

Free Speech and Tolerance

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The “truth” or a “right” position is often not as cut and dried as we would like to believe.  What do you feel when you read something like this: “[Richard] Spencer has used his right to free speech to call for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” — presumably this entails scaring people into fleeing and/or using the legal system to forcibly purge all people of color and indigenous peoples from the United States”?  Do you—taking the position of a free speech purist or absolutist–believe this person (Spencer) has the right to speak such words in a public forum?  On the other hand, do you resonate more with a position like “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” ~Mirah Curzer

Akin to a seekingGood posting regarding objectivity and neutrality, Julia Serano, author if Whipping Girl, presents a challenge to our ideas regarding free speech.

While Ms. Serano posted the original article a couple weeks ago, the response was so strong, on the 19th of Feb, she posted a follow-up.