Friday September 18, 2020
May-04-2007 22:30TweetFollow @OregonNews
Op Ed by Henry Clay Ruark
Art courtesy: Journalism Education Association
(BEND) - The printed-page became the powerful purveyor of potent new understandings, motivating much of modern civilization, some centuries ago.
Gutenberg's development of moveable type for the printing press in 1450 allowed for the widespread dissemination of "mass media" --irrevocably shaping life ever since in every aspect.
“The Internet” and its inescapable ongoing forceful confrontations --via its wide-open channels-- now forces the realities of the world to the forefront of ever-more-public consideration and concern.
The onetime daily newspaper “Editorial” as THE main shaping expression for an informed public opinion --available mostly to those owning “the press”-- has all too rapidly become “the Op Ed”: from many sources, voicing a wide variety of opinion, often basically “feelingly”-stated.
Now, increasingly we find “the Blog”, written almost entirely from personal feeling and mostly for personal expression --and too often also all too UN-informed.
At least in the long-prevalent daily-newspaper “Letters” columns, your friendly neighbor had to sign that statement; so you knew from whence came the “contribution” --and, often, why it was so written.
For many newspapers, the Letters column was their main channel for sharing (and developing) public opinion on all kinds and levels of demanded public-issue dialog --leading directly to democratic decision via vote-- OR election of publicly chosen representatives to governing bodies and groups making informed choices.
That essential identification of source-by-known name supported and strengthened what our Founding Fathers intended as reflection of the responsibility irrevocable for any “right” --including that of “free speech”.
Far too many comments, messages and statements shared via the Internet currently are driven by personal bias or political-persuasion --too often perverted for private purposes. They capture the careless while seducing the more-careful by their contrived and conscienceless content.
To allow the many anonymous statements to continue without conscientious identification of source --and therefore also of intent-- is to defy and deny the clear intent of our Founding Fathers.
Their wise choice of the FIRST Amendment clearly shows the continuing high value they placed on free expression; and also on knowing from whence it cometh; by confirming the source --with all its very meaningful attributes right out in the open for all to see and understand.
Today the most insidious and threatening Internet development is the very-popular “Anonymous”-status, attempting to avoid traditional democratic responsibility entirely. Or its contrived, multi-faced cannily cover-named attributions, often clearly intended to conceal malign and sometimes intentionally malignant perversions of the instructively useful democratic-discussion process of dialog.
“Anon” and all that gang intend this destruction to kill off or otherwise control the very solid impacts of truly democratic dialog. They wish to enjoy easy, rapid access to homes-and-minds without responsibility for what may be highly dangerous and costly consequences for our democracy. Usually for political reasons --but sometimes driven by simple malignancies or UN/simple psychological situations-- those hiding pretension and such personal-psychological proclivities prefer the protecting shade of easily-acquired false-name/status.
Mostly this appears to be simply to avoid major responsibilities of mature discussion usually imposed for any print-channel --for reasons learned “the hard way” over those centuries since print first appeared.
But there can also be --and, undoubtedly, there now IS-- strong reason to realize the great possibilities for such irresponsible action --often verging on open attack-- on many highly desirable and highly-regarded democratic principles such as responsibility for all statements made publicly in the press or any other channels.
“Anon”-and gang’s strong preference is for very striking statement --both in the sense of forceful impact and in the sense of damage-done if-possible-- while avoiding any very-clear view of from-whence and-why the impact is thus imparted.
Distortion and perversion of democratic dialog to impact broad and sensitive reader-groups --without real responsibilities for statements and real consequences for public damage created-- is the outmoded belief in completely free expression via public statement over Internet channels. New-technology for publication does not erase and destroy that open-channel responsibility, in any way reducing the irrevocable rightness of the reasoning from the Founders establishing this very famous right to free expression.
It simply reinforces and multiplies the existing necessity for close professional editorial awareness of that responsibility, unavoidably devolving upon those who supply the open channels.
The overriding, extremely important aspect of this irresponsible-name situation is forcing essential and fundamental consideration for new ways to control and redirect such anonymous evasion of statement-responsibilities, not only on the Internet but also across the entire spectrum of published media.
We will report, soon, on further exploration of ways in which obvious racial or ethnic reference, with unavoidable malign impact; and other not-so-obvious evasions of that essential responsibility are now being both protected and further-freed in this freedom-building Internet environment.
Meanwhile, when YOU see or feel --or otherwise detect-- any endangering comment or content in Internet dialog and discussion, use your American conscience to determine what action is demanded from you.
Then do your own Letter To The Editor seeking careful and highly professional supervision for such open-channel exposure sure to shape --and perhaps pervert-- the true intention of the FIRST Amendment.
It has been possible over many years --indeed, over more than two centuries --to protect and preserve that deeply-treasured American right to free expression.
Surely we will not easily surrender that right --and its truly unavoidable responsibilities-- simply because someone, for some reason, wishes to hide purpose and open intent by self-declared “anonymity”.
What would our Founders respond to any such cannily-contrived conflict-shaping for fully-open and democratic dialog?