As the ancient physician Hippocrates told us, “For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure…..are most suitable.” We have now reached the point where America’s news media is in moral free-fall. We have reached a situation requiring extreme measures, for example a public unwillingness to accept any more the garbage that tries to pass as news. We either need widespread mass dissent or wide refusal through our pocketbooks to force a major reboot of the whole enterprise.
Our free society deserves once again a circumspect and on-task press.
In lieu of this reboot happening, my wife and I are contemplating extreme measures of our own. Today, I called to cancel the data service on my smartphone. Our main use of data on our smartphones in recent years has been to stay in touch with news. But now, it matters not what political side of the fireplace you sit on, the chimney is broken and the room is fouled. The air is no longer breathable.
How did it happen? For starters, the marriage of news and entertainment has been a moral disaster for the American people. It is hard to always know which is cause and which is effect, whether our own indecency corrupted the media, or the media did it to us, but it must be beyond doubt clear that the marriage is failed and has not brought any lasting utility to our souls.
We need to come to terms with the distinct roles that words and images at their best ought to play in a mature society. Words have been losing to images for many decades and it is now even doubtful that many of our current thought leaders are even aware of the problem.
We also will need to have a major new conversation as a nation about the value of “free speech”. One would think that was a settled topic, but it apparently is not. Speech is less free now than in the past, and the right to believe what we speak about is even more compromised than ever. We need to finish the work that a free society must do to protect speech. Outside of yelling “fire” in a theatre or making specific threats against people, freedom of speech ought to be as free and ubiquitous as sand at the seashore.