Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Musings: Wondering in the Wind

While walking on the beach yesterday afternoon in a gusting wind that blew the sea into white foam and turquoise slicks I got to thinking about the report I heard on Democracy Now of the 23-year-old journalist in Afghanistan who was sentenced to death — following a secret trial, in which he had no legal representation, that convicted him of blasphemy — for distributing articles he’d downloaded from the Internet that said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.

And that got me thinking about an email I received from someone I don’t know who said he admired me as a writer because I’m not afraid to speak truth to power, and while I’m not at all sure I know what “truth” is, although I’m pretty sure I can spot a lie, I do know that it takes very little courage to speak up in America, with First Amendment rights and all that to protect me, as well as a certain malaise among those in power who are used to being criticized and so aren’t generally inclined to do much about it, unless you step on really big money toes and end up dead, but that doesn’t happen often enough that it should scare folks into silence.

Not like the journalists and others who are routinely murdered in Iraq and Russia and other nations for daring to scrutinize and criticize, and so have reason to be afraid, and still they are not. They are the ones with courage.

And as the wind tugged at my sweatshirt hood and a boobie rode the air currents, fishing close to shore, and Koko raced through untouched sand, I could only wonder why so many journalists are so lazy, meek and timid in America, where it is so safe and easy to be otherwise.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Journalists are lazy, meek and timid because of money. You and I Joan are perfect examples although different ends of the spectrum. The fact that you reported on the Superferry probably cost you the Kaua`i Bureau job at the Advertiser. And I can’t even get PNN news much less op-eds published for free in any mainstream corporate media much less get paid for them.

That’s why the State House version of the shield law is so scary- it solidifies the corporate media hold on news, not just by the clinging to the legacy of having been a believable journalistic entity but by a law that allows privileges for the MSM that those who are engaging in journalistic endeavors who don’t or can’t get paid for their work due to the explosiveness of content (as opposed to lousy or boring writing) aren’t eligible for.

The scariest part is the “ethical” phrase in the bill that Derrick is reporting is the one of choice. Who’s going to judge the ethics of a journalist?- the politicians?

It’s chilling- it goes back to the claim that we are protected in America. for how long? Incidents of intimidation are commonplace and reporters in Arizona and California have been killed for their reporting.

With the rate civil liberties are dying and the Bill of Rights is being shredded, in a few years I don’t know how safe I’ll personally feel when I write a piece that exposes corruption or as you say, speaks truth (or lack of lies) to power...