There’s Something Worse Than Fake News


There’s Something Worse Than Fake News


All of us are bound to feel offended from time to time. It’s part of being human. What happens, though, when being offended is a permanent or chronic condition? We’ve heard a lot about fake news in recent days, but I’ve noticed something that concerns me at least as much if not more: fake controversies.

If fake news pollutes the public discourse with falsehoods and confusion, fake controversies pollute it by manipulating emotions and fanning the flame of people’s offendedness.

Maybe you’ve heard, for example, about NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s commercial for Popeye’s Chicken? In it he wore a “taste-mask” comprised partly of a drumstick rotating in front of his mouth. Along came the headlines inciting people to be offended. “Jerry just set black people back 437 years,” wrote one man in response. “Thanks, Jerry. We’re slaves again.”

Then there was the tweet by Jerry Seinfeld, giving a quick shout-out for an upcoming episode of his internet series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld made a pun on the name of his guest Lewis Black by tweeting “Black’s life matters.” Another headline was born, with purportedly outraged readers calling it “offensive” and “lame.”

I’m not suggesting that legitimate controversies don’t exist, or that there is nothing to which a person might rightly take offense. I am distinguishing real controversies from fake ones. In a certain context, a black man wearing a fried-chicken-enhanced helmet could certainly be seen as a mean-spirited kind of stereotyping. But that is clearly not the case with the Popeye’s advertisement. Popeye’s just happens to specialize in fried chicken, and their celebrity pitchman happens to be black.

This is non-controversial, unless you are searching diligently for material from which you can craft an inflammatory headline.

These fake controversies can be worse than fake news partly because they are more insulting to our intelligence. Their headlines are sensationalized to lead you to believe that somebody must have really “stepped in it.” Typically, however — if I may pay homage to the aforementioned Mr. Seinfeld — the story turns out a controversy about nothing.

It isn’t hard to figure out what’s behind this trend. These stories are click-bait to lure readers to a website. Anything salacious enough to catch the eye will do. People can’t resist reading about what famous personalities have done to get in trouble.

These stories do not need fact-checkers, for the facts are not at issue. Fake controversies are not a matter of false information. Their manipulations are more sinister and subtle. The writers want to persuade you that you ought to take offense at what you’re reading.

Purveyors of fake controversy are shameless enough to exploit any situation. Just after the death of actress Carrie Fisher, a writer for the Huffington Post invented a controversy about a tweet by actor Steve Martin. He had written, “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” The article’s subheading called this a “sexist tweet,” and Martin soon deleted it.

The game is so easy, even the most untalented and unoriginal writers can play. Famous tweeters supply enough material to work with every day. All you need is to isolate one that could have the slightest potential to offend. In such a huge population of followers it is statistically likely you’ll find someone taking offense. This allows you to talk about there being a “backlash” or “controversy.”

The famous targets or victims of fake controversies are partly their enablers. Fear of political incorrectness robs them of the fortitude to stand up to those pretending to be offended. It’s easier to match fake outrage with fake apologies. Once you appease the petty gods, you hope quietly to move on.

What a strange ritual. We build offensive straw men so that the public can experience the brief emotional high of pretended outrage. This is unhealthy for the public mind. It skews our perspective by tempting us to waste emotional energy on fake controversies. It can blind us to more substantive matters, or make us fail to notice and address genuinely terrible offenses against humanity taking place in the world.

We should stand up to this and call it what it is. We should identify it as shallow, petty, banal and manipulative. We can and must be better than the manufacturers of fake controversies think we are. (For more from the author of “There’s Something Worse Than Fake  please click HERE) http://joemiller.us/2017/03/theres-something-worse-fake-news/

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LIGHTER SIDE

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ALERT ALERT

Newt Says What The Rest Of Us Are Thinking:
It’s Time To Throw Peter Strzok In Jail

Disgraced FBI special agent Peter Strzok, a senior member of the bureau who gained notoriety in recent months over his anti-Trump text messages to a colleague, was grilled for nearly 10 hours during a joint congressional committee hearing on Thursday.

At issue was Strzok’s anti-Trump texts to former FBI lawyer and lover Lisa Page that coincided with his leading of the investigations into both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal and the alleged Trump/Russia 2016 election collusion, as well as his involvement in the subsequent Robert Mueller special counsel probe.

The hearing proved to be a heated battle, as Strzok displayed an arrogant smugness in defiance of pointed questions from Republicans that he largely danced around, while Democrats sought to upend and undermine the entire hearing with a plethora of interruptions, parliamentary maneuvers and outright praise for the man who helped let Clinton off the hook while ferociously targeting Trump.

Former House speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was less than impressed with Strzok’s performance and cooperation in the hearing and suggested during an appearance on Fox Business that the FBI agent should be held in contempt of Congress.

“I think they have to move to hold him in contempt and throw him in jail,” Gingrich said of Congress and Strzok.

“This is a person who is willfully standing up and refusing to appear as a congressional witness and he was a government employee at the time,” he continued.

“He has every obligation to inform the legislative branch, and I don’t think they have any choice except to move a motion of contempt because he is fundamentally — and so is his girlfriend (Page) — they’re both fundamentally in violation of the entire constitutional process,” he added.

Page had been subpoenaed to appear before Congress on Wednesday but refused to appear, saying she’d been unable to review relevant documents prior to the scheduled hearing, a closed-door hearing that has since been rescheduled for Friday.

Gingrich was not the only one who thought Strzok deserved to be held in contempt of Congress, as House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte informed Strzok that he remained at risk of such during the hearing, according to The Daily Caller.

That warning from Goodlatte came after Strzok had refused to answer a straightforward question posed by House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy, regarding how many people Strzok had personally interviewed between a specific set of dates in relation to the Clinton email investigation.

“Mr. Strzok, please be advised that you can either comply with the committee’s direction to answer the question or refuse to do so,” Goodlatte stated. “The latter of which will place you in risk of a contempt citation and potential criminal liability. Do you understand that? The question is directed to the witness.”

Strzok still refused to answer, citing instructions received from his counsel and the FBI to not answer certain questions on certain topics.

Goodlatte replied, “Mr. Strzok, in a moment we will continue with the hearing, but based on your refusal to answer the question, at the conclusion of the day we will be recessing the hearing and you will be subject to recall to allow the committee to consider proceeding with a contempt citation.”

It is unclear if Goodlatte and the committee ultimately did consider a contempt citation for Strzok following the contentious hearing, nor is it clear if Page will be held in contempt for blowing off her subpoenaed appearance on Wednesday.

Hopefully Congress will follow through on the threats of contempt followed by actual jail time against Strzok and Page in response to their uncooperative behavior and failure to appear when subpoenaed, if only to ensure that future witnesses called before Congress for sensitive or contentious hearings don’t think they can get away with the same sort of behavior.

TEA PARTY TARGET

Cops Sent To Seize Veteran’s Guns Without A Warrant, He Refused To Turn Them Over

“No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” says Leonard Cottrell, after successfully staving off law enforcement and the courts from confiscating his firearms. Cottrell, an Iraq War veteran, was at work when he received a phone call from his wife. The cops were there, busting in to take his guns away. It all started after a casual conversation his son had at school.

Ammoland reports:

Police said their visit was sparked by a conversation that Leonard Cottrell Jr.’s 13-year-old son had had with another student at the school. Cottrell said he was told his son and the other student were discussing security being lax and what they would have to do to escape a school shooting at Millstone Middle School.

The conversation was overheard by another student, who went home and told his parents, and his mother panicked. The mom then contacted the school, which contacted the State Police, according to Cottrell.

The visit from the troopers came around 10 p.m. on June 14, 2018, Cottrell said, a day after Gov. Phil Murphy signed several gun enforcement bills into law.

After several hours, Cottrell said police agreed not to take the guns but to allow him to move them to another location while the investigation continued.

“They had admitted several times that my son made no threat to himself or other students or the school or anything like that,” he said.

Cottrell said he made it very clear to the police that he was “not going to willingly give up my constitutional rights where there’s no justifiable cause, no warrants, no nothing.”

The troopers searched his son’s room and found nothing, Cottrell said.

“To appease everybody, I had my firearms stored someplace else,” he said. “That way, during the course of the investigation, my son doesn’t have access to them and it’s on neutral ground and everything and everybody’s happy.”

“In the Garden State, the usual approach is to confiscate first and ask questions later, and victims of this approach often don’t know their rights. ‎In this case, the victim pushed back and confiscation was avoided — but the circumstances surrounding the incident are outrageous. A student expressing concern over lack of security is not a reason to send police to the student’s home — but it might be a reason to send police to the school to keep students and teachers safe” said Scott L. Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and a member of the NRA board of directors.

NJ.com adds:

Cottrell, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served three tours during “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” owns a shotgun and a pistol. He has all the correct permits to own the firearms, he said, and predominately uses the shotgun to hunt.

He said his wife allowed the officers to enter the home, and with her permission, they searched his son’s room — but they did not find any weapons, he said. The officers, he said, didn’t have a warrant but still wanted to take his guns. Cottrell wouldn’t let them.

“No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” he said Thursday.

He said the attempted seizure resulted because of a new law Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law that makes it easier for police to confiscate guns when someone in the state poses a threat to themselves or others. The law is part of a broader statewide effort to make New Jersey’s gun laws even tougher amid the national outcry for more gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Cottrell said the officers “danced around the issue” when he confronted them about the new law.

A New Jersey State Police spokesman declined to answer questions about whether this incident had anything to do with the new gun laws.

In an email, Sgt. First Class Jeff Flynn said, “Troopers responded to Mr. Cottrell’s residence in reference to the report of a possible school threat. Based on their investigation, it was determined that Mr. Cottrell’s weapons did not need to be seized.”

David Codrea, writing for Ammoland, further added:

To appease everybody, I had my firearms stored someplace else,” New Jersey gun owner and Army veteran Leonard Cottrell Jr. told New Jersey 101.5 after a June 14 visit from State Police,. “That way, during the course of the investigation, my son doesn’t have access to them and it’s on neutral ground and everything and everybody’s happy.”

Cottrell was recalling state troopers showing up at his door to confiscate firearms after his 13-year-old son was overheard discussing lax school safety with a friend.

Indoctrinated by a pervasive snitch culture — one that never seems to deter the blatantly obvious demonic nutjobs — the eavesdropping student told his parents, who told school administrators, who in turn called the cops. (Note “If you see something, say something” carries risks of its own – if you report the wrong person, you could end up smeared as a “hater.”)

“Cottrell said he made it very clear to the police that he was ‘not going to willingly give up my constitutional rights where there’s no justifiable cause, no warrants, no nothing,’” the report continued. Despite that, his home is now a “gun free zone” and that has been publicized by the media. He has, in fact, willingly ceded those rights, and by his own words in order to make authorities “happy.”

Before judging him for that, consider the environment that is New Jersey. Then consider the overwhelming force the state can bring to bear, and its predisposition to using it, especially if it’s to enforce citizen disarmament. It’s easy to anonymously declare “Molon Labe” on the internet. In meatspace, resistance is more effective when the aggressor doesn’t get to dictate the time and place, especially if that place is your home and you have family inside.

Appeasing gun-grabbers, generally couched as “compromise,” is impossible. It’s like throwing a scrap of flesh to a circling pack of jackals and expecting them to be sated and leave you alone — instead of sensing opportunity and fear, and moving in closer.

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