Granberry’s blatant misrepresentation on book banning issue

[Republished article from earlier assignment.]

 

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Can I blame all my faults on reading Dr. Seuss, Peter Pan, and Snow White when I was a child? The individuals who attempted to ban those books probably entertain that belief. Although book banning is hardly a new occurrence, it is likely to be as old as books themselves. There are recorded attempts, and references, hundreds of years before Christ, such as Socrates and Plato (Plato). Per chance even a few petroglyphs were smudged beyond recognition over one clan taking offense at another. However, after reading the prescribed book banning articles for my latest assignment, I feel one should be singled out and positioned away from the others.

In his article “Books Are Being Banned,” Michael Granberry, a Los Angeles Times staff writer, points out how book banning is not only on the rise, but it is being perpetrated by both the conservative and liberal factions. To strengthen his claim Granberry chooses a variety of evidence, combining specific incidents with various organizations that profess local and national book banning agendas. This is seen with his use of individual cases like the book banning situation played out, ironically, in the town of Banning, involving well-known poet Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Granberry then weaves in related statistics from watch-dog organizations like People for the American Way, founded by Norman Lear, along with various authoritative comments by officials representing nationally recognized organizations like the American Library Association. Further solidifying his contentions, Granberry recounts a diverse array of books and authors that have been targeted for banning. The list includes Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and the Bible: even Dr. Seuss and Snow White. However, in an attempt to show impartiality, Granberry concludes it is not just the conservatives worried about family values; he claims the liberal factions equally weigh in with race, age, and gender complaints. Sadly, although Granberry attempts to portray a sense of impartiality by admitting both conservative and liberal factions participate in book banning efforts, it is a dishonest and feeble attempt so blatantly obvious through unbalanced and manipulated evidence, along with logic and emotional fallacies, that it diminishes his credibility in the eyes of any reader not burdened with a similar bias.

When Granberry plays the sympathy card, although a legitimate practice, in his hands it is nothing short of overkill. He positions the event first and foremost, repeats parts of it, allocates over twenty-five percent of the forty-two paragraph text to it, and succumbs to the temptation of spreading a post hoc fallacy with regards to the incident. The fallacy pertains to the “book banner from Banning” (Granberry) affair with Kathy McNamara, who, if believed, is under the assumption that protesting parents sent her colleague Deborah Bennett to an early grave instead of the unfortunate combination of lung and breast cancer. Although the protesting and publicity curiously had no detrimental effect on McNamara, who went on to acquire the Banning Unified School District’s Superintendent position (Quan, Hill). Unfortunately, accomplice to one fallacy was not enough for Granberry, who carefully practices some subtle name calling. He refers to Christian conservatives as “critics,” “wannabe censors,” and a “religious sect:” sect is a word most modern-day writers use to describe cult factions, like Jim Jones or the Branch Davidians. It is rarely used to simply denote a smaller inner group as it once was. On the other hand, he at least refrained from going as far as Thomas Storck in his article “Censors Can Be Beneficial,” who lumps “Bible Belt provincialism” in the same sentence with Hitler and Stalin. However, back to the Banning affair, Granberry gives voice to McNamara’s claim that “They all say the same thing…,” as if it is not taken on an individual basis, but a combined mob mentality. Then in the very next paragraph he lumps librarians and school officials together for not mustering enough backbone to fight back against the wannabe censors. It is a statement to add credence to Judith Krug, director of the OIF and Freedom to Read Foundation, who claims that librarians and school officials will not put forth that amount of effort because they do not make as much money as those who fight longer and harder against censorship: an inappropriate pass the buck excuse for anyone questioning the fact, and a rather poor image of her colleagues if you ask me.

If Granberry, who is undoubtedly against censorship, but equally a die-hard liberal, would have honestly stated his position instead of giving a half-hearted attempt at impartiality, he would have retained credibility. To act like he was being objective while blatantly stacking the deck is unethical and does not befit a professional writer. Out of forty-two paragraphs Granberry only mentions the liberal factions attempting to ban books a brief three times. How objective and impartial is that? Similarly, his statistics and quotes are only liberal representations, including the fore mentioned fallacies, when trying to support his point of view. He then reverses it and only uses conservative quotes in an attempt to make the book banners look bad. This would not be the case if he honestly wanted to attack both the liberal and conservative book banning factions.

Likewise, claiming the censorship advocating parents are carrying out a “war on books” is an oversimplification fallacy by Granberry, in an obvious effort to polarize his target readers. It is here that he transitions to the statistics and opinions by far-left liberal factions, such as the People for the American Way, and various quotes from the aforementioned Krug. Krug has not only been director of the OIF within the American Library Association for over forty years, but she has partnered with the ACLU, serving on their board for three years, and was instrumental in lowering the responsibility level of librarians through the amended Library Bill of Rights, as Helen Chaffee Biehle diligently points out in her article “Libraries Should Restrict Access to Offensive Books.” In other words, the evidence speaks for itself, shooting Granberry’s credibility all to hell.

Anyone can make a mistake, and oversights can be forgiven, but Granberry’s style of writing is so clearly misrepresentational that any chance for serious consideration is gone. A writer cannot stack the proverbial deck with statistics and opinions from the extreme left, succumb to perpetrating a half dozen fallacies, and allocate approximately 5% to liberal book banners and 95% to conservative book banners, and expect anyone but extreme liberals to believe them. And yes, I acknowledge that there are extremes on both sides, but moderate liberals and conservatives are more interested in the truth so they can make more informed decisions, or at least be able to base their beliefs on provable facts. Any professional writer who takes a serious topic and blatantly attempts to scam the readers through manipulation of alleged evidence forfeits all credibility, and should not even be a professional writer.

Therefore, Granberry’s feeble attempt at impartiality has done nothing to persuade me to give up my moderate view on book banning. There are simply things that minors are not mature enough to properly grasp. How would you like to learn that a rebellious and unsupervised youth living next door to you just acquired the step-by-step instructions for building a bomb using nothing but items found under the sink or in the garage? Or find out that the ten-year old boy that molested your six-year old daughter had been constantly indoctrinated with verbal and visual images of rape through books, music, and videos? Are you then going to confess to your daughter that you stopped the local censors from taking the inappropriate material out of the hands of the immature youth that hurt her? And yet, going overboard on censorship can be nearly as detrimental, though I would rather err on the side of safety for all. Therefore, the keyword should be responsible limits.

 

Works Cited

Biehle, Helen Chaffee. “Libraries Should Restrict Access to Offensive Books.” Opposing

Viewpoints: Censorship. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Opposing

Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web 6 July 2009.

Granberry, Michael. “Books Are Being Banned.” Opposing Viewpoints: Censorship. Byron L.

Stay. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.

ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web. 6 July 2009.

Plato. “Republic II.” Molloy Edu. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Revised & Edited by Michael

  1. Russo. Sophia Project. 376d-383a. 2000. Web. 6 October 2009.

Quan, Douglas & Hill, Lisa O’Neill. “Officials’ Credentials Questioned.” The Press Entreprise.

Web. 2 October 2009.

Storck, Thomas. “Censorship Can Be Beneficial.” Opposing Viewpoints: Censorship. Ed. Byron

  1. Stay. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.

ORBIS Central Oregon Community College. Web. 6 July 2009.

 

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Leading up to the Red Power Movement

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People often try to pinpoint specific events when they talk about the birth of wars, happenings, fads, and major movements. For instance, it is easy to say America entered into a war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a lot harder to retrace historic and cultural events which paved the way for Japan to ally itself with Germany and Italy. The same concept applies with consideration over what paved the way for the Red Power Movement of the 60s and 70s among the Native Americans. Similar to a chef adding various ingredients to some meal a variety of events occurred among Indians, over a thirty to forty year period, that created the recipe which brought forth the Red Power Movement. It is a complex issue that could easily require a volume of text to do justice. However, for the sake of brevity, I will point out some of the predominant ingredients which helped create the socio-political concoction known as the RPM: government policies, poverty, perseverance, and place paved the way for the Red Power Movement. Continue reading

War touches all

The following is a term paper based on several books written about the Vietnam War; but it is just as relevant for any war… and for any time.

[Take your ego and preconceived notions out of the equation and it’s never too late to learn.]

Fly the friendly skies0001

War touches all

War is greedy. A little thing can release it, but after it is let loose it cannot easily be tamed. It has no loyalty, not even to those who cast it forth. It seeks to ravage anything and anyone it touches, and it touches everyone. And anyone touched by war will never be the same. But individuals who experience war firsthand will, inevitably, bear a bigger cross: a burden uniquely forged by their experience and perspective. Continue reading

Deceptions: Do the ends justify the means?

It is said, that “All is fair in love and war.” However, history suggests that the cliché should be, “All is fair in love, war, politics, and personal agendas.” In a system that is supposed to be “by the people and for the people,” the overwhelming evidence of scandal and controversy throughout the political arena, term-after-term, should dispel the myth of democracy being alive and well in the United States of America.

Gone are the days when honorable men would stand their ground, face-to-face, and fight their own fights. Gone are the days when truth, honor, and integrity were woven into men’s hearts like they were woven into the flag and sanctified with the anointed blood of patriots who sacrificed all for a glorious ideal. America has peaked, and now slides precariously down the shadowed side. The political system has failed, and it has created a chain-reaction, with far reaching effects, that will inevitably decimate this once great nation. All because of two predominant political tenants: “money buys power” and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, is a detailed journalistic retelling of the infamous Watergate fiasco. It is a look at pompous politics inspired by the aforementioned thirst for power, and energized with a mountain of money. In fact, hundred-dollar bills appeared to be the favorite flavor throughout the affair.

Five men were arrested at 2:30 am on June 17, 1972 for burglary. They had broken into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the executive office section of the Watergate hotel complex. Along with “a walkie-talkie, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35- millimeter cameras, lock picks, pen-size tear gas guns, and bugging devices” (p.15-16), almost $2300 dollars was taken from the five suspects:“Most of it was in $100 bills, in sequence” (p.16). And the Washington Post reporters would follow the money trail back and forth through the insulated web of conspiracy for the next two-years, all the way to the top levels of the White House.

“Insulated” was the primary defense; a solid foundation of legal loopholes and loyal flunkies to hinder all investigative attempts to reach the inner-circle of collaborators. Fortunately, for the American people, there is no honor among crooks. When the majority of conspirators saw their defenses unraveling their resolve caved, and they told their tales in attempts to ease the inevitable consequences. Unfortunately, for anyone still wishing to believe in right and wrong, by the time the scandal was over even Woodward and Bernstein sacrificed their integrity as an acceptable cost in pursuing the story. They both crossed moral and ethical boundaries, and were a mere breath away from felony charges on occasion. And they were willing to place the lives and reputations of others at risk as long as they met their deadlines, or got a new clue or piece to the puzzle. “Sloan wondered if newspapers weren’t a little hypocritical, demanding one standard for others and another for themselves; he doubted that reporters had any idea of the anguish they could inflict with only one sentence” (p.86).

During the period that Nixon’s crew of misfits was busy little beavers attempting to dam up the leaks and arrest the scandal, Woodward and Bernstein were equally obsessed.

Their next move represented the most difficult professional –

unprofessional, really – decision either had ever made. They

were going to blow a confidential source. Neither had ever

done it before; both knew instinctively that they were wrong.

But they justified it (p.190).

 

And a FBI supervisor even told them the following:

 

“You realize that it’s against the law for one person to monitor

a call that goes across a state line,” he told them (p.190).

 

We also read how “Woodward wondered whether there was ever justification for a reporter to entice someone across the line of legality while standing on the right side himself” (p.210). The thought came to mind when he and Bernstein were attempting to get members of the Grand Jury to break their legally given oaths, and risk jail time, just to give them additional clues.

Another deception that permeated the media push to dethrone Nixon and his administration was the solidified portrayal of Republicans versus Democrats. The media, including the Washington Post and its reporters, downplayed, buried, or ignored the facts that Nixon’s misfits carried out similar attacks against other Republicans. And we see the identical agenda in All the President’s Men. There are two minor mentions of Nixon’s people going after his Republican opponents; such as the following: “The President’s forces had been out to wreck the campaigns both of the Democrats and of Nixon’s challengers within his own party – Representative Paul McCloskey of California and Representative John Ashbrook of Ohio” (p.133). But there was a conspicuous absence regarding any follow-up investigation pertaining to Republican targets, even though additional clues suggested Nixon’s people had used similar tactics in his earlier campaigns. And the Washington Post maintained a strict Republican versus Democrat perspective throughout the entire affair (as did most media forums).

Logically speaking, the only advantage to bury attacks on Republicans by Nixon’s crews is to enhance the liberal agenda – by deceiving the public into believing the only victims were Democrats. And it worked. That’s how I remembered it coming across back then. Not until I dissected their text – like they dissected the White House denials – did I realize the lack of follow-up in the investigation down the Republican path and earlier campaigns was intentional.

Spalding Gray used deception in a far different way than Nixon’s administration, the Washington Post, and Woodward and Bernstein. He allowed the facts surrounding the Cambodian situation to digest before composing his magnum opus, “Swimming to Cambodia.” He was not a journalist regurgitating facts; he gave birth to a truth based on emotion: similar to Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried. Gray did not report, he enlightened. He manipulated words to inflame the sensorial experience, provoke thought, and tug at the heart. He epitomized the contemporary version of the ancient storyteller: the oral tradition of passing on historical truths.

Nixon and his lackluster loyalists, the Washington Post, and Woodward and Bernstein all utilized deception to further their personal agendas, and to hell with anyone that got in the way. Yes, the paper and reporters came out smelling like a rose in the public’s perspective at the time. But the loss of integrity on the part of the Post and reporters is clearly evident. They were considered heroes for bringing down Nixon’s administration (a positive outcome to be sure). But they were actually anti-heroes, similar to Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, or any of Clint Eastwood’s characters in the days of the Spaghetti Westerns. On the other hand, Gray’s manipulation of the truth was not to deceive the public but to make the truth more palatable to digest.

 

 

© JW Thomas

I’m not…

I’m not Franken-stupid

I leave that to the President

He’s never been touched by a “truth” bid

There’s too much room in his brain to rent

 

I’m not Dracu-lame

Like every blood sucking politician

Knowing if they lose the game

They can make it as a mortician

 

I’m not Mummy-fried

Like every dead thinker in the Senate

Voting like they drank formaldehyde

Open their mouth; stick a big foot in it

 

I’m not Jekyll-hiding

Like the CEOs in the corporate trade

The moral compass, down it keeps sliding

Screw Grandma, as long as they get paid

 

I’m not Zombie-crazed

Resembling the judicial system

Cannibalizing honesty

Had the crooks, but said they missed them

 

I’m not Ghostly-pimped

Selling my soul to elect a fool

Celebrity Ho’s are cheap to rent

Election year, watch Hollywood drool

 

I’m not Werewolf mooned

Blinded by the light of the spin-doctors

They tell us everything’s going to bring us doom

Unless we give our freedoms to the socialist hucksters

 

So don’t be Franken-stupid

Don’t be Dracu-lame

Don’t be Mummy-fried

Don’t be Jekyll-hiding

Don’t be Zombie-crazed

Don’t be Ghostly-pimped

And don’t be Werewolf mooned

Keep your moral compass

And stay politically tuned

 

 

© JW Thomas