Debate and Discussion

Taking things out of context.
Product Placement at 12:28PM, Aug. 1, 2010
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Something that I've seen so many times over the years, are practices like “Quote mining”, pulling the “straw man defense” and editing videos in your favor.

For those who are unfamiliar with these terms, the practice of “Quote mining” is when you specifically quote a small excerpt, usually something from a big book or something said by a famous person, where it's so out of context that the quote utterly misrepresents its original message.
“The straw man defense” is then when a poorly concocted argument is presented and then subsequently torn down in order to make the counter point look better. It's a reference to the idea of a warrior, who beats down a defenseless straw man, in order to demonstrate how big and bad he is.

This is something that I've always considered to be a incredibly cheap move, no matter who is involved. Therefore I almost immediately am deterred from taking the side of the individuals guilty of such practices.

Now, I'm outraged, yet again, about how malignant editing can affect the lives of those who do not deserve it, after looking up the so called “Shirley Sherrod scandal”.
I know this is something most of you, living in America, have already heard of but this only now caught my attention, since my local media didn't cover this.
For those unfamiliar, this scandal involved around a video where Shirley Sherrod, the now former head of Department of Agriculture, was forced to resign, after a video of her, where she was apparently admitting of denying help to a white farmer, because she herself was black and didn't want to help him due to racial bias. This video was brought to attention by Andrew Breitbart, a conservative who claims that liberal media is guilty of editing news content in order to demote conservative thinking and promote Marxism. He likes to claim that this is the reason why Obama won office. Fox news covered this extensively and Glenn Beck (Fox's answer to the Colbert Report) demanded her resignation.

Now the full unedited video has been brought to light where it becomes apparent that the full story is about how she learned to overcome such thoughts. How she learned to stop distinguishing between white and black and instead think in the terms rich vs poor. She started talking about her youth, growing up in a white dominated area, where her father was murdered for being an activist and his white killer got off scot free. How she experienced harassment from the Kluk Klux Klan. How she escaped the environment and ended up in her position, where she had to learn that it was not about helping black people but instead helping the poor. What she wants is that all racial diversion would disappear and that all people, no matter their background, would do their part as a whole, in order to make things better for everyone.

And this is the kind of people that idiots who only desire to harm the leading government, only because it is labeled “liberal” want out of office and result to such cheap pathetic results as these.

This is not a mere little white lie. This is a full frontal slander. Harming a person by making it appear that she said something that was completely not the point of her message.

Today Shirley Sherrod is preparing a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart and I hope that she manages to build up a strong enough case so that it becomes apparent that such a blatant hypocrite can not get away with such acts. If you preach against altered media, you do not have the luxury of using the same tactic to harm a person, who's only desire was to help people. A person who is only guilty of being a member of a political party that you don't agree with.

Sherrod mentions in her speech that we all have the potential of being smart and by God, I hope she is right.

Edit: Also, I would like to add that naturally, fox news has taken the opportunity and placed the blame of firing Shirley Sherrod solely on the Obama Administration. Yeah, they jumped the gun there but this is a move that's equivalent of sneaking up on someone to startle him and then constantly making fun of him for being shocked. Not exactly mature, in my opinion.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:53PM
isukun at 2:30PM, Aug. 1, 2010
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The thing that really annoys me about the whole thing is that Breitbart refuses to apologize and STILL stands by the video as legitimate journalism. She made a funny quip and the audience laughed. That's not racism. They weren't applauding what she did and they expressed agreement over her statement that it isn't about race, but about economic class. All Breitbart and Fox News are really trying to accomplish is pulling the wool over America's eyes on the real issues. And while some real good is being done for a change, all we see are the BP oil spills and Shirley Sherrod's.

What Breitbart did was bad journalism. He got an edited clip from an unknown source, didn't even bother to check for a source or even look for a full version of the speech and went ahead and tried to pass it off as news. Rather than admit his mistake, he continues to stubbornly stand by it. That's unprofessional, but kind of what I've come to expect out of the right wing media these days. While leftist media has it's agenda, too, I find networks like Fox News seem to be far more politically charged. They don't mind twisting things and misleading people as long as it sabotages any efforts of liberals in the government.

I think this pretty much sums up the problems I see with networks like Fox News and pretty much the only issue I have with the current administration.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Product Placement at 6:24PM, Aug. 1, 2010
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Looking through your video, made me browse around their archives and look up more stuff. That “bikini graph” amused me since it pretty much show black and white how terrible the economy was by the time Obama took over and how he's been struggling to rectify this mess that Bush left behind.

I ended up on this page where a video of someone who was hallmarking Bush's amazing job creation skills while refusing to listen to his opponents. Very interesting to hear someone like that utter the words “take of your rose colored glasses off”.

Personally I agree with this Rachel Maddow. It is time to fight back and stop such gross lack of professionalism in the media district. I would kill to see actual, intellectual discussion that's not just childish tricks to make the audience believe that the opposition is the embodiment of the boogie man. I don't want to listen to a talk show host who tells his guest to literally “shut up” whenever he doesn't agree with them. I mean, what is this? Third grade? Can people like that in all honesty be taken seriously?

I'm not targeting right wing media on the account that it's right wing. I'm merely seriously and utterly disappointed in the way they've behaved for the past decade. More importantly I'm disappointed in those who don't see past this act.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:53PM
blindsk at 9:20PM, Aug. 1, 2010
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Product Placement
I'm not targeting right wing media on the account that it's right wing. I'm merely seriously and utterly disappointed in the way they've behaved for the past decade. More importantly I'm disappointed in those who don't see past this act.

I completely agree. There's very few sensible ones these days that will admit to his shortcomings (and there were many). Instead they'll pick out the few things that he did right, and praise him for that.

Anyway, back on topic…

Generally I try to never take anything the media or a politician says at face value. This includes those uplifting speeches they love to give at the time of elections or when times are dire.

But this topic hits something I witness more often in the facet of religion. Religious radicalism is prevalent in my area, and often the people preaching their cause limit their quotes to a single passage, and pass it off as law. Instead of the forest, they'll gather numerous trees that support their interpretation, nothing like the traditional morals like we've come to understand from religion.

Is this necessarily wrong? I think it is, because they're falsifying their evidence. Even if they're preaching the most appealing laws of society, all their work is for nothing because they're using backing that really has no place in their cause.

I'm not trying to pin this on any one religion, because all religions have been used like this. I'm not trying to spark a religion debate here, but my points is simply to agree with what's already been stated. It really bothers me that many people use this for their own personal cause, and people line up to blindly follow them.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
isukun at 10:36PM, Aug. 1, 2010
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Has anyone else noticed the somewhat recent trend of the journalistic community kind of devolving into GameFAQs style forum debates, only on TV? Now, I'm not going to pin this one on one side or the other, they both do it, but I see a lot of news programs that seems to focus on using clips to “quote” the other side and then in some condescending way try to make their views look idiotic while also pushing their own agenda. I almost expect someone to call out Glenn Beck for violating Godwin's law.

At times it just seems like our internet culture may be getting the better of us.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Product Placement at 8:06AM, Aug. 2, 2010
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to respond to blindsk's point, it is true that religious groups are guilty of using this tactic and there's a guy making videos called “Why do people laugh at creationists?” who likes to point out all the examples where creationist groups have used quote mining to make it look as if people like Albert Einstein and Bill Gates were creationists. His own videos do reek of malignant editing, though, where he's favorably picking out the dumbest points made out by creationists and then tearing down those arguments. Maybe he found it necessary though, since that's the tactic that creationists have been using repeatedly, when trying to disprove evolution.

Here's an example of when people fight back malignant editing. Some of you have probably seen the “banana god” viral video that circulated the Internet a while back. It featured two creationists, explaining what was “The Atheist's Nightmare”. A banana so seemingly perfect for human consumption that it has to have an intelligent designer behind it. Well the joke was on them because bananas are in fact designed, through human manipulation. Here's the video in question.



People laughed their asses off and posted response videos explaining how seriously stupid this claim was. The people behind the video were then able to respond to this by pointing out that this video was taken out of context:


Edit: Oops. Accidentally posted the same video twice. All fixed now.

These guys of course have numerous videos where they themselves are editing science videos targeted for children and subsequently pointing out how utterly idiotic they sound. Frankly, to me, this whole evolution/creationism debate seems to be on the same level as trolling.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:53PM
Orin J Master at 10:38AM, Aug. 2, 2010
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isukun
At times it just seems like our internet culture may be getting the better of us.

this would be the problem. or rather, the idea of this would be the problem. the internet doesn't have a culture or society, but people impress one onto what they see of it. in reality the internet is a (far too) open forum, where no one feels the need to account for niceties and ethics unless it's for their immediate benefit.

unfortunately, this has bled somewhat into the media in its attempts to stay “relevant” because they adapted the flawed, oft useless style of the internet. you can find newspapers and television interjecting opinion for fact, speculation for journalism, and random poll results for public opinion. because “fresh content” sells better than old, properly researched material they will continue to do so until the “internet age” finally burns off and the need for constant random input is realized as ultimately negative for…well, pretty much everyone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
imshard at 5:07PM, Aug. 3, 2010
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In a country where “being famous” is replacing the white picket fence as the national dream, is it really surprising that people desperate for their 15 minutes will say anything they can for some spotlight? Taking things out of context can be very frustrating since it can happen no matter how carefully you construct your sentences to avoid controversy. Our technology is firmly ahead of our ability to use it responsibly. Until society grows up and quits its competitive focus in favor of a cooperative one dirty tactics like this will continue to become more prevalent.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
ozoneocean at 5:37PM, Aug. 3, 2010
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imshard
Until society grows up and quits its competitive focus in favor of a cooperative one…
I see how it is now! Dirty communist.

From what I saw of American news they mainly seemed just to care about the oil leak and nothing much else.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
Hawk at 11:48AM, Aug. 4, 2010
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ozoneocean
From what I saw of American news they mainly seemed just to care about the oil leak and nothing much else.

That's a definite problem with American news, and one I'm getting fed up with. Five years ago it didn't seem this bad. But now, it's like the news chooses ONE thing and spends 90% of its coverage on it. I'm so sick of the oil spill. And I was sick of Michael Jackson's death and whatever little girl is missing/murdered at the time. Take me back to the says when the news broadcasters didn't have tunnel-vision.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM

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