Monday, September 23, 2013

Adventures in
American Cultural Education:
CNN Student News 9/23/2013

Note: as part of my efforts in furthering my children’s Cultural Education, and more specifically, warning them how to watch TV, my son (whom I shall refer to as Mr. P) and I am now watching every episode of the CNN Student News broadcast. These offer excellent examples for teaching him how to spot propaganda, BS and manipulation in the news. Tonight, we offer a transcript of our conversation as a typical example of How To Spot BC* In The News using the CNN Student News for today, 9/23/2013.

((*BC = "bullcrap," as Mr. P is far too fastidious to say "BS".\ in front of Dad.))

Me: Hello testing 123 today is Sept 22 2013, we are watching CNNSN for Sept 23 2013 and I am here with my son Mr P.,  who is here to be enlightened as to how he is being mind manipulated and propagandized by the Media....

Mr. P.: What he said.

Me: Yeah. ((CNN Student News begins)) Ahhah. Patience...

CNN SN: "We are starting this week in a terrorist attack on a shopping mall... this happened in Nairobi...."

(What follows is a five-minute straightforward news story about how Islamist terrorists in connection with Al Qaida attacked a Western style shopping mall outside of Nairobi, Kenya, killing 59 people and taking–as of the time this story was made–35 people hostage.)

"... An extremist islamist group called Al Shebab said they were responsible for the attack... the Westgate Mall is a soft target.... where terrorists could potentially cause more damage...."

((Insert section interviewing an American college-aged(?) student who was caught in the crossfire at the mall... ‘There were two individuals with me who suffered superficial gunshot wounds.... well, they weren’t with me, but they were with me under the stairwell...."))

"The attack on these ‘soft targets’ raises questions...could what happened there could have happened here?...."

Mr. P: The straightfowardness of this story is declining fast.

Me: Well, not really. So far the story has been pretty straightforward news....

P: Why are they mentioning this?

Al Shabab is connected to Al Qaida, They’ve based out of Somalia, they’re tangentially connected to Al Qaida. Don’t get me wrong. They are a bunch of bad guys..... But I should note that it came out that three of the dead terrorists were American citizens, two from St. Paul MN and one from KC MO.... It turns out that both those cities have major Somali populations.... there has been no strike like this in the US so far...

Mr. P: Good thing, too.

Me: Just last week we had the attack on the Navy Yard in Washington DC. I told you about that; I was afraid one of my friends could have been caught up in it....

((Here follows long story about The Mall of America and their atni terrorist planning))

CNNSN: Twice a month they participate in a lock down drill... ‘If something will happen we want to know what we can do to protect you before law enforcement gets here...." "... For most people, any one of your day to day situations could make you vulnerable if someone is determined to make you vulnerable to attack...

Me: This is of course a commercial for Mall of America. However, this story is absolutely correct as far as it goes. This has not happened here in the United States, yet, although there was a shooting at a movie theater last year.... The vast majority of mass shootings that happen here in the US happen because of a single person who is undergoing some sort of psychotic breakdown. Like the guy who attacked the navy yard or the guy who shot the movie theater in Colorado last year. Those guys had very severe mental problems, like schizophrenia...

Mr. P. Schizo...what?

Me: Schizophrenia is a condition that causes you to dissociate from reality and in essence inhabit an alternate world..... used to be that people thought that schizophrenia caused you to have ‘multiple personalities,’ but that is something different. Due to a major chemical imbalance in the brain, controllable through drugs, there is a separation of the sufferer from the world around them and they think that their fight or flight circuit is turned on all the time... some times they shoot up people or places like in the Navy Yard. Now that guy at the Navy Yard had lost his job there, he came back to wreak havoc on those who fired him. He was not a Muslim terrorist.

Mr. P: So schizophrenia... you mentioned the other day that a lot of homeless people on the streets are...

Me. Many people who are homeless have serious mental illness that prevents them from maintaining a home. Schizophrenia is a very serious illness and a lot of homeless people suffer from it... it is very often found among people living on the streets.

(((Pausing video and reading from the Wikipedia entry.)))) Schizophrenia a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by a deficit of typical emotional responses. Common symptoms are delusions and disorganized thinking including auditory hallucinations, [i.e., hearing voices], paranoia, [i.e., being afraid of everyone all the time], bizarre delusions, [i.e., thinking that robots are stealing your luggage], disorganized speech, [i.e, of the sort you find on CNN or in CSPAN speeches] (((Mr. P.: lol))) and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction. The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood, with a global lifetime prevalence of about 0.3–0.7%. [which means that about 1 person in 200 suffers from this.] Diagnosis is based on observed behavior and the patient's reported experiences.

Genetics, early environment, neurobiology, and psychological and social processes appear to be important contributory factors; some recreational and prescription drugs appear to cause or worsen symptoms....

Me: It’s very common. Before I married your mom we used to invite one guy to our gaming sessions who had it. We had to be very careful to invite him to the rules-based hexagonal wargames of the Avalon Hill variety, and never to play D&D or other roleplaying games. He was just fine with the former but he was incapable of dealing with the latter.

Schizophrenia does not necessarily make you a bad person but it is a horrible thing to suffer from. And in a world like we have, where semiautomatic weapons can pretty much be bought by anybody.... occasionally they go crazy and kill people like the guy at the Navy Yard.

Mr. P: Supposed the government tried to make it illegal for a schizophrenic to own a weapon?

Me: Schizophrenia is a medical diagnosis, and it is not only private, it is superprivate. How do you enforce that? There is a directory out there... the FBI runs a database of people who are not allowed to own weapons, they can put people for medical diagnoses. Unfortunately they can also do so for political purposes which is a bad thing... like putting people on there for political purposes, like veterans who say bad things about Obama, who go on the list because it is claimed that they have PTSD issues, you know what PTSD is, right?

Mr P: Post traumatic stress disorder. I know.

Yes. This is completely different from schizophrenia. It is acquired, not genetic or environmental, from combat experience. If someone is put on the list for schizophrenia it is illegal for them to own a firearm. You can’t really make it illegal though. However, if they are paranoid, they are the last people in the world who will comply, if they’re paranoid. If they’re out to get you to get your gun, guess what.....!

Mr. P: "They’re out to get you!"

Exactly! There’s an old joke that says "Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!" In that circumstance it is absolutely correct. Let’s get back to CNN Student BC....

Anyway, about Mall of America.... Mall of America is particularly vulnerable. They’re so big they have a McDonald’s on EVERY FLOOR... that’s why they go through such elaborate drills. It’s not just that they’re so big, it’s because they’re the Mall of America. Think about it. "Mall.... of.... America." Right after 9/11 there were terrorist strikes.... involving the sending of Anthrax spores against the "American Media." It turns out most of the victims (aside from a couple of newspapers) belonged to companies that called themselves "American Media". These companies produced what? Supermarket tabloids! Go figure. Terrorists aren’t so smart. Anyway... (((fastforward back to the next story in the line...)))

CNNSN: There is a big storm in the West Pacific, hitting China... ((story about the usual flooding in China from major typhoons)) "It is common for storms to occur in this part of China this time of year."

Me: Yes. Of course. Now what’s the metameaning of this story?

Mr. P: Violent storm. Global warming?

Me: Yes.

Mr. P: But there is no such thing as global warming.

Me. You have learned well, young Padawan.

Mr. P: Then why the story on the storm?

Me. Because the story gives them a reason to talk about....


Me: Yep. Or ‘climate change,’ which is the same damn thing. Stopping climate change is like stopping continental drift. But moving right along....

There is a coast of the United States that gets hurricanes like we just saw, it’s the southern coast between Galviston, TX and Florida. Right in the middle is Mobile, Alabama, where your Uncle M. lives. They get hit with about two or three big storms a year. I should note that there is a particular Baptist church in Mobile that was specially built to withstand hurricanes. It looks like a fortress. The locals call it Fort God. I’ve seen it. Scary as hell....

Mr. P: You have anything to say about the storm?

It just happened. Big storm hit China. So what? Move on. It’s news, fine, let’s move on. I’ll note that they got through the whole story without mentioning the words "climate change" or "global warming." Although having the story DOES support the idea that there is such a thing as global warming....

Mr. P: Which there is not.

Exactly. Exactly. They have determined that in the last 15 years temperatures have gone... down. Let’s move on to the next story, which is about... what? Gang violence in Chicago.

((CNNSN starts a story about gang violence, a shooting at the local park where 13 were shot, including a baby, by gangbangers, followed by a long story about a basketball game between local gangs designed to "reduce tensions."))

Me: However, it should be noted that if there are laws that say that people are to have no guns, who are going to violate the law?

Mr. P: The people that do the shooting!

Exactly. THE CRIMINALS! Chicago is one big, what? Soft target! Why? People aren’t allowed to defend themselves!

Mr. P: So Chicago has reached the point where they can’t do anything more?

Me: Right. It’s an irreducable minimum of publicly seize-able guns. At this point the only ones who have gun are the criminals, and the cops. And there’s a difference?

Mr. P: ((laughs))

‘Every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints!’ That’s a famous line from the Rolling Stones.... but I won’t go there. I realize my cultural education is highly non-linear and I will let that go at that.

((The story goes on to describe an attempt to ‘Bring the gangs together.’))

That isn’t going to end well. You bring two groups of gangsters together, and what do you end up doing? You either end up with the two gangs killing each other, or they become one, bigger gang. Bad idea either way.... ((quoting)) "Warriors.... come out to playyyyy-yaaaay!"

You’re looking at me like I’m nuts.

Mr. P: Wait, what?

Another cultural reference you wouldn’t get. And you are about to be bored by the inevitable ‘Back when I was your age...’ ...actually... no, a bit later than that, it came out when I was about 17.... there was a movie about a guy who tried to bring all the gangs together in New York City to take it over.

Mr. P: What happened?

Me: It didn’t work. In the movie, someone shot him, and blamed another gang, called ‘The Warriors.’ That was the name of the movie and the name of the accused gang.... anyway, it was about how this gang, the Warriors, had to fight their way through New York back to their home turf on Coney Island. It was basically an excuse to show a bunch of fistfights between goons wearing different outrageously ridiculous gang colors. If you’re into watching movies about people fighting one another, it’s a great movie. If you’re looking for anything else, aaaant, not so much. Anyway, that line I said about ‘Warriors, come out to plaaay-yaay,’ well, that was a line from the movie. But lets get back to the video.

((CNNSN continues coverage of a basketball game organized by a priest in Chicago to bring gangbangers together.))

Me: You should know that Chicago has a gang problem and that the gang problem goes back a long way. Do you know the name Al Capone?

Mr P: I think I’m about to find out.

Me: You are. Anyway, back in the 1920s they passed a monumentally stupid law that barred the sale of alcoholic beverages. It was Constitutional amendment, called Prohibition, which ended legal alcohol sales in the United States. So tell me, good idea or bad idea?

Mr. P: Um, BAD idea! That kind of thing is a law, not an amendment!

Me: Anyway. They called it The Great Experiment. (((Laughing maniacally.))) Anyway. It didn’t work.

Since people continued to drink alcohol anyway, there grew an underground market for alcohol purchases for the mafia of the era. And the gangsters stepped in to profit from it. For a few years, the most powerful man in Chicago was not the mayor, it was this particular gangster, called Al Capone. Al Capone was openly violent. He made huge amounts of money and killed huge numbers of people including in one famous incident, one part of your cultural education, you need to know this–February 14, 1929, remember that date–he sent some goons into a rival gang and they machine gunned five guys to death. It became famous as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Remember that phrase; it’s pretty famous.

They eventually caught him and put him on trial. Do you think he went to prison for murder?

Mr. P: Um, yeah.

No, actually. None of the witnesses would testify because those that did kept ended up being dead. Do you think he went to prison because he sold illegal alcohol?

Mr. P: Why do I think the answer was ‘no’?

Smart kid. Again, all the witnesses ended up dead. So they wound up trying him for something that didn’t require any witnesses.

Mr. P: And that is?

Me: Tax evasion.

Mr. P: Wait, what?

Me: Tax evasion. Didn’t require any witnesses. They claimed he had failed to pay $1.5 million or something in taxes. He showed up to court on the last day of the trial in federal court with $1.5 million IN CASH to pay his taxes with. What do you think they did?

Mr. P: What?

Me: They seized the money and convicted him anyway. He ended up going to Alcatraz...

Mr. P: I know where that is! A little island in San Francisco bay, right?

Right. Where he proceeded to become a great big nothingburger. Anyway, the reason I’m telling this story is because you need to know who Al Capone is, and what the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre was. Now also you know that the gangbangers in Chicago are a very old story–it is not just a black and white thing. And this is why they wanted to take the guns away from people who were shooting each other... no, wait a second.

To quote a famous magician I know by the name of Penn Jillette: "You can’t prevent insane people from doing insane things by passing insane laws."

MR. P: ((LOL))

Me: I don’t like Penn Jillette very much, but occasionally he says something that hits the nail on the head.

Mr. P: That guy, Penn Jillette? He’s like a stopped clock?

Exactly! The stopped clock principle applies here.

Mr. P: ((laughs))

Actually he’s like a slow clock, he’s only right once a week. But.

Here. We see a bunch of people playing basketball. What does this have to do with gangsters in Chicago?

Mr. P: You tell me.

Me: We’re about to see how ‘Community Organizers in Chicago’ (note, of which President Obama used to be one) ‘Are bringing together gang bangers from the streets of Chicago so that they can see how they can resolve their differences without shooting one another.’ So we see people playing basketball. Yay.

My question is, what are they doing on a basketball court and not in prison? If they’re gangbangers, they need to be in prison....

((CNNSN: "It’s a basketball game organized by Father Michael Pflager and about a dozen of his NBA friends....!")))

[NOTE: I DID NOT TELL MY SON THIS, BUT... Father Michael Pflager is the same Father Michael Pflager who sucked up to the racists Reverend Wright and Al Sharpton and who was suspended from his faculties for his heretical and nakedly political activities by Cardinal George. Also the only Obama supporter in the priesthood, who was perfectly OK with Obama's naked support of abortion.]

Mr. P: When you make a face like that, you gotta tell me the story why!

Me: ((NOT NOT NOT discussing Father Pflager)) Look, when you gotta bunch of open gang bangers, you don’t throw them a basketball game! You ARREST THEM AND THROW THEM IN JAIL! What the hell is he thinking? First you get them at the very least to QUIT THE GANGS! You don’t reward them for being gangsters! But that’s just me....

((CNNSN: "And the shooting of 13 people in a city park was a major embarassment for the city, and for the mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, who was booed when he walked into the basketball game today...."))

Let me mention, Rahm Emmanuel, Mayor of you know what he was before he was mayor of Chicago?

Mr. P: I don’t know. Let me guess. He was a gang banger!

Me: Are you saying that Rahm Emmanuel was a gang banger?

Mr. P: ((laughs nervously))  I'm just guessing.

Me: He worked in the White House. (Beat.) Which is to say....

Mr. P: ((laughs louder))

Me: That is literally true. He is a pernicious person. He is pure poison, and the fact that he got elected Mayor of freaking Chicago is truly appalling. But I’ll go there another time.

Mr. P: ((reacting the TV where some guy is wearing a T-Shirt that reads THE INTERRUPTOR on the back)) "‘The Interruptor’?"

I have no freaking idea what that means and I don’t want to know...

((CNNSN: A story follows, change of tone: this one is actually pretty good. A teenaged guy working at a Dairy Queen sees a blind man drop a $20.00 bill. A lady behind him picks it up,.... and puts it in her purse. Dairy Queen Guy gets into her face about it, and she leaves... with the blind man’s $20.00 still in her possession. He walks up to the blind man and gives him $20.00 of his own money to replace her loss. Suddenly he’s briefly a national sensation.))

Me: Now this is actually a pretty cool story....

(CNNSN: "Next up is ROLL CALL... we’re moving from east to west, in New Jersey, .....")

Me: What is this? What? They call out the name of some random schools and your class actually hopes they call you out?

Mr. P: Yeah, well, you think it’s lame, they think it’s exciting!

Me: Man, how Junior High Sch... um, what grade are you in?

Mr. P: Eighth! (Laughing)

Me: Yeah, well, never mind.

And that’s it. You are now perfectly armed to poke holes in tomorrow’s CNN Student News. Have a nice night.....

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