Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not All Coyotes

I read James Lileks' Bleat -- the one in question is here -- about every day that he writes it.  Lileks is a conservative and a newspaper man.  He might be called a humorist.  He is funny in a cerebral way.  I don't think I have ever laughed out loud at his writings, unlike, say, Dave Barry, but I am often amused and intrigued.

He has a bit in the linked Bleat taking offense at a Dennis Prager tweet: "The news media pose a far greater danger to Western Civilization than Russia does."  Lileks argues that this is equivalent to someone saying, "We must eliminate quadrapeds because they eat cats", when what they really mean is that coyotes are eating cats.

Lileks makes a couple of serious errors in this.  First, Prager's tweet makes no mention of eliminating journalists or the news media.  I can't speak for Prager -- though I agree with his statement.  I do not believe the media should be eliminated.  It should be honest about its biases.  No one is objective.  I'm not.  Dan Rather is not.  Walter Cronkite was not.  Fox News is not. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, no one is objective.  A person or an organization is most susceptible to being led astray by their prejudices when they refuse to recognize them.

For example, I am bias toward beef, foxes, Chevrolet, Yamaha, Remington, Ruger, and, now Glock.  I am more or less neutral toward a bunch of other things, and I am bias against chicken, sushi, most "seafood", Democrats, copperheads, and coyotes.  But that's coyotes as opposed to foxes.  I am glad coyotes are in the world -- much more so than copperheads and Democrats.  Really, I wouldn't even want to eliminate copperheads from the planet.

Now if CNN, the idiots on the Today Show, the producers of sitcoms and cop shows, et al, would simply admit that they are leftists, socialists, anti-American and antichrists, I would be cool with them lying about whatever they want to lie about.  I don't want them eliminated.  I don't think Prager does either.  Thus Lileks' analogy fails on that point.

Second, the category should have been coyotes.  Quadrapeds is not comparable.  Prager wasn't saying screen writers, novelists, Youtube channels, or even opinion journalists.  He said "news media".  Not all coyotes, you see, eat cats.  Some coyotes have probably never seen a domestic cat.  For all I know, some coyotes may not like the taste of cat.  Some coyotes, though, live in or near suburban areas where small dogs -- or even large dogs, and pet cats may wander around unwatched and unprotected.  These suburban coyotes are going to eat those poor, naive creatures if they get a chance.  Again, it doesn't mean they should be eliminated, but their nature and presence have to be taken into consideration by pet owners.

It's the same with the news media.  They are a part of the information ecosystem, but they are a dangerous part.  They are most dangerous when they are not challenged, when we are not on our guard against their biases.  They are not to be trusted any more than a coyote in the brush is to be trusted with Fluffy.  Again, in that regard, it appears to me that Lileks fails in his analogy.