How the media and ideological groups manipulate your beliefs.

You’re smart!  Why are your beliefs so whacked out?

As those of you who have been following my career for a while might already know, I am a Christian conservative and survivalist who happens to be skeptical of everything on general principle.  I also have a huge aversion to pushing my beliefs on others, as liberty is extremely important to me. Some of my readers might baffled as to why a relatively well-educated, intelligent and a non-heterosexual person of mixed-ethnicity might possess such a seemingly “backwards” and “alarmist” world view.

I suppose I’m just too pessimistic to completely trust in libertarian and anarchistic principles, too optimistic to think that our society is completely unserviceable, and too skeptical of liberal utopias. I believe that every one is entitled to their opinion, regardless of how ridiculous it might seem to me. Likewise, I expect the same courtesy to be extended to me. If I am wrong, I want to know, so I welcome debate. But because my beliefs were hard won, I expect a high standard of discussion if I am to be swayed.

By nature, I’m a very curious creature. I love observing how things work and I often wonder where they come from. I make analyze and connections through my life experiences, seemingly disparate historical records, news reports and source documents. I like knowing that when I have an opinion, it will be defensible and based on solid principles.

Intellectual honesty is very important to me. This is why it’s very painful for me to see friends and people I respect make statements about the things I believe in, based on reports that just aren’t true. Whether these reports are intentionally false or not, is hard to say, but far too often it is obvious that they are pushing agenda. Because people are trusting by nature, they often assume that what the see, hear or read is correct.

Responding to the assumptions that pictures don’t lie.

An intelligent liberal-leaning libertarian friend of of mine felt that it was important to oppose the tea party movement due to its alleged racist focus. So he offered me several links to websites showing images of racist behavior by tea party supporters.  Be warned that some of these images are incredibly disturbing and may be upsetting to sensitive individuals:

http://www.laprogressive.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/shes-a-patriot.gif
http://zoecarnate.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/racist-obama-sign-2.jpg
http://silencedmajority.blogs.com/.a/6a00d834520b4b69e20115713d7682970c-800wi
http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/2673/slide_2673_37538_large.jpg
http://pibillwarner.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/atlas-shrugs-march-5-2008.jpg

These images are in fact disturbingly incriminating, and I don’t doubt that there are members in the tea party and conservative movement who are in fact racist and religiously bigoted.

Manipulation

While I acknowledged my friend’s concern, I recognized this picture posting as a tactic that religious groups often use to discredit the gay rights movement and that the media uses to get ratings. By selectively choosing photos of aberrant individuals, opponents of any given movement are able to caricature their target into its most stereotypical, sensationalized and repellent visage. Since I mentioned the gay rights movement, I will use some images of Pride events to show how this works.

Most gay pride rallies and parades, when observed as a whole, look like these images:

http://www1.whdh.com/images/news_articles/389×205/080615_gay_pride_parade.jpg
http://www.exposay.com/celebrity-photos/hillary-clinton-37th-annual-gay-pride-parade-164mAD.jpg 
http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/slideshow/06-2008/gay-pride-parade/gayparade_2_630.jpg (Some freaks here and there, but the normal people obviously outnumber them.)
http://www.exposay.com/celebrity-photos/atmosphere-2007-gay-pride-parade-lccJow.jpg (One weirdo in the float, but everyone just look gay in the “happy” synonym sense of the word.)
http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/lifestyle-pride2-pena-400×381.jpg (Two women share a peck on the lips, but otherwise, a pretty dull scene overall.)

I’m sure you are bored by these images. They probably wouldn’t sell a newspaper or garner anything more than a yawn. So, with the magic of isolating individuals, I’ll make other boring gay pride events look like wanton festivals where idiotic freaks have misspelled homemade signs, disrespect other religions, show a blatant disregard of the law and engage in repulsively stereotypical behaviors.  Many of these pictures are NSFW and be disturbing to some:

http://slog.thestranger.com/files/2008/11/prop_8_protest%20women.jpg
http://www.ihmcimg.com/picts05/gay_pride_parade_nyr101.jpg
http://swenglishrantings.com/swenglishrantings/Bilder/News/GayParade1.jpg 
http://nikkogirly.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/picture-031.jpg
http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/WindowsLiveWriter/ITALY_GAY_PRIDE_PARADE_XRDL_thumb.jpg

Does this activity make you feel uncomfortable and misrepresented, if you are gay or a gay rights supporter? It sure made me feel irritated as a non-cis person, just as as the pictures of racists freaks at the tea party rallies make me irritated. After all, the tea party rallies I’ve been to look more like these:

http://images.ocregister.com/newsimages/2009/03/07/b78478240z120090307184215000gpdgscj81_lg.jpg
http://www.21stcenturypaladin.com/pics/2009/04/tea_party_rally.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Lincoln_Memorial_Reflecting_Pool_Restoring_Honor_Crowd.jpg
http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/files/2009/03/teapartyorlando.jpg
http://www.cga.ct.gov/cop/gallery5.htm

Aside from the rainbows, American flags and the ideological differences, do these events really look all that much different when looked at as a whole?

Action Plan

Before you jump to snap judgments about any event or group, here are some questions to ask when faced with incriminating event images of aberrant individuals that undermine your chosen cause.

  1. Who took the images? For what reason?
  2. Where were the images displayed and in what context?
  3. Who are your sources. Who is funding your source, if applicable?
  4. Does your source have a vested interest in seeing my ideology fail? What ideology do they favor?
  5. Has there been any talk of infiltration at the events?
  6. Can I see a picture showing a wider cross-section of the individuals attending the event?
  7. Do you have any police or local news report of how the event went?
  8. Do you have video or audio of the event longer than just a soundbite?
  9. Did you attend the event in question?
  10. What do you know about the people who organized the event?
Knowledge is power.  Skepticism and curiosity are the fuels of knowledge.  Never forget that.

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