The WTO & The Death of Democracy
by The Cranky Media Guy
I like making fun of hippies as much as the next guy. Probably
more, in fact. I was surrounded by them in the Bronx back in the
60's. I thought that most of them were fake weirdoes, more
interested in picking up girls by having then-fashionable long hair,
than actually "expressing themselves" in any
God knows there was a commune's worth of neo-hippies in Seattle
this week. Whenever you saw any TV coverage of the action in the
Queen City, you got a gander at people who looked like they were
cryogenically frozen on Earth Day 1970 and defrosted in time for the
World Trade Organization soiree. Here's the thing about that,
though: hippie-types were probably in the minority in Seattle. There
were thousands and thousands of union members out there, too. Union
members--you know, people like your Dad and your Grandfather
probably were way back when. They're working class, blue collar
people, the kind we used to call "average Americans".
Here's my question: If there were so many non-hippies out
there, far outnumbering the tree huggers, how come all you saw on
the TV news was tie-dye types? I didn't see one shot of the
union-sponsored rallies that were being held at the waterfront. I
did, however, see a whole lot of video of people bouncing big balls
that looked like the Earth and other stuff that made the scene
resemble the parking lot outside a Grateful Dead show. Hmm. Why,
it's almost as if the TV people had an agenda or something.
What better way to trivialize this very real protest against an
undemocratic international organization than by showing only the
groups that could be termed "radical", "fringe"
or "wacky"? I'll bet you didn't know that the
Longshoremen's Union closed ports up and down the West Coast in
sympathy with the protesters in Seattle. That's pretty heavy-duty
stuff, but the TV people, from whom most Americans get their news,
didn't think it was "newsworthy", apparently. See, if they
showed Teamsters, most of whom look like guys you would see at the
neighborhood gin mill, at a rally, you might start to think that
there actually was something to this protest. It's a lot easier to
dismiss the whole thing when all you see are people who look like
the stoners who danced in the mud at the original Woodstock, waving
signs about saving the sea turtle.
It's actually pretty historic that hippies and steel workers were
on the same side about something this week. Back in the prehistoric
days (the 60's), they were mortal enemies. I can remember seeing a
photo in a magazine of a construction worker spearing a
war-protesting hippie with an American flag on a pole. For these two
groups to join together against a common enemy is noteworthy, to say
the least. Not that you would have gotten that from TV news. Nah,
they were too busy kissing the asses of their corporate owners by
trying to assure Mr. and Mrs. America that it was nothing, really.
Just a bunch of the Usual Suspects complaining about God knows what.
Don't worry folks, the cops have it under control.
In actuality, if anything, the cops made the situation worse. The
real shit didn't hit the fan until AFTER the cops started lobbing
the tear gas. Prior to that, you had a couple of windows broken by a
dozen or so people who were careful to keep their faces hidden.
Hmmm. Some rumors said that they were anarchists within the ranks of
the protesters One of these buttwipe "anarchists"
admitted, though, that they had organized and planned months in
advance to start trouble and provoke the protesters and law
enforcement. Didn't hear about that on TV either, did you? I
can't prove it, but my personal belief is that the trouble-makers
were planted by some government agency to discredit the protest. I
keep hoping that someone will blow the whistle and admit that. It
would be so sweet to catch these bastards at their game.
So, in response to the vicious attack on Starbucks, the
authorities did what they usually do and suspended the Constitution.
They immediately declared a large "no-protest zone" around
the area where the WTO weasels were working and staying. Um, what
exactly is a "no-protest zone"? The idea was to
keep anti-WTO people out of the designated area. Would you be
allowed in if you wanted to demonstrate in favor of the WTO?
Just wondering. See, here's my problem: I keep thinking this is
America, where you're allowed to peacefully exercise the right to
speak your mind. I guess I just haven't learned to love Big Brother
like I should, yet. I'll have to work on that.
Here's another thing you didn't see on the TV news: live
coverage. How come every time John and Patsy Ramsey bought McNuggets
at the local drive-up window you got a live shot of what sauce they
were using, but you didn't see any live coverage of 50,000
people rallying against an international trade group? Teamsters,
hippies, steelworkers and Greenpeace got together and marched in the
streets to make their feelings about so-called "free
trade" known and not one of the major networks could get
a live camera on it? That is not an accident, folks. That's a
conscious decision made by managment-level people. The question is
why was it made?
Should I take a guess? Well, it's my website, so I guess I can if
I want to. I want to. Whether they realize it or not, the TV
news departments are totally in the pockets of big business these
days. They are owned by big business and they are sponsored
by big business. Unlike in the Edward R. Murrow days, the network
news divisions are now expected to make a profit. The path of least
resistance to making big moolah takes a detour around controversy.
Ever wonder why the local anchors look so self-conscious and make
such lame comments when they come out of a taped piece about
something "controversial"? They're scared to death of
saying the "wrong" thing and alienating some advertiser.
The companies that own the networks and stations like that
undemocratic crap the WTO is trying to foist on you. They like
the idea of doing away with "trade barriers" between
countries. In case you haven't figured this out yet,
"eliminating trade barriers" means getting rid of local
and national laws that make these companies toe the line. Eliminate
them and the multinationals can do whatever they please all around
the world, without all that expensive bribery of government
officials they have to engage in now.
If viewers saw that groups as diverse as the Teamsters (not
normally known for their radical activism) and Greenpeace (always
known for their radical activism) agreed that what the WTO wants to
do is bad, well, Jesus, they might actually start thinking that
there's something to the protest. We can't have that, now can
we? So, we don't do any live coverage of one of the largest
protests in recent American history and when we do show any
video of it, we make sure to only show the least mainstream-looking
people in the crowd. Can't let the audience start thinking that
regular, hardworking, right-thinking Americans like them agree with
this stuff, after all. Nope, make it look like it's just a bunch of
unbathed left-wing wackos and it's a whole lot easier to dismiss.
Let some window glass land in a double latte and there's lots of
people who'll root for the National Guard to kick some hippie ass.
What's a little thing like suspending the Constitution matter when
there's Starbucks and McDonalds to protect?
Still don't think that the TV news people slanted their
coverage of this story? Go the "news" section and read how
one Seattle TV station openly censored their reporting. What's that
loud, whirring sound I hear. Oh, it's just the Founding Fathers
doing 78 RPM in their graves.