Violence stalks America and its hand seems everywhere. But it doesn't have to be that way.
This article, written for Freedom in 1970 by L. Ron Hubbard, explores how violent acts could be significantly curtailed through honest and accurate news reporting.
The unadulterated reality of current affaires can be daunting and confusing. Turmoil a continent away can no longer be dismissed as “over there.” International political, economic or cultural events may directly influence our lives, so we need to know what is happening and why – not a version embellished to sensationalize or to overly support a partisan view.
Encouraged to improve its standards, the media could justify the reason freedom of the press is so highly regarded in all democracies.
U.S. Commission has recently recommended that mass news media pay more attention to the views of minorities and that the government provide some means where minorities can bring their grievances to light.
About 22 years ago the president of the University of Chicago stated that the practice of excluding the views and aims of minority groups from mass media was the direct cause of violence, riots and civil commotion.
Examining this idea we see that the news media does not neglect to report the violence and reactions of minorities but almost never fully reports the actual ideas and real grievances of various groups, churches or minorities. We see reported violence against students such as their being banned or the subduing of riots.
We are reading in essence what one might call fragmentary reports. The whole story isn't there.
Nobody has really asked either side what ideas are in conflict.
The Establishment has no mediators one can approach so as to talk it over or who have the power to get things straight.
Indeed the Establishment is often very cloudy on what its ideas are or what it is trying to do. But as a government gets old and desperate its main idea is that "Any dissenting opinion must be smashed."
The Czar's government went the route that way. Students proposed reforms. The government and its press began to attack students, lie about them, ridicule them, accuse them of treason. The students demonstrated. The government increased police appropriations. The students protested. The government appointed an even more vicious head of their secret police. The students began to assassinate officials. The government began to torture student prisoners. And then BANG the populace revolted, the Czar was executed and the Communist Party took over Russia.
Nobody, but nobody ever asked the government "WHAT ideas are you supporting?" Nobody ever really asked the students "What do you object to really and how can it be reformed if it exists?"
And nobody published it.
There is no machinery in the Establishment for mediation with the people. They depend upon "elections" or polls. But they haven't got a Dept A to which a minority can go and say "Look, your idea of financing psychiatric death camps is messing things up."
A special privilege group -- the very best people only, please -- can use the Establishment as a mouthpiece, use its force. They can use mass news media. And with this they can remove rivals or dissenters or competition or minorities. Usually their motives are somewhat less than nice. They have their eye on big profits or someone else's property or some private monopoly obtained through government influence.
Anyone who might be imagined to be a threat to such private special privilege is promptly blared at and lied about and ridiculed in the controlled mass news media and then covertly attacked by Establishment forces.
It takes a fantastic amount of digging to find WHY some minority is being attacked. For the real private idea behind the Establishment attack is often not pleasant when exposed to view.
To go back a ways in history: All Cromwell's yap about Catholics was probably just private effort by a few, using the government, to seize Catholic property. The lies and violence surrounding those times make it very difficult to get to what ACTUAL IDEA caused the terrible dictatorship of 17th century England. Those you read in the history books are only the propaganda lines of both sides. WHO started it to be able to grab Catholic property?
For instance, I can't find out, despite vast reading, why the United States is fighting in Vietnam. What IDEA is really behind it?
Students who oppose being involved personally in a war they can't understand are treated to batons and courts. They're called "Red Agitators."
What they really object to probably is a conscript army (which is an uneconomic, inefficient and foolish idea begun by a mass killer known as Napoleon) and the specter of inflation and world unrest they know they'll inherit when, getting older, they take over the reins.
There's no cool head in the Establishment who has the job of listening and finding out what it's all about and mediating.
If the ideas in opposition actually could be sorted out, they would cease to be in total opposition and some probably overdue reforms could occur and the violence would greatly diminish.
As it stands today, both sides of the conflict are seldom reported and violence is the routine way of things.
Mass news media errs badly in acting on orders it receives to defame or attack some minority group. News media would serve a real purpose if it sought to really dispassionately discover the ideas behind today's conflicts and ignored the jingoisms and catch phrases they are handed.
They are, after all NEWS media, not as they often seem to be, propaganda machines playing a part in psychological warfare.
But, of course, the ideas behind news media itself is to sell papers and get the bills paid. The same private interests behind the Establishment are too often also the backers of the newspapers and so use them to crush the possible competition. And as today newspapers are seldom solvent they think they have to have backers behind them.
The reasons for the decline of newspaper circulation are not hard to find. The public has ceased to believe what they print, sensing that their views are not always disinterested.
Also in stressing controversy and conflict newspapers have not realized that few people beyond sports fans like to witness fights. The public today finds newspapers above the level of their ability to confront. So they don't buy so many newspapers.
However if newspapers and other mass news media could refrain from editorializing for the bosses and began to search out the central, often carefully hidden, ideas behind modern violence and expose them honestly, mass news media would again become a potent force in the culture.
In a democracy particularly, people should be correctly and accurately informed. The mass news media is the people's intelligence service. False reports or biased accounts are deadly in an intelligence system.
No population can act rationally when the data they are fed is false. And when it is exposed as having been false the whole body of news media is rejected.
Much of the news media, screaming for reform in others, itself could undergo a lot of reforming.
To begin with they could pay their reporters and announcers and workmen enough money to make life seem brighter.
Writers, photographers and artists are the most economically insecure people in our society. These are even called the "insecure professions."
If they don't deliver exactly what their boss says, they've had it. Their own integrity has to go by the boards in the face of continual economic threat.
Freedom of speech does not apply to them.
It is standard practice for a reporter to receive from his editor the data he is to write and then go interview someone, receive contrary data from the interviewee but then be forced to write what the boss said in the first place.
No wonder they are cynics. Paid with buttons, how can they refuse orders? They'd starve.
Scanning yesterday's and even last year's headlines one sees practically the same news stories over and over and over.
Real happenings are occurring in the world, but mass news media is given its pattern of stories because somebody up top wants it that way. This is called "molding public opinion."
Psychiatric front groups wanted Scientology defamed. So the "Scientology Story" was invented out of whole cloth and written without a single reporter going near the subjects' founder for all the 14 years of his active leadership of its organizations!
False "Scientology bulletins" were run off and distributed. Quotes never spoken were printed. But nobody ever asked the head of the movement anything and tore up and didn't print every press handout that was issued.
The tide has turned now. There was nothing wrong in the first place.
The false reports issued about Scientology are a grim example of how a special privilege group like psychiatry can use mass news media and the Establishment to try to eradicate competitors.
Scientologists are neither violent nor political. They are a technical church group, working successfully in the field of mental health.
The false reports were so false that at last the public refused to believe them. Even the better reporters began to turn against furthering the attack anymore. It was just too corny.
Groups less sane and less stable than the Scientologists, minorities who are not able to handle such situations calmly as the Scientologists have, begin to stockpile weapons and throw stones and have a go at the police. Nobody will listen. They are maligned in Establishment and press. And they can only think in terms of violence.
Unable to express their views publicly or call attention to real abuses and hardships such minorities begin to put their messages in the solid form of bricks and bullets.
The Establishment itself has to think of their own individual jobs, none too well paid. And like the underpaid reporters they have to snap to attention when the "very best people," the specially privileged private groups give their orders to government.
The answer to all this is not hard to find.
Governments should cease to be pawns of private interests and work honestly at their jobs in the broad interest of the whole people, not the privileged few.
And mass news media should deal honestly in what it actually observes, not in what the big boss says is so. Papers might even begin to sell again.
L. Ron Hubbard