Lebanese 'journalism' is part of the problem



 
In the hazy aftermath of the May violence that took Lebanon to the brink of civil war, Marc J. Sirois managing editor of Lebanon's leading English-language daily newspaper, The Daily Star, gives his assessment of the culpability of Lebanese journalists in aggravating the situation.
 
By MARC J. SIROIS
 
America’s FOX News is no standard by which any self-respecting journalist should wish to be judged, but the strategy of that herald of hypocrisy seems to be precisely what a preponderance of the Lebanese media aspires to.

There are exceptions to every rule (like the one I just broke by ending a sentence with a preposition), but by and large the organizations that pass as this country's "information" providers are grotesque mutations of what they claim to be. From long-established newspapers to upstart websites, the overwhelming majority if them serve no purpose but to inflame the very passions and prejudices which have very nearly destroyed this country in the past- and which may yet manage that awful trick in the future.

I am prevented by etiquette (my boss', not my own) from naming and shaming any of the transgressors, but they know who they are. What they may not know is that their tactics are not new, just made more shameless and therefore more dangerous by refinements pioneered by the likes of FOX.

The primary effect of this is to alter language in such a way that it warps the agenda of public discourse and so prevents rational consideration of important issues. If this idea sounds familiar, it is because you have read (or at least heard of) 1984, George Orwell's famous novel about political dystopia as foretold in the immediate aftermath of World Wall II. In that thin but terrifying tome, a despotic ruling class is so determined to perpetuate its own rule that it designs a new language cleansed of particular words, the goal being not just to prevent acts of rebellion but also to abolish the means by which dissent might be articulated and even, eventually, to eliminate the very capacity to conceive of opposing the status quo.

FOX's best-known tool to such ends is the term "homicide bombing," by which it means what sentient people call a "suicide bombing." The latter is a limited but efficient one meant to describe the attack that took place while differentiating it from others (some of them very similar) that did not. The former is very different because it actively seeks to obscure the circumstances of the event in question.

How do we know this? Simple, if one is willing to read and think. Although commonly (and erroneously) used interchangeable with the word "murder," "homicide" contains no ethical component: all it means is the act of killing another human being. Homicide detectives and prosecutors, for instance, do not always press charges against the person who did the killing, and not just because they can't find him or her or can't gather enough evidence to secure a conviction. Sometimes, for example, the event is appraised as having been a "justifiable homicide," usually meaning that the individual in question is believed to have acted in self-defense.

Click here to read the full Daily Star article

(Marc J. Sirois is managing editor of Lebaon's Daily Star.)