September 30, 2013

Global positioning for The Common Good



Imagine the disdain of chauvinistic drivers who plugged their new devices into cigarette lighters in their cars only to have a FEMALE voice telling him to “turn left in 200 yards.” If that was not enough to make him jerk the equipment out of the car, the same FEMALE voice told him “as soon as possible please make a legal u-turn” when he missed a maneuver that she clearly had instructed him to perform.

With tongue in cheek, it has been reported that there are male drivers who were physically, mentally and emotionally unable to operate certain GPS devices until the audio was switched from a female voice to a male voice. 

Today, we rely upon satellites orbiting the earth twice in less than 24 hours at speeds of roughly 7,000 miles per hour and transmitting a signal of 50 watts or less from 12,000 miles above the surface of the earth to tell us where we are geographically, but sadly do not make the time or have the desire to engage in the political process to determine where we should be on critical issues.

If we listen at all, we listen to propaganda from the left OR the right and search for “news” that is designed to simply reinforce our collective fears and prejudices. In 1937 during a period of social unrest in the United States and the ascendancy of the Nazi regime and Axis powers abroad, a U.S. based organization named the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA) was formed.  In an attempt to educate the public to identify propagandistic material, the IPA identified a set of methods called “the seven common propaganda devices.” We will talk about them more in coming weeks, but name calling (or the use of abusive or insulting language) directed toward an individual or a group is the most blatant form of propaganda.  Unfortunately, it is also the most commonly used in today’s polarized society.

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