Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Hatred Industry

Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, by Al Franken.

Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right, by Ann Coulter

There are plenty more books like that -- and magazines, blogs, talk shows, editorial columns, chat rooms. Hatred is entertaining. The entertainment industry wants something provocative. "Provocative" is often a euphemism for "wildly unfair" or "deliberately malicious". Whether the technical points made are accurate or not, the aim is to inflame because it sells.

Christians have long noticed that the mass media spews way too much sex, that TV and mainstream movies often approach the level of soft porn. Christians are routinely advised to use discretion in what they watch and read and browse on the 'net so that they don't put themselves in the way of temptation. Sex sells; therefore sex is big business.

But lust isn't the only temptation in the world. Hatred is another. And hatred, too, sells; hatred has become big business. Publishers have developed authors who can reliably incite hatred using mockery and scorn as standard tools of the trade, radio and television have their own set of media stars who push our hot-button issues with the practiced ease of a teenager playing video games. The media stars themselves may often be earnest in their beliefs; at some point above them in the decision-tree is someone who is consciously making a dollar from promoting hatred. They're manipulating people just as surely as the sex-porn industry, and this hate-porn is likewise unhealthy. The constant stream of wild accusation and counter-accusation work to put real dialog out of reach. If doing something that damages your country is unpatriotic, then is hate-mongering unpatriotic? Does hating your brother still make you a murderer whose soul is at risk (1 John 3:15)?

The Democrats and Republicans are at risk of becoming the modern Hatfields and McCoys, locked in an increasingly bitter feud with increasingly higher stakes as each side justifies its next strike as retaliation for the other side's previous strike.

The stakes on the political level are whether our country can cooperate enough to succeed in the daily decisions of government, or whether certain profiteers will turn politics into an entertainment franchise like boxing. The stakes on the personal level are whether we succumb to hatred. And somewhere are some very rich industry leaders making sure they fan the flames of discord and anger because it's profitable. I wouldn't be too surprised to find a profiteer with both a Conservative player and a Liberal player in the ring.

Tempted to be angry and hateful about the hatred industry? We're well-trained, aren't we?

Hatred and discord have been on my mind lately because it seems so prevalent. The intent of looking at the ugliness, as with last time, is to move forward through it and past it. More on that soon ...

No comments: