Tuesday, October 12, 2021

TV: The Franceses Are Always Lying

Young adult fiction has earned a bad rep in recent years.  The genre that S.E. Hinton and Lois Duncan perfected grew watered down as a demographic bulge made it a highly profitable market.  Karen M. McManus is fairly new to the genre but she's already written five young adult novels including the massive hit ONE OF US IS LYING.  

PEACOCK has taken the novel and turned it into their first original series worth watching.

It's a tight mystery. Five students are given detention. One dies in detention. It turns out the peanut allergy was exploited. Murder is what the police call it. The four surviving students look at one another and around themselves trying to find out wo the killer is. As the episodes run through -- episode three of the eight episode season aired last week -- they begin to wonder if it wasn't the teacher who put them all in detention and who was the one supervising their detention?

a new illst

It's a good guess because sometimes the one helping -- or appearing to help -- is quite different from how they are presented.

We thought about that a lot last week as the media turned the previously never heard of Frances Haugen into a 'whistle blower' and a 'hero' and so much more. In fact, so much more than she struck us as.worthy of being labeled. To us, she just seemed to be an opportunist who showed up crying for censorship of the internet at a time when so many in Congress have been demanding just that.

Jonathan Turley has long been tracking this Democratic led effort. For example, in February of this year, he noted:

Yet, when it comes to censorship, members are neither silent nor subtle. When Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey came before the Senate to apologize for blocking the Hunter Biden story before the election as a mistake, senators pressed him and other Big Tech executive for more censorship. Rather than addressing the dangers of such censoring of news accounts, Senator Chris Coons pressed Dorsey to expand the categories of censored material to prevent people from sharing any views that he considers “climate denialism.” Likewise, Senator Richard Blumenthal seemed to take the opposite meaning from Twitter, admitting that it was wrong to censor the Biden story. Blumenthal said that he was “concerned that both of your companies are, in fact, backsliding or retrenching, that you are failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.”

Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren  are two other US senators who have been calling for censorship. The rest have largely remained mute (one notable exception: Bernie Sanders.) In addition, Twitter has banned journalist Alex Berenson. YOUTUBE has banned a critic of Putin and they've banned medical orthodoxy critics like Robert F. Kennedy Jr..

(Do not e-mail us with your thoughts on Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and/or his thoughts on vaccines. We don't need to hear from you. We know Robert and we like Robert. And one of us -- C.I. -- has been involved in fundraising for autism for decades now and long ago made the decision that she would neither side with nor call out either side in the vaccine debate. That is not her focus, fundraising requires everyone's help and assistance and she will listen to anyone face-to-face on this issue and will respect their opinions on this subject. No counseling or help from you is needed, thank you.)

Frances Haugen showed up in a pro-censorship environment to recommend censorship and Congress and the media swoon over her. They coo and woo her in a display that is, frankly, is off-putting and appears to go against the whole notion of the Constitution -- especially the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the Constitution is so important that it's Article I. But while the framers realized the importance of free speech and lively debate in a democracy, there's no indication that members of our current Congress grasp that basic fact.

In this environment, this woman is hailed as a leader when she should be seen as what she truly is: Deeply troubling.

Glenn Greenwald (SUBSTACK) notes:

There is no doubt, at least to me, that Facebook and Google are both grave menaces. Through consolidation, mergers and purchases of any potential competitors, their power far exceeds what is compatible with a healthy democracy. A bipartisan consensus has emerged on the House Antitrust Committee that these two corporate giants — along with Amazon and Apple — are all classic monopolies in violation of long-standing but rarely enforced antitrust laws. Their control over multiple huge platforms that they purchased enables them to punish and even destroy competitors, as we saw when Apple, Google and Amazon united to remove Parler from the internet forty-eight hours after leading Democrats demanded that action, right as Parler became the most-downloaded app in the country, or as Google suppresses Rumble videos in its dominant search feature as punishment for competing with Google's YouTube platform. Facebook and Twitter both suppressed reporting on the authentic documents about Joe Biden's business activities reported by The New York Post just weeks before the 2020 election. These social media giants also united to effectively remove the sitting elected President of the United States from the internet, prompting grave warnings from leaders across the democratic world about how anti-democratic their consolidated censorship power has become.
But none of the swooning over this new Facebook heroine nor any of the other media assaults on Facebook have anything remotely to do with a concern over those genuine dangers. Congress has taken no steps to curb the influence of these Silicon Valley giants because Facebook and Google drown the establishment wings of both parties with enormous amounts of cash and pay well-connected lobbyists who are friends and former colleagues of key lawmakers to use their D.C. influence to block reform. With the exception of a few stalwarts, neither party's ruling wing really has any objection to this monopolistic power as long as it is exercised to advance their own interests.
And that is Facebook's only real political problem: not that they are too powerful but that they are not using that power to censor enough content from the internet that offends the sensibilities and beliefs of Democratic Party leaders and their liberal followers, who now control the White House, the entire executive branch and both houses of Congress. Haugen herself, now guided by long-time Obama operative Bill Burton, has made explicitly clear that her grievance with her former employer is its refusal to censor more of what she regards as “hate, violence and misinformation.” In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night, Haugen summarized her complaint about CEO Mark Zuckerberg this way: he “has allowed choices to be made where the side effects of those choices are that hateful and polarizing content gets more distribution and more reach." Haugen, gushed The New York Times’ censorship-desperate tech unit as she testified on Tuesday, is “calling for regulation of the technology and business model that amplifies hate and she’s not shy about comparing Facebook to tobacco.”
Agitating for more online censorship has been a leading priority for the Democratic Party ever since they blamed social media platforms (along with WikiLeaks, Russia, Jill Stein, James Comey, The New York Times, and Bernie Bros) for the 2016 defeat of the rightful heir to the White House throne, Hillary Clinton. And this craving for censorship has been elevated into an even more urgent priority for their corporate media allies, due to the same belief that Facebook helped elect Trump but also because free speech on social media prevents them from maintaining a stranglehold on the flow of information by allowing ordinary, uncredentialed serfs to challenge, question and dispute their decrees or build a large audience that they cannot control. Destroying alternatives to their failing platforms is thus a means of self-preservation: realizing that they cannot convince audiences to trust their work or pay attention to it, they seek instead to create captive audiences by destroying or at least controlling any competitors to their pieties.

And in a column at THE HILL, Jonathan Turley writes:

Haugen lashed out at what she said was the knowing harm committed against people, particularly children, by exposing them to disinformation or unhealthy views. Haugen wants the company to remove “toxic” content and change algorithms to make such sites less visible. She complained that sites with a high engagement rate are more likely to be favored in searches. However, the problem is that sites deemed false or harmful are too popular. Haugen said that artificially removing “likes” is not enough because the popularity or interest in some sites will still push them to the top of searches.
It was a familiar objection. Just the week before, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called for Amazon to steer readers to “true” books on climate change. Her objection was that the popularity of “misleading” books was pushing them to the top of searches, and she wants the algorithms changed to help readers pick what she considers to be healthier choices — meaning, more in line with her views.
Similarly, Haugen’s solution seems to be … well, her: “Right now, the only people in the world who are trained to analyze these experiments, to understand what is happening inside … there needs to be a regulatory home where someone like me could do a tour of duty after working at a place like [Facebook],and have a place to work on things like regulation.” Censorship programs always begin with politicians and bureaucrats who — in their own minds — have the benefit of knowing what is true and the ability to protect the rest of us from our harmful thoughts.

Before you think Frances Haugen is some sort of an anomaly, please note that she has always been with us. For example, you can find her in the 50s trying to 'save' the children back then too.

As Zachary Bampton noted at Princeton University's blog back in 2018:

Into the 1950s, community and national organizations voiced concerns over subversive content found in comic books. In the words of Reverend Thomas J. Fitzgerald of Chicago, depictions of “crime, disrespect for law, rape, infidelity, perversion, etc.” troubled adults who thought of the impact on children (American Civil Liberties Union Records (MC001), Box 773, Folder 25). While comics across the board received criticism, a certain genre stood out from the rest, aptly referred to as “crime comics” or horror comics.

And, 'for the children,' people like Frances have, throughout history, attempted to shut down the press, experience and even people. Yes, the Frances of this world have tried to shut down the LGBTQ community throughout history and you could find them, before The Civil Rights Movement, trying to shut down equality among the races -- for the children, always for the children. A fantasy stance that allowed them to hide behind children and also pretend that all children were White and straight.

Look at any time period in US history and you will find the Franceses doing harm while claiming to believe in God and country.

In retrospect, we always realize just how harmful The Franceses always are. Did Carole King have them in mind when she composed "Time Gone By"?


Sometimes a leader emerges
And is followed for awhile
Doesn't matter what he encourages
As long as he's got style
Young ones conceived in a passion
Of directions we thought enlightened
Grown-up, they follow the mood in fashion
But beneath their bravado
You know they're frightened
I remember time gone by
When peace and hope and dreams were high
We followed inner visions and touched the sky
Now we who still believe won't let them die

We love TAPESTRY and it is a classic album but in terms of the world we live in, Carole made a larger contribution with "Time Gone By" (from TOUCH THE SKY) and with "One Small Voice" (from SPEEDING TIME) -- two very tuneful songs and songs that speak to the reality of just how difficult it can be -- in a go-along society -- to tell the truth.

Which brings us back to ONE OF US IS LYING. Though the teacher appears the obvious choice, if the limited series follows the story set forward in the book it's based upon, she's not the killer. The lesson is that things are not always as they appear -- again, how timely a message after the emergence of Frances Haugen last week.

This is a well acted series that is actually a reason to stream PEACOCK. We say that as two who pay for the service and have paid for it since it started up. We've never felt that any of their 'origianl' offerings justified paying a monthly fee. With ONE OF US IS LYING, they're finally really in the streaming game.

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