Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More on the Al Jazeera situation

Still really P.O.'ed about BT removing Al Jazeera... So I decided to write a contracted version of my previous blog post as a 250 word "letter to the editor". I realized too late that my previous missive was waaaay too long and edited it to fit Burlington Free Press and SEVENDAYS criteria for that sort of thing. I re- sent it to them as well as the comments section of BT's web site as well as Mayor Kiss. Let's hope this doesn't just blow over. I also wrote to the Islamic Center of VT;
To whom it may concern:

I myself am neither arab nor muslim, but am dissapointed and angry about the decision of Burlington Telecom
to remove Al Jazeera from its channel lineup. I refer you to the following article:

"Burlington Telecom to Dump Al Jazeera" in Local Matters By Ken Picard.

I was so upset about it that i have written letters to the editors of sevendays and Burlington Free Press.

my letter is as follows:

"Concerning Burlington Telecom removing AlJazeera from its channel lineup under the duress of Israel Center of Vermont and some subscribers- I find it infuriating that a special interest group and ANY amount of the public can dictate terms on the free transmission and circulation of ideas. No surprise that Israel Center of Vermont has a bias against Al Jazeera. Not surprising that BT GM Burns' has received "dozens" of complaints. It angers me that ICV's ignorance of basic constitutional rights/ethics/hate speech law and Chris Burns removing Al Jazeera from BT's lineup. Mr. Burns abdicated his authority to special interest groups and xenophobes that would bully and decide for our community what ideas we, the people, can be exposed to. My question to Chris Burns; what “DUST” kicks up, or business damaged, airing international news , whatever ideas they promote? Why wasn't Arab and Muslim citizens/groups not consulted? What if the Peace and Justice Center and "dozens" of people demand the removal of FOX NEWS for it's "hate speech propaganda"? This situation is ridiculous. Responding to ICofV's opinion that “hate speech”and “ ...undermine[s] the basic tenets of democracy.”- I guess they didn't pay attention in civics class. FREE SPEECH does not undermine the tenets of democracy, THE RESTRICTION OF IT DOES. We live in a country that promotes the free exchange of ideas. Except, apparently, ideas that The Israel Center of Vermont disagrees with or may hinder Chris Burns future BT business by stirring up “more dust.” "

I also posted about the situation on my blog: http://flameape.blogspot.com/2008/05/defending-al-jazeera-aginst-dirty.html and invited others to speak out against this situation.

I want you to understand that i do not consider myself a supporter of either side of the Arab/Israeli disputes, nor am i allied politically with any of the various sides of this regrettable struggle between cultures, politics and the bloodshed that has gone on for so long. I believe in peaceful and harmonius discourse- charity and non-violent means of making one's voice heard. But whether or not I believe Al jazeera's programming to be propaganda, truth, or not( I happen to believe it is infact news reportage from another point of view- nothing more or less)- it incenses me to no end that ANY particular group would attempt, by difference of politics, religion or xenophobia, to abridge the right of any other group to speak it's views, truth, facts, rhetoric or otherwise. The United States has a particular uniqueness in that we as citizens have a right to free speech. I am very supportive of this right, as it is in many ways the cornerstone of all our others here. If we can't say, write, transmit our thoughts- then how can we protect our life liberty and pursuit of happiness? How can we protect ourselves from oppression and oversight?

So understand, as a non-arab, non-muslim citizen- I DO NOT approve of the tactics and pressure tghat lead to such a bad decision on the part of Burlington Telecom. I hope your community can make demands for reconsideration of this situation as soon as possible. If your community loses its right to be informed, its right to its voice- then we all may soon enough. I wish you well.

I hope that they put some pressure on BT- I'm thinking of starting a petition. Is the ACLU out there? Anyone?? Maybe I'll foward all of this to them as well.


Jess said...

Live show at 5:25 tonight on Channel 17 regarding the BT/Al Jazeera situation:


Anonymous said...

Those who feel that Burlington need not get diverse news sources, is it because better choices are available or because some need to hide from the whole truth?

Is it by mere chance that a campaign is pursued to deny the American viewers getting the other side of the story that usually doesn't make it on US media since many of whom are either co-opted by corporations and/or corruption?

CBS’ chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan who appeared on “The Daily Show” recently voiced a few candid observations about broadcast coverage of Iraq becoming increasingly scarce in U.S. media, which the NYT picked up in a story on 23 June 2008. “If I were to watch the news that you hear here in the United States, I would just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts,” she added.

Another recently published book that truly reveals how in the US, the culture of professional journalistic lapses, manipulation, "embedded" reporters, and the outright lies and mendacity by the neo-con media handlers, has built a vast institutional apparatus that is still fully in power, and still dangerous and destructive. Greg Mitchell, the author of "So Wrong For So Long", lists the failures of the media and journalism to hold the political establishment accountable and hence, placing the vitality of democracy at risk.

It seems that the right of US viewers’ majority to have alternate news channels is being objected to by a handful but noisy few. Interestingly, many of such vocal elements possess no expertise either about the society in the Middle East its media, or the regional discourse on issues existing there.

One would expect media activists to ask the major US channels draw adequate attention to matters that are of vital concern for American lives. But many are found silent on most occasions. Others are observed busy to attract attention on irrelevant and insignificant issues.

Who, then, will lobby for the American people's right to get the fullest and clearest picture of the way American wealth and treasured lives are committed abroad?