Monday, March 8, 2010



A body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition; any set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniform fashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another.


Absence of any sound or noise; the state of being forgotten; concealment; secrecy.

This SoundBite (about the Freedom of Speech) is the nearest, and dearest to my heart, and, to sum, why I wrote Veracity. 'Nuff said - on to the clip.

Sunday, February 14, 2010



The act, process, or practice of censoring; the office or authority of a censor - a person tasked with the examination of books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds; or, (Laura's definition) the suppression of critical thinking by delimiting the facts upon which well-rounded conclusions are able to be reached.

This week's Word Watch is about Censorship as it relates to the Freedom of Religion and why it's so critical to the process of thinking for one's self. Years ago, I was hugely impacted by a brave and important letter published by the American Librarians Association regarding the Patriot Act. A portion of this act made it lawful for government officials to keep tabs on what books American citizens were checking out of their libraries - books such as those on world religions, the study of militia and weaponry, etc. Further, the Patriot Act made resistance by the librarians (if they told patrons to watch their selections, etc.) legally actionable. In other words, librarians could be thrown in jail for letting patrons know. When certain educational material becomes fodder for profiling, said educational materials will be avoided, thereby censoring the field of knowledge from which conclusions about this topic can be drawn. The worst kind of censhorship of the kind we're never aware of. It's not the taking away of books, or even words, we've enjoyed. It's keeping up from being aware of them in the first place. For more about this issue, and its fallout, see American Library Association.

The ALA had this to say about the whole mess: “The American Library Association (ALA) opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry…ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.”—from ALA’s Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act.

Check out this week's SoundBite here. This week, it's all about the Freedom of Religion.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely.

Exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action; exclusive possession or control; a commodity controlled by one party.

It’s time, my friends. We are at a crucial tipping point regarding our freedoms. We either empower ourselves and consume our information with a critical mind or we lose everything we once were. Corporations are banking on the idea that our votes, our opinions, and our purchasing preferences, can be bought. We must learn to question everything, to sniff out agenda, to develop a hunger for truth that cannot be sated with hate. If we arm ourselves diligently, we just might make it. We’re at terrible risk of losing our country to the highest bidder. Let me explain why.

The Supreme Court has overturned the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act banning the broadcast, cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by corporations or labor unions from their general funds in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general elections. Since 1947, corporations have been banned from using their profits to endorse or oppose political candidates. Why? Because, without these restrictions, it’s a free-for-all of special interests. A town-square armageddon.

Big business has an unprecedented opportunity to ‘purchase’ legislation amenable to their needs. How does such a purchase occur? See the following examples.

Regular, old cash gets product kind of purchase:
Corporation buys seats kind of purchase:

Thing is, monopolies are prohibited in the physical marketplace, so why not here? Why not prohibit this less tangible, far scarier monopoly regarding the distribution of information? This is a monopoly of power. A monopoly that seeks to prejudice the mind. Here’s another way to look at it. Let’s say Atticus Finch would like to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. Unless he’s willing to get in the back pocket of a corporation, there’s no way he’ll have enough money to even get his name heard. The voters will never even know about Atticus Finch because the airwaves will be jam-packed with support for Big Corporation’s Candidate X. Poor Mr. Finch will be knocked out of contention before the race has even begun.

With this new interpretation, there is no more room for the average, or even the wealthy, non-corporation sponsored American in government. It’s just officially been priced out of the everyman’s reach.

The Supreme Court has decided that, for the purpose of buying a country’s enthusiasm, corporations have the same rights as individuals. So let’s see how The Declaration of Independence sounds with this new interpretation:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all CORPORATIONS are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among CORPORATIONS, deriving their just powers from the consent of the CORPORATIONS, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the CORPORATIONS to alter or to abolish it...”

I say if corporations are actually going to be considered citizens, how about we treat them as such, starting with getting rid of all those tax cuts? And what might this mean for those corporations existing beyond our country’s borders? We’re so worried about holding that line between us and Mexico, but what’s going to happen when some other country purchases a candidate? A seat in Congress, or the White House?

Here are some very prescient thoughts about this. The first, from President Obama: "It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.” And here’s a bit of the dissenting opinion, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: "When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

It’s hard to make the right decisions when we’re given only biased information. When we’re led to certain conclusions from which the media purchaser benefits. How will you know who to vote for? How will you know when something is true or false? And what if this logic is applied to all media? What goes next? The sale of the world wide web? Classroom education? There is a terrifying precedent being set here and that is this - your access to unbiased truth has been vastly diminished. And if this theft is allowed, the next theft will be greater and more broad because we have allowed the first. The Supreme Court has pushed us onto that slippery slope. Where we go now is up to each and every one of us. We have to put on the cleats of critical thinking, go out there and kick some cognitive ass.

Our poor Founding Fathers. They must be turning over in their graves.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


For the next few weeks, I'm going to change up formats a bit. As Veracity appears on shelves this coming Tuesday - and there are all sorts of things to be done for that - I'm switching from the written word to the spoken one. So, after a definition of some ubiquitous word from which we've strayed, you'll find a link to a youtube page. That page will contain a five minute radio program called Sound Bite that me and a girlfriend created years ago for local media. Here's a little back story to set the mood.

It was 2004. The Patriot Act had come and passed, taking with it a few of our constitutional rights. I'd just had twin daughters and my friend Christy, a singleton (also a girl). We were tired, frazzled, and feeling the need to do have some kind of immediate effect on the world so we marched down to our local Independent Media Center and learned how to use the recording and editing equipment. We then went out and bought a copy of The Idiot's Guide to the American Government and created seventeen episodes of Sound Bite, a five-minute program designed to inspire educated citizenship. We originally created seventeen but only fourteen Sound Bites made it from Illinois to Virginia. The production quality is grassroots at best and our children often appear on the soundtrack to provide unintentional color. But it's one of my proudest accomplishments and I hope it's something you'll not just learn from, but enjoy.


1 : the quality or state of being free, as in the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.
2: a political right.

(and if I may add a 3...)

3: something you can't safeguard if you're not aware of having.