HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html In The Wrong Hands, The Media Is Dangerous
Pubdate: Wed, 06 Feb 2002
Source: Clinton News-Record (CN ON)
Address: P.O. Box 39 Clinton, Ont. N0M 1L0, Canada
Contact:  2002 Clinton News-Record
Phone: (519)-482-3443
Fax: (519)-482-7341
Author: John Bezaire
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)


Watching the Superbowl this past weekend sent shivers down my back. And it 
had everything to do with what happened outside the sidelines and nothing 
to do with the game on the field. The power of the media, the unbridled 
influence it yields, was at its intimidating best.

The barrage of advertising and typically overwhelming American hoopla would 
not have set off any alarms had it not been for one commercial that got me 

The longer I thought about it the more alarmed I got.

The ad in question was the one that implicated, however true it may be, 
that drug users finance the activities of terrorists.

Anyone who has ever even been in the presence of someone who has so much as 
smoked a joint, let alone partaken themselves, had to feel humiliating 
guilt. But when given some thought, does it lessen the problem of drug use 
if the profits make a mafia gangster richer, fund terrorists or go towards 
more noble causes like building libraries?

At first glance, the ad seemed to do its job. Even the most addicted drug 
users had to feel the urge to change their ways. But did the ad do more 
harm than good?

Addiction is a terrible thing. But public humiliation, and adding to an 
addicts' already low self-esteem, isn't the way to solve the drug problem. 
The ad only added fuel to the fire of people who look at addicts as 
worthless and beneath contempt.

Before the ad ran, drug addicts were looked upon as basically harmless 
people who were really only hurting themselves. After the commercial they 
were lumped in as conspirators and contributors to the death and 
devastation of innocent people.

Rather than spending millions of dollars on commercials that further 
ostracize drug users, maybe the money should be spent positively developing 
programs that will help the people hurt by addiction.

Looking further at the Superbowl spectacle, it becomes more apparent that 
the right person at the right time could sway the masses in a dangerous 

Stephen Brunt of the Globe & Mail pointed out that the pre-game and 
half-time shows positively tugged the patriotic heartstrings of Americans.

But he went on to say, and I agree, that it would have been just as easy to 
have turned the entire theme into a hate inspiring tirade that could 
inflame the masses into a murderous frenzy.

Given the wrong leadership, the media has the power to inspire millions of 
Americans to grab a gun, swim to the Middle East and hunt Muslims. Hitler 
and the Nazis were experts at media manipulation, and proved how simple it 
would be to promote evil and hatred.

It is such a fine line that the media and its contributors walk that at 
times I question my own ability to remain involved. When an issue is close 
to the heart it becomes easy to rationalize slanting the facts.

The only reason I continue on is because my influence on people is 
marginal. The same cannot be said for highly respected and wealthy people 
with the means and savvy to pay for the media barrage necessary to 
influence public morality.

Thankfully, Ted Turner, Conrad Black and others who have had the means to 
control how and what information the public receives are basically good 
people. And while Izzy, David and Leonard Asper probably have no evil 
intent, it is troubling to see such a small number of people control so 
much of the media in Canada.

With Can West Global Communications, of which Southam newspapers are part 
and the Aspers own, they could conceivably influence elections, sway retail 
spending practices of the Canadian public and close access to open dialogue 
on issues that they feel strongly enough about to shut out opposing opinions.

As for my part, I will try to act responsibly. If I don't, please feel 
welcome to contact me at  or better yet, write a Letter to 
the Editor.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth