The other day at work, I was following my usual routine… performing menial labor, while I listen to talk or opinion on the radio. One of my customers, who would probably consider herself progressive, tolerant and erudite, came to the counter and asked, “how can you listen to so much hate?” I was taken aback and then responded, “man, you should have heard the hate I was listening to this morning driving up here. I had NPR on the radio!” Then, it was her turn to look surprised.
So, I thought it might be a good idea to reflect on what I listen to and why; then blog about it. I don’t watch commercial television and what little time I do have to enjoy video, I try to spend watching good films or something educational. But, I have hours every day when I am commuting or doing production work, so I listen to a very specific, well-rounded mix of radio and spoken word.
Now, before I start blogging about what I’m listening to, you may be wondering if I was serious about National Public Radio (NPR) and “hate?” Well, “yes” and “no.” You see, I am an amateur media analyst… I love watching how art, film and communication media are employed to educate, sell, persuade and manipulate people’s thinking. And, I’m equally fascinated by people’s responses, when they are “getting worked.” But, I don’t see this process as necessarily bad and I’m not using the term “worked” as a pejorative, nor do I think all propaganda is bad. However, I do think there is such a thing as what Francis Schaeffer called “true truth.” And, I actually enjoy the challenge of “drilling down” through what’s presented to me throughout the day and sorting out “what’s really going on.” It’s something of a hobby for me.
NPR is one of my staples… it’s one of my main sources of news, opinion, and entertainment and I wish them success, even though I’m always urging Congress to cut their funding and make the private Corporation For Public Broadcasting earn their keep and compete on a level playing field with their commercial counterparts. I think, by and large, they do a good job, but they lean left and I find it amusing that there are actually folks who think that NPR or the BBC are “objective.” Face it, folks, no news or opinion source is objective and I really don’t expect them to be. If NPR had to compete for listeners ($$$), I think they would be more diverse and cover a broader range of cultural and political perspectives in their programming.
When we are talking about “hate,” as defined by my customer, we are actually talking about critical opinion, parody, sarcasm, downright ridicule, etc.. So, do I hear that on NPR? By her definition, sure! I’ve heard some of the most narrow, bigoted, hateful language and opinion from NPR’s most vaunted personalities: Terry Gross, Garrison Keillor, Daniel Schorr, and Steve Inskeep. But, more on them later… I suppose what I’m saying is that “hate” is a loaded word and its definition often depends upon which side of the opinion you’re on. Your sense of humor and ability to laugh at yourself and the absurdity of some of your deeply held opinions, along with the discipline it takes to be objective (when news organizations are not) will play a part in one’s idea of what qualifies as “hate.” A rudimentary grasp of history can also be helpful, in putting things into perspective.