Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Disappointing Decision, and a Further Disappointing Development

I love a good documentary. Documentaries are great things to me, taking a subject that might otherwise be dull reading, spicing it up with a little drama and cinematography that helps you stay focused on learning about a subject you might otherwise not find interesting, and giving you a little thrill on subjects that you do. YouTube is chock full of them, with a lot of documentary filmmakers or license-holders not being very strident with copyright enforcement, perhaps due to laziness or a desire for the subject matter to be discussed rather than the work protected legally. This works out in my favour, as I've seen some rather interesting ones on the creator of Reddit, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, Christopher Hitchens' flaying of Mother Theresa, and Louis Theroux's series on the Westboro Baptist Church.

This is why I reacted with great trepidation when I read an announcement that A&E would be funding a documentary about the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK is a controversial subject, as it's always been. Personally I see no reason for them to exist, and plenty of reasons for them not, especially in [current_year+1], but then I'm a Lefty and I do believe there are things such as harmful speech -- although where I draw that line is probably much, much further away than a lot of modern Lefties.

I also believe that bad ideas should not be silenced or legislated away. You don't get rid of bad ideas that way; you just drive them underground where they can spread without being seen. There's truth in the adage, "Sunlight is the best antiseptic":  expose bad ideas, study them, and ridicule them if necessary.  Otherwise, you'll never have a defense against those ideas if you drive them into hiding and leave yourself ignorant to their nuances. This is why the modern Left has lost all political power, and all the branches of government are held by the Right. The modern Left has spent a lot of time in the past decade attempting to silence wrong-think.

This is why there are a lot of us now on the Left who spend so much time ridiculing the modern Left. I'm sorry, but the anti-social-justice movement was not started by the vaunted boogeymen of the Alt-Right. It started with the Left, and it's still strongest in the Left.

I had a 'discussion' on social media with a progressive friend regarding the KKK documentary. She found the idea of exploring the topic disgusting, while I was excited at the prospect. I argued that a documentary series regarding the modern KKK was a good thing, because we'd learn more about the way they think, their viewpoints, and the reasoning behind why they're a part of the organization --all of which are absolutely vital things if you want to be able to put together a defense that's more than just REEEEEEE RACIST. You can't dismantle an argument if you don't understand that argument, and you won't understand the argument by placing it in a little box and hiding it from sight.

Then the documentary was cancelled. I was genuinely disappointed, because I want so-called 'bad ideas' explored. I want things dragged out into the light, exposed, examined, with any good things acknowledged and saved, and any harmful things to be treated appropriately and with caution.

And then I found out why it was cancelled: the production company that was making the documentary was allegedly bribing people on the show to create conflict for dramatic effect (and not just bribing; the documentary subjects were given, or at least offered, cash bribes large enough that the recipients were advised not to pay taxes on them), given instruction on things to say while the cameras were on them, and told to use racial slurs in conversation where they wouldn't naturally happen.

The producers allegedly went so far as to even stage a cross burning with This Is Just A Test, the production company behind a potentially educational documentary series, dummying up one for dramatic effect. As a result, instead of exploring some potentially (and historically) harmful ideas, we come away with the idea that maybe the KKK isn't as bad as we thought it was, or at least not as bad as it used to be, because the production company wanted to fake the bad stuff instead of showing what was really going on. And we'll never fully know what's really going on, because drama and incitement were more important to the producers than the truth.

Is the KKK truly so harmless that we can't focus on their actual flaws and historical atrocities and have to fabricate new ones to justify continued fear? Whether or not that take-away is true, it's going to be there, bubbling just under the surface, because of irresponsible propagandists. This makes me genuinely mad -- mad at This Is Just A Test, mad at A&E, and mad at anyone who gave an enormous knee-jerk fear response to the sheer prospect of giving airtime an organization that's barely a shadow of its once-powerful status.

Love may very well trump hate, but fear trumps knowledge every single time. You can't be afraid to look at what you disagree with. You won't necessarily turn into a monster if you study them, but you'll definitely be able to give a stronger rebuttal to their ideas if you do, and that's what we've lost because of social backlash and a dishonest production company, and I can't forgive that.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to