As prolific internet shit-stirrer, it’s hard for me to confess this but I had joined the school safety patrol program (aka “Patrols”) at my elementary school in 5th grade. I was an Army brat who had only moved back to the states a few years earlier, and saw some kids got to wear those neon orange reflective belts with the faux silver badge and could stop traffic to let other kids cross the street when they got off the bus. So, I thought it would be fun and I signed up, got accepted towards the end of the school year, and even kept the title when I transferred yet again to a new school in the same county the very next year.
In no time, I became as close to a crooked cop as you can get being a 6th grade Patrol. It took almost no time for me to realize that I felt odd being able to tell other people what to do as one of the duties of a Patrol was to maintain order among the warring factions of grade schoolers on the buses of the Northern Virginia public school system. At first it was cool to have been afforded this authority, but I quickly discovered that despite my disgust that the world did not operate according to my personal demands. When a fight broke out on the bus over a cafeteria from the day before, none of my classmates listened to my pleas to sit down and stop trading punches.
So in no time at all, I began openly abdicating my safety patrol duties.
I was not only allowing kids to lean their heads out of those rectangular segmented windows but I was organizing a betting pool on who would win the various fights that kids got into in the last 4 rows of the bus. In less than 2 months I had racked up multiple behavioral infractions from bus drivers and teachers, which meant I was booted off the Patrols ranks and dishonorably discharged, or whatever it was called.
So yeah, at the ripe age of 11 I had developed not only a searing hatred for the ass-kissing ways of the school Patrols, but became disgusted at the very idea of them. Little did I know that the generation of kids that followed me would become literal hall monitors of society and how much of a cancer they would prove to be in newsrooms and boardrooms across the country.
Journalism seems to have gone through two large revolutions in the span of just a few years. Though I suggest that it began in the George W Bush era in a few corners of the blossoming internet blogger world, it seems to have hit its stride starting with Obama’s election. We watched what used to be subtle agitprop delivered in measured tones by supposedly serious professional journalists, to almost blatant party talking points being read verbatim live on the air by news anchors. Anyone who challenged the moves the Obama admin was making was forced into a new wave struggle session of back peddling and put on defense against charges of racism and bigotry for their opposition to single payer healthcare. Then the Daily Show went on to steal Rush Limbaugh’s act and use humor and sarcasm to mock anyone who defied the party’s edicts while they trained an entirely new generation of future journos to hold anyone outside the party in complete contempt, not worthy of being afforded even a modicum of basic human decency. This is what gave us the new model of journalism we have now, where progressive millennials lurk in chatrooms and social media apps as digital hall monitors just waiting for someone of note to engage in wrong think or use an unapproved phrase or descriptor. CNN has ENTIRE wings of their newsroom dedicated to doxing grandmas on Facebook, teenagers attending a march in the nation’s capital, blue collar forklift operators who don’t use their social media to advance the party’s goals and narratives, and on and on. Whether these civilians are actually guilty of anything nefarious (they aren’t) is an afterthought that their legal departments will deal with if/when they have to. In the meantime, these new neo hall monitors are stalking the internet for their next victim.
This new model is FAR easier than the tired old journo grind of developing sources and contacts in the field, traveling constantly to report live from an uprising or election or some other consequential event, dedicating entire years of your professional life to piecing together what lead to the collapse of a country or how the credit crisis of 2008 almost buried the entire world economy. No, it is much easier to sit in your home office and scroll through the public’s Facebook feed or just sit on Twitter and misrepresent someone’s views for clicks that week. THIS illiberal form of tattle-tale journalism is the biggest threat to your personal freedom and something I don’t believe we can afford to ignore or excuse any longer. When you combine the Democrats exaggeration of the threat posed by the capitol riots and their rhetoric surrounding the threat of domestic terrorist with the muscle of big tech and the propaganda reach of the corporate press - we may very well be watching the collapse of free society.
Yeah, I think it's that bad.
So it's time for people to start defending themselves against bad faith attacks. It's time for people to start defending others from bad faith attacks (yes, even people who suck and you disagree with). If you don't start pushing back on the neo hall monitors, then soon enough - you'll be the one caught in their crosshairs for your own cultural infraction and who will be left to sit in detention with you?