Who Are You to Challenge Me?
I heard a story the other day
about a Bangor Daily News
(BDN) media official
telling peaceniks they had not covered their recent protest
because it was old news.
stuff like that
One peacenik thought about it
and wrote the guy back
and wondered if the BDN
was going to judge car crash stories
and murder and fires
by the same journalistic standards.
I'm certain the BDN scribe was insulted by such audacity.
How dare you say such things to me he must have thought.
I am the creator of the community reality
I am the maker of fortunes and careers
I am the breaker of hearts and lives
I am the one who does as his corporate bosses tell him
I am the chief lackey around here
Who are you to challenge me?
I remember many years ago
a media gatekeeper telling a friend and me
not to worry our pretty little heads
about informing the public on a particular concern
The newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel
, had a plan
They were on the case and had it under control.
The media was the message
the media the god
A democratic debate was not needed
activism was not needed
agitation was not needed
ideas from the great unwashed were not needed
the media boys were on the case...
Go home and find something useful to do
with your otherwise wasted lives.
And so it goes today
from Iraq to Bangor.
The pages are filled with all the news that is fit to be printed.
Whole sections of the paper are left blank for me now
as I rustle through the daily rag
passing the big adverts,
the color pictures of men in orange suits
on their way to trial
for another sensational murder
or driving under the influence
of a crazy society.
Pages of stories about oranges looking like grapefruit
and birds singing in winter
while Baghdad blows up again
and people cry invisible tears
and Washington burns our health care money
and politicians tell us they are almost there.
The news is twisted
and flattened out
to fit the tiny spaces
between the ads for women's underwear
and big stories about violent video games
and returning heroes from a war far away.
A letter here and an announcement there
keep alive the illusion
that all is well here at home.
That democracy and the old ways are sound.
But the truth lies with the rusty scissors
as fewer pages are clipped
in our scrapbooks
where the stories of our lives
used to be collected
to pass on to our children
so we could teach them
about the good work that was done
the keep the fires burning.
Somehow the spirit rages on.
The Soviets learned to read between the lines
and today we turn the New York Times
trying to learn the same lesson
so we can be free again.
Bruce K. Gagnon