Can we breathe now?

There was an interesting psychological experiment that I learned in my general psychology class freshman year of college. It was called the Milgram obedience experiment. In the study, participants were the were told it was a memory/learning study and were asked to read off a list of words to the “Learner”. If the “Learner” answered incorrectly, they would give an electric shock increasing it each time answering incorrect. The “Learner” was actually an actor who was not receiving any shocks that the participants thought they were giving.

In the room with the “Teacher”, there was a person in a lab coat. Participants began to feel guilty of their actions when they heard the “Learner” screaming in pain and complaining of a heart condition, but the person in the lab coat would reassure them by simply saying, “please continue”. It was found that 65% of participants would obey the person in the lab coat by giving the “Learner” the final deadly shock of 450 volts. The researchers predicted less than 1% of participants would go over the 300 volts, but they were far from off. The overwhelming results showed that people will obey authoritative figures with power and are statistically shown to conform to a leader or group. The concept of obedience directly relates to the police brutality that has been happening over the past few years. People are willingly listening to police orders only to be killed in the process. The government has been letting their authorities that are supposed to uphold the law get away with killing innocent lives. Citizens finally snapped after so many black people were killed for no reason and the justice system did not give punishment to the corrupt officers.

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“Can we breather now? Black Lives Matter” image by Lorie Shaull (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The #BlackLivesMatters movement was not only to acknowledge and try to change the tragic events, but to let the government know that their obedience to police would be direct from the constitution. People then began to record officers when getting pulled over so they could ensure their safety and have proof. Social media had a frenzy of videos of officers trying to force people to remove the cameras. The ignorant police officers would continue to manipulate people to ignore their constitutional rights and abide by their authority. The media was the essential tool that helped people to understand their constitutional rights and ultimately their human rights. Media of the people became the framework for social justice, but more importantly allowed citizens to show dominance in the true meaning of democracy. Although the Black Lives Matter movement incorporated many people who shared the same values, the community and mainstream media did not like the idea. People who disagreed and did not fully understand the purpose of the movement created the idea of “All Lives Matter”. The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is not to shame all other races into thinking their race is superior, but it is to make the country aware of the significant amount of atrocities that have only been happening to black people. Instead of the media understanding and embracing human rights for all, they decided to twist the image of the movement to look like they are fighting for their race to receive privilege. When reading chapter 1 of Media and Justice, there were many issues raised about media’s ignorance to human rights which specifically mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement in the text. The mainstream media not only tried to silence the movement, but whenever the movement would be mentioned it would be in a negative context. Social media and activist media became a prime outlet for people to learn the truth about movements and become updated on events that the media would withhold from the public.

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“All Lives Matter…” image by Flash Philly (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Our government then decided to come up with a solution and like I mentioned in my previous blog post  found in Chapter 12 of Media and Justice, they gave it the old college try. Police monitoring cameras were put into effect, but rather than providing an answer it just raised more ethical questions. Many concerns were raised about whether the police could manipulate the monitor in any way and if the justice system would actually use the footage as evidence or just let the corrupt officers slide.  The cameras did not provide any comfort and people continue to use social media as a platform for the injustices cause to them that the mainstream media refuses to show. In chapter 15 of Media and Justice, there was a prominent theme that actually arises in many of the articles which was media censoring. There was quote that came to my mind when thinking about media censoring which was by Richard Nixon. He said, ” The American people don’t believe anything until they see it on television.” Although Nixon has had some questionable moments as president, I think this quote exemplifies the problem with mainstream media. The people have no control on what is happening in our country since the information they receive comes from media that is censored. More and more questions continue to pop in my mind after reading Media and Justice and viewing the Black Lives Matter movement or any movement for that matter.

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Image by Adam Fagen (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Are we well-informed of what is going on in our country? Are we placing the right authorities in our government and local governments? Where do we go from here to stop censoring in media? Will social media begin to be censored leaving us with no way to communicate our injustices? So many questions, and so little answers. The government we call a democracy is going against the definition and values of a democracy and our media is no help. The question of whether there will ever be a solution to our censorship problem is maybe. In Blogosphere by Aaron Barlow, he shares the history of newspaper and how even then the coffee shops much like blogs were not allowed because people were communicating information that the mainstream did not want to circulate. Even in centuries without technology, the mainstream has always hid or censored things from the people the only difference now is that communication is stronger than ever. The only way our country will find a solution to the problem is when more people use the communication tools for activism and fighting against the corrupters in the country. The founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence “We the people” as the first three words to our future democracy. The United States has lost the value of the people governing the country and has upheld values that contradict the constitution. I think WE need to do something about that. #ActWrtMedia17

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