Chapter 31:       RETURN THE ABC TO ITS ROLE AS AN EDUCATOR

                                 AND UPHOLDER OF EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS.

 


MOTION: That the Rudd Government seek to reinstate the ABC as a broadcaster of traditional integrity with respect to the realms of good grammar to provide an improved educational milieu and an example to young people in particular.

Rationale:

For decades, the editors of tabloid newspapers have been renowned for tailoring the standard of their articles to the reading level of an average 12 year old reader. Despite that such a standard applied to tabloid newspapers 50 years ago, the average 12 year old grammar standards then would have been better than many university student standards today. Thus, the notion of dumbing-down” has been real and inexorable. Much of it has occurred as a direct result of a high proportion of children spending more time watching TV, more time playing computer games and the like and more time short-hand texting SMS messages on mobile phones, generally in lieu of spending time actually reading substantial literary works.

For most of 20C, the ABC had a reputation for maintaining linguistic standards, a few cuts above the tabloid newspaper, commercial radio and commercial TV standards. The ABC was once appreciated by many for its high standards of grammar and linguistic presentation. In that respect the ABC served a useful educational purpose in raising standards above those of the lowest common educational denominator, to which commercial interests generally aspire.

Today however, the proverbial dumbing-down” that pervades commercial television and our educational system has now got its cancerous roots into the ABC. The rationale of management seems to be that unless the ABC emulates the dumbing-down” apparent everywhere else, especially on tabloid TV, the ABC would lose whatever audience of dummies that it might have. Rather than endeavouring to educate them by way of example, the ABC often panders to the lowest common denominator. The question that arises is, would a percentage viewer ratings down-grade result in the loss of public funding or some such governmental idiocy? If so, then a funding rationale rectification might prove to be useful in that respect.

Many journalists, TV and radio jocks, economics’ commentators and their editors, don’t seem to be able to resist creating “surges” in confused jargon for no special reason, other than to chase down-market ratings a la the USA? Why does OZ Media so easily lapse into swamping us with the latest Yankee gobbledegook? Why do they prefer to use the most simplistic language mostly bereft of basic tense accuracy? Why do they avoid the subtleties of transitional tenses? Is simplification of language to the point where illiterates are able to glean a modicum of confusion rather than comprehension, the main aim of the game? Dumbing-down” to the lowest common denominator might be acceptable to commercial TV, commercial radio and their advertisers in particular, but a large chunk of the nation wants a media bastion of linguistic standards higher than that.

As most literate people would be aware, the novelty of the phrase, “At this point in time” has become rusted out. Similarly, the notion of succeeding at doing something “Going forward in time” has a peculiar redundancy about it. The logical alternatives such as succeeding at “going backwards in time”, or “reversing in time” sounds more like what our politicians perform profoundly inefficiently. That is, the grotesque inefficiency of the political status quo’s primary modus operandus is to be retroactively accountable at an election, at best. And so, changing a government is hardly an exercise in changing the country, “going forward from that point in time”. Changing a government is more akin to “going backwards from that point in time” to undo much of the previous government’s undemocratic performance.

For the most part, the verb “to be” has been gutted by the ABC. Australia no longer has a high grade standard setter, except perhaps SBS. Instead ABC TV tries to be a low brow trend setter in competition with commercial TV in a race to the lowest common denominator. But what would be the rationale - popularity ratings’ alternatives just to spite educational values? If so, then what would such ratings be worth?  If the dictionary definition of “was” as being a “verb: first and third person singular past tense indicative of be”, were to be correct, then OZ Media’s attitude to using “was” in a future tense context or conditional statement context is inexplicable.

Today, just about everything that will or might or should occur in the future, “is” in the future. Strictly correct in many instances it may be, but the almost universally suffering style whereby everything “is” in the future when there is a chance that it might not be, is a particularly irritating aspect of “the dumbing-down process”. The now almost entirely eradicated traditional usage of transitional tenses has made the language less interesting and less accurate. In many instances the usage would appear to be correct, but it would be absurd to propose that, “The PM is travelling to China tomorrow” when clearly the possibility exists that he might not make it.

Similarly the blandness of notions to the effect that, “The TV program is on later” or that “Jack is back next week” could be enhanced with some variations quite easily? Perhaps utilising a few variations such as, “should be” or “will be” or “likely to be” from this tattered point in time might work effectively? “Would have been” or “was to have been” or “had been” or “will have been” all seem to have been ubiquitously replaced with “is” or “was”. Potential future action often “was” in the future? Maybe our media dudes should try diminishing the quality of everyday language some more with creative expressions such as, “Is been” or “Was been” to a establish new trend and to impose it on the Yanks, purely for the sake of being creative, wholly ridiculous and tricky on behalf of commercial advertising, status quo political interests and the oligarchy of vested interests that control the political agenda, whose primary interests are in continuing the dumbing-down process? Lowering the educational standards of the masses has a political benefit – it’s easier for our lying Pollies to fool the masses into believing that Australia and the USA are actual democracies. 

Have the ABC’s traditional style minders of a few decades ago, really relented to the extent of pandering to the populism of the lowest common denominator? For example, consider that reporters who once reported the linguistic contortions of people in the news now emulate the contortions, as though most virtuous in so doing. If that is what’s necessary to be relevant to the masses, then the ABC has become one of the harbingers of the ongoing dumbing-down, rather than remaining a defender of something better.

Conditional statements, logically of the form, “If X were to happen, then Y will happen”, has been corrupted with the likes of, “If X was to happen tomorrow, Y is happening”. It is understandable and fair enough that reporting of such silly language should occur if used by prominent people or politicians and thus should be fair game. But it is incomprehensible that journalists and editors ostensibly with a literary bent would willingly want to emulate and thus perpetuate the slothful low brow ignorance inherent in today’s ongoing dumbing-down process, which is now well advanced.

Alternatively, OZ Media may have a vested interest in accelerating the dumbing-down process? Perhaps there is no conspiracy. Perhaps there is no concerted effort on the part of Political parties’ to try to slant and bias the news in their own favour? OZ Media’s journalists, editors and commentators may be succumbing to the behests of their commercial and political masters to run with the latest Yankee gobbledegook and jargon designed to confuse the ordinary punter. If the Rudd Government plans to implement “a revolution in education”, then they could begin with requiring the ABC to set a better example by communicating more accurately than is the case currently.

By way of example, consider a story reported by an ABC court reporter, on 4th February 2008. The prosecution of a driver having killed 6 teenagers at Cardross near Mildura, was being conducted in the Victorian Supreme Court, far away from the scene of the accident. Without a hint of mischief, the reporter said that the perpetrator’s car, “Span (sic) out of control and slammed into 13 people”. Span? Which school of journalism spans that form of English? Once upon a time only a few decades ago, a primary school student would have got a reprimand for that. If the quality of journalism continues to deteriorate as it has done in recent decades then journalism schools are destined to be relegated to the status of populist spam generators in accordance with Orwell’s Laws. Incidentally, anecdotes coming out of Mildura are that one of the victims was decapitated, resulting in the torso and head being separated by some twenty metres or so. The decapitated head was catapulted across several rows of vines, which seems unlikely to have occurred if the driver had been travelling at a moderate speed as claimed by his defensive barrister. Never the less, the prosecution case struggled and failed to prove that the perpetrator had been travelling at a monstrously excessive speed.

For what it is worth, consider the notion that a “certain incident is occurring at a specific rate”. The implication is that the incident concerned is contemporary but is ongoing at the given rate, when that may not be the case necessarily. Perhaps a more accurate statement might be that the said “certain incident has been occurring at a specific rate” which appears to cover the past up to the present but does not imply that the specific rate will continue into the future necessarily. Listening to radio interviews and commentary on the radio elicits a plethora of examples of contemporaneous, less than inspiring tense bashing. For example the idea that, “interest rate increases are occurring every quarter” implies that they will continue to do so. Such a statement is not necessarily true, because the Reserve Bank might do something different next quarter. Clearly, there is no guarantee that the pattern would continue. A more informative statement might be that, “interest rate increases have been occurring every quarter”?

The buddy of Dumbing-down” may well be Dumbing-up”, which might consist of using longer winded jargon than necessary to replace traditional, concise technical terms that have been taught effectively and learned effectively in schools, universally. As to why the traditional mathematical notion of percent and a percentage had to be confused with the introduction of “basis points” and “percentage points” is incomprehensible. As to why or how for example, “25 basis points” could be more meaningful to the average punter than “0.25 percent” or “1/4 percent” is a complete mystery. The creation of confusion as an adjunct to the never-ending dumbing-down process was the original motive of the carpet baggers presumably. What other rationale could there be? Now we appear to be stuck with such terms that serve no useful purpose, no increased edification and create extra work for educators. What is so virtuous about emulating the most absurd Yankee gobbledegook, unless the remorseless Americanisation of Australia is the primary motivation of our Pollies and our media magnates? OZ Media seems intent upon snorting up Yankee gobbledegook indiscriminately, as though all of it is as good as endless lines of coke.

The Sub-Prime Mortgage fiasco in the USA may well have got out of control because obfuscating bankers and their cohorts invented new jargon to hide their misdeeds to fool both the general public and GWB’s mob. GWB & Co ought to have seen the problem coming but did nothing to control the mess that has led to the US recession today and a prospective economic slow-down around the globe.

Bias in the media boils down to observer perceptions derived from the extent of attempted brainwashing of the masses. For example, the Sunday Telegraph of March 9th, 2008 published a story entitled, Dob in ‘lefty’ teachers”. It is worth reading. Apparently The Young Liberals have initiated a campaign to establish political correctness in all tiers of education. How sweet? Maybe Young Labor should counter with a campaign of their own to Dob in ‘righty’ teachers”? How about dobbing-in Righty politicians” for their endless BS or for telling lies about democracy prevailing, when demonstrably, often it does not. How about dobbing-in Righty politicians” for brainwashing the populace into believing that nothing better could possibly exist than allowing the ruling political party to commit the nation to a disastrous war without consulting the people and that therefore, actual democratic change is not needed?

The Howard Government could hardly be described as having been a bastion of unbiased lie-free speech, could it? What would be the Young Liberals’ brainwashed response? Remember the Howard supporter, Senator George Brandis getting him-self into trouble for describing Howard as having been “a lying rodent” in relation to the Kids Overboard Affair? Was the Senator mistaken? Or did he did he have Chinese arm burns applied to his head? Check out the articles to be found at the following address:

http://www.safecom.org.au/kids-overboard.htm

Remember Liberal Senator Alston’s tirades against the ABC? Alston chided the ABC for its failure to slant news about early disasters in Howard’s Iraq War, more favourably towards telling fibs, to brainwashing by omission and maintaining public ignorance of reality? Don’t show the bad bits? No! Only show the good bits that demonstrate that Howard, Bush and Blair’s egomaniacal policies were and are winning “The War on Terrorism”? Whatever that means? The definition of what the Iraq War 2003 was and is all about has been spinning out of control from day one.

The definition changed every time that Foreign Minister Downer or Howard opened their gobs. The truism that “The first casualty of war is the truth”, has prevailed from the day that GWB first mooted the military adventure to grab control of Iraq’s oil fields in the name of peace and democracy. Ultimately, winning per se will be simply be a matter of definition and ubiquitous BS spin. As Orwell knew well, “War is Peace”. Simple! The Young Liberals should cogitate upon that truism before they start blabbering on about “lefty bias” in our universities. They might also explain why it is that Coalition Pollies who go out on a political limb to defend indefensible undemocratic government, are usually rewarded with plum overseas postings upon retirement? Largesse aplenty!

The Young Libs might apply their collective brain power to the idea that Democracy supposedly, “Respects the will of the people”. If so, then please explain why Howard & Co were able to push minority supported legislation through the Senate? Explain why Howard announced proudly that he was often responsible for doing so? The Young Libs do not have a rational argument. What they have is a conga line of far right BS artists to emulate.

Liberal Opposition Leader, Brendon Nelson let the pussy out of GWB’s pants when Nelson declared that the protection of Iraq’s oil supply was of paramount importance to conducting the war. OZ Media fails to remind the people that that was the view of the leader of the Opposition. Consequently, the Young Libs need to get off their high and mighty steeds and point their jousting poles at the need for reform to existing undemocratic government. Rather than more of the same wilful far right power mongering to the detriment of the voting majority and contrary to what’s in the best interests of the nation, the Young Libs could do the nation a service by debating and publicly promoting the need for actual democratic change - at least to the extent of giving the people a specific “Yes or No?” vote on any mooted war for starters. If not, then why not? If not, then what useful democratic function do the Young Libs perform on behalf of Australia? Do they seek democratic change or do they seek personal power via far-right branch stacking and a safe pathway into State or Federal politics predicated upon, “No democratic change would ever be needed thanks”?

Why don’t the Young Libs forget about maintaining the pretence of representing the people when in reality they promote biased far right organised religious and political views? Why don’t they openly BS lots more in favour of hard right power mongering and their need to maintain the absolute necessity for Australian governments to handcuff the Australian people to the misfortunes of undemocratic US Administrations such as that of GWB? And then pray for global peace! Why should Australia be an absolute captive of the OZUS Alliance and unequivocal supporter of Israel? Why should the Australian people not have a Yay or nay?” say, in whether or not the PM should have constitutionally contrived carte blanche powers effectively, to commit Australia to every insane war dreamt up by those who want to make a profit from having a war? Why? Because every far right PM needs a decent war for the memoirs and a decent moral mount from which to pontificate in history!? Sure! Come on? Why should Australia be a captive and compliant supporter of Israel, regardless of Israel’s ongoing land grabs that deliberately increases tensions in the Middle East such that the USA and its Allies have to continually bail them out of problems of their own making? Why should Australia be compliant to Israel’s failures to comply with UN sanctions?

If Israeli governments had been smarter along the way, then they might have purchased the Gaza Strip from Egypt for a siren’s song half a century ago when few people lived there, just as the USA purchased Alaska from Russia when it was considered to be mostly barren wasteland. But it’s all too late now.

As the economic and military power of the US declines relative to that of China, Israel will have to pull in its horns and be more accommodating with its neighbours if it is to survive the West being unable to give Israel unlimited support.

Today, the Young Liberals may describe themselves as being mindlessly young, but they sure as hell ain’t liberal in any sense of the word.

 

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