Tag Archives: voices

When Inserting One’s Own Voice Can Go Too Far…

Laura Ingraham on Wisconsin Union Protest Hateful Rhetoric

This past week in Madison, WI, local public employee unions protested at the capitol after Governor Walker’s proposed budget plan that requires public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, cutting their pay by around 7 percent. As a student here in Madison, I have been actively engaged in the rallies going on both inside and outside of the capitol building. It has truly been an exciting yet concerning week.

Wrapped up in my excitement during the first few days of the protest, I failed to see the hateful rhetoric that people were both saying out loud and had written on their signs and posters. I had easily been too consumed with what was going on and got lost in the crowd (both physically and mentally) and missed the actual problem and incendiary violence that was going on. However, on Friday when I walked up to the capitol again, my eyes and ears were consumed with the provocative signs and speech that filled the air.

Many protestors were describing Scott Walker as analogous to President Mubarak who just resigned in Egypt. Signs everywhere compared him to a “Mini-Mubarak” as if Walker’s actions are really comparable to the tyrannical nature of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Similar signs also compared Governor Walker to the dictator Adolf Hitler.

In large parts, these protestors have sensationalized the problem too much and therefore are failing to get their point across. What may look like a peaceful demonstration has actually turned into one that may incite violence. In their efforts to have their voices heard, these protestors have actually diverted the attention away from what they are fighting for.

But then again, some reporting journalists are doing the same thing. And if these reporters, who are supposed to be unbiased, are reporting these protests using the same rhetoric, then this becomes a never ending cycle. In these cases, it would be best if the reporters’ own voices took a backseat and did not reflect or cause the hateful discourse of these protests.

Many people have become disgusted with the rhetoric in this country, from both left and right, but it is important to understand what these protestors are actually doing. When I was at the capitol I spoke to some of the people who were holding signs of Governor Walker as Adolf Hitler, and was surprised to hear what they had to say. For some of these protestors, as a way to get their voice heard and point across, they are deliberately resorting to certain images and words that they know will get more attention and provoke certain people to respond. In that regard, they have definitely succeeded. But what excuse could the reporters use? How far is too far with these hateful forms of rhetoric? Where should the line be drawn?

It is important not to get too caught up in our hateful speech so as not to offend anyone and digress too much from the real problem at hand. However, it is also important to factor in that these protestors may not be taking their own signs too literally and it may just be their way of directing the media’s attention towards them. For some, it is as if they are using their sign as a springboard to get their actual voice and thoughts heard. But no one will ever know this from just looking at pictures and videos of these signs.

I do think we need a new tone in this country and that starts with changing our political discourse and disabling news reporters from using hateful rhetoric.  It is also important to determine the extent to which our hateful and violent speech creates an atmosphere where people will act in hateful and violent ways.

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Me, Myself, & I

I’m sitting here in the living room of my sorority house, laptop on my lap (duh, where else would my LAPtop be?), the Grammy awards on the big television screen, and 10 of my other sorority sisters on the couches beside me. You would think that we haven’t moved in a week because this is exactly what we were doing last Sunday, same time, same place, except a little thing called the Super Bowl was on.

Looking around this room, I realize that we are all media-obsessed (and that is a relatively light adjective to use). We are sitting here on our laptops, tweeting, facebook posting/stalking, bbm-ing, yet all seemingly focused on the main media event of the evening, whether it be the Grammys or the Super Bowl. Interestingly though, even with all of these distractions, we still find a way to talk throughout the entire show. So not only are we expressing our opinions on our own blogs, tweets, and wall posts, but we are also verbally expressing how we feel openly and honestly.

During the Super Bowl most of the conversation was around the commercials, commenting on which commercials were well-done and which were just plain stupid. Whether it was praise, critique, or just a plain statement, every single girl had something to say about even the most trivial part of every commercial shown. But it was not enough for us to express it out loud; we also wrote how we felt on every social media site we were an active part of. And of course tonight is no different. But I truly like how opinionated we all are.

In this media-frenzy society we now live in, some people argue that it has made us less connected to others in ‘real’ life. I have definitely always believed this, as I consider myself guilty of just that. While in a sense we all do look pathetic as we sit here surrounded by all forms of technology, I feel even more connected to these girls and what we are watching. While we are “hiding” behind our computers, we are also engaging each other in conversation, just in a different way.

These social media sites are structured in a way so that everyone has their own voice. Everyone talks about themselves, “likes” certain things, “follows” certain people, posts about certain subjects. Because these sites have enabled people to be themselves and carve out their own identity, people have done so in “real” life as well. It is now becoming a social norm to say what’s on your mind at any given time because we do that anyways on Facebook and Twitter.

What I have to say about all of this is: Cheers to Individualism! Gone are the days where we just sit and watch what is going on. As media consumers and producers, we actually have a voice and love to use it when possible. Social media has provided a platform upon which we voice our own opinion and connect with those that feel the same or disagree. Either way, now more than ever we are engaging in an open dialogue. So while I sit here on Facebook and Twitter, watching the Grammys, I am also listening to everyone’s comments out loud gaining more insight and keeping the conversation going, at all times.

Right now we are all talking and posting about Lady Gaga’s outfit. She is individualism personified, and I love every bit of it and her eggshell (?!?!) costume.