Context Matters

In my opinion, few if any aspects of human behavior are more weaponized by media than the first impression. An example could be made from the title of our blog, The Frustrated Americans. If all one did was read the title, a derogatory response could be formed by simply dismissing us as just some angry old guys yelling “…get off my lawn!”. There would likely be no lack of those eager to jump on that bandwagon with much more vituperative criticisms. The issue, you see, is the next sentence: “Voices of reason and logic in a world often lacking reason and logic.” Read a little more, look for the author’s intent just a bit, and context is established. We’re not angry – we’re frustrated by the frightfully small amount of reason and logic in our national discussions. One more sentence, and one could avoid an incorrect assumption. If you haven’t heard the old saying about what happens when you assume, it is easily found and very appropriate here. That tendency, exacerbated by our excuse for an education system, is very much weaponized by modern propaganda to craft desired responses rather than report truth.

Derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

One need not be a Mensa member to see this has been the primary focus of American media for many years now. Quoting out of context is but one of many techniques which are used. My aim with this post is to illustrate how one might learn to recognize it and be less subject to being mislead.

EXAMPLE ONE: Ben Jacobs is a reporter for The Guardian, which is a British newspaper. “Latest US news, world news, sports, business, opinion, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world’s leading liberal voice” is how they describe themselves. On 6 NOV 16, he tweeted the following:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way it used to be in this country”

Those who didn’t bother to check the source of the quote responded in a predictable fashion, with dire predictions of violence, dictatorial behavior (behaviour?), and accusations of various ‘-isms’. Here are his words in context:

       “We are going to deliver justice the way justice used to be in this country,

at the ballot box on November Eighth.”

In my opinion, Ben Jacobs intended to mislead readers and malign Donald Trump. Take note of the day he sent this tweet. Mere days before the election, he is irresponsibly and purposefully spreading misinformation. It is remarkably clear what was actually meant by the comment when taken in context. It is also remarkably clear words were taken out of context in order to forward an agenda.

EXAMPLE TWO: Lest one think me a fanboy of The Donald, he has been accused of doing the same. The Hill accused him of quoting Michelle Obama out of context when on the campaign trail he said this:

       “I see how much his wife likes Hillary, but wasn’t

       she the one that  started the statement: ‘If you

       can’t take care of your home, you can’t take care

       of the White House or the country’?”

Trump was accused of implying Michelle Obama was saying Hillary is incapable of running the White House due to the well-known domestic issues between her and Bill. Here is her full quote:

     “Our view was that, if you can’t run your own

       house, you certainly can’t run the White House.

       So, so we’ve adjusted our schedules to make

       sure that our girls are first, so while he’s

       traveling around, I do day trips.”

The Hill is alleging it was deceptive on Trump’s part to use those words in that fashion because Mrs. Obama wasn’t talking about Hillary, she was talking about her own family. Yes, she was — about how her family is run better than Hillary’s, don’t you think? Isn’t Trump’s implication the same as Michelle Obama’s in the big picture? This was more about The Hill stretching to make an accusation than anything else, if you ask me.

It would not be hard at all to cite dozens, if not hundreds of additional recent occurrences of this practice. My aim with this post was not to exhaustively document examples, but to hopefully open a few eyes and spur some thought. This American is frustrated because this phenomenon should be the exception, but it seems more and more to be the rule.

Question what you read. Anytime you are being presented the words of an individual from any source other than that same individual, I advise a little research before forming an opinion. Don’t be fooled by today’s ever more present propaganda.

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