Net “Neutrality”? Not – Part 1
Rev. Steve Schlissel - April 13, 2019
Let’s hear it for the free and open fountain of “true” information.
One might be forgiven for expecting straight answers to straight inquiries from a neutral entity such as the Internet—that is, from the Internet as its enthusiasts imagine it to be. The trouble, of course, is that one does not connect directly to the information contained in the net. No, in most cases the one seeking information is going to pursue it via use of a search engine; in most cases (by far), that puts the query in the hands of the Master of all Manipulators, Google.
This is not a piece about Google, not about its outrageous invasions of privacy, its titanic distortions of truth when it defends itself and its practices, nor an analysis of its brain-numbing, NYTwit, gliberal algorithms, self-consciously designed to intercept people who might be en route to fortifying truth and redirect them into one of their preferred sites, places which, however diverse, seem always to share a commitment to echoing only the politically-approved myths which Google’s inspired, “neutral” programmers prefer to believe.
Actually, it is about the latter. But in a simple way, i.e., through a reporting of what I was given when I entered a simple search request (on Bing, it so happens, but try it on any engine).
I had shown a few of my grandchildren the searing, stomach-turning 1987 video, “Eclipse of Reason,” by Bernard Nathanson. At that time, 14 years after Roe v. Wade, the number of children the Supremes permitted to be murdered, stood around 20 million. The video began with a notice that when it was released in its then-current form, that number had swelled to more than 50,000,000 babies dismembered and destroyed. I wanted to know where the number stood now. So, I went to my not-so-smart phone and entered,
abortions since roe vs. wade
Was I naïve to really believe that I’d immediately be presented with accurate numbers along with a plethora of locations at which the numbers could be argued, interpreted, attacked or defended? Apparently, I was.
The FIRST item presented was an NPR graphic showing a digital clock rolling to 54,559,615 over a bold display, “ABORTIONS SINCE ROE VS. WADE.” But the story under the dramatic heading began, “The abortion rate in the United States fell to its lowest level since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision…”
Is that a problem? Well, think of what the perspective is designed to induce. For pro-aborters, the news of a historically low rate of killing is a crisis call, suggesting that pro-life forces have managed to scale back access to “safe, legal” murders thus necessitating a doubling down on efforts to silence or negate the activities of these terrible pro-lifers.
On the other hand, to those who are already pro-life (or inclined toward it), that first article produced by the search is a virtual is well-suited to induce assurance that, for whatever reasons, the battle for life is “going our way,” which, in turn, means there is no need to worry or be concerned—or more deeply involved. I’m not crazy when I read results in this manner, for my decades of suffering the New York Times have taught me that it very much regards itself as the sounder of the trumpet summoning the troops (of destruction). In this way, the top result from my inquiry ought to be seen as one positioned to serve. You might think there are two, distinct phases in knowledge conveyance: first, the “facts,” then, their interpretation or application.
But contemporary practices show that information is held by its purveyors as a commodity too valuable to permit it to be transmitted in any “open-ended” fashion. Every “fact” delivered gets massaged (that’s right: news is massaged messages) prior to delivery. The principle method of shaping the facts involves recontextualizing them. In this way the news we are “given” arrives with virtual labels, informing hearers what ought to be done with this snippet or that story: what may be for amusement, what must be reviled, who is to be detested (here’s proof), and who distrusted, which group to despise and which folks to treasure.
All this takes place upon a presupposition that Americans (the consumers of news of interest to us) should not be trusted to decide what to make of this or what to do with that. Facts are delivered in costume. Listeners must never be treated as if they may judge.
That conceit, of course, is born from a worldview in which everything—above all, information—from its first appearance, comes fully politicized. Information, therefore, must be screened, groomed, prepared. It is never presented in a contextually faithful fashion. Instead, information “pieces” are examined by “editors” for “connective tissue.” (Ever wonder why all networks choose the same “top” stories and run them in the same order, every day?)
The major efforts of the major media’s treatment of information occurs in their daily resetting of every single item into a context deemed by them to well-serve their preferred narrative (i.e., the Lie). For search engines, that opportunity comes by selecting the manner, context, company and rankings of material surrounding the item indicated in the search parameters. You can detect its operation in the example treated in this article. Like a filter, fiendishly clever in its (I believe, intended) effect, the “answers” are posted not so much to inform as to mobilize or cripple; to encourage/enlist participants/advocates (in the case before us, from baby-haters), or to sideline any inclined to speak up for the little ones.
It all this, it is interesting to note that none of the top result listed were from after January 2017. For it is not the purpose of the engine to deliver the best information, but rather to deliver results which, for them, hold promise to be useful. It is agenda driven through and through.
What I really must ask is, why wouldn’t a straight inquiry such as mine yield the latest, agreed-upon by all, reliable numbers? After all, even pro-lifers credit the vicious Guttmacher institute with numerical integrity, and they are the chief enumerators of the baby crunchers.
The second listed result would yield reliable numbers, but none were in the blurb offered, requiring me to click away from the results. The third had numbers in the blurb but its data was from 2012; another top-ranking result from 2011, and others which were interdependent with the 2017 NPR story.
All to say, the religious war in which (like it or not) all are engaged, allows for no casual living if one puts a high premium on truth. The Internet, for all its laudatory information-accessibility gains, is fraught with new and insidious perils sprinkled—or dumped—on the pathway toward collecting whatever truths might be discoverable there. And increasingly, the most perilous part of the ride is encountered at the very boarding site for most consultations—they are put there by the search engines, requiring of all users diligence, discernment and a determination to be anything but passive learners—at least, if you care that what you learn be true.
P.S. The number as of 4/12/19 (according to unmberofabortions.com) is 61, 205,751 since Roe v. Wade in the USA. Unfathomable horror.