When Amanda Palmer started her Kickstarter campaign to distribute her new album, Theatre is Evil, her first piece of promotion for it was a video of her in a kimono, with a key-tar across her back, holding up signs written in sharpie, likely intentionally referencing Bob Dylan in Subterranean Homesick Blues. Towards the end of this message to her fans, she held up a sign saying “We are the media.”
This is more true than people may realize. We are the media, all of us. All of us.
People think the media is just those people they see on the news. That’s not true. The media is also called “The Fourth Estate,” referring to the medieval concept of The Estates of the Realm and the structure of Parliament. The Estates of the Realm described the division of social classes in Medieval France. The First Estate was the clergy, men of the cloth of course holding the greatest power, for they could excommunicate anyone, and grant or deny Divine Right. The Second Estate was nobility, and the Third the commoners. Parliament had a similar division, with the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal, and the Commons. The Fourth Estate has generally referred to an informal segment of society which was either quasi-independent, or answered directly to the king. This has variously been lawyers and journalists, depending on time period, the person using the term, etc.
Whatever the fourth estate’s composition, it’s job is the same. It is the unwritten fourth check on the government.
Its job is to watch the people in power, and make sure they don’t abuse that power.
We’ve done a horrible, terrible job of it in the last fifty years or so. But maybe we can do better. We can if we decide to. Hell, we have to. The spirits of America’s Founding Fathers must be disgusted with the country they created, and are now roaming abroad, being there for those who want to be free. Americans don’t want to be free. We want our world views supported by the laws of the land, but that’s not freedom. We want to be secure, which is even less free. Benjamin Franklin said “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.” This has often been paraphrased to “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Those who do want to be free are now in other countries. It started with Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Other Middle East countries, such as Bahrain, Syria, Iraq and Morocco have revolted with civil uprisings and “major protests.” Most recently, the subjects of Turkey have fought their government with civil disobedience, to which their government responded with violence.
Our Founding Fathers have seen that we do not want freedom, merely happiness. To quote George Carlin, “Everyone’s too fat and happy. Everyone’s got a cellphone that will make pancakes and rub their balls for them.” Our biggest struggle for freedom right now is the fight for guns or marriage equality. I say or, because it’s split by party line, and thus it is extremely unlikely that the country will get both. And sadly, America loves its guns far more than it cares about giving people equal rites. Guns are a cult in America, like they’re the fourth estate of the holy trinity. If you go down south, you will see phrases with “guns” and “god” as almost equal partners everywhere. You would think that the biggest proponents for gun freedom coming from the region that gave us the Civil War, Slavery and the Ku Klux Klan would be something of a red flag for the rest of the country, but it’s apparently not. You would also think that people would be all for allowing adults to marry other consenting adults and not care about the specific genders, but, again, apparently not so much.
The politicians have used these issues to secure their own power and divide us. I’d honestly be somewhat ok with no increased restrictions on gun control if we achieved marriage equality. The vast majority of gun owners are just playing with an adult, male-focused version of Barbie, and there are admittedly other ways to prevent shootings.
We, the people, the media, the Fourth Estate, must tell the politicians that their days of being masters are over, and that they will once again be the servants of the people they should be.
The Day’s Count: 734
(168 words were pre-written from a tangent in yesterday’s post that I decided should be it’s own piece, bringing today’s actual writing count to 566)