For Mature Audiences Only: ‘New’ News Challenge Update

Five weeks into the 8 week ‘New News’ Challenge, my curiosity is undiminished. In my quest to expand my tolerance and understand what the ‘others’ are talking about, I watched a news source new to me – Fox News’ Sean Hannity show. The show is really the perfect microcosm of what women told me ails America:Sean Hannity

  • Vicious name-calling
  • People talking all at once = No one listening
  • Individual choice lauded as America’s core value (over our collective good and well-being)

Like Sun Tzu, the Chinese general and military strategist, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s real value in “keeping friends close and enemies closer.” To be honest, I had no idea this kind of ‘news’ source existed. I’m getting a cultural education.

Rape & Guns

Zerlina_Maxwell_Being a Hannity virgin, I didn’t really know what to expect. In the show’s swirling, fast-paced talking-over-one-another style, he raised the issue of rape and arming women with guns. (Sound familiar? School teachers need guns to stop mass-murderers with rapid fire assault weapons… Students need concealed weapons on college campuses…)

Zerlina Maxwell (feminist writer) was a guest on the show. Maxwell argued that arming women is not a way to solve the problem of rape, as a society we need to teach that rape is the responsibility of the rapists, not the victims. She shared that she had been raped by someone known to her. She pointed out that “if firearms were the answer, then the military would be the safest place for women, and it’s not.”

Maxwell said, “We need to tell men to stop raping women.”

Hannity went on to share that he is an expert marksman, licensed to carry in 5 states. Okay. But what is most compelling to me is that since this Hannity segment aired on Fox News, Maxwell is getting death threats.

Caution – Viciousness to Follow

Here is a representative tweets Maxwell received since she appeared on Hannity and argued that guns may not be the magic bullet solution to rape in the U.S..

Horrible Tweet to Z Maxwell 1Wow.  Do forgive me for sharing this but it (and the many other tweets like it) raise important questions about how uncivil discourse has become here – lifting my awareness to new heights. Before we get too depressed, consider this…

Where to Go to Counteract Such Vitriol?  Tiny Team Ignites Big Community  

We all know that living online is well, living today; a way not only of giving voice to horrendous speech like the tweet above, but of connecting positive voices and perspectives – activism. One community of women and men is not taking the attacks on Maxwell lightly.

UltraViolet (http://www.weareultraviolet.org/) launched in the spring of 2012 with a big goal:  to fight sexism in our culture and our politics and to create “equality at a higher UltraViolet Thank Youfrequency.” Today, UltraViolet is a community of more than 375,000 women and men, in every state and Congressional district. With a tiny team of 5 women, their 22 online campaigns to date have had a mighty impact.

UltraViolet provides an easy way for us to take action, in this instance to tell Ms. Maxwell that she’s not alone, that we support her in speaking out, and that we’re mortified at how she is being harassed. You can share your thoughts and thanks with Ms. Maxwell at:   http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/zerlina_maxwell/?akid=339.503556.EjhBUN&rd=1&t=1

Where to Go to Get Unbiased Information About Our Nation’s Most Controversial Issues

After watching Hannity, I have a deeper understanding about why it feels like we’re experiencing societal breakdown, where divisiveness rules the day and ordinary Main Street Americans don’t know what’s true or false. However, 8 weeks of accessing a ‘new’ news source is feeling long. I need a break from the ‘mainstream’ American media.

ProConLogo022712There’s a terrific source for learning both sides of highly controversial issues in America:  ProCon.org.

ProCon (http://www.procon.org/) is a non-profit on a mission to promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format. From Gun Control to Reproductive Rights, ProCon digs deep into the research and offers us information as an alternative to Hannity or Maddow, CBS or PBS or other ‘news’ sources available to us.

Thank goodness UltraViolet will keep me updated. And thankfully, ProCon will give me facts.

What about you? Does any of this inCourage Reflection?

Photo images of Zerlina Maxwell and the vicious tweet are courtesy of UltraViolet, as is their thank you image to the UltraViolet community.

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