Who Pays the Pied Piper

I remember the first time I realised most journalists were idiots.

Not the first time I saw they were biased, or liable to spin trivial nonstories into big headlines, or liable to miss the important stories while spinning the nonstories into the big headlines, or indeed the first time they flat out lied. That was always obvious.

No, this was the first time I realised they weren't in fact clever liars - they were ignorant and stupid bullshitters.

It was around 1990, maybe a year or two before. The smiling blond lady presenter adopted her "big scary threat" voice to announce the headline - "The New Channel For Child Pornography".

And what was this "New Channel"? It was a new technical gizmo called "The Demon Internet".

Just let that take a moment to sink in. First, an academic/military computer network used almost exclusively for exchanging text documents...is cast as something created exclusively to transmit kiddie porn. By who? How?

And second..."The Demon Internet". Is there nothing these people can't fail to grasp? And "demon"-ise?

A few months later there was an article on how children were using "Floppy Diskettes" to exchange "indecent images" and look at them "in the privacy of their bedrooms". Because apparently if an adult put the disc in their computer, all they'd see was a lot of zeroes and ones. Yes, that's what the blond lady on TV said.

Kids looking at dirty pictures was apparently a completely new thing, as presumably was bedroom masturbation. This time the threat to innocent vulnerable "children" wasn't adults taking naked photos of them - it was innocent vulnerable "children" looking at pictures of naked adults. It damaged them in some undefined way, allegedly.

Over the next few years the media created more and more paranoia about how anyone - absolutely bloody anyone, even your most trusted friends - could secretly be a preternaturally devious and patient pervert whose only thought was to kidnap your little boy.

Girls got kidnapped too of course, but it was much more newsworthy when it happened to boys. I wonder why. There were long running news stories about satanist covens using social workers to steal children for ritual sacrifice, and morons in pubs liked to quote the "fact" that statistically you were never more that fifty feet from a child abuser.

At the same time, thirteen year old girls were singing pop songs about "love" in miniskirts on prime time TV, boybands were rapping about sex (and preaching anti-drug messages while stoned), and the teen pregnancy rate was reaching for the clouds.

Then just before the millennium, the UK seemed to wake up from its collective paranoia - though not its hypocritical sexualisation of underage kids - realising the country wasn't full of superhuman/subhuman kiddiefiddlers, for the same reason it wasn't full of communist infiltrators, satanist covens, or grey-skinned alien abductors.

I only mention all this because most of today's news is taken up with the conviction of three child pornographers - two of them "shockingly" female. Or rather the news is taken up with how they met...on the internet.

It seems the internet is to blame for their mutually encouraging each other towards greater and greater depravity.That's the word being repeated every minute or so - depravity. That and speculation that it might not just be three sick people taking and swapping pictures by email - they might have been part of a ring of hundreds. There's absolutely no reason to suspect there were any others but....what if they were?

"Questions are being asked", say the journalists. Who's asking the questions? Yes, that's right. And what are these questions? They're about how it should be the ISP's responsibility to monitor all the traffic that takes place over their lines - which of course they don't own and couldn't practically monitor anyway - but only to catch future pervs. Not for any other reason at all.

By the same reasoning, road builders are responsible for preventing car users breaking speed laws.

Though actually this case was broken when an office worker - completely by accident and innocently, they say - rifled through their colleague's work terminal until they found the pictures. Yes, it wasn't even being done on a home computer.

So, journalists are idiots. Useful idiots - just not useful to their audience.

1 comment:

  1. When the reporters start spinning the news, they stop being journalists and become commentators.

    It's all about infotainment these days. You really have to work hard to filter out the facts from the fabricated in the news.