When I was a kid, we had heroes. FDR was a hero of my parents, and Eisenhower and then Kennedy became our heroes. We had Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, John Wayne and many others. We were not told about what went on behind closed doors in the White House, nor what went on off the playing field or on a movie set.
It was not relevant to how we felt about our heroes. If they committed a crime or did something really stupid in public, different story.
In the UK, if you sue a news organization for libel, they have to prove that the information served the public. It was the public's "need to know."
Here you have to prove willful malicious intent, which is an incredibly hard thing to prove.
Our press delights in tearing down and looking for the worst in any public figure no matter the truth. Retractions, if given, are buried and do not have near the circulation of the headline being retracted. Today, information true or false moves at the speed of light.
Early this morning, I received phone calls, e-mails and tweets telling me that In Touch magazine had reported the split up of Will and Jada Smith.
This is important because without trying, they are thought of as having a solid marriage, no scandal ever as far as I know and they have raising two children plus Will's oldest son. The children are successful, confident, bright, and with no sense of entitlement.
The reaction to the news was one of shock from everyone. Everyone took the story at face value and it was repeated on blogs and other news outlets.
Another role model fallen.
The fact is that it was and is BLATANTLY UNTRUE and they were forced to do something they have never done and that is to respond to a story.
Even worse, as soon as it was printed all the haters came out and showed their ignorance and mean-spiritedness.
It's one thing to bust a congressman who professes to be anti-gay and therefore pro-family, when it turns out he is meeting with young boys and paying them.
The negative press led by Murdoch and his band of haters must be held accountable. Their actions have a direct impact on how we view the world around us.
I want to be clear, I have absolutely no problem having TV or newspapers have pundits with differing opinions. Historically there has been point counter point on shows. I welcome a dialogue with people of opposite opinions to mine. What is not acceptable is the name calling and hate mongering. There is no "Obamacare," there is a health care bill that should be discussed and fixed with civil conversation.
Rick Perry, when asked four times whether Obama loves his country, refuses to answer and with his body language tells us how he really feels. His answer finally was "ask him."
I did not vote for John McCain but he spoke out many times when people made personal attacks on Obama during the campaign. He would not tolerate from his followers the question of Obama's patriotism. Jerry Ford stuck up for Clinton at a dinner I attended.
The vituperative nature of our current dialogue will lead to more gridlock and a society that will either implode or explode as we have seen in the UK, Greece, Egypt, Libya, etc.
We are not immune here. High unemployment, disparity widening between rich and poor, and the diminishment of a solid middle class. This anger can spill over any time. It is fueled by the nasty nature of dialogue from the Limbaughs, Becks, Hannitys, etc.
The only way I see to change this is by boycotts. Civil rights had its sit-ins and marches.
This generation must vote with its purse strings. Don't buy In Touch magazine, who time after time print lies and half-truths which have no useful purpose whatever.
The rag magazines printed headlines for years about Brad and Angelina breaking up and Brad going back to Jen.
How does that serve us when it is not even true? Are they hated because they give to charity? Care about poor people and are active in doing something about it?
Those same magazines delight in showing cellulite or any other unflattering picture of public people.
What is the message to young people? Don't believe in anyone or anything?
We must change this if we are to have a dialogue that is an agent for change.