Tag Archives: social media

Alex Jones: no free-speech martyr

Alex Jones has been kicked off some social media platforms.

I have to offer a huge round of applause for those platforms that have seen fit to abide by the standards they set for those who use them. Jones didn’t do that. He’s gone at least from those particular venues.

Who is this clown? He’s a talk-show blowhard and noted conspiracy theorist. His infamy grew exponentially when he alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. — where 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers were gunned down in 2012 — was a “hoax.” He said the grieving parents were actors brought in by anti-gun activists to carry the cudgel for disarming the American public.

He is a monstrous purveyor of hate speech.

Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube all have banned Jones from using their platforms to spew his garbage.

Jones’s response has been predictable. He says the First Amendment guarantees him the right to speak his mind. No matter how vile his thoughts might be.

Hold on, buster.

This argument reminds me of discussions I had throughout my journalism career with individuals who would submit letters or other commentary that I found unsuitable for publication on the opinion pages I edited.

They would say, “But what about free speech?” My response was the same. “You are free to purchase and run your own newspaper and then you are free to publish whatever you want. We have rules and standards and your submission falls short of them.”

So it is with Alex Jones’s hate speech. The social media platforms are within their own constitutional rights to set standards that those who use them must follow. Jones crossed many lines with his hideous pronouncements.

He’s still able to spew his filth. The U.S. Constitution allows it. He simply is no longer able to do so using the venues whose owners and managers have done what they should have done long ago.

They cut him off.

Trump’s tweets diminish his powerful office

As the president of the United States seeks to “make America great … again,” he is diminishing the power, stature and profile of the very office he occupies.

How? His use of Twitter has relegated what once were considered inviolable policy statements into mere “personal opinions.” That’s according to Donald John Trump’s senior staff and legal advisers.

What in the world is going on here?

There once was a time when anything that came from the president was deemed to be hard-and-fast policy pronouncements. If the president said it, the statement was solid. Good as gold. Take it to the bank. That’s what the nation stands for.

These days statements of policy now are passed off as something, um, considerably less important.

Trump tweeted, for instance, that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should” end the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Where I come from, when the boss said I “should” do something, that means I do it. Not so with Trump, according to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s current personal lawyer.

I have given up complaining about Trump’s tweets. I know that he is addicted to the social medium as a method of communicating.

What, though, do the messages mean? Are they directives or are they mere blathering from the commander in chief?

Donald J. Trump’s desire to “make America great again” must include an elevation of the office to which he was elected. The presidency should reflect the greatness of the nation. Isn’t that a reasonable assumption to make?

To date, not even two years into his presidency, Trump is diminishing his office through his incessant use of Twitter to declare every damn thing on what passes for his mind.

As the office of the presidency shrinks, so does the president’s objective of achieving greatness for the nation he governs.

Social media etiquette gives way to threat of war

Get a load of a tweet that came from the fingers — reportedly — of the president of the United States.

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Isn’t that amazing?

Rouhani made some kind of threat to launch the “mother of all wars” against the United States.

Donald J. Trump answered with this message via Twitter.

I’m a frequent Twitter user myself. Trust me on this: I am not an expert on social media etiquette, not that having good manners is necessarily a requirement at all times. I do know, though, that typing something in all caps denotes an anger that some could construe borders on instability. Is that the message that Donald Trump seeks to convey to the Iranian president?

Yes, he did the same thing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He threatened him with total destruction. He spoke of the threat of “fire and fury.” Kim and Trump did meet in Singapore. The jury is out on what was accomplished. This much appears to be certain: The world remains under threat of a nuclear North Korea, no matter what the president has said.

So, what’s the deal with this all-cap Twitter message? If the president intends to convey the message that he is so angry that he’s out of control, well, millions of Americans have harbored those thoughts already.

Listen up: Your grandparents were right all along

Your grandparents — and, yes, mine too — were visionaries. They were way ahead of their time.

They warned us, “If you can’t say something nice to someone, then keep it to yourself” … or words to that effect.

They didn’t anticipate the advent of cell phones or the myriad other recording devices that have proliferated our society. But, man, they nailed it!

Just look at the Uber driver who has been caught recording passengers without their knowledge. Then you had the idiot at the Chicago Cubs baseball game who took a ball from a youngster after one of the Cubs players had tossed the ball to the little boy; yes, the ballpark incident was captured by TV, but you get the point.

This all happened over the weekend.

There have been instances of people cussing others out. Road rage incidents are recorded for posterity by motorists who watch them unfold in real time.

I’ve lamented before that the ubiquitous nature of these devices should make us all a lot more reticent when confronted with potential problems.

Everyone, or so it seems, has a camera these days. You say something unkind or crude, it gets recorded. You erupt in a spasm of anger, or possibly, violence — that, too, becomes part of the “public domain.” You mistreat someone, get ready for the “viral” distribution of that action all across the planet.

When will we ever learn? When will we heed the advice given to us years ago by men and women — Grandpa and Grandma — who were way ahead of their time?

Anyone with a smart phone can be a ‘journalist’

A CVS pharmacy store manager is being investigated for questioning the authenticity of an African-American customer’s coupon.

A clown who berated a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt, claiming that Puerto Ricans aren’t “Americans” has been charged with a hate crime.

A guy called the cops because a black woman was swimming in a public pool.

What do these incidents have in common? They all were recorded by people with “smart phones,” the devices that also serve as cameras/recording devices.

Dear reader, this is one of the many outcomes of social media and therein lies a valuable lesson that still gets lost on too many people.

Ignoramuses who choose to mistreat their fellow human beings do so at great peril. We live in a society where there is no escape. There’s virtually no way to avoid being recorded doing something stupid.

Man, we need to be on our best behavior at all times. It’s a similar circumstance that confronts those of us who live in states that allow folks to carry weapons concealed under their clothing. We in Texas should be acutely aware of the danger of flipping off a fellow motorist. I never have been prone to do such a thing. I damn sure won’t do it now that I live in a state where the guy I might flip off could empty a pistol at me.

So it is with these ubiquitous cameras.

The lesson as I understand it crystal clear. Do not mistreat anyone because someone is likely watching — and recording — your every move.

Besides, such mistreatment simply is intolerable even without the existence of smart phones.

Journalistic jewel shines brightly

I will get right to the point.

The Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News is about to lose a superstar. He is a jewel to the craft he pursued for nearly four decades and to the community he served with wit, compassion, empathy, wisdom and occasionally with bite.

Jon Mark Beilue has let the cat out of the bag. He spilled the beans. He rolled over and squealed.

Jon Mark is retiring at the end of the week. He is walking away from the Globe-News and heading for some unknown future. He isn’t worried. He has earned whatever rewards await him. Jon Mark decided to tell the world via Facebook prior to signing off on his farewell column for the paper.

Beilue was sports editor of the G-N when I arrived there in January 1995, but it became evident almost immediately that his world view extended far beyond balls and strikes, touchdowns, three-point shots. He would make a move to newspaper columnist, where he managed to chronicle the community’s stories through the eyes and the voices of those who live in the Panhandle.

He wasn’t a Pollyanna. On occasion, Jon Mark was known to unsheathe his rhetorical dagger. If the moment presented itself, he was unafraid to take on the establishment, or to go after individuals or political groups that he thought, um, needed a whuppin’.

He built his reputation through a lifetime in West Texas, starting in Groom, where he grew up and came of age, to Texas Tech University, where he got his post-secondary education and then at the Globe-News, where he spent his entire professional career.

Jon Mark has seen a lot of change over the years. He has been through a lot of the tumult and turmoil that has plagued the media industry, particularly in recent years — and has continued to thrive.

He saw a lot of colleagues come and go during his time at the Globe-News. I am just one of them. I’ll just say that I am proud of my professional association with this man. He is a consummate pro, a man with a huge heart, and someone who possesses a rare rhetorical gift of expression.

I don’t know, of course, what he’ll say in his farewell piece that will see print in a few days. I am absolutely certain he will say it with customary class and wit.

Well done, my friend.

Let’s hear it for Twitter!

OK, I’ve made fun of Twitter. I have criticized the president of the United States for his Twitter fetish.

I want to say a good word about it.

I recently posted my 19,000th message via Twitter. I don’t like using the verb “tweet,” given that it reminds me of Tweetie Bird, the Looney Tunes character whose voice came from the late Mel Blanc.

Whatever. I use Twitter extensively. It is one of the social media platforms I use to distribute this blog. I don’t have a gigantic Twitter audience. It hovers at just a bit less than 950 at the moment. I haven’t yet been able to crack the 1,000-follower threshold. I hope to get there someday. Maybe soon.

I do enjoy the tweets I get from those I do follow. Yes, I follow @realDonaldTrump, whose tweets show up continually on my Twitter feed. Do I “enjoy” the president’s blatherings? Not really. But they are instructive, to say the least.

My preference for using Twitter is to retweet items I see and then add a pithy comment along with the item that I am sending back out there.

Almost daily I do offer my own comments via Twitter. I also like sending earlier posts from High Plains Blogger back into cyberspace via that platform.

All of this brief post is to tell you that I have adopted this social medium for my own purposes. I am not in a position to use it to make public policy pronouncements. I do like to use it to comment on others who do use it for that purpose.

I’ll use this post to make another request. If you get these musings via Twitter, feel free to share them. I am not too high-falutin’ to ask for help in distributing these blog posts.

Therein lies the beauty of Twitter.

Twitter emerges as No. 1 purveyor of … everything?

Am I the only American who has becomeĀ  astonished, amazed and somewhat aghast at how Twitter has become the No. 1 purveyor of public policy?

Or, for that matter, damn near everything else?

Probably not.

I don’t know precisely when it achieved its preeminence. I have o believe it began with the presidency of Donald John Trump Sr.

He began using Twitter to make pronouncements, to hurl insults, to foment his many lies. Then he got elected. He has continued to tweet these messages at a dizzying pace — even though he promised (if that’s the correct verb) to curtail his tweet storms once he took the presidential oath.

A day doesn’t go by now where I don’t read something on my various news outlets about this or that public official tweeting some statement. They respond to others’ statements — which also are tweeted; they make grand pronouncements of their own; they make snarky comments; they tell jokes.

Oh, but them we hear from entertainment celebrities and literary giants, also via Twitter. They all have thoughts — deep or shallow — to share with the rest of the world.

And, yes … I use Twitter as a platform to share musings from High Plains Blogger. I am not alone in that regard, either. Other bloggers seek to increase their audience by distributing their pearls of wisdom via Twitter. Good for them! We’re a social media community.

I suppose Twitter will retain its top ranking as a social media purveyor until something else comes along. I don’t know what that might be; I doubt you know what will emerge.

I do have difficulty using the verb “tweet,” however, to describe this method of communicating. The very sound of the word just kind of grates on me. I hear the word “tweet” and I think immediately of the Looney Tunes cartoon character Tweetie Bird.

Wherever he is, my guess is that the late Mel Blanc — Tweetie Bird’s voice — is laughing out loud.

I trust you get my drift.

Meanwhile, off we go, tweeting every single thought — big or small, profound or trivial — that pops into our noggin.

Blog spurs tension among strangers

As much as l enjoy — even love — writing this blog, it produces at least one uncomfortable side effect.

I distribute High Plains Blogger’s contents along several social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to name three. It’s the Facebook distribution that results in something that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Blog supporters and critics read my entries. They respond to statements that come from the blog. Then someone else will respond to the individual who is commenting on the contents of the blog.

It doesn’t matter who starts the exchange. It can come from someone on either side. When it commences, though, it occasionally gets personal.

It’s an intriguing aspect of this community “discussion.” Strangers who have never looked each other in the eye presume to know the other person’s motives. For that matter, I have total strangers who read this blog regularly who presume to know my own motivations and they respond with some sort of faux knowledge. But … that’s OK with me. I let it slide.

When individuals start yammering at each other in response to High Plains Blogger, I find myself feeling badly when someone ascribes nefariousness to someone else’s point of view. Or, they accuse someone of ignorance.

I don’t intend to dissuade commenters from speaking out freely and passionately. It’s an American thing to do. I like that individuals get worked up. However, it does make me a bit queasy when the commenters get personal with their newfound foes over each other’s comments.

None of this will deter me from using this blog to speak out. It’s what I do these days now that I no longer am a working stiff.

I’ll just have to suck it up when readers of this blog — be they friend or foe — decide to go after those on the other side of the gaping political divide.

Stay tuned. Keep reading. And by all means, feel free to offer your own perspective. It’s a great country, yes?

More pain gets inflicted in the media

Oh, the hits just keep coming.

The San Antonio Express-News — the newspaper of record for Texas’s second-largest city — has announced another round of layoffs. It doesn’t stop. The reductions are costing communities the services of valuable craftsmen and women with decades of experience reporting on the issues of the day.

When will it end? Ever? Well, it has to end, likely when the last reporter checks out for the final time. Will he or she please be sure to turn out the lights?

The Internet is the culprit. The villain. The bogeyman.

It has spawned a whole new array of “news and information” outlets. Cable news has joined the fray. Righties have their own view of the “truth,” as do the lefties. They hunker down and consume only the “information” that comports with their world view.

It sickens and saddens me at the same time.

I once was a victim of the changing climate. I was told during a company “reorganization” that I no longer would do what I had done at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years. I wrote editorials and columns for the paper. The publisher at the time decided to reshuffle the deck. After interviewing for my own job, I got the news: We’ve offered it to someone else and he has accepted.

I quit on the spot.

Not long after I left the G-N in the summer of 2012, I scored an interview with the Express-News. The editorial page editor flew me to San Antonio, where I spent the day talking to him, the paper’s publisher and the EPE’s editorial page staff members.

The fellow with whom I interviewed made quite a point of telling me how the Hearst Corp. was reinvesting in the Express-News, restoring positions that had been cut. Times were good in the Alamo City, he said.

I didn’t get the gig. The paper was “going in another direction,” the e-mail message told me.

It’s all good now.

I want to re-share with you a quick story. I was at my post at the Amarillo newspaper. A gentleman called about a letter he had submitted. I chose not to publish it. Why? It was full of falsehoods.

His response was classic. “I know it’s true,” he said. I asked, “How do you know that?” He said, “Because I saw it on the Internet.”

I laughed out loud into the phone.

It’s a brand new, and damn scary, world out there.