Some more reasons why censorship so often fails. (Jun 04)
Recently, a representative of the Bush Administration who evidently hadn't seen Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9-11", remarked that one didn't need to see that movie to know that it was "filled with lies." Not only does this typically reflect the Bush Administrations' lack of concern for LEARNING the truth as well as their well-documented lack of concern for TELLING the truth, it also reflects a psychological phenomenon known as "groupthink" as described by Robert Griffin at
Americans are ready to hear the message of 'Fahrenheit 9-11'
By: Robert Griffin 06/26/2004
Michael Moore's controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9-11" looks like a therapeutic intervention intended to help rehabilitate us out of "groupthink."
The textbook definition of groupthink is, "the tendency of highly cohesive groups to assume that their decisions can't be wrong; that all members must support the group's decision and ignore information contrary to it: feeling that the group is infallible and morally superior, that there should be no more discussion of the issues, and the only task now is to support it as strongly as possible."
Sadly, that definition also describes the dynamics in the Bush administration. President Bush admits to not having independent sources of news and information, relying solely on closest advisors. Those in the administration who voice different opinions and concerns are sanctioned with negative feedback (e.g., Secretary of State Colin Powell) and dismissal.
The problem is that groupthink reduces critical thinking, potentially resulting in poor decisions, with disastrous consequences.
Future psychology students will study the decision-making process our current leaders used regarding Iraq.
Trauma from September 11th left Americans fearful, angry and vulnerable to persuasion. Americans saw President Bush as a parent figure, the adult designated with the responsibility and authority to protect them.
President Bush's arguments were emotional and fear-based. He told us that war and illegal and unconstitutional conduct were absolutely necessary and justified and asked for blind trust.
Americans are less interested in foreign affairs, relative to our European counterparts. When people don't have much information on a subject, or pre-existing opinions, they are easily persuaded by one-sided arguments. Contradictory information and counter-arguments are not even considered.
American media felt obliged to support Bush's leadership and were afraid to critically question his policies. The media in other countries, who did not feel the same pressure to be "patriotically correct," were able to be objective.
As a consequence, the world Americans saw on their television and in their newspapers was literally a different world than the one people in other countries knew. Most of the people in the world opposed Bush's unlawful and violently destabilizing responses to 9-11, realizing that the way we were "fighting terror" actually would increase it.
A way to reduce groupthink is to encourage openness and dissent, and even to designate someone to "play the devil's advocate."
The U.S. media wasn't the devils advocate our nation needed. They did not question the abandonment of policies that would cause alienation from the rest of the world. They didn't fairly include and validate opposing views, and they passively participated in ridicule and derision of France and Germany.
The 9-11 Commission tells us that some of the basic assumptions we had had are not true, and a majority of Americans now believe that the invasion of Iraq "was not worth it." The torture of innocent Iraqis is shocking the conscience and consciousness of our nation. Our civil liberties are being compromised and jeopardized in unnecessary ways. We are primed to hear Moore's message.
"Fahrenheit 9-11" will therapeutically play the devil's advocate on our "War on Terror." We don't need to get burned any more by groupthink. We've been burned enough. We've hit bottom.
Those are all good points, but it's important to note that many in the Bush Administration (and the Republican National Committee) are well aware that they have been highly dishonest in the past and are continuing to be highly dishonest. This is evidenced by their efforts to PROMOTE CENSORSHP of the making and then of the distribution of Michael Moore's latest move, of portions of the 9/11 Commission's Report, etc. Furthermore, their censorship efforts have frequently included threatened and actual reprisals against those who have had the guts to publicly expose their lies.
People who tell the truth have no need for censorship; in fact they tend to oppose censorship. On one hand we have Republican politicians who know they have been lying and have been attempting to use censorship and reprisals to help conceal their lying. And on the other hand we have Democratic politicians who evidently have nothing to hide and who can prevail simply by telling the truth. So which of these groups do you think is more worthy to be entrusted with the future of our country?
(one grain of salt)
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Last modified on Friday, July 02, 2004