Life, Liberty and the pursuit of trivia

Guido was taken up with Jeremy Paxman's slip of the tongue on a recent edition of  Newsnight. He asked, quite pertinently, "are they doing it for a bet?".

Sadly, he did not pick up that the show's own little weasel, Michael Crick, gave us a substantial quote from Wordsworth's (an old poet) The Prelude in a piece about the House of Lords and voting reform.

You see, people like Crick do not just get appointed to the BBC for having a nice bum. Crick has absorbed our culture and history. The point of its inclusion is that we can learn from revolutions past and present. They give us a model to work on if we are to stand a chance of understanding and interpreting the news.

The Prelude is many things, including a commentary upon the revolutionary fervour of 18th and 19th century Europe. The liminality nexus was in flux. Change threatened.
What people like Wordsworth were enamoured with was the feeling of burgeoning democracy in France. (Before it turned into a scapegoat bloodfest). The Prelude was published against a background of the Corn Laws and the Peterloo Massacre. The UK elite feared that what was happening in France would happen in England.

It all has resonance. We must be aware of the intellectual and philosophical underpinnings of popular opinion.

Bloggers have to move on and stop assuming that the Anglo Saxons were just a group of mucky words.

* * * * *

The Constitution of the United States begins with the words: We the people.

The quote in whole:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The phrase that you might miss in that is the Blessings of Liberty.

And, my word, Liberty crops up again in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I think I know why this is. It means liberty to form a group and put a show on Public Access TV. Public Access TV was considered so important to the pursuit of life, etc. that its availability was enshrined by Federal Mandate. The result was thousands of amateur TV shows about everything. Liberty meant liberty. Public Access TV was possibly one of the things the founding fathers did not anticipate. There were few rules. It was your constitutional right, not only to be offensive, but also mad and plain terrible, in public.

As far as I know, people in the US are not jailed for having "offensive" views but according to the English Service of a Russian TV station (yes, one exists) there is a problem.

Fascinating. First of all, I had no idea that RT existed, and when I did some checking it revealed that they are funded by the Russian Government.

The above clip would have you think the USA has an identity crisis and a major problem with political correctness. It's all very evil empire tin foil hat stuff. But that's Liberty. Be careful how you use it, but be very careful how you impinge on other peoples'. Bloggers, know your limits.

And as a reward for reading this far, here's a classic of the genre:


Brian said...

Goethe wrote "He who cannot draw on 3000 years is living hand to mouth".
From schooldays I have treasured this extract from Wordsworth's first draft of "The Thorn":

"You see a little muddy pond
Of water, never dry,
I've measured it from side to side:
'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide."
The liberty versus political correctness argument just illustrates that only black and white are black and white. Everything else is shades of gray or, as I prefer in order to cheer myself up, colours of the spectrum.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Indeed, Brian, indeed.

Jim Baxter said...

RT (formerly Russia Today) are good for a bit of balance. I watch them quite a lot. Their telly news channel (Channel 84) has that kind of mischievous way of reporting stuff aout the Brits and the Americans that the BBC wouldn't touch(yes, that's the BBC - funded by us but controlled by the government).

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jim, its like them all. What's the agenda? If you can get past that, and take it into account, these broadcasters are, as you say, good for a bit of balance, and certainly no worse than the BBC when it comes to bias.