Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘Media

Hypocritical media

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I have already written about the Swedish media, its very hypocritical stance towards free speech, and its intellectually dishonest reporting. Today, I encountered an article series in DN, Sweden’s leading morning newspaper, that forces me to take up the question again:

While strictly filtering their own reporting through an overly politically-correct sieve, while writing with a clear gender-feministic bias, and while suppressing comments on their websites that are too deviating from the “correct” opinion, DN now launches at all out attack on the blogosphere and racism on the Internet.

Notably, this “racism” is often nothing but an irritation at the situation in Sweden, where a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by immigrants, where many immigrants live on Swedish welfare, and where many see a danger (whether real or not) that “the Swedish way” will go under. This is conceptually something different from racism and should be treated just like other political opinions: Fair evaluation, fair debate, and the right to free speech—not pre-conceived rejection, exclusion from the debate, and defamation. Even opinions that are, in a strict sense, racist are not automatically a cause to limit free speech—just as being a Creationist or Communist is not a reason to be forced to silence.

(Note that I am myself an immigrant, having lived in Germany for more than 12 years. My basic opinion on free migration is positive—and many of the views expressed e.g. on Fria Nyheter (cf. the above link) are incompatible with my own. The issue here is one of intellectual honesty and fairness, and the dangers of suppressing free speech and debate. This in particular as there are legitimate arguments both pro- and anti-immigration in Sweden’s case.)

Consider a few comments (from a few of the long articles, which are mostly more of the same):

Internet har blivit de främlingsfientliga gruppernas plattform. Bloggar, sociala medier och nyhetsartiklar svämmar över av rasistiska kommentarer.

(Internet has become the platform of the alien-hostile groups. Blogs, social media, and news articles [presumably referring to the comment functions of the traditional news papers] are flooded with racist comments.)

(http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/nyheter/internet-uppsving-for-ultrahogern-1.1075039e)

I have spent a very sizable part of my spare-time reading blogs in the last few weeks, and the statement is an exaggeration at best. As far as “racist” goes, it is down-right wrong: Most are opposed to the current rate of immigration or the behaviour of the immigrated population, but not racist. The same applies to my experiences of the Internet, in general, since 1994.

Nyhetssajter som DN.se är på inget sätt förskonade från rasistiska kommentarer. I allt större utsträckning tvingas DN.se stänga av kommentarsfunktionen eftersom de medverkande bryter mot lagen.

(News sites like DN.se are by no means protected from racist comments. To an increasingly higher degree, DN.se is forced to turn of the comment function, because the participants break the law.)

(Ibid.)

I have seen comments that were perfectly legal being deleted—including those that were merely critical of the news reporting, e.g. by mentioning biases shown by the journalist…

På DN.se gillar vi debatt – kärlek till det fria ordet är en förutsättning för att jobba på en plats där just det fria ordet är kärnan i verksamheten.

(At DN.se we like debate – love of the free word is a prerequisite to work in a place where the free word is the core of the business [occupation?].)

(http://www.dn.se/blogg/dnsebloggen/2010/04/09/sa-hanterar-dnse-problemet-med-rasistiska-kommentarer-6922e)

At best hypocrisy, at worst an outrageous lie: DN does not practice what it preaches—free speech applies only to journalists and those who do not deviate too far in opinion. Note the next quote.

Läsarkommentarerna på DN.se ska ligga inom ramen för vår policy, exempelvis plockar vi bort inlägg som är rasistiska eller sexistiska.

(Reader’s comments on DN.se must be within the limits of our policy, for example we will remove opinions that are racist and sexist.)

(Ibid.)

Apart from this policy, by its nature, being arbitrary, this explicitly rules out racist and sexist opinions. Notably, the definitions of “racist” and “sexist” in Sweden (like in the US) typically go beyond what is justified. It is not uncommon that negative statements about women and foreigners are called sexist or racist in a blanket manner—even when they happen to be true, respectively the maker of the statement has reasonable grounds to believe that the statement is true. The Swedish attitude towards sexism is notably of the same kind that got Lawrence Summersw thrown out of Harvard for stating established science.

Efter dödsmisshandeln av en 78-årig kvinna i Landskrona exploderade rasismen på nätet. Skitsnacket flödar, samtidigt görs så mycket information som möjligt tillgänglig för allmänheten – sann eller ej.

(After the man-slaughter of a 78 y.o. woman in Landskrona [apparently perpetrated by an immigrant over a parking disagreement] the racism on the net exploded. The bull shit [literally, “shit talk”] is flowing, at the same time as much information as possible is provided to the public – true or not.)

(http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/nyheter/mobben-har-flyttat-till-natet-1.1074484e)

I note that Swedish papers are rarely keen on limiting themselves to true information. Further, that they artificially (try to) limit the access to information. Further, that the omissions they make are often as bad as lies.

In the end, the relevant question to ask is “Why are these opinions voiced on blogs?”—with the, at least partial, answer “Because they are suppressed in conventional media.”. Worse, there is a fair chance that this suppression drives those with a limited negative view on foreigners, based on reason, in the arms of unreasonable movements, e.g. of the Neo-Nazi kind. (Which, I stress, also have a right to free speech—and should be met with arguments ad rem.)

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Written by michaeleriksson

April 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

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The International Women’s Day…

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…has been a major annoyance to me for roughly the last week. The reason: Swedish newspapers.

While women have a very rough deal in many countries, and while an international women’s day still has legitimacy, the situation is very, very different in Sweden. Feminists (in particular gender-feminists) have had an enormous influence both on politics and on various media—and society has been transformed to such a degree that men are now (on average) the disadvantaged. All the while, pseudo-scientific “gender-studies” are given public financing, media keep spouting a “women are disadvantaged” message, and any man who dares to speak up for equal treatment (note: “equal treatment”—not “restoration of a medieval patriarchy and oppression of women”) risks being branded as a misogynist. Looking at my own early years, through the lens of my far more nuanced adult world-view, I would go as far as say that the joint effect of the school system and news reporting amounted to feminist indoctrination.

Even during a normal week, there are some feministic gripe being spread through the newspapers, topics not inherently related to men and women are given a “gender spin” (e.g. by high-lightning the proportion of women involved or by writing a separate article on the break-through this or that means for women), men and women are given different treatments for doing the same thing, etc. A typical example is that whenever women have less than 50 % of something (e.g. a particular job or award), the reporting goes in the direction of “failure”, “we have a long way to go”, “men must learn to leave space for women as their equals”, or similar—this completely disregarding actual accomplishments, who is interested in doing what, and other factors that legitimately affect the selection. No such statements are made when men are in the minority: On the contrary, when the University of Lund recently gave a few men preference based on their sex to compensate for a clear over-weight of women in their psychology program, the newspapers raised hell about women being discriminated against—and the courts found it to be illegal. Apparently, however, the same kind of discrimination, favouring women, is perfectly acceptable for “Militärhögskolan” (“Military College”, where future officers of the Swedish military are educated).

In the last week, this has taken so ridiculous proportions that SvD and DN (the two leading morning newspapers) had about as many articles on women, the Women’s Day, “gender issues”, and various artificially angled articles, as they did articles on other topics put together. (Looking at their respective website entry-points when it was at its worst; for several days it must have been roughly a quarter to a third of the total.)

In contrast, I did not even notice when the International Men’s Day (November 19) went by—in fact, I only became aware of it when looking up the Women’s Day in Wikipedia today…

Written by michaeleriksson

March 10, 2010 at 5:44 am

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Avatar, box office, and the development of records

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Comparing box office numbers is a tricky thing: US domestic box officee has Avatar as the clearly highest grossing film in raw dollars, but it reaches only place 15 in an inflation adjusted viewe—behind all three original Star Wars movies and Gone with the Wind, the 71. y.o. queen of the box office. (Retrieved on 2010-02-25; in both cases beware that box-office figures change over time.)

Still, such comparisons provide an excellent illustration of a common phenomenon that applies much more generally:

Records tend to be smashed, with the new record standing out for a long time, while the rest of the world slowly closes up, possibly even surpasses the record—and then the record is smashed again.

This is by no means an infallible rule, but surprisingly often, it is correct. (In particular, when correcting for e.g. phases of rapid natural growth due to changing circumstance or a period of weak records, say because a new technique or material has dramatically changed the circumstances).

Consider the list of Highest-grossing films (US and Canada)w provided by Wikipedia, and note how the number one spot tends to reside with a clear all-time leader, with the occasional series of several breakings leading up to a new clear number one. (This is even more obvious if we compensate for the extreme inflatione between Star Wars and E.T.)

A similar principle appears in the world-wide box office, but less clearly (and with a lot more leg-work).

For other examples look at Wikipedia’s Timeline of world’s tallest freestanding structuresw or some of the world record progressions in athletics present at http://www.athletix.org/e (but beware that what is considered a smashing in athletics is very different from in the box office; also note some counter-examples like the men’s high jump until Sotomayor). Alternatively, try your hand at an arcade game and note how your high score develops over time.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

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