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DEMOCRACY: TV, violence, Spain

Linda Nyquist wrongly thinks she is a voice crying in the wilderness. Speaking of a TV network which will remained unnamed, she says

"Each time I watch it, I become furious. TV could be such an educational tool, and we could learn in a truly painless manner (i.e., being entertained at the same time). Instead of using this tremendous power to help educate, and thus improve, so many lives, the programming is shocking in its stupidity."

Linda, you are just a soprano in a large choir in which I sing bass. TV loves violence and action. Even the History Channel prefers violence to a thoughtful analysis of history. TV reduces our democracy to a silly show in which the audience waves balloons and hollers while listening to mindless soundbites. My advice is: Vote for the party with the least balloons.

Believe it or not, Spain is giving a better demonstration of democracy than the United States. As is normal, speakers at the 35th congress of the Socialist Party listened to dignified, thoughtful speeches before electing a new Secretary General, Josť Luis Arroyo Zapatero. He responded with promises to engage in substantive discussions, not in personal attacks on the government.

Admittedly, Spanish democracy is very fragile and on its best behavior.It is threatened by ETA violence, which seems to want to provoke a Franco-style confrontation. ETA's daily killings of innocent people again cast doubt on the optimism of the account of "the shape of things to come" as described in the World Press Review. The University of London has just held the first international conference on "The Cultures of Killing." History professor Joanna Bourke of the University of London and author of† An Intimate History of Killing (Basic Books) describes the pleasure man can derive from killing.† There is a lot of historical evidence supporting the Christian doctrine of original sin, less for "We the people, etc...", which overlooks it. The Bible says that only the Sin Against the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven. Theologians have long wondered about this. I used to tell my students that it was turning papers in without proofreading them. Now I think it refers to most of commercial TV.

Ronald Hilton - 7/23/00