Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whose Image?

by Clinton Galloway

The actions that we take on a daily basis are defined by who we believe we are. This is known as our self-image. The question becomes how our self-image is defined. While each of us have some control over the image that we define ourselves as, the bulk of our self-image is defined by others.

The others may consist of friends, peers, family, and neighbors. The most powerful external source of our self-image is media. The power of media to identify our self-image is unprecedented. The advent of electronic media has altered how we see ourselves as opposed to print media.

The increasing power of the video medium known as television has become the single most powerful defining aspect of the self-image of most young Americans. This is especially true in inner-city minority communities who watch more television than any other group in society. In addition to watching more television than any other groups in society urban minority youth and their leaders have less influence over that medium than any other segment of our society.

As television has morphed from broadcast networks to the cable television industry over the past 25 years the ability of African-Americans and other minority groups to become involved in this industry have been limited, with a great assistance of African-American politicians. The negative images which continue to be portrayed of urban minority youth serve to deteriorate the self-image of those youth.

The effects of that deterioration can be seen in the crime statistics, the educational statistics and economic statistics which bear out that urban youth are being left behind in a continually growing and changing world. The continuing image of violence against their neighbors has left many people without trust within their neighbors and their neighborhoods.

Many seek to blame hip-hop music, rap music and the violent themes of many music videos as the chief culprit in this situation. All of these forms are merely expressions of people’s feelings and observations. The chief culprit is that there is no competition for alternative ideas within the system which allows the portrayal of the negative images. Lack of competition for the minds of our youth continues because of the lack of competition in the number of distribution outlets that are available. When six corporations control 90% of all media then the thought of competition is greatly reduced.  These conglomerates have been allowed to rise and prosper with the assistance of government corruption and malfeasance.

In urban communities this corruption and malfeasance has been led by elected officials who seek to benefit themselves at the expense of the communities they have been sworn to serve. When the opportunity existed for significant participation in the cable-television market and thereby the video distribution market African-Americans were locked out of the industry, in violation of the United States Constitution, with the direct assistance and complicity of African-American elected officials and bureaucrats.
Now the same media conglomerates that control the video medium seek to control access to the Internet by determining what speed you may receive your information at. The concept of net neutrality has become a major issue.   Cable television will speak of the free market and its right to limit the speeds at which information is distributed at its choosing. The underlying truth however is that cable television was created with large political contributions and the corruption and malfeasance of local government officials throughout the United States. This is not merely an issue in urban minority communities but is an issue in all of America.
The concept that an industry was created by paying government officials to limit competition within that industry and thereby the free market should now claim the benefits of free markets is little more than hypocrisy.  Only by having input into the information and images that are projected regarding ourselves can we improve the quality of the self-image of our youth both in urban and rural areas. This cannot come when a corruption created industry is allowed to limit access to information based upon its own self-interest.

All cable television companies use public right of ways to deliver the service they grosses them approximately $100 billion a year. The use of the public right of ways should be for the benefit of the public not for the benefit of corporations who buy politicians like commodities. You can be sure that the cable television industry will be making large contributions to political figures in order to achieve their goals. As citizens we must make it our priority to assure ourselves that those politicians who have been purchased will no longer remain in office. The price of failure to regain control of the right of ways that the public owns shall be devastating. Each of us has an interest in that which is owned by the public. How we protect this interest and allow this interest to be used will determine who we are in the future.

If you are satisfied with the deteriorating values of our youth and lack of morals demonstrated within our society and do nothing then surely you shall get the results. If, however, you believe you have an obligation to protect the rights that are guaranteed by the United States Constitution you must make an effort and take a stand against those politicians who would allow our resources to be used exclusively by their large political contributors. The answer lies in the hands of the American public.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Judge, Jury and Executioner


You would think that when the United States Supreme Court rules unanimously in your favor that the issue is resolved. I was soon to find out that even the Supreme Court can only do so much when you're trying to fight City Hall.  The book Anatomy of Hustle:  Cable Comes to South Central L.A. details the story.

In the spring of 1986 the United States Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in the case of Preferred Communications, Inc. vs the City of Los Angeles as we sought to break the cable television monopoly.   The case was returned to the US District Court for final resolution. US District Court judge Consuelo Marshall would hold the case for six more years after the ruling and refused to allow a jury trial as is customary in such proceedings.

We knew when the case was originally filed, in 1983, with judge Marshall that she was good friends with Mayor Tom Bradley and his good friend Johnnie Cochran. . She dismissed the case in less than 45 days without allowing any evidence to be presented. I did not believe that she would have the audacity to ignore the ruling and intention of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Marshall would establish a new judicial system that would allow her to become judge, jury and executioner in our case.. Her appointment by President Carter was done with the assistance and support of Mayor Tom Bradley and the Los Angeles Democratic Party machine, including Johnny Cochran.

They say that you can’t fight City Hall. What they mean is that you can’t win when the game is rigged. While we did not expect the politicians of City Hall to act in an independent or honest manner we certainly had an expectation that the federal courts would at least give us an impartial analysis of our case against the city of Los Angeles.  That impartiality certainly did not occur in the US District Court which is located two blocks from City Hall.

According to Wikipedia "the judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in open court". We not only did not receive a trial but all hearings were conducted secretly behind closed doors in the judge's chambers to limit the exposure to the general public.

By refusing to allow a jury trial the judge effectively became the jury. Clearly it was not a jury of our peers nor was the jury impartial. A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question) submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment.

While we spent five years in the discovery phase, in preparation for trial, the judge was fully aware that there never would be a trial and that the discovery phase was nothing more than another delaying tactic. Trial dates were set on several occasions but always changed at the request of the City.  The delaying tactic would effectively eliminate all competition within the cable television industry within the city of Los Angeles.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Freedom of Speech and the Instruments of Justice

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
    -George Washington

Our power to speak and express ourselves is what separates us from the animal kingdom.  Before agriculture, prior to technology, and even earlier than the written word it was speech that allowed us to communicate ideas about ourselves and the type of community we would like to form.  

The freedom to speak our minds - and listen to others who do the same - is the first and last line of defense for a nation of free people.  It is the sole force capable of regulating the conduct of public officials who are torn between their duties -to those they swore to represent- and their personal ambitions -such as their quest for career, power, fame, or wealth.

Yet our words are not only a defensive shield against the injustice that stems from the abuse of power.  They are the carpenters’ tools which fashion raw materials into ever more beautiful and inspiring forms -- forms built upon the strength and stability of an idea spoken sincerely and in good faith. 

Words are the vehicles of manifestation for our ideas and - just as an architect's blueprints exist as a potential but in themselves are not actualized - it shall always be the many, the builders, acting upon these plans and laboring together who bring about this reality so that it may last; applying the instruments of their craft so that future generations may see what is possible when principle and effort are made real. 

We are the builders, and our freedom of expression is the tool with which we create the society we are meant to have. 

It is unfortunate and unavoidable that occasionally individuals in positions of power, acting with the aid or under the influence of special interests, seek to actively extinguish the living ideals of a free press and a public with free speech.  This behavior is not difficult to understand once we accept that such individuals believe that 'their' message --and only their message-- is worthy of dominance over all others; that 'their' plan is superior to all others.

Yet, just as a free marketplace thrives on the competition of ideas and operates without a centralized command, so, too must the will of our nation come from all of us, from every voice, and never a centralized power figure, or corporate entity. 

In the end, for speech to protect us, we must protect it… first and foremost and above all other rights and privileges.  Our future -- should we succeed in defending this most precious gift -- is almost certain to be brighter from generation to generation. 

It is a world equipped with an ever more perfect instrument of justice.  

And justice is the highest form of beauty.