Trout Fisting In America #34 – Controversy

From a Google news search for ‘controversial’ done at 9:30pm on Friday September 15, 2017:

Stephen Colbert’s Controversial Trump Comments

Chelsea Manning Isn’t The Only Controversial Guest Harvard Invited…

Floyd Mayweather On Trump’s Controversial ‘Locker-Room’ Talk

Ben Shapiro: Who Is He And Why Is He So Controversial

Controversial Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Gets Green LIght From Feds

Man Indicted On 4 Counts In Controversial Chase

Former Newstalk Broadcaster Says George Hill’s Controversial Comments Were Foreseeable, Inevitable, and Manageable

Breaking Down WWE’s Most Controversial, Shocking Stories For The Week of Sept. 15th

Clay Travis: Five Things To Know About The Controversial Fox Sports Host

Protesters Gather At Coliseum Ahead of Controversial Roger Waters Concert

Controversial Painting Removed From Capitol To Be Exhibited At JJ Hill House

Coming Soon: Louis CK’s Controversial Movie About An Alleged Sexual Abuser

Everything You Need To Know About The iPhone X’s Controversial Notch

Hollywood Reacts To Jemele Hill Controversy

You get the idea. It seems like any idea more complicated than ‘the earth is flat’ gets labelled controversial. Thank god we can all agree that the earth is round.

Shit.

The word gets used for a reason; the word is deliberately chosen. It’s used to both attract attention and deflect criticism. It says that there are many opinions on both sides of the issue. That you the information receiver will be expected to have an opinion about this ‘controversial’ issue. That there is no objectively right or wrong opinion, and whichever side you choose you can take comfort in knowing there are others who share your opinion.

Except writers & editors use the word as a way to deflect thought, or more accurately to deflect criticism. By saying something is controversial—even something like white-supremacy, which you’d hope would be non-controversial seeing as how there’s only one correct opinion about white-supremacy (it’s fucking horrible)—you’ve avoided taking a stance. It’s a word for cowards. It’s a word for equivocators. It’s a word for people who don’t want to be criticized.

Editors also do this all the time with question marks in their headlines—designed to draw traffic, designed to attract hits. A Guardian article with the headline Is Harry Styles Really the New David Bowie? should be exactly one word long, two words long if you need to put the word ‘hell’ in front of your ‘no. And yet…and yet…it isn’t.

Look, if everything is ‘controversial’, and everything is controversial because there are different opinions on the issue being discussed and so who are we, the writer/editor, to say one opinion is more or less correct than the other, then you’re saying that no opinion can be false. And if nothing can be false, then nothing can be true. And if nothing is true then everything is permitted.

And that, coupled w/a financial cratering brought about by the internet—is how you end up living through a journalistic age defined by nihilism & fear: the freedom of postmodernity turned back on itself again & again until instead of multiple truths, you end up with so many truths that truth of any kind ceases to exist. And then it’s just down to who can shout the loudest, and wouldn’t you know it, it turns out the people w/the most money have the easiest time being heard.

Truth may be relative, but facts are real as hell.

If anything out there is ‘fake news,’ it’s this gutless shit peddled by established writers & outlets who ought to know better. People like Trump, Hannity, etc. are just taking the free-floating groundless nature of mainstream news reporting (I mean the New York Fucking Times runs ‘climate change is a hoax’ stories on their editorial page) and using it to their own ends.

And there’s nothing controversial about that.

Trout Fisting In America appears here every Tuesday (sometimes even more frequently!). We’re going to keep going until we reach #50, or until the Trout begs for mercy. You can check out previous installments HERE.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
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