In Lieu of Free Speech   Leave a comment

This tool wants you to boycott a tool store.

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How the story’s not being told

Because the parent business pulled ads from Sunday night’s 78th ranked cable TV show, California State Senator Ted Lieu(D-Torrance) is calling for a boycott on two hardware stores in his own district. Lowe’s Home Improvement, averaging 131 employees per store, has two locations in Torrance, California (about 262 jobs) and is headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. Because this company decided it did not want to spend any more money to run advertisements during a religion-centered TV show with a 0.3 Nielson rating, Senator Lieu attempted to intimidate the company and wrote an angry letter calling them “bigoted, shameful, and un-American.” Furthermore, Lieu wrote to Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock that pulling the ads was “profoundly ignorant” and threatened legislative action. Lieu, a government official, is brandishing a boycott and possibly a bill of attainder against a hardware store because they won’t spend their money on the television show he wants them to.

All American Muslim is a reality TV show that “follows the daily lives of five Lebanese American Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, the largest Muslim community in the United States.” Airing on The Learning Channel, it drew 908,000 viewers during its latest December 11 show. Amongst potentially dozens of companies pulling advertising from All American Muslim, Lowe’s was targeted by Senator Lieu, leading the company to release a statement saying,

“Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

Before Lowe’s pulled its ads, a group called the Florida Family Association contacted several companies urging them to stop advertising on All American Muslim, citing what they believed to be a narrow and agenda-driven point of view in the way Islam was being portrayed on the show. For their use of free speech, the FFA had their website hacked by a cyber-terrorism group. There is plainly correlation, yet no proof of causation that the actions of the FFA were solely responsible for Lowe’s decision, allegedly taken by as many as 60 other companies. Fairness and consistency would dictate that Senator Lieu investigate whether these other 60 companies have indeed followed suit, and unleash his boycotts and legislative actions against these other businesses as well.


Ted Lieu, long-time Islamic advocate

There’s a couple fishy things about this story. Ted Lieu is my state senator — I live in Torrance, California but was abroad when he won a February special election to replace a deceased senator. A state senator is not a member of Congress or the federal government. Yet he is the face of the crusade against a North Carolina-based corporation? Where are the democrat House members in all this outrage? Late to the party, at least — maybe they have Lowe’s locations in their districts — but Lieu has two! Lieu is a state senator holding no position in the federal government, arising as the most bombastic critic of a company headquartered thousands of miles away from his home district. He’s not a muslim himself and his district has a 0.8% “other”  racial demographic as of the 2010 census. What experience is this guy drawing from when he says, “The show is about what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what’s happening here with Lowe’s,”?

Guess whose state senate term is up in 2012?

Lieu has held his state senate seat for only ten months after replacing the late Jenny Oropeza in February. In California’s 48.39% registered democrat 28th state senate district, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hold on to next November, but some national name recognition couldn’t hurt, especially if Lieu decides he actually wants to run for higher office in 2012. Reading about Lieu online, I can’t find a single shred of any Islamic-advocacy previous to this All American Muslim thing, and I can’t find any articles linking him to anything else like this. This is attention-seeking. This is theater.

Maybe Lieu wants to take this democrat’s seat in Congress.

This is opportunism. Maybe Lieu didn’t think about his boycott showmanship possibly affecting hundreds of workers in his own district, but drives by the Lowe’s I always drive by and liked that he wouldn’t have to go far if he wanted to get on TV in front of one. Maybe he doesn’t care how many of his constituents’ jobs’ he might be endangering because of his gerrymander or because he already has backwater Torrance in his rear-view mirror. Maybe his favorite thing to do on Sunday night at 1oPM is watch The Learning Channel, I don’t know. But he attached himself to a cause and the media helped him launch it to the national stage.


The media and the mob
How does a replacement state senator who has only held office for ten months become the star of a national controversy concerning an issue he has no previous involvement with, targeting one company among sixty headquartered thousands of miles away, demonizing that company for his unproven assumptions about their advertising strategy?
Andrew Breitbart calls it the Democrat-Media Complex. The mainstream media colludes with the Democrat party to control the narrative of any given story, especially ones they cook up and tailor themselves. There’s inherent bias in the way stories are reported on TV and in newspapers and on websites operated by these guys, and a story must convey emotion more than it must make any sense. Emotional impact helps activate the fiery mob mentality in hoards of uncritical followers, then amplified by major news outlets. The Democrat-Media Complex masquerades as objective news, sometimes anyway, and has sneaky techniques to melt the progressive worldview into ostensibly respectable reporting.
One method involves the clever idea that what you leave out is at least as important as what you leave in. Information that conflicts with the narrative doesn’t belong in the story. You don’t report that some sixty companies are also pulling advertising from All American Muslim — you choose one and fire the Alinsky freeze-ray at it. You have an audience to think about — an audience you are trying to rouse into an irrational state of mind, and so singulars work best. You could do some investigative reporting, carefully determining which companies are doing what you’re saying Lowe’s is doing, but not only would that be hard work, it would be too difficult for a mob to comprehend. They’re not going to remember sixty names or boycott sixty companies, and most of ’em won’t even remember Lowe’s at all if you don’t isolate it. “Boycott Lowe’s!” is the call of a movement. “Boycott these 30 companies that we want to think might be religious bigots” isn’t a thing at all. Go for the biggest, juiciest target.
And make a star while you’re at it! A mob needs a leader, a hero. A real US congressman might have been nice, but we have this state senator guy from Torrance whose idea this whole stunt was, and it’s too late to shift gears, or the mob will get confused. They’d still know who to blame, but they wouldn’t know who in government was looking out for them and fixing this free speech problem. And he was willing to say he was going to pursue a “legislative remedy” and “vowed to look into whether Lowe’s violated any California laws and said he would also consider drafting a senate resolution condemning the company’s actions.”
There’s no law that says you can’t stop spending your money to buy ad space on television whenever you want. Not a Constitutional one anyways. Lieu knows this, it’s a charade. He wants the mindless mob to think that, 1) Lowe’s is a criminal organization, and 2) government and Lieu in particular are going to catch the bad guys and bring peace and justice. There’s no such law! It’s meant to stir up the emotions of an irrational mass. We now have a criminal villain who Lieu ever so subtly suggested might have broken the law, and Lieu the superhero who’s going to get the bad guy. Simple. Easy to grasp and get behind. Enabled by the media.
The last sneaky trick of the Democrat-Media Complex I’m going to address here examines how an “objective” journalist can induce perception of cause and effect where none exists. These reporters are supposed to present only the facts and not insert their own opinions, but using only the known facts, it is possible to arrange information in a way that fits one’s agenda. Let’s take a look:
From the LA Times,
The North Carolina company decided to stop advertising on the show “All-American Muslim,” on Discovery Communications Inc.’s TLC channel, after complaints by the Florida Family Assn., a conservative Christian group that lobbies companies to promote “traditional, biblical values.”
Tell me why Lowe’s pulled advertising from All American Muslim. Well, they pulled advertising because the Florida Family Assn. are crazy Christian fanatics that complained, and so Lowe’s gave into their pressure. Right?
It doesn’t say that — “after” is not equal to “because” and provides no causal relationship. Because they haven’t and cannot prove a causal relationship between the FFA or any other interest group and Lowe’s decision. They can’t prove it, but they don’t have to. Just say “after” and people will think “because” just because you put the two ideas next to each other. Especially if your emotions are already primed and ready to burst.
Here’s the Associated Press doing the same thing:
The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” after a group called the Florida Family Association complained the show was “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
Here’s USA Today:
A Democratic congressman is slamming Lowe’s for pulling its home-improvement ads from a reality TV show about Muslim families and is leading a campaign to get the company to reverse course.
This is a variation on the trick, not using the after-as-because mechanism, but simple adjacent-ness. Lowe’s is being slammed, Lowe’s pulled its ads. We don’t need a “because” or even a timeline to figure out why Lowe’s did it. Just put two and two together. Correlation is causation. Might as well be, the way you’re expected to read. Here’s the LA Times implicitly admitting they can’t prove the because:
Lowe’s spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company had a “long-standing commitment” to diversity and pulled the ads only after the show became “a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives.” Other companies had also removed their ads from the show, she wrote in an email.
So even after writing that Lowe’s pulled the ads after complaints from those FFA guys, they allow Lowe’s to say they made the decision after hearing multiple opinions. It appears that the timeline goes something like this:
Lowe’s has ads on All American Muslim >> FFA complains >> other people with other perspectives chime in >> Lowe’s pulls ads from All American Muslim
But the Democrat-Media Complex has a different story to tell, will leave out or diminish details that don’t fit their narrative, and needs to aggravate a lot of people against a chosen target.
[Credits to Ann Coulter for all the mob mentality framework in this section via her New York Times bestseller, Demonic]

Don’t play their game

This is a manufactured controversy that is perpetuated by its opponents who accept its premises. Don’t accept any suggestion that a company headquartered in NC has to spend its money the way a state senator in CA says it does and apologize at his behest. Don’t accept that Ted Lieu is someone who has any credibility on this issue or that his threats of a boycott and legislative action are real. Ted Lieu doesn’t have a following — my hometown follows Lieu’s name in the paper, and I didn’t know who he was.

And don’t let Lieu or any members of the mob he’s fired up tell you what or when Lowe’s thinks. Don’t accept the Democrat-Media Complex’s tricks to get you to think there’s a provable causal relationship between Lowe’s pulling ads and opportunistic politicians condemning the store. Don’t accept the idea that the FFA was solely responsible for Lowe’s decision or that they represent anyone other than themselves. Don’t accept the story that one radical fringe group in Florida gained control of a North Carolina company’s advertising decisions, convincing them to discriminate and the first and loudest protector of the poor victims is a state senator from California who’s  been in office for ten months and has no connections whatsoever to the supposedly victimized group. Don’t play their game!

Do think about these types of stories with consideration to the interests of those involved in generating them.

Do go buy something at Lowe’s if you support free speech.

And if you live anywhere near me — vote against this tool, Ted Lieu in 2012.


Posted December 14, 2011 by Wada in Uncategorized

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