Most of us are aware there are three branches of government in our system: executive, legislative and judicial. By convention, we consider media the fourth. For our system to work, as U.S. Founder James Madison penned in Federalist #51, “ambition must check ambition.”
Our self-government is one of checks and balances. We watch each other to keep each other honest. In the same publication, Madison warned:
“If Men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”James Madison, Federalist #51
The role of media in this complex constitutional republic is to “oblige government to control itself.”
One of the most powerful media institutions in the history of the U.S. is the Washington Post. Headed by Katharine Graham, this courageous and inspiration woman was one of the first female publishers of an American newspaper. She defied the federal government to publish both the Pentagon Papers and Watergate story, two of the century’s biggest scoops.
She passed in 2001 and many claim the nation has suffered greatly due to the loss of her leadership.
In Hawai’i, one local publication, Civil Beat, is headed by Patti Epler, general manager and editor. I’m sure she’s a decent human being. Certain she’s smart and talented. And, that may be the problem. Patti seems to run the media outlet like a Nanny State.
Nanny state is a term of British origin that conveys a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering unduly with personal choice. The term likens such a government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing.
She selects reporters who parrot her agenda. Selects moderators to limit comment sections and only allows remarks that fit Patti’s agenda.
Civil Beat, in Orwellian fashion directly out of 1984, controls what is published, controls what readers can say, and thus, controls public opinion and thought.
Let me give you an example. You just arrived from another planet. Patti takes you to her favorite Civil Beat ice cream shop. She offers you Macadamia Nut or Vanilla. She’ll even lets you sample both. You chose the Nut. Delicious!
Unfortunately, you’re not quite satisfied. You tried vanilla. Nope! Not quite hitting your taste bud sweet spot. Take it or leave it. Patti controlled your choices. Learn to like it or leave.
Finally, you experience additional freedom in your journey. You happen on Baskin Robbins where they offer dozens of flavors. Your mind and taste buds light up in delight. You could never have imagined all these wonderful flavors. Ice cream now occupies an entirely different space in your pleasure-seeking mind.
And with Patti Epler at the helm of Civil Beat, we’re getting only small scoops of public perspective. By limiting options, residents and voters remain trapped in a system that is not working for them. Some 70% of Americans today believe we are headed in the wrong direction. They’re not satisfied with either Democrats or Republicans (think Mac Nut or Vanilla).
The best way in the current media world to increase participation and stimulate ideas is to allow a robust a comment section. A reporter pens an interesting story and readers discuss. The discussion becomes the more important part for society. In these social interactions, common sense is developed and moral values are learned.
I don’t comment often on Civil Beat, as the moderators only publish what they like and want to hear. And how does one know what the moderator will like? Thus, it’s a waste of time.
Second, if one posts a thought, the comment may not be posted by the moderators for hours. One can’t have a discussion under such circumstances. The comment section is controlled like Communist China. The comment is only posted if it pleases the Party!
For me as an alternative, I really enjoy reading and commenting at Huffington Post. I start my day opening up their publication. Coincidentally, another inspirational and great woman created this forum.
If I comment, my thoughts post immediately, and readers have the option to report uncivil remarks or mute those who are simply trolling the discussion. HuffPost treats readers like adults. Patti treats readers like primary school children who must be controlled and guided.
Because of the ability to comment, I spend 95% of my time reading on HuffPost. Due to the limitations and Communist control over Civil Beat, they get about 1% of my time.
As an experiment, I donated $5 last year. After my experience, I won’t donate at all this time. I don’t need to pay to have people tell me what to think. I’m capable and intelligent. Civil Beat insults smart and independent-minded people.
HuffPost is labeled a liberal publication and is one of the most popular media platforms in the nation. This progressive forum attracts millions of conservatives as well. Discussions are lively, entertaining, sometimes a bit ugly, but enlightening.
Civil Beat has a following of only a few thousand. They’re having a hard time raising $100,000. HuffPost reaches this amount of funding in a matter of days, if not hours.
Americans do not want controls on our speech. Patti Epler may be an excellent general manager, but she doesn’t know her audience. And, remember the #1 Rule in English writing or Journalism classes? Know your audience!
Civil Beat BANNED Me For Life
This morning, I penned a comment to Marina Starleaf Riker’s article on “Struggling to Get By.”
Marina wrote, “Food is really expensive on Maui. A family of four can expect to spend about $1,270 per month on groceries, while the national average is about $670.”
This actually is FALSE. Food isn’t very expensive, even in Hawai’i. The $1,270 comes to about $42 per day … or $10 per person per day. The real cost is eating out, having food delivered by Lyft or Uber, fancy coffees, buying lunch from restaurants, or consuming alcohol with meals.
The solution is to land better paying jobs. Hard to raise a family on minimum wage or working in the service industry.
Food isn’t expensive in America. We are quite spoiled in fact. We get food from around the world in quantities and quality never experienced in human history. Even during the chaos of the COVID19 pandemic, our shelves remained generally fully stocked. And in more expensive Hawai’i, it costs a person on average only $10 per day to eat.
We spend more than this amount on fancy coffees and acai bowls. We’ll drop $20 for a designer mai tai in a restaurant or bar. Importantly, although about 15% of Americans are food insecure, over 50% are fat.
A young, 20-something woman recently told our family that she spent $25 on a pint of ice cream recently. “What!!!” we exclaimed. “How is this possible?” She informed us she used Uber to deliver the pint to her door. Food is really expensive, she believes.
Our priorities, our entitlement and our privilege is the problem.
I wrote to reporter Danny De Gracia last week after he whined about traffic congestion. He claims O’ahu traffic is making us miserable and that we deserve better. There is it again: entitlement and privilege. We deserve better? Deserve?
My father was a Depression-era baby. There was little ice cream. He teased that their poor family tied a string on a piece of bacon, let you swallow the morsel, and then pulled it back up to pass to the next child in line.
We deserve better? We live better than 95% of humanoids that have ever walked on this planet. Today, a billion people will not have enough to eat. We’re a fat nation!
To Danny I wrote, don’t like traffic congestion? Ride the bus. Our family does. Wonderful system. The bus does not make us miserable.
Danny chooses to drive a polluting car, likely one person in the vehicle, and jam himself onto an overly-crowded freeway, which is contributing to global climate change. Even EVs must be recharged using non-renewable fuels at this time.
Take the bus! Take your lunch to school or work. Stop buying high priced mai tais or using Uber to deliver your food. Sorry, snowflakes! As my Navy father raised his keiki, “the world does not owe us a living.” Get up and get going, he would say.
Undemocratically, Civil Beat general manager doesn’t allow such discussions. Under Der Führer Epler readers cannot develop common sense or a moral compass. One gets only Mac Nut or Vanilla. Other ideas are hidden and withheld from the conversation. Her reporters and editors claim to know best.
Complained to Management
Tired of Civil Beat denying free expression, I complained in writing to management.
Civil Beat DENIES freedom of speech. They do not allow readers to have competent discussion with others. They control ideas and thoughts like 1984 scenarios.
Marina Starleaf Riker claims food is too expensive. Food, like computer technologies, has decreased in price over the generations. Americans and residents of Hawai’i have more affordable food, more varieties of food, than ever in history.
Food is one of the least expensive items in our family budget. However, Civil Beat won’t allow my comments to be included in the discussion. They denied my comment. Happens all the time. Why participate? Waste of time!
Isn’t that the American way? Find something you believe needs improvement, then pen a letter or make a phone call to management. However, can’t do that in Communist China or Russia. One gets sent to the Gulag!
This example shows the corporate culture of intimidation, bullying and harassment residents of Hawai’i suffer. Do not complain about the corporate kings and queens. The Kanaka Maoli lost the kingdom to the corporations. They rule harshly today to protect profits and their elite status.
No Stink Rule
Columnist Lee Cataluna authored a charming article last week about the local island aloha culture. Lee pointed out that for generations, Hawai’i people have been demeaned with the “no talk stink” label, referring to the scolding grandparents and great grandparents would give to those complaining and gossiping.
Management never likes to hear complaints; none of us like gossip. Good standards in general, but there is a dangerous side effect of no talk stink — it “keeps people silent about things that are wrong, forces us to endure poor treatment, and tacitly allow things that are dysfunctional to continue.”
In that light, Lee believes the practice holds us back and keeps us docile. That’s what U.S Founder James Madison believed as well.
One of my favorite American Civil Rights leaders, John Lewis, was clear: talk stink !!!
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.John Lewis
Civil Beat will not allow you to speak up. Under the direction of communist leader Patti Epler, you are not allowed to speak up. She defends the status quo by limiting the discussion.
Residents are frustrated. They are given Mac Nut or Vanilla and told to accept their choices. This behavior by Civil Beat certainly isn’t in the spirit of inspirational Katharine Graham; or the innovative leadership of Arianna Huffington.
Patti Epler is like a domineering 4th grade teacher who tells students what to believe and say, rather than teaching students to think for themselves. This dictatorial strategy is how the Nanny State operates.
Such management gives you options, allows you to select from the options, as long as you agree to their agenda and limited options. They remain in charge; the population remains docile and dysfunctional.
There are many choices in Hawai’i for your entertainment and information sources. Don’t just limit your reading to Mac Nut and Vanilla. Please don’t fund Civil Beat until Patti Epler learns to respect the people and our voices in this wonderful state.
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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”