Dead Soldiers Aren't Funny
Date: Friday, September 14 2007
Media treats protesters as 'silly.'
New group takes aim at military messaging.
By Andrew MacLeod
Published: September 14, 2007
Hundreds of people criticized NATO during a protest outside Victoria's Hotel Grand Pacific September 8, but it was the naked bike rider who led the television news and whose bare butt made the cover of the following day's newspaper.
The coverage was typical of the mainstream media, says Francisco Juarez, one of the founders of the new group Military Communities Speak Out (MCSO). Often the media is more interested in a chuckle, he says, than it is in communicating ideas. The impression one gets is "gosh darn, aren't these 'protesters' some silly folks," he says. Viewers and readers get a cheap laugh, but it's at the expense of a deeper understanding of the issues.
Says Juarez, "There's no moral weight given to the arguments. That's why controlling the medium of the message is so important. We can't rely on larger media organizations to communicate our arguments."
Juarez and his partner, Diane Bedard, launched MCSO in recent weeks with a website and an e-mail address (email@example.com). It is aimed at "those unsatisfied by government policy and the bias of uncritical corporate media." But here's the twist: the organization is for current and former members of the military and their families. People like Juarez and Bedard.
Buffered from reality
They modelled the organization on the 3,000-plus member American group, Military Families Speak Out. Both groups are, says Juarez, "Places for people to share their stories, really, outside the military framework." Often, he says, military families get caught in the armed forces' and governments' efforts to control the message and end up feeling silenced. It's empowering, he says, to learn you're not alone. "To unite those voices is absolutely important."