- - Thursday, October 9, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Civil libertarians who are on the alert to oppose tyranny fail to take into account humanity’s almost-infinite appetite for distraction. The importance of an educated citizenry as envisioned by the architects of America’s Constitution is that these people have the analytical and intellectual ability to recognize and challenge inevitable government corruption. If people can’t or simply will not read or are distracted, the safeguard of a democracy — an educated and informed citizenry — is in peril.

It is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction in a media-dominated age where the lines between politics and news reporting are blurred. Superficiality, voyeurism, celebrity and image all trump truth. Humanity’s predilection for distractions and love of entertainment and trivia have, according to some, destroyed our capacity to think. The individual is engulfed by a group mindset and the tyranny of mob-think.

Some authors and pundits warn that we should fear those who would ban books, but perhaps we should fear a reality in which there would be no reason to ban a book because there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Author and media critic Neil Postman observes that “[o]ur devices deliver so much information, we have become a captive audience preoccupied in a culture of trivia, where truth is drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” Mr. Postman further writes that Aldous Huxley in “Brave New World” fears that people are so controlled by inflicting pleasure that what we love will ruin us. In other words, we are amusing ourselves to death.

ED KONECNIK

Flushing, N.Y.

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