A few among us are bullies. A few of us are their “victims.” The rest of us watch the bullying go on.
What does that make “the rest” of us?
America is a country whose freedoms are guaranteed. But does that mean we don’t have to fight for them anymore?
On December 31, 1957, L. Ron Hubbard said, “This feeling that ‘Somebody else is taking care of it’ will someday find this country lying under a large gravestone. It’s built into the national life of the country.
“The rights are guaranteed: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion. They’re guaranteed utterly, you don’t have to do a thing about them.”
But, he went on to say, “if they’re only in print, and nobody is making sure those rights exist, they cease to exist! And they are ceasing to exist right now.”
Mr. Hubbard was sounding the alarm over 60 years ago, but the danger of inaction to protect our fundamental freedoms remains clear and present today.
Let’s take a TV show that ridicules and defames a religion just for ratings. If no one sounds the alarm, sponsors routinely buy ad space on that show, which might get viewers (for a little while) based on the tabloid-sensation factor. And this, unfortunately, can keep such hate shows on the air.
“This feeling that ‘Somebody else is taking care of it’ will someday find this country lying under a large gravestone.”
My colleagues and I have been alerting advertisers to the “sponsorship of hate.” And we’ve had success; many companies realize that sponsoring hate could, rightly so, create a massive “PR” blowup, now or later. Not worth the short-term benefits—not when they have thousands of other choices for where to invest their ad dollars.
So let’s go back to my bullies story. If you see religious hate going on, will you do something about it?
Well, here’s my vote: just don’t buy that tabloid paper. Switch off that sensational show. Don’t listen to the talking heads who spout bigotry.
That “switch-off” decision alone is very powerful. Why?
Because eyeballs are dollars. Your eyeballs, in particular.
And sometimes it’s hard to turn away. False news travels six times faster on Twitter than truth, precisely because it is often so attention-grabbing and horrific.
And that’s also why the media sometimes puts up biased, scurrilous and hateful “news”: it means clicks and it could even go viral.
But don’t be an accomplice. At the very least, step away. Even better, write a letter. Tell the editor what the freedoms above mean to you.
Most importantly, though, whatever it is, please do something about the hate. That way you’ll keep the American dream alive.
And it is a dream worth fighting for.