Kids, Trust No One. My Work Is Done Here.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Oh, wouldn't you know I'd wind up agreeing with my opponent? You know what's wrong with me? I am just too damn much of a sweetheart, that's my problem. Too nice, too smart, too good-lookin'. I've got to drop at least one just to make things fair.

So this morning I met on the field of battle with the J.L. Turner Legal Association, the nation's largest association of African-American and minority lawyers and judges, to debate the John Wiley Price FBI investigation. You may or may not remember that the Turner Association came out against "any speculation" in the Price matter shortly after I penned a little diatribe on Unfair Park called "John Wiley Price Investigation: Sure, We're Speculating Here, But It's Informed Speculation."

Not long after those two stories appeared, Leslie Bender Jutzi arranged for me to debate a representative of the Turner Association in front of a special assembly of top students at Grand Prairie High School. Jutzi, now director of educational programs at GPISD, used to be a lawyer for The Allen Group, the company at the center of the inland port real estate development in southern Dallas. The FBI is looking into the way The Allen Group was treated by Price as county commissioner.

But this morning when our debate got under way she was strictly neutral. Coulda been a judge. I went up against a lawyer, Debo O. Adesina from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. Adesina whispered to me before the debate that he's a securities lawyer and really doesn't have anything to do with media or criminal law or First Amendment issues or any of the things we were about to talk about. Suhweet!

Then he opens with an off-the-cuff five-minute dissertation on the constitutional guarantee of free speech that leaves me sort of nodding yes, like, "Yup, that about sums 'er up." I figure this is the same guy who says, "Gee, I've never played this game you call pool before."

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Debo Adesina
But here's what's interesting. Especially when the students asked questions, he and I wound up talking less about the Price matter and more about media in general. The kids were asking us -- not in so many words -- "Who do we trust?"

Adesina gave them a quick little talk about the accelerating rate at which the media industry is consolidating into fewer and fewer hands. He used the example of the News Corp. story and the British hacking scandal. I don't want to put words in Mr. Adesina's mouth, and I wasn't taking notes so I can't quote him, but what I drew from it was this: The bigger and more monopolistic the media become, the more it's up to you, the consumer, to question what they tell you.

What could I do but agree? I talked to the students about my own area of expertise in this very important area of law -- the Nancy Grace Show. I said if all you knew was Nancy Grace, you would assume that every single person who is ever accused of a crime is a worthless scum-toad pedophile whose limbs should be pulled apart slowly by sled-dogs. I asked them to think about the exoneree stories in Dallas, and many of them seemed to know what I was talking about!

I think these bright students were asking what may well be the most important question of their time. In this age -- their time -- the flow of information is passing into fewer and fewer hands at the top. We see from the Rupert Murdoch example that this increase in power does not improve the moral character of the people who attain it. Seems to work other way around.

I wound up giving them the best advice I can think of for young people today. Trust no one. Adesina modified that a bit. He told them to think for themselves.

So he and I agreed, right? That's what I thought. Yeah, I coulda gone to UV Law School, too, but I was too busy trying to figure out what Bob Dylan meant.

The exciting thing happening in the lives of those students is the countervailing influence of the Internet, social media and universal instant connectivity. We have to hope that those forces form a tide of free information that will wash away big corporate media like so many sand castles.

But Adesina also talked to them about the other key factor in today's media environment -- the lazy audience. People will passively consume the Fox News fantasy version of truth (my words, not his) because it requires zero effort and makes them feel good. Real truth, on the other hand, you have to work for, and then sometimes your reward for all that effort is that truth, when you do find it, makes you feel bad.

How many people want to go scour the Internet for what's really happening? How many want to pop a cold one and let Rush Limbaugh tell them about his inner fantasy life instead? There's an election whose results I fear.

It was good to be back in high school.

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18 comments
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Sylvia Rhodes-Bradley
Sylvia Rhodes-Bradley

Well it appears the students are paying attention to whats going on in Dallas County. Research and then form your own opinion. If the students learn this basic function, it should separate fact from fiction.    

Oak Cliff Res
Oak Cliff Res

I think a little more credit to Leslie Jutzi is due here.  She was not just a lawyer to Allen Group.  She was THE minority liaison between Allen Group and the elected officials and community organizations.  If memory serves me right, at one point she was even on the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. It would be interesting to see what her position is on all of this mess...

Julia Barton
Julia Barton

And when you came to speak to my high school journalism class, you warned us that we weren't going to make any money if we actually became journalists. You were like the Oracle! And I didn't listen...

wow
wow

way too deep, Jim. Take the weekend off.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

So, the lawyer got off easy and ignored the whole JWP issue?   I bet he'll get a gold star at the next JWP chicken dinner.

JimS
JimS

I don't think this guy's going to be attending that one.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Truth, in terms of world events, is a relative term now.  There are verifiable facts, to be sure, but the analysis of those facts is subjective to one's own personal beliefs, values, mores, and experiences.For instance, it is a fact the US went to war against Iraq.  The truth of why we went to war vary depending on who is talking.  A politician might say we went to war to depose a dictator or eliminate WMD.  A leftist might say we went to war for Big Oil.  A rightist might say we went to war for America or as a reckoning for 9/11.  This soldier who was there, was there because the Constitution I swore to uphold and defend demanded that I do my part to bring freedom to others.  All these analyses are subjective, and all are, to some extent correct.  Which is truth? All are truth.  None are truth.The point is, truth these days is subjective.  Facts are not.  Schutze and Adesina were both correct, trust no one and think for yourself.  Collect the facts.  As I equally despise the liberal left and the so-called conservative right, I gather information from media of both stripes.  Then I bounce that information off of other, less institutional media (slipstream media, as opposed to mainstream).  After all that, you sift out the bare facts in the stories.  These should be consistent from source to source.  Identify those and make your own analysis.I'm not your typical Unfair Park reader.  I'm fairly conservative in most respects.  I do, however, recognize the irreplaceable value of this forum, and the intelligence and diligence of the contributors.  From the writers themselves and from the commentors, I have learned much about my adopted home in Dallas, the people here, the history, and, just maybe, a glimpse of this city's, and my own, future.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

The funny thing is that so many leaders of South Dallas have been asking their community to not trust the FBI but trust JWP.  And then they replay the long litany of FBI's sin but then go silent when it is time to recite JWP's.

White people all going to Hell!

KevinF
KevinF

Not me, bay-beeeee! I trust the religious leaders of Southern Dallas! They have the word of GAWD on their side! You can't go wrong with Da LAWD on your side, nosiree! All you hellbound white folks need to get a really good tan, move to South Dallas and start going to the rallies.

Get cracking, dammit.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

[Yeah, I coulda gone to UV Law School....]  Actually, it is known as UVA Law School. ;)

Observist
Observist

Yes, but all the students at UV Law School are really tan.

Phelps
Phelps

I follow the variant Reagan proposed -- trust, but verify.

TimCov
TimCov

Jim, you had it best, trust no one. Get information from a variety of sources across the political spectrum. Do the math yourself and ask where they got the numbers. And, beware of words loaded with emotional connotations.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

smartest thing said was , think for yourself.  To many people have become puppets for their leaders and beleive anything that those that they follow say

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