The Outstater

June 6, 2019

INDIANA’S REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR is siding with those who say the state’s shifting definition of “hate” trumps a thousand years of common law. The front office of the Pacers may drop the word “owner” because it supposedly implies slavery. And a city administration sees nothing wrong with using tax money to fund a local “news” magazine that proclaims the mayor’s programs a success.

What those three positions have in common is a delusion that individual rights are mere constructs invented by rich people. They are anything but that, please know. They were invented (embattled, actually) to protect us from a ruling class that would own not only all property but our thoughts and our persons as well. Look up jus primae noctis.

But you need not go into great historical detail; the economics alone give it away. Who will buy a bakery or pizza shop if you can lose your investment when social media turns up a perceived offense to . . . well, who knows what next? How long will we buy tickets to watch millionaire basketball players under voluntary contract who think of themselves as being enslaved? Who will pay for “news” edited by the department of public works?

As a friend often asks on reading his morning paper, “What movie did they see where this worked out OK?”

What we are looking at is an alternate world, one put together by people blithely unaware of why the right of property and its attendant right of speech are important. A favorite quote on the general subject is from Tom Bethell’s “Noblest Triumph,” a study of how an understanding of property rights has created exceptional and general wealth — in England, in the United States, in Singapore, in Indiana or anywhere else it has been tried:

“The great blessing of private property is that people can benefit from their own industry and insulate themselves from the negative effects of others’ actions. It is like a set of invisible mirrors that surround individuals, households or firms, reflecting back on them the consequences of their acts.”

In other words, it is a mobile, secular, quite unofficial Golden Rule. And somewhat surprisingly in this era of journalism, we find standing in its defense an intrepid young reporter for a television station in Fort Wayne.

It was Alexis Shear of WPTA21 who broke the story this week on government funding of the Pravda-esk magazine Input Fort Wayne. Ownership models matter, she warned viewers in her segment “Buying the News.” That is especially so, a perversion even, when it comes to a mass media given extraordinary privilege by constitutional amendment to keep watch over the officially powerful.

And Shear made her point the old-fashioned way, by asking the special interests to explain themselves. Their answers, perhaps because they are so unaccustomed to being asked serious questions, were absurd.

The managing editor of Input Fort Wayne told Shear that the online publication was just another magazine: “We’re a news organization that is made to talk about, you know, the good things happening in the city.” These “good things” are defined in editorial meetings that include city and county officials whom the editor says help “shape” stories.

The chief spokesman for the City of Fort Wayne, skipping over the core functions of a fee press or any concern about using tax money to enrich propaganda ventures, gave a does-a-tree-really-fall-if-nobody-hears-it explanation: “When there are hot button issues in the community, believe me, we hear that,” he said in claiming he knew of no complaints.

So Shear was left with the politically incorrect question of whether, public awareness aside, routine $6,000 contributions from officialdom might influence how reporters select and write stories?

Naw, the chief spokesman answered. He and other municipal officials sitting in on editorial meeting might “share ideas” but “at no time do we say, ‘You have to cover this story or that story.’”

We all know that would be “wrong” — a state of mind, along with hate, that our governor might consider banning next. — tcl


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