1984 as a Guidebook

by Elliott
4 minutes
1984 as a Guidebook

When mass media changes information in old stories, it reminds me of the book 1984 by George Orwell. In the book the ruling party pushed the population to accept "facts" they knew not to be true.

This was the ultimate mind control technique. "In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it."

The reason this was so important to the leadership was that anything could then be declared to be true, and the people could not refute it. "[W]hen memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested." These changes to history prevented people from arguing, or even knowing the truth.

The media has changed facts many times recently when the new situation does not work well with the facts of yesterday. Sadly the Internet is a great platform for changing the reporting of the past. My first example is the immigration method of the Boston Marathon Bombers also known as the Tsarnaev brothers. At first they were described by almost every media outlet as "refugees". Then when "refugees" in Europe were the instigators of many terror attacks and the debate in the US about accepting refugees because of the chance of importing terrorists, media outlets and Wikipedia began editing old articles about the Tsarnaev brothers. Suddenly these old articles were calling them "asylees" or "asylum seekers" instead of "refugees".

A much more recent example is much more egregious. During the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a major dictionary company, Merriam-Webster changed their definition for the term "sexual preference" to include a note on usage that stated, "The term sexual preference as used to refer to sexual orientation is widely considered offensive in its implied suggestion that a person can choose who they are sexually or romantically attracted to."

This was done in order to support the argument made by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), "Let me make clear, ‘sexual preference’ is an offensive and outdated term". Even Snopes said that this happened.

Before the Edit

Both of these examples were of trusted sources, changing past truths to score political points for liberal issues. When we cannot trust the dictionary and archived news sources will not be changed to throw weight behind one side in political debates, we cannot have honest political debates. Because one side has shown that they are not interested in honest debate.