Russell Brand has become the latest Hollywood distraction from the Ukrainian War, worker’s wages, and just about everything else we should be talking about. That’s not to say that rape accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously, they absolutely should be. It’s the reaction on social media and in mainstream media that exceeds all normal expectations. For example, earlier today, journalist Jonathan Cooke pointed out an outrageous tactic recently deployed by The Guardian in an obvious attempt to manipulate readers:
What The Guardian‘s Jim Waterson is trying to do here is discredit the message by attaching it to someone or something that’s been stigmatized, denounced, disgraced, boycotted, condemned, or censured, leaving people with few, if any, choices. And no, in the big scheme of information operations (IO) it doesn’t matter if the subject of stigmatization has been falsely (or truthfully) deemed socially unacceptable. What matters is a herd mentality.
This tactic of poisoning the well, if you will, and false association has been been heavily used since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. I like to call it the “Boogeyman Fallacy,” and in the case of Brand, he’s obviously now the boogeyman. So, rather than focus solely on what he’s been accused of doing, Waterson purposely included in his article Brand’s completely unrelated critique of the media in an effort to taint it.
In other words, his goal here is to connect media criticism with rape apology in the minds of his readers. Unfortunately, he unwittingly played into social media’s conspiracy theories such as Jimmy Dore’s “Brand is being targeted because he was over the target” rhetoric and other such nonsense.
If what Dore had to say was accurate, “they” would actually do this to every person “who’s a problem for the oligarchs” but they clearly don’t. The only thing he’s done here is admit that the Establishment doesn’t consider his message or platform to be a threat to their agenda, livelihood, or capital gains.
As for Waterson, his tactic is far from original and it’s meant to elicit fear and shame in his readers i.e. rather than critiquing the media out of fear of being harassed by others or risk being labeled a rape apologist by peers, family members, online communities, employer etc, one will now choose to remain silent.
At least that’s the goal.
Below is a similar tactic being used on social media. If you have the audacity to believe in the presumption of innocence—a guiding principle essential to a fair trial—you are either an “ignorant” or an agent of the State. There are no other options. This is what we call a false dilemma fallacy.
The bottom line is that regardless of how this plays out and how much, if any, irrefutable evidence is presented against Brand, which might, indeed, prove that he’s a rapist (innocent until proven guilty, folks), it will never change the fact that the sexual allegations lodged against him have absolutely nothing to do with holding the media accountable. Unless, of course, you’re Jim Waterson or a geriatric member of Anonymous.
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