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Here are some examples of things in the news which find parallels in 1984
- Confusion of the truth - Just as the people of Winston's world are shown propaganda and told who is their enemy, the American people were told on Sunday morning news shows that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 was the result of a widely distributed Youtube video. Later, it was learned that this attack was, in fact, a terrorist attack. And, the White House admitted this truth.
- Manipulation of the truth - Photojournalists can make a gathering of 50-100 people seem much larger if they shoot their pictures from certain angles or close-up. Of course, disreputable magazines can superimpose celebrities into photos, or other famous people as well, creating the appearance of their engaging in activities they have not. The New York Times printed an editorial only a couple of months ago that contended that the Benghazi attack was, in fact, due to a video---this even after the White House acknowledged the attack was caused by terrorists.
- Thought control - One student of Rutgers University, who used the phrase "the Thought Police," reported that students received emails that they must join in a demonstration against former Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, so that she would not speak at the school's commencement. This student said that he and others felt that their final grades would be altered if they did not participate.
- Thought Police - In Germany today if people speak of Adolf Hitler, they can be arrested. In the United States, people often lose their jobs if they speak in a pejorative way about certain racial groups. While their attitudes are not commendable, there is certainly an invasion of their First Amendment rights of free speech if they are speaking in private. One example is of Bobby Knight, former coach for Indiana University, who held the record as the highest winning coach in Division I men's basketball. Nevertheless, when he was having dinner one night with friends, someone overheard something he said about the lack of discipline in some of his players that was perceived as racially derogatory, and reported him. Shortly thereafter, Knight was relieved of his coaching position.
- Big Brother is Watching - Comedian and liberal political commentator Bill Maher argued that the recent incident about Clippers' owner Donald Sterling points to the invasion of privacy:“It is kind of creepy that somebody says something in the privacy of their own home, and the whole world sees it,” Maher said Friday on his HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher.” “TMZ [is] more dangerous than the NSA perhaps.” He added that he did not condone Sterling's racism, but "this was a private conversation."
The one phenomena that immediately springs to mind is the ubiquitous use of cameras in public places. In 1984 the telescreen pervaded not only public, but private places as well; it is the means by which Julia and Winston are finally caught by the Thought Police. Although proponents adhere to the philosophy that cameras are for public safety (monitoring traffic, etc.) there's a fine line between "observing" for safety and spying. At least in our world, the debate about privacy is still current; in the world of 1984 such issue isn't even discussed -- (perhaps the very word "privacy" doesn't even exist in the dictionary.) Monitoring by camera, whether you agree or not (or even think about agreeing or not) is just done. Sadly, it appears we may be moving towards that end in our own culture. Read more at the link:
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