On Ferguson, Palestine, informing ourselves, and blaming the victims

Meghan Conley is a friend and someone I have interviewed on this blog in the past. She recently shared some thoughts on the ways we seek information and learn toward blaming victims. She also weighed in on where she has been getting her information. I asked her if I could share her thoughts here.


People who have never been victimized by those in power are frightened when confronted with official/governmental abuse, and rightfully so. Our common goal should be fair, open dealings between governmental institutions and all citizens.

But as police in Missouri fire tear gas at peaceful protests that include children, a contingent of those people has taken to accusing protesters of using their children as human shields. Tellingly, they equate this with the fictional narrative that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields. It’s more comfortable to believe stories spun to make victims look like perpetrators than to accept that institutions you’ve been taught to trust are not beyond reproach.

Where you get your news matters, too. Media outlets who depend on the cooperation of official sources walk a line between reporting straight information and maintaining relationships. But bringing the unvarnished truth on the ground directly from witnesses to an audience that actively does not want to hear it is an important first step toward honest dialogue, analysis, and positive change in the way the most powerful institutions municipal, federal, and international operate and are held accountable. Most people acknowledge that mainstream media is often manipulative or manipulated, but hesitate to trust other accounts as well. At the very least it’s worth exploring other voices alongside the usual news outlets. A couple of favorites on he above topics:

  • For unfiltered, humanitarian-minded accounts of life in Palestine, Maine’s own Amos Libby is a passionate and eloquent English-language source [Libby on Facebook]
  • For first hand information from Ferguson, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is a great, even-keeled reporter of events as they unfold [French on Twitter]

PS. I admit, net neutrality hasn’t been something I really read up on, but this is a very good article about the practical repercussions of a non-neutral net.

Turns out there’s a reason that, as one tweeter put it, “Twitter is about justice and Facebook’s about just ice.” (Fundraising’s awesome, too, of course) and it has nothing to do with who I friend or follow.

Facebook’s mood experiment is the tip of the control iceberg and the face of the future without net neutrality.

IMAGE CREDIT: Scott Olson / Getty Images

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.