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The Beat #27: Weapons of Mass Communication

Weapons of Mass Communication

This week, a special guest illustrator (who would like to remain anonymous) looks into the complicated relationship between communication and democracy. When do we undermine ourselves, threaten ourselves, hurt ourselves with poor or strategically divisive communication? When do we rise above ourselves and contribute to the greater good? Let’s take a look…

The Power of Words

Words can be weapons. They can incite, deceive, threaten and ruin lives. But, words are more powerful than guns. Violence can begin in poor communication, but it ends with healthy, constructive communication. We as Americans, as global citizens, are at a moment of choice. How will we use our words?

The Button

From the days of Dr. Strangelove to the insanity of January, 2021, we’ve had a macabre fascination with “the button.” While there isn’t an actual nuclear red button (there’s a “football”), there is indeed a red button in the Oval Office. It calls a valet. President Obama used it to order tea. Trump used it for Diet Coke. It begs the question: how did we get here?

How Much Is Your Vote Worth?

Lobbying, voter suppression, extravagant campaign budgets… these are as American as apple pie and Jim Crow. The 2020 election cycle saw not only an unprecedented upsurge in bizarre conspiracy theories and falsehoods, it also underlined just how much the dollar influences the vote. It’s traditionally true that the one who spends the most tends to win, but grassroots campaigns and vibrant activism in places like Georgia proved that the people do have the power — even if they have to combat lies to exercise it.

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

Yes, words can be weapons, and yes we’ve seen the truly dark side of that over and over in the past century, from Mein Kampf and Mao’s Little Red Book to the insanity of QAnon, Info Wars and more. But we have also seen Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Maya Angelou’s A Brave and Startling Truth and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Again, how will we use our words?


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