How an Elephant Stumbles?

(Photo Credit)

[tweetmeme=”theBuddhaWay”]

The following was originally a comment meant to be posted on the most recent editorial that attempts to justify some of the pieces recently approved for consumption on ElephantJournal.com . Since access to all articles, including the one I was currently commenting upon, magically disappeared while clicking the “submit” button, along with a notice that I was no longer logged in, and that logging back in would suddenly require money upfront…I’ll post it here and let others decide what’s really happening…

Dear Waylon,

I just thoroughly read the Sheen pieces, and this one, (as I have read other articles on Elephant), and now I’d like to say this:

I think you should reconsider your editorial policy a bit further. What I see here is most definitely criticism along the lines of ordinary everyday unadulterated gossip. Sorry, but I fail to see anything beyond that impulse of any weight. Are we really “missing something” here as onlookers or are we the voices of reason here?…I think my eyes work fine.

Example from this very post:

“Get real, media, says Charlie Sheen, trying the slightly-too-convenient guilt trip tactic on paparazzi who take endless photos/do endless stories on losers like Sheen because we the American People find porn stars and coke and celeb eff-ups more fun than thinking about Afghanistan or real solutions to terrorism or poverty.

Would hold more water if Charlie himself had ever done anything with his money or fame to fight poverty or create peace himself.”

Is this really right speech?…For what it’s worth, and with Sheen’s apparent lack of focus and personal judgement fully taken into account, including the likely harm he has indeed done to his family and others, I think the wayward “bad-boy” actor has a point here we would all do well to ingest rather than spit out contemptuously upon registering the source: Why *does* the media (including a burgeoning “Buddhist journal”) choose to focus their energies on this stuff when wars (technically current or not in your understanding) are indeed still going on, and many other terrible events, as well, like AIDS, poverty, and great suffering of many other varieties, the likes of which Mr. Sheen dutifully (if somewhat hazily) points out?

Even more importantly and more relevant to such a well-funded, well-supported Buddhist journal such as the newly enthroned Elephant is this consideration:

How does criticizing individuals in itself (including celebrities) help anyone to better practice the Buddha Way, especially when the individuals in question have no policy-creating function that others are being harmed by? A president or say a magazine editor, I say, might be due for criticism for the good of others–but surely nasty commentary upon gossipy pieces like the Sheen story does not count as passable for genuine criticism. That goes for fallen religious leaders within Buddhism as well (here I directly note the also-recent Brad Warner piece)…this is not helpful and does indeed smack more of a typical gossip rag than a thorough consideration of the issues involved. It seems an attempt to shame the already shamed is, in fact, actually taking place here. As for the Brad Warner piece, it was smug and vitriolic and actually created the feeling of sympathy within me for the victim…of the article. Shouldn’t it have instead attempted to look at the damage done, or the lessons learned? Why wouldn’t an even-handed exercise in compassion for the actual victims’ suffering have been a more appropriate focus of your articles and of your editorial policy? This is indeed problematic, I believe, for any truly thinking Buddhist practitioner, and I don’t think supporting everything that comes out of the elephant’s mouth will in the end serve the readers or pass as “thinking”.

To reiterate, because I feel it coming…, the issue here is *not* that you’re somehow not covering “real” issues at all in your journal, but that you are justifying gossiping mentality by indulging in it while justifying it with a few cavalier words of (highly dubious) explanation and a rather carefree, self-righteous air.

UPDATE: At exactly 6:05pm Central Time, ElephantJournal.com’s articles were viewable again. The main article this comment was meant for was an editorial: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/03/why-we-should-deign-to-think-talk–write-about-celebrities/ . I will try to post a link on the replies forum there to this blog post in an effort to be heard, and then I’ll drop it there, most likely, having said what I needed to say here, instead.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

UPDATE #2: As of 6:15pm Central time, I am, once again, no longer a registered user of the site rather mysteriously, after just having posted my reply on the above mentioned original post. This is me giving up…

[tweetmeme=”theBuddhaWay”]


Advertisements

About TheBuddhaWay

An American Soto Zen practitioner.
This entry was posted in Right Speech, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How an Elephant Stumbles?

  1. Ellie says:

    Wonderful point made here. Absolutely correct. I drive through Beverly Hills at least 2 or 3 times a week lately. I sometimes have to wait for my son and I observe one homeless man who sets up his box like a small house to shelter himself at night while he sleeps. Only blocks away what beautiful excessive stores of material stuff that will never change our world. So poignant. I have a mutual friend of Charlie’s and Emilio’s. After I graduated from high school around 1984 we would hear the stories about Charlie’s confusion back in the day. He is an individual with focus on material things. Now he has found a way to cash it in.

    • TheBuddhaWay says:

      @Ellie,

      This too was something I considered mentioning…so thank you for doing so: that the race to cash in on these stories to boost views, traffic, advertising revenue and visibility, the media is also feeding the problems as well as virtually rewarding the careers of the people in question. If the indignation and so on is genuine, one would hope that there might be some wisdom to know what is helping or just fueling the madness. Meanwhile so much suffering is going on all around us, as you rightly note, that it breaks the heart of anyone who doesn’t brace themselves psychologically for it by turning their eyes away. I think some of the stories in such places are incredibly compassionate and wisely written works of journalism, but there seems to be a slippery slope when it comes to competing with commercial media for visibility on “hot” stories.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s