All Things Not Considered

When “Elimination” becomes “Misinformation”

His words were left on the cutting room floor.

In good faith, my friend Kevon Martis was glad to be interviewed by NPR for a February 15th show on “renewable energy.” But his voice was not heard. Why? Kevon’s interview comments were excluded from reports of the conversation. Literally, NPR eliminated Kevon’s voice by not including any of his interview.

For years Kevon has helped explain to rural landowners and townships the consequences of wind turbines. You can see his fact-based presentations on YouTube. Kevon has traveled the country on his own dime to present the problems industrial wind turbines create in a community.

The massive “windmills” are hard to miss in various spots across the U. S. I see them in western Ohio on my way to visit children and grandchildren. To give a sense of dimension, the nacelles that house the aerogenerators look small from the ground but are the size of a two-car garage. The sweeping blades, depending on the model, can take up air space from just under to over an acre. The metal and fiberglass behemoths impact every aspect of surrounding country life. But what if a community only hears the benefits, not the detriments, of wind energy?

I teach the importance of having different points of view in my classes. Each semester during a specific lesson to public university undergrads, I show the federal government’s wind energy page. Heads nod up and down around the room. Throughout their K-12 years, students have heard about the benefits of “renewable wind energy.” Then I show them Kevon’s YouTube page. They are surprised to learn that someone or some group opposes a supposed environmentally friendly process.

Why are students surprised? Simply put, majority media ignore, miscategorize, or simply eliminate voices they do not want you or me to hear

The title of the NPR story for which Kevon Martis was interviewed says what NPR wants the public to hear: “In the misinformation wars, renewable energy is the latest to be attacked.” The implication of such a statement is that so-called “renewal energy” is assumed to be good and that anyone who may suggest an alternative view only spreads distortion. Disagreement is the enemy.

In a recent class I was encouraging students to ask questions of those who disagree with their point of view. When engaged in social media, I told them, it is good to ask at least two questions:

  1. Why am I always hearing about ______?
  2. Why do I never hear about ______?

We should want to hear competing truth claims. If one side is never heard, there is no competition. There is only elimination.

We bear a responsibility to be truthful, honest, transparent, and deferential in any conversation. A townhall meeting, for instance, should provide for all sides of an issue to be heard. One group may not get its way or get everything it wants in a community decision, but, living in a democratic republic, we Americans are not surprised by such outcomes.

What we should care about without condition, however, is when we don’t get all the facts. If we do not hear every point of view, if certain viewpoints are withheld or eliminated from public debate, then any claims to “truth” should be suspect.

Kevon Martis’s experience is not a “one-off” situation. Examples of media elimination abound, from doctors censored for their medical views to satire labeled as “hate speech.” When it comes to majority media like NPR, all things are not considered.

has taught junior high school through PhD students over four decades, in both Christian and public education contexts. He has a Master of Theology in Old Testament, PhD in Social Science research, and just finished another Master’s in English. He is a book review editor for Christian Education Journal. Mark has written or contributed to nine curricula and books. He has also authored scores of peer-reviewed journal articles and encyclopedia essays, and maintains online writings at www.markeckel.com.

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