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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


3P-067 Rhetorical Devisives or Two Half-Truths Don't Make a Whole

February 5th, 2011

3P-066 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 67th episode of Third Paradigm. Our title this week is Rhetorical Devisives or Two Half-Truths Don't Make a Whole. That's whole as in the one you swear to tell and nothing but, not the doughnut hole. Two half-truths might just make a doughnut hole. For one example of this, we look at Assangination, a term coined by Amy Goodman. Julian Assange has been labeled a high-tech terrorist by government officials and media spokespersons. This is actionable slander, which is also known as blood libel. With a wink and a nod it incites assassination without taking responsibility for the action.

[Meet The Press McConnell – Assange is a 'high-tech terrorist' ]

In his excellent book Constantine's Sword James Carroll traces the history of how the Church incited pogroms from the pulpit while condemning the violence after the fact. As an ex-priest James Carroll combines exhaustive research with his personal journey of confronting facts that contradict his faith. It's a good read and shows how Sarah Palin has employed the rhetorical device of Weasel Wording in her use of the term "blood libel." She describes herself as libeled by the accusation that the blood of Gabrielle Giffords and the others is on her hands. But blood libel actually means what she did to Gifford - slandering her so that others commit the actual violence, which Palin can later condemn.

The word terrorist was also actionable slander or blood libel when used by Vice-President Joe Biden against Assange. Since the Patriot Act, this undefined and unsubstantiated allegation permits someone to be tortured, killed, or imprisoned for life without trial. It's a verdict, not an opinion, conveying heroism on a person for killing Assange. For Biden to use his office and authority this way means we might as well have kings and lords who say "Off with their heads" but don't wield the sword.

Let's define the term terrorist. A terrorist is someone who commits violence or threatens to commit violence against unarmed civilians for the purpose of manipulating others through fear. Can someone be an information terrorist? Someone who releases information to the public is preventing future violence by exposing it. Historically, impunity leads to greater atrocities. Accountability ends the cycle. Quoting Biden, "...this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world. He has made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends." That's not an accusation of terrorism or even of slander.

[Fox News – Bob Beckel Wants Julian Assange Assassinated! ]

This has opened the door to calls for assassination from prominent figures like Bob Beckel, the former campaign manager for Walter Mondale. On Fox News he said, "...a dead man can't leak stuff. This guy's a traitor, treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. The guy ought to be—and I'm not for the death penalty, so if I'm not for the death penalty, there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a [bleep]." Besides committing Hyperbole and Internal Contradiction he incited violence against an unarmed civilian for the purpose of shutting him up. That's terrorism. The threat isn't just against Assange, it's directed at all publishers or individuals who refuse to shut up.

Let's pause for some poems. This is "Let My Country Awake" by Rabindranath Tagore, Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo, and To the New Year by W. S. Merwin. The last poem was read at a memorial service for a victim of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. The music is Child Song by Cinematic Orchestra.

Let My Country Awake

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action —
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

~ Rabindranath Tagore ~
From Gitanjali

* * * * * * * *

Eagle Poem

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circles in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

~ Joy Harjo ~
Joy Harjo
From How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001

* * * * * * * *

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

~ W.S. Merwin ~
From Present Company

That was "Let My Country Awake" by Rabindranath Tagore, Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo, and To the New Year by W. S. Merwin, as read at one of the memorial services in Tucson after the attack targeting Gabrielle Giffords. The music was Child Song by Cinematic Orchestra from their Ma Fleur CD. This is Third Paradigm and we're talking about the way that violence begins by attacking language to twist it into meaning the opposite of what it says.

What is it that WikiLeaks threatens to reveal? It's whether the government works for the country or whether the country serves the interests of a powerful few. WikiLeaks has given us the evidence to hold a People's Tribunal to determine this. But can the public even follow a true debate - one that keeps to the principles of defining terms, identifying the question, and recognizing a fallacious argument when they hear one?

In 1947 Dorothy Sayers presented an Oxford lecture called The Lost Tools of Learning in which she argued that people were no longer capable of critical thought even 64 years ago. She wrote,

"Let us now look at the mediaeval scheme of education--the syllabus of the Schools....what the men of the Middle Ages supposed to be the object and the right order of the educative process. The syllabus was divided into two parts: the Trivium and Quadrivium. ... The interesting thing for us is the composition of the Trivium, which preceded the Quadrivium and was the preliminary discipline for it. It consisted of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric, in that order.

... The whole of the Trivium was, in fact, intended to teach the pupil the proper use of the tools of learning, before he began to apply them to "subjects" at all. First, he learned a language; not just how to order a meal in a foreign language, but the structure of a language, and hence of language itself--what it was, how it was put together, and how it worked. Secondly, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument. Dialectic, that is to say, embraced Logic and Disputation. Thirdly, he learned to express himself in language-- how to say what he had to say elegantly and persuasively. At the end of his course, he was required to compose a thesis upon some theme set by his masters or chosen by himself, and afterwards to defend his thesis against the criticism of the faculty. By this time, he would have learned--or woe betide him-- not merely to write an essay on paper, but to speak audibly and intelligibly from a platform, and to use his wits quickly when heckled. There would also be questions, cogent and shrewd, from those who had already run the gauntlet of debate."

...[By contrast] we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education--lip- service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it."

Dorothy Sayers then outlines a modern form of the trivium and suggests that students be graduated from grammar to dialectic when they show a penchant for interminable argument - what we would call middle school. She says that some will object that encouraging young people to browbeat, correct, and argue with their elders will render them perfectly intolerable, but that children of that age are intolerable anyhow and elders who have abandoned the wholesome principle that children should be seen and not heard have only themselves to blame.

In The Underground History of American Education John Taylor Gatto states that US schools emphasized classical learning until the last third of the nineteenth century. This was a subversion of British class society and considered vital to independent thinking. The lessons of Greek antiquity enabled Athens to distribute its most responsible positions by lottery: army generalships, water supply, everything. Any citizen was expected to be competent, to be able to think clearly, and to welcome great responsibility. There were no schools as we know them. The word sköle means the leisure to think and reflect, and Plato and Aristotle's academies were hang-outs for well-mannered arguments.

A website called elaborates on the need for learning how to think, rather than being taught what to think. They define grammar as the technique of ordering raw, factual data for use in understanding. It isn't just rules as they apply to a particular language. When facts have been discovered and organized they can be subjected to logic, which is the art of reasoning without contradiction. Proof is established by consistency, both internally and with the known world. As they poetically phrase it, "Logic brings the rhythm of the subjective thoughts of the mind, and the subsequent actions of the body, into harmony with the rhythm of the objective universe. The intention is to amicably synchronize individual mental processes, and their attendant actions, with the processes of our surrounding natural, factual existence over the period of a lifetime."

Where Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom begin

Rhetoric expresses the conclusion of this marriage of grammar and logic. But rhetoric divorced from logic is called a fallacious argument. Let's listen to an excerpt from the trivium education podcast called Peace Revolution. We'll begin with their intro featuring Willie Nelson and then jump to the fallacious arguments:

[Greenpeace – Pop-Up Fallacies]

That was Peace Revolution from the Trivium Education website talking about fallacious arguments. What's the antidote to a fallacious argument? When Julian Assange was asked if WikiLeaks was a threat to US national security he said that we should refuse to answer that question unless it is well-phrased. Does national security mean the security of the people or of an illegitimate power structure? The Latin call to clarify an ambiguous, shifting proposition is "Distinguo!" or distinguish, which sounds like a disarming spell Harry Potter might use.

Recently Assange was interviewed on 60 Minutes by Steve Kroft. Between clips Kroft editorializes that Assange " an anti-establishment ideologue with conspiratorial views. He believes large government institutions use secrecy to suppress the truth and he distrusts the mainstream media for playing along." When Kroft goads Assange that he's thought of as a weird and paranoid cult figure, he answers, "Well, you're repeating all the ad hominem attacks by our critics. My role when I do something, like speak about that we have discovered the deaths of 109,000 individual people in Iraq, 15,000 civilian casualties never before reported anywhere, that's a very serious role. That is not a role where I can engage in humor."

[60 Minutes' Steve Croft – Julian Assange Interview (1/4)]

In effect Assange chides him for gossiping when there are lives at stake. As Business Insider posted, "Julian Assange nailed his interview. Meanwhile, Steve Kroft came across like a scolding parent who needs help to program the VCR." As a 16-year-old "ethical hacker" Assange's screen name was Mendax from Horace's "spendide mendax" meaning nobly untruthful. This suggests that his unorthodox upbringing didn't send him into the world unarmed by a classical education.

At the opposite end of the transparency spectrum from Assange is the "liberal" anti-conspiracist, Chip Berlet, who spoke on Democracy Now about the motives of the Tucson shooter. I quote, "why did he pick the target he picked? The answer, I think, is found in some of his obsessions with things like currency, with federal manipulation of money... There are references to basically conspiracies in which the government is oppressing the people and, perhaps in his mind, engaging in mind control on behalf of vested interests who control the money. This is a longstanding right-wing conspiracy theory." Amy asks him about Gifford being the first Jewish Arizona representative and he replies, "Well, again, it's all speculation, but if there was a connection, it would be the idea that Jews own the banks, that there's a Zionist world plot to control the money supply, and that part and parcel of this conspiracy involves the Bilderberg banking group, the Rothschild family, the Schiff family, and traitorous politicians who are in league with the Jew bankers." Amy asks, "Is what he says, or what that theory talks about?" Berlet replies, "No, it's not what he says. It's what reading for 30 years right-wing literature I can pretty much parody their crazy theories and their disgusting bigotry. So I apologize. That is the racist anti-Semitic interpretation of the federal government conspiracy. But the whole spread of conspiracy thinking in America fuels this tendency."

[Democracy Now – Chip Berlet on "The Becking of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords"]

This set off alarm bells for me. It took a random reference by a homicidal schizophrenic and implied that anyone who's concerned that the Federal Reserve is privately owned is one step away from gunning down judges and members of Congress. This trick is called The Lunatic Fringe. Then it labels monetary researchers as "crazy," "disgusting bigots," "anti-Semitic racists," "right-wing conspiracists," and it puts words in their mouths like "Jew bankers." So let's see how this dialectic goes. JP Morgan, Rothschild, and Rockefeller are three financiers who met on Jeckyl Island to start the Federal Reserve. Two of the three happen to be Jewish. Therefore anyone who's against private bankers creating our money supply out of thin air and loaning it to us at interest must be anti-Semitic.

I dug a little deeper on Berlet and his organization, Political Research Associates, and found out that he was a major force in discrediting the call for an investigation of 911. He calls it, no surprise, "antisemitic conspiracism." He uses what the Conversational Terrorism website calls "Sleight of Mind" tactics: focusing on an insignificant detail to distract from irrefutable facts like the physics of jet fuel melting steel girders, or buildings collapsing at freefall speed into their own footprint, or Building Seven imploding from shrapnel. In 2002 he debated David Ray Griffin on Democracy Now. After Griffin lists multiple holes in the official story, Berlet throws out a Straw Man Argument that there's no way to prove that Osama bin Laden was treated at a Dubai hospital. He then says that there are many ways that jet fuel can explode, and casts aspersions on Griffin's sources for their credentials. These are called Moving the Goalpost - in order to call for an investigation Griffin is now required to have the evidence that only an investigation would provide.

When Berlet is asked why the planes weren't intercepted, he answers, "people think it's like Star Trek and these jets can hit 1,870 miles an hour instantly, but if they did, the pilots would be dead." This is a Statistical Non Sequiter because the jets wouldn't need to go 1,870 miles per hour to have intercepted the planes. Berlet then slaps Griffin with a Complimentary Insult, saying, "I just don't understand it. Professor Griffin's previous work has been stellar. He's one of the singular most important religious philosophers in America. I don't understand this lapse." He closes smugly with this Consolation Prize, "I have to say professor Griffin was gracious in allowing this debate to take place and agree to put his response to my review online. No one likes getting a bad review."

ae911truth (25K)

Sadly, Amy Goodman jumps on the bandwagon and goes for the Heat-Seeking Question, pressing Griffin to name just one structural engineer who says that the towers couldn't have collapsed from the impact of the plane. He didn't have a name at his fingertips and she turned to Berlet to provide the conclusive Argument by Authority. But in checking Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth just now, there are currently 1426 structural engineers attesting this. Why hasn't Amy Goodman interviewed Richard Gage? Could Berlet be singlehandedly responsible for biasing the liberal press against the two most important questions to US citizens? If our money supply is issued to us at interest by a handful of private bankers, those bankers ARE the government. Politics is just a Red Herring game they give us. And if that government murdered 3000 of its own citizens in order to start a war, there's nothing that it wouldn't do. We'd better don our armor because words like these can kill.

For Third Paradigm this has been Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Mike Scirocco for all things web. Special thanks to Patrice Caux, an erudite and humble listener from Iowa who gave me most of the references for this show. We go out with Laura Gibson and Where Have All Your Good Words Gone, which is thanks to Skidmark Bob. I'm still playing music you gave me in 2009. Maybe someday we'll have a team again working to broadcast the truth.

[Laura Gibson – Where Have All Your Good Words Gone]

Until then thanks to you for listening.