Endless Curiosity

February 3, 2009

Ignorant and Free?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alec @ 2:06 pm

If you saw the movie Control Room, Josh Rushing was the Marine captain they interviewed who gave some very thoughtful answers. Even if you didn’t see the movie, Josh Rushing was still the Marine captain they interviewed who gave some very thoughtful answers 🙂

Rushing resigned from the Marines and went to work for Al Jazeera English when it was starting up. Yesterday evening he gave a talk at CU about his experiences with Al Jazeera, his perspectives on the news we get, and his views on what is happening in the Middle East.

During the Q&A session afterwards, someone asked Rushing who is responsible for educating and informing us about the news and what is happening in the world. Is it the government, the news media, or is it purely up to us to make sure we are informed? Rushing’s answer was simple – it’s our responsible to make sure we know what’s going on. He pointed to all the news sources available on the Internet and said that you don’t have to get your news from the U.S. mainstream media. In particular he suggested watching the BBC World News and Al Jazeera English.

I was talking with a friend afterwards who agreed with Rushing. I’m not so sure. To quote Thomas Jefferson, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Well, I’d just as soon this nation remained free and in a state of civilization. If the price of this is a lack of ignorance, i.e., knowledge, I’m all in favor of making that knowledge as available as possible.

Rushing pointed out that none of the cable companies carry Al Jazeera English because there’s not enough demand for international news, and that the goal of cable companies and news organizations is to make money. My response is So What? Governments can make whatever rules they want, and if they want cable companies to carry international news, they can make that a cost of doing business. Assuming they’d like to increase the chances of having an informed electorate.

An alternative would be to test you on world affairs before key elections and if you don’t pass, you don’t get to vote. My friend Left Brain has written an amusing article about this.

Rushing provided a couple of good links. Here is one to Al Jazeera English. And this one is to Livestation, where you can watch the BBC World News, Al Jazeera, French TV, Russian TV, European TV, and so on.

So, become informed. Pass it on.

Update: Here’s an article in the NY Times about the difficulty of viewing the Al Jazeera English-language service here in the U.S., in contrast to its availablity in over 100 other countries.


  1. Damn, I should have gone with you to the talk. That is an interesting idea to have people be tested on their knowledge of foreign affairs. We should start pushing for that!

    Comment by Nikki — February 3, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  2. Josh Rushing is a solid guy; i admire his work

    Comment by Joe — February 24, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

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