Those lawyers amongst you will be well versed in the maxim that the winner is the party that presents the best argument. Presenting your case to the court is one part law, one part creativity, and one part acting skill. Even when the law is on your side, a badly presented argument can fail you. It is why my Land law lecturer gets very excited about her students taking part in mooting, because legal knowledge alone is not enough. Enchanting the audience, whoever they may be, is the route to success. Enter stage left, the press. Stage right, victims of press 'havoc'.
I have just watched the C4 documentary "Hugh Grant: Taking on the Tabloids
", and something he said got me thinking. Grant suggested that it is likely that David Cameron, like five Prime Ministers before him, will "bottle it at the last minute
", and favor securing votes over the tough decision. I thought to myself 'surely the public would support the PM's tough stance?
'. I have not heard anyone suggest that the press should suffer from oppressive regulation, but the argument i hear again and again is that the current regime of press self regulation is not good enough.
On the one hand, the free press uncovers abuses of power such as 'cash for honors
', 'cash for access
', and MP's expenses
…but on the other hand, people like Kate and Gerry McCann
, Chris Jefferies
, and the family of Milly Dowler
, are the victims of the same press behavior, but with such different consequences.
So why would the PM dodge the decision that, it appears, the majority of the population seem to
favor? The implication is that tougher regulation is not favored by the press
, and without their support Mr Cameron won't see another term as PM. If this logic is right, and my feeling that the public generally support tougher regulation is correct, the press is totally at odds with the general feeling of the population. Is the press in this country so powerful that it sets the totality of the political agenda? If so, it is this
argument that convinces me about the need for tougher regulation, and the argument about particular types of behavior comes second to that.
This is where my analogy with the presenting of a case in court comes into play. After watching this documentary i started to doubt every opinion i have ever held. It is like a Marine Drill Instructor has broken me down, but got bored and wondered off before building me back up again.
How do i know that i really have freedom to come to my own decisions? After all, any information i receive is from a biased source. Every newspaper i read, every website i view, every person i speak to, has their own opinion. Do i truly have the ability to objectively weigh up all the opinions and come to my own decision, or am i just convinced by the best argument? And what is the best argument? Is it the one that uses the most emotive language, has the prettiest (or most shocking) pictures? Or is it the one that can provide the most evidence for their claims? And to another extreme, do i believe the newspaper that provides me with a daily picture of a half naked lady, and in exchange for that treat i believe everything it says. The latter being my own opinion of course…or is it? *faints*
I like to think that this sort of self doubt helps me to view all sides of the argument. Some may call it a healthy, albeit epically passive, skepticism about what people are telling me. In small doses it is great, but I'm now about to go to sleep wondering if i have ever had a single original thought?
I have been having weird dreams recently…i suspect tonight's dreams will be more surreal than usual.
Have you noticed that we are approaching 10k visitors per month? I almost burst when i saw that, thanks for all your continued support :)