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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Colbert Our Voltaire: Foucault and Parrhesia - Fearless Speech - Speaking Truth to Power

Stephen Colbert - White House Correspondents Dinner 2006
Watch on youtube by clicking link above or paste in your browser below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MoGi4AHpn0  (in case the link goes bad) -- 27 minutes short

Full Transcript:  http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/stephencolbert/a/colbertbush.htm

Some Excerpts:

Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert, and tonight it is my privilege to celebrate this president, ‘cause we're not so different, he and I. We both get it. Guys like us, we're not some brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut. Right, sir? 

The point is it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face, so don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say that 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't...

I stand by this man. I stand by this man, because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things, things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops in the world. 

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will. 

And as excited as I am to be here with the President, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of FOX News. FOX News gives you both sides of every story: the President's side, and the Vice President's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking? Reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished.

Over the last five years you people were so good, over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew. 
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction! 
And so much more:

My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of the truth-teller, or of truth-telling as an activity....  who is able to tell the truth, about what, with what consequences, and with what relations to power.... With the intention  of the importance of telling the truth, knowing who is able to tell the truth, and knowing why we should tell the truth, we have the roots of what we could call the "critical"tradition of the West. - Michel Foucault

This night Colbert became a parrhesiastes was an electric night. I was at dailykos.com when the news came out. Youtube had the audios, the videos in multiple places immediately, servers were crashing all over, everyone was blogging about it, and the mass media? Well its coverage was announcing this special event and the chosen speaker and a clip of Colbert saying good evening ladies and gentlemen or something similarly innocuous.  By morning youtube, crooks and liars etc had gotten a million hits and the Bush presidency was finally confronted for the empty balloon it was and the media's conspiracy in that empty balloon charade was laid out on the operating table. The Dominating Discourse of the media was challenged by the blogosphere and the mass media lost, hands down. Its ghost is still around of course, much like Nietzsche's god but its power is broken and it is now routinely laughed at. It was a heady night and we all knew exactly what was happening. At last, someone had spoken the truth to the king and to the sitting press right there, in their faces, and their uncomfortableness was evident to all. Bush squirmed, the press squirmed, and faces turned to stone.

So click on the links and watch. It was 27 minutes that changed the world. Not that its gotten any better, just worse in different ways.

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