We’ve never met. We don’t know each other. Until today, I didn’t know who you were. Last night I was introduced to you via three seconds of very unfortunate video of you. Like several others, I posted a screen grab. More than once.
I knew you would get identified eventually. That’s the nature of things that go viral on the internet.
So you’re a gossip type columnist for the Washington Post. I’m a 10 year media blogger…which I guess means I’m about as reviled. So we have that in common at least.
What we don’t have in common apparently is a respect for the national anthem. I must assume you have no respect for it because a) you were caught diddling on your cell phone while everyone else was reverentially at attention, and, b) because of how you responded to the firestorm that erupted.
Apparently someone saw me on TV “texting” during the dinner. FTR I was taking notes. On my phone. Because it’s 2015. #WHCD
No, Helena. We didn’t see you texting during dinner. Nobody is going to care if anyone texted during the dinner…except maybe for this guy.
No, Helena. We saw you texting during the national anthem. In case you didn’t know it, being a gossip columnist and all, the national anthem is when we stop what we’re doing and stand at attention in reverence to our country and all it stands for.
That would, you know, include the Constitution. You know the Constitution don’t you Helena? It’s that piece of paper upon which our country was built on. It has a bunch of stuff in it including the Bill of Rights.
You know the Bill of Rights, don’t you Helena? Certainly you must be aware of the First Ammendment? You know, the one that has that bit about Freedom of the Press…which even in your profession is kinda relevant?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
When journalists stand at attention for the national anthem out of respect for our country, out of respect for what it stands for, out of respect for the Constitution which binds us all together, they do so knowing that they live in a country which gives them a degree of freedom to write in a way which many nations in this world do not. They are grateful for that distinction. It emboldens them to take risks, to put their profession on the line time and again, because they were raised in a country which fosters and nurtures such behavior. And it can come with a great great cost. I’ll now quote what the President said last night at the WHCD…
Investigative journalism; explanatory journalism; journalism that exposes corruption and injustice and gives a voice to the different, the marginalized, the voiceless—that’s power. It’s a privilege. It’s as important to America’s trajectory—to our values, our ideals—than anything that we could do in elected office.
We remember journalists we lost over the past year—journalists like Steven Sotloff and James Foley, murdered for nothing more than trying to shine a light into some of the world’s darkest corners. We remember the journalists unjustly imprisoned around the world, including our own Jason Rezaian. For nine months, Jason has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes and the fears of the Iranian people, carrying their stories to the readers of the Washington Post in an effort to bridge our common humanity. As was already mentioned, Jason’s brother, Ali, is here tonight and I have told him personally we will not rest until we bring him home to his family, safe and sound.
These journalists and so many others view their work as more than just a profession, but as a public good; an indispensable pillar of our society. So I want to give a toast to them. I raise a glass to them and all of you, with the words of the American foreign correspondent Dorothy Thompson: “It is not the fact of liberty, but the way in which liberty is exercised, that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.”
Thank you for your devotion to exercising our liberty, and to telling our American story. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
You heard those words, right Helena? Or were you too busy “taking notes”?
This is why we show respect at the national anthem. This is why we stand at attention. This is why we don’t diddle on our cell phones. If we need to diddle we wait the forty or so seconds it takes to play the anthem and then we diddle.
You might consider all this the next time you are at an event with the President and the national anthem is played.
Of course, I’m just a blogger so what the fuck do I know?