Most of you have probably come across Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff in your travels around the interwebs. If you haven't seen or heard of it, it is a 20-minute, illustrated video that looks at the other angles of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff highlights the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues. But despite its focus on societal "wrongs", the general tone of the film is one of hope for a more sustainable and just world.
Well, now that over 7 million people have seen the video, it has finally come up on the radar screens of those cutting-edge trendspotters Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, mostly thanks to a lawyer at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who has taken particular offense to the movie and come out with his very own multi-part video rebuttal. The folks at Media Matters grabbed the audio/video of Beck and Dobbs to show how even well-intended educational videos are being called out as left-wing propaganda by who else but the right-wing propagandists Beck and Dobbs.
Here is the Beck excerpt from his radio show. Note how Beck latches on to two things: First, the idea that Leonard could have used a tank to symbolize the government (as had been suggested to her), even though she didn't use a tank (she used a person), and; second, the idea that the government's role is to take care of its citizens. Check it out:
Before Beck blows another gasket about the role of government, let me quote from the Preamble to the Constitution:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Now let me pick out four key action verbs from that stanza and define them for Mr. Beck from the dictionary built into my Mac:
Ensure: make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case.
Provide: make available for use.
Promote: further the progress of something (a cause, venture, or aim); support or actively encourage.
Secure: fix or attach something firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost; protect against threats; make safe.
If one reads those words in the Constitution literally (which I have a feeling Beck likes to do), it sounds like the purpose of the government is—at least on some level—to take care of its citizens.
The easily flabbergasted Lou Dobbs, on the other hand, was just as you would expect: flabbergasted.
I will concede that there are some claims made in the Story of Stuff that are a little over-simplified, but depending on who the target audience is, simplification is sometimes the best way to teach complex concepts like democratic theory, triangular trade, historical materialism and global market regulatory structures. Wouldn't you say?
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