The Free Thought Project

The Free Thought Project

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.

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An essentially pointless video of a white Catholic teen wearing a MAGA hat staring at a Native American veteran—who approached him—was at the forefront of every major news outlet this week. The video did not show a crime or government corruption, yet it was able to draw a line through this country on a massive scale. The video is being used by both sides of the political spectrum to paint the other side as monsters. Regardless of which “side” you take, however, the society as a whole will still lose.

The video only affected two people, Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillip, yet the entire country—quite literally at the direction of mainstream media—allowed it to affect them. The media is getting so good a cutting the country in half on random issues that there is actually a term for it. Videos and instances like this are called a “scissor.”

As Ross Douthat recently pointed out, in a short story published last October, “Sort by Controversial,” Scott Alexander imagines a Silicon Valley company that accidentally comes up with an algorithm to generate what it calls a “Scissor.” The scissor is a statement, an idea or a scenario that’s somehow perfectly calibrated to tear people apart — not just by generating disagreement, but by generating total incredulity that somebody could possibly disagree with your interpretation of the controversy, followed by escalating fury and paranoia and polarization, until the debate seems like a completely existential, win-or-perish fight.

This win or perish fight has become the go to reaction for nearly every news story. Instead of critical thought on news articles, people simply build their defenses and prepare for war—actual truth be damned.

“OMG, the MAGA hat is literally a swastika! It represents everything wrong with society!” Or, “those stupid libtards are trying to ruin this country by preventing Trump from building that wall!” Meanwhile, both sides are missing the point. Their ridiculous infighting is keeping them distracted from actual issues that affect their lives. More