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With the growing discrepancy between rich and poor, we are witnessing more privilege in action. While privilege is typically enjoyed by rich, white males it is also shared with wealthy, white females, moneyed people of color, and all those born into the ruling class. But those with the majority of privilege in the U.S. tend to be rich, white males, often evidenced by their right to vociferously deny that they have any.

We have the U.S. Congress exerting its privilege as it strips away women’s right to accessible, safe reproductive choice by passing HR. 3. We have Charles G. Koch exerting privilege, as we learn how he used his money to dictate which economics professors were hired at Florida State University. Privilege is the ability to profit from blockbuster action films in 2011 that feature violent, gun-toting females in a country where the majority of females live in fear of male violence and are more often violated by men and their weapons than the other way around.

It is rich, white male privilege that backs the Roman Catholic church in their recent report that took five years and $1.8 million dollars to produce. This report claims to be an authoritative analysis of sexual abuse by priests on children in the church. What sort of absurd privilege allows this “report” to conclude that the reason their priests abused children was because the “priests who were poorly prepared and monitored, and were under stress, landed amid the social and sexual turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s?” For far less money, I will suggest that the reason clergy abuse children is that they are given both power and authority over the children through the church, and they have unlimited access to the children. Then when the church secretly covers it all up in deceit, you have a crisis. If child abuse could be blamed on a mere zeitgeist, then surely all those unmonitored, stressed out nuns who lived within the same “Free Love” culture would have attacked children in similar numbers.

Then there is the unquestioned privilege men have, whether they utilize it or not, to have their sexual needs met 24/7, no matter who is hurt by this demand. The ever-growing sex industry has been built around meeting male sexual demand. It is this lucrative privilege that endows the sex industrial complex the right to teach most children about human sexuality and intimacy through free online pornography. No surprises when our youth are then caught trading films, of what appear to be actual crime scenes of toddler and infant rapes, shared peer to peer over the worldwide web. For each one caught, there are thousands of daily traders who won’t be caught and hundreds of toddlers who won’t be saved from the abuse. According to Special Internet Crimes Agent Flint Waters, his office can handle only 7 warrants a month, but he gets up to 30 leads a day. “They are 2, 3, 4-year-old children,” Waters has said. “The level of violence is increasing.”

I was reading David Foster Wallace’s unedited essay, “Big Red Son,” which, like much of his writing, is hilarious and tragically alarming at the same time. He wrote the following over a decade ago: “The thing to recognize is that the adult (pornography) industry’s new respectability creates a paradox. The more acceptable in modern culture it becomes, the farther porn will have to go in order to preserve the sense of unacceptability that’s so essential to its appeal. As should be evident, the industry’s already gone pretty far; and with reenacted child abuse and barely disguised gang rapes now selling briskly, it is not hard to see where porn is eventually going to have to go in order to retain its edge of disrepute. . . . This is an extremely dangerous direction for the adult-film industry to have to keep moving in.” (page 28, Consider the Lobster, Little Brown & Co. 1998)

It is an extreme case of privilege that allowed Dominique Strauss-Kahn to imagine that he could allegedly attack with impunity a housekeeper in his expensive hotel room. Privilege has long allowed all men to get away with raping women and children. Thirty women are raped every hour here in the good old U.S.A. According to RAINN, factoring in unreported rapes, about 6% of rapists will never spend a day in jail, and fifteen out of sixteen eventually walk free.

Already, the French press has exposed the housekeeper’s identity in the Strauss-Kahn case, which gives them the privilege to ruin her once private life. Kahn’s lawyers will help him call it consensual sex using archaic “He said, She said” rape laws and the best legal counsel to convince jurors of his version of the “truth.”

The underpinnings of privilege contribute to a court system that continues to use rape law written in the 1800’s. Progressive rape law like Sweden’s includes the right to withdraw consent. Thanks to Julian Assange challenging that one when he refused to give his sperm sample to check if he was infected with HIV/AIDS.

Education is all we have. One of the most powerful privileges is the ability to control information, as the mainstream media (or MSM) does. As Amy Goodman, from Democracy Now, has stated it isn’t what we see in MSM news, it’s what we don’t see that we must fight for. Privilege is the right to have your version of reality accepted as valid. Instead, the marginalized scramble, sometimes their whole lives, to make the truth of their lives known to others.

We live in a world of enormous upheaval, with millions of people protesting around the globe, protesting for democratic freedom in the Middle East, to shut down nuclear power plants, to call for an end to corporate welfare, to stop the dismantling of unions, and to expose immigration law hypocrisy. Yet, the all powerful MSM is more likely to run a long piece on 20 conservatives who gather for a Tea Party protest. Larger protests that call for an end to military funding, and more money for public education and social services, might as well not have happened. We know the MSM news will blather on endlessly about stories like the current one on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad behavior toward women. Who really cares in the long run what he hid or did?

We ask consumers of conscience to stand up to media privilege with the only card left in our hands. Our money. Stop paying for cable. Stop paying for high speed internet packages. Stop paying for expensive monthly cell phone service. Start using Skype, and other free internet media to communicate. Try pay-as-you-go cell phones like Tracfone, without all the bells and whistles. Try Unitel for long distance, or just use the internet for phone calls. Try using local internet providers that compete with monopolies like Comcast and AT&T. If we continue to pay the abusive, privileged bullies all our hard earned money, and passively consume their “commercial entertainment,” then why would they ever change news policy? Turn them off and tell them why you quit. Our right to access unbiased, non-commercial news information is a fight worth taking on.
© Ann J. Simonton