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especially: to torture or kill by fixing on a sharp stake; b: to fix in an inescapable or
helpless position."
Photos taken of the Denver concert and the "Bushleaguer " routine clearly
demonstrate that Vedder did not "impale" the mask. According to photos, the
head mask was put over top of the mic stand and held in place by the stand's
pressure against the top of the mask. The mask was not pierced in any way, nor
was the mic stand protruding through any of the mask's openings. There simply
was little justification to use such a loaded and divisive word.
After Brown's article, almost every media report on the incident focused on
Vedder impaling the mask on the mic stand. Almost universally, every media
report of the incident used the word "impale" with little emphasis placed on
whether that implicitly violent action actually took place. Even the traditionally
liberal Rolling Stone magazine described the action as "impaling," even though it
ran the allegation next to a close-up photo of Vedder and the mask that clearly
demonstrated its placement on the mic stand.
Almost everyone who criticized Vedder remarked that he had gone over a line
that political expression is fine, but Vedder's expression was explicitly violent
towards the President and, therefore, deserved to be punished. But as is the case
here, what if the event was widely misreported? By the time anyone recognized
that, it was far too late.
Media analysts refer to this as the "echo chamber " of news media, where a
report, once entering the national discourse, is repeated endlessly without any
sense of the checks and balances normally applied to reporting. Oftentimes the
competitive rush to air, print, or tell a story overwhelms the need for independent
verification and truth-seeking. The story simply repeats and repeats, like an echo.
As has been observed repeatedly in the United States since 9/11, in a time of
intense political discourse and derision, this echo usually reverberates along side
a call to stifle the speech of those involved.
The "echo chamber " manifests itself in another way once an action has been
labeled "treasonous," "unpatriotic," "anti-Bush," "unsupportive of troops" those
statements tend to become part of the echo as well. Matters of intention and
meaning are inherently subjective and often open to interpretation. Sometimes
one person sees an action or event through a completely different lens than a
person standing next to him, or even differently than the person participating in
the original event. This has been a historical problem in matters of censorship
subjective interpretation passed on as cold, hard fact.
Specifically regarding music, this has always been a source of controversy and
censorship. With the rise of rock-n-roll in the mid-1950s, rock was widely thought