Week #19: Bang Your Gavel Down

This past week I’ve been following the distressing news in Israel, where many family members and friends live. Civilian neighborhoods are being bombarded with rockets, even in areas that are further away from the border that don’t usually see rockets in the skies above them.

The history of the region is a complicated one and the conflict is complex and goes back thousands of years so I won’t try summing it up in a single blog post, but there’s a lot of pain, suffering and anxiety happening in a country I feel a strong connection to and where people I love live.

One frustrating part of all of this is the misinformation out there that is causing so much pain, anxiety and loss on both sides of the conflict. Each side has its own version of history and it’s very different. Before this past year, I had a difficult time comprehending that – history is history, right? Especially in a country like Israel with so much archeological evidence discovered through the years, not to mention that the state of Israel is only 73 years old so people alive today were actually there when all this history happened.

(Seventy-three years ago today, on May 14, 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence as a state, as announced in “The Palestine Post,” which was the original name of today’s “The Jerusalem Post.”) Less than 24 hours later, all the armies of its Arab neighbors invaded the country. Did the country’s founders imagine that the fighting would still be going on 73 years later?!

This past year we experienced an alternate reality in our own country, between the election and the pandemic and it became clearer how misinformation spreads and persuades.

This week’s song wasn’t inspired by current events, but from a news story in early 2019 after a video went viral. It’s a story that repeats itself over and over again. Somebody posts a few seconds of a video, people share it and comment on it, judging the people involved and next thing you know, the person, in this instance a high school student, is getting death threats.

After watching the video snippet on Twitter, It was difficult to determine the context of this video and I was curious what led to the encounter. Sure enough, later that evening I found a longer video that included footage that helped explain the situation that led to the video snippet that went viral.

In this particular instance, the high school student is said to have received a settlement from news outlets for their contribution to defaming his character because of their news coverage of the video. In other instances, jobs are lost and lives are destroyed.

These days, people are so quick to judge and condemn. Maybe this has always been true and is only amplified with social media where they can share it with hundreds or thousands of people in a split second.

You’re making an awful harsh judgment
Though you don’t know any of the facts
You made your mind up
Now you’ll launch your attacks

In a courtroom, the judge and the members of the jury examine evidence from both sides, and listen to the research done by the legal teams before making a judgment. On social media, people react and share without bothering to confirm the information they’re sharing.

You’re the jury and the judge
Fighting a battle, you won’t budge
You don’t want to wait to investigate
You bang your gavel down

Not only do people make instant judgments, which I suppose is human nature, but then they spread the information without verifying anything.

You’re spreading vicious rumors
After watching a 30-second clip
You determined your verdict
Now you’re going public with it

These actions remind me of old movies when the townspeople run through the town with lit torches to hunt down the monster.

Like a mob mentality running through the town with the torches on fire
We’ve become so indiscreet, lives are crashing down as tweets go viral

What’s the solution? Will people ever step up and refuse to spread information from unreliable sources that they can’t confirm? Are we too far gone?

Here’s “Bang Your Gavel Down,” a vocal and guitar recording from spring 2019.

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