Nov 022010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

One of the difficulties of newspapers over a more flexible medium is that my deadline rudely straddles the conclusion of the voting and the announcing of the results. Any other news I could cover likely pales compared to whatever states are still in deadlock with crucial issues and the changes here in our state.

Normally I’d not be one to let a simple matter of having any clue as to the reality of the situation stop me from giving my expert opinion. Time is merely another barrier to be overcome by staggering ignorance.

I’m not giving my opinions on the election because this election brings a rare chance to be free of my corporate masters. See, every single thing in the media is tightly controlled by cruel-spirited men in suits who consistently gaze snidely out of a window high above a desperate city. On this one day, however, they are too busy to notice if I break free and let you know how things really run.

Before I am connected to the writing machine, I am given the list of words that I must use. This isn’t the buzzwords that you are familiar with –– these are the pre-buzzwords. My job is to get them ingrained in the public subconscious before they are used in actual propaganda.

Most of the time this is the fairly standard dictionary shift –– taking a word that used to be nice and making it sinister in a malevolent, cordial fashion. Other times it’s making a concept that is inherently unpleasant into something pleasant –– like ‘rightsizing’ means being laid off or ‘volunteerism’ will soon mean selling your children for precious barley flour.

Having been given the words to use, I am finally allowed to exercise my creative spirit. I am giving a list of three possible topics and may choose to write on any of them. If my overlords are in power, I am allowed to criticize the critics and say it is not the time to be nay-saying, and I must stress the importance of unity. If they are not receiving the tax breaks and human hearts they require, I can freely criticize parts of the administration.

Since I work for a university paper, my professors usually line up at this point to shout left-leaning slogans at me until I am sufficiently brainwashed. I feel honored by their attention, and thankful I’m not the token conservative. They usually take that one into a room and begin ‘ferret legging’ while showing pictures of liberal ideologues.

‘Ferret legging’ is soon to be changed to ‘supporting the environment.’

If the first round of conditioning did not take, the professors began to lower our grades until we share their views, at which point we are released to begin the actual writing process.

The writing machines are fairly cozy –– I have room to reach the keyboard just over my knees and can easily rest a coffee mug between them, if I were allowed coffee. The screens to my left and right occasionally flash a reminder message if I ever stray too far from message and deliver mild electric shocks should I criticize a corporate sponsor.

Hearing about the vast conspiracy for the first time can be shocking. These are the same government and corporate officials that can’t keep us from finding out what illegal drugs were snorted off the back of a secretary in the private of their own offices.
They certainly don’t seem capable of much beyond the agreement to use certain keywords for a short time.

Yet despite the seeming incongruity between staggering incompetence and the skill necessary to manage their global conspiracy, this is reality, and we’d better get used to that.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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