Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
- ‘ or
Who will guard the guards?
- – This my friends, is a quote to be revered.
I first read it in Dan Brown’s novel Digital Fortress.The original quote is in Latin; in both languages it sounds poetic to me, and perhaps it is eerily prophetic.
The phrase, originates from the poet Juvenal, the Roman satirist who mentioned this phrase in his collection of Satires. In relation to Juvenal’s poem, the quote questions the possibility and effectiveness of enforcing a defined moral behaviour on women, when the enforcers themselves were not free from corruption.
The latin extention of the quote is:
audio quid ueteres olim moneatis amici,
“pone seram, cohibe.” sed quis custodiet ipsos
custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor.
The english version of this phrase (and feminists are going to love it) translates to:
I hear always the admonishment of my friends:
“Bolt her in, constrain her!” But who will guard
the guardians? The wife plans ahead and begins with them.
In modern times however, the phrase has been used to express concerns on excessively imposing governments and oppressing dictatorships. It would be unjust though, to restrict the application of the quote solely in reference to the pre-determined guards of society (the government & its security forces). The time has come, infact it can be safely declared that it has been long overdue, when the application of this quote must be extended to the televised, online and print media.
I cannot help but feel that the media has violated our fundamental right to be able to think on an individual level. I cannot help but fear that this collective bombardment of like-minded ideas is saturating the limits of what an average human brain can evaluate and absorb rationally. I cannot help but feel and it is but natural, that as the rationale of the human brain is exhausted, it is extracting further sustenance from irrationality, or radicalism. When I mention radicalism, do not confuse it with the terminology associated with Islamic extremism.
When the thoughts and beliefs of various personalities are expressed on individual locations, it gives the audience allowance for a wider degree of thought dispersion. For example, I, along with thousands of others, run individual blogs in which we say what we want to. When you read a person’s message on an individual location, you may choose to accept or refute an individual’s idea.
But what about online content control of expression of thought when you write for the major blogs? Who guards what blogs, stories and thought streams they run as a collective unit, when they nitpick the right contributions and choose what to run? Who challenges the globally practiced editorial policy of making changes in headers and / or content of articles, news runs or investigative reports? Who checks what kinds of media campaigns are being run, what is the campaign’s ultimate objective and who verifies the financiers behind the media campaigns? A collective thought is far more powerful in its effect and is more likely to be thought of as a representative sample of the overall population. Hence, more likely than not, it will influence your mind and your beliefs. The problem is further exacerbated by the changing of news / article headers. Headings are signposts that focus the reader on the most important content in a piece of writing. Through the heading, the viewer constructs a visual image of the core message, and judges the news / article for the same, regardless of its contents. One must realize and accept that there are few souls with complete conviction; and such channels, newspapers and blogs are ripe tools to mould minds which are either devoid of individual beliefs, or are caught in the throes of confusion.
I write this with the realization that people rooted in the media will not hold the same thoughts as I do, but I feel I must express my concerns out in public at least, and challenge the legitimacy of the idea and philosophy that the media, the Fourth Estate, as described by Thomas Carlyle, and as used by Jeffrey Archer in his novel to great effect, is the beacon of morality, truth, and justice; and above all, is independent!
For any media / news agency that needs to tell the public how diligent, moral and honest they are, and even that through advertisements run on its own channels, cannot hope to instill a vote of confidence in its viewers, can it? You know an entity is truly lost when it needs to market its sense of justice, and honesty.
I plan to write more about the issues that trouble me in regarding the pathways selected for communication with the masses. At this point in time, my objective was to question the accepted principle of giving the media free reign. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to further develop my thoughts, my beliefs, and share them with you. Your comments of agreement or disagreement, will be highly appreciated. This is merely my thought process in development.