Critique of Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance

Alexandra Cook’s and Noble Cook’s text, Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance, traced the lives of an early settler of the New World and his two wives. The authors’ purpose in writing this book was to provide modern readers with a “mirror of a segment of Spanish society in the sixteenth century, the middle class and minor nobility” (Cook xii). The authors explored all facets of this society: their values and customs, legal structure, their economy, and their home life.

The authors wove together the story of this man’s life with other historical background information, legal procedures, and the social mores of the time so skillfully that the reader did not become bogged down in mundane details. The writing was lively and interesting; it kept the reader in suspense as the court case unfolded. Although the trial for bigamy was the main theme of the book, the authors inserted other instances of Spanish laws into the text, such as the family of a murdered man may make claims against the estate of the person who murdered him (Cook 2).

In unraveling the trial of Francisco Noguerol, the authors related many aspects of Spanish society, such as the power and control widowed women were allowed to exhibit in this patriarchal society (seen through Nougerol’s mother and Dona Catalina). The text also provided examples of the life in Spanish convents through Nougerol’s sisters. It was very interesting that the nuns who lied to Noguerol were not made to accept responsibility for what their actions caused, except by their brother. This shows, I believe, how the Catholic Church tried to protect their religious orders from scandal.

The Spanish court system was seen to have attempted to protect the rights of women in their society, as seen in the experience of Dona Beatriz and Dona Catalina. For Beatriz, she was protected from being left destitute from her husband’s remarriage, and Catalina was protected from losing the husband that she had made a life and home with.

The authors offered to the reader logical motivations for the actions of people during this time. One example was the reasons why Noguerol left his native land to come to Peru. The authors indicated his primary motivation was to escape from an unwanted marriage, and this seemed very plausible since he stayed away from her for a long time and returned to Spain only when he believed she had died. Another example was why Dona Beatriz waited until after Noguerol’s death to claim that the marriage was consummated; with him not being able to deny it, she would had more success at winning the trial. That she was bitter of being cast aside in favor of Dona Catalina was made very explicit by her actions.

Noguerol also remained bitter towards his family over deceiving him. This bitterness was seen by the fact that he deliberately disinherited his family in his last will and testament, preferring to enact a line of succession for his estate in his wife’s descendants …

Do Mass Media Influence the Political Behavior of Citizens

Outside of the academic environment, a harsh and seemingly ever-growing debate has appeared, concerning how mass media distorts the political agenda. Few would argue with the notion that the institutions of the mass media are important to contemporary politics. In the transition to liberal democratic politics in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe the media was a key battleground. In the West, elections increasingly focus around television, with the emphasis on spin and marketing. Democratic politics places emphasis on the mass media as a site for democratic demand and the formation of “public opinion”. The media are seen to empower citizens, and subject government to restraint and redress. Yet the media are not just neutral observers but are political actors themselves. The interaction of mass communication and political actors — politicians, interest groups, strategists, and others who play important roles — in the political process is apparent. Under this framework, the American political arena can be characterized as a dynamic environment in which communication, particularly journalism in all its forms, substantially influences and is influenced by it.

According to the theory of democracy, people rule. The pluralism of different political parties provides the people with “alternatives,” and if and when one party loses their confidence, they can support another. The democratic principle of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” would be nice if it were all so simple. But in a medium-to-large modern state things are not quite like that. Today, several elements contribute to the shaping of the public’s political discourse, including the goals and success of public relations and advertising strategies used by politically engaged individuals and the rising influence of new media technologies such as the Internet.

A naive assumption of liberal democracy is that citizens have adequate knowledge of political events. But how do citizens acquire the information and knowledge necessary for them to use their votes other than by blind guesswork? They cannot possibly witness everything that is happening on the national scene, still less at the level of world events. The vast majority are not students of politics. They don’t really know what is happening, and even if they did they would need guidance as to how to interpret what they knew. Since the early twentieth century this has been fulfilled through the mass media. Few today in United States can say that they do not have access to at least one form of the mass media, yet political knowledge is remarkably low. Although political information is available through the proliferation of mass media, different critics support that events are shaped and packaged, frames are constructed by politicians and news casters, and ownership influences between political actors and the media provide important short hand cues to how to interpret and understand the news.

One must not forget another interesting fact about the media. Their political influence extends far beyond newspaper reports and articles of a direct political nature, or television programs connected with current affairs that bear upon politics. …