June 20, 2012

Alive & Kicking

Damien McElroy, a journalist from the British newspaper The Telegraph wrote an article yesterday about a teenager who had ran away from home and surfaced in Berlin. Robin van Helsum apparently had some financial and psychological problems when he left his hometown of Hengelo. The connection is made that the Zeitgeist Movement greatly influenced van Helsum's behavior.

The article by McElroy is shoddy journalism on multiple levels. A quick and easy blame is presented as the main cause for this young man's abhorrent behavior. The article mentions quite clearly that van Helsum had a troublesome relationship with his father and that he was placed in several care homes. That leads to the realization that van Helsum probably already had a dim view of society even before coming into contact with the Zeitgeist films.

For decades now journalism has sometimes pursued the quick and easy blame. 'It's Rock and Roll music.' 'It's violent video games.''It's a movement that suggest we should use technology and science for our societal problems.' But lets get more down to business.

I'm a member of the Zeitgeist Movement and I'm active in promoting it. Last year I was protesting at 'Occupy Amsterdam' with other Zeitgeisters and before that I was at the annual ZDay. I visited a number of gatherings, not all but quite few. The thing is; I've never seen Robin van Helsum at any of these meetings nor have I come across video material where he is recorded attending a Zeitgeist related event here in Holland.
The Dutch Zeitgeist website also put up an article and national coordinator Seth Lievense writes that Robin van Helsum is unknown to the organization and that local members in the Hengelo area also don't recognize him. It's unlikely that Robin is an active member of the Zeitgeist Movement. This bounces the question back to Damien McElroy; 'aren't you making flimsy connections?'

I'm afraid there's more to add to the previous question. McElroy makes a number of errors when he discusses the Zeitgeist Movement, clearly showing he did little fact checking while this should be the first thing a journalist should do;

But friends in his native Hengelo, on the Dutch border with Germany, have revealed that he had been obsessed with the radical Zeitgeist movement founded by a Berlin filmmaker before his disappearance from the town.

Fact; the Zeitgeist Movement was founded by an American citizen named Peter Joseph in late 2008, beginning of 2009 and who currently resides in Los Angeles, California. To the best of my knowledge Peter Joseph never resided in Berlin nor was he even born there. Branding an organization that advocates using science and technology as radical is also prejudiced. We advocate creating a society that would look a lot like Star Trek. Is Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek series, a radical too?

The German-based alternative action movement was popularised in a series of films critical of market capitalism. Shot between 2007 and last year, a series of four films inspired a political movement that holds future generations will view Christianity as a fraud and embrace sustainable ecological policies as the basis of the economy.

And here we go again. The Zeitgeist Movement is not German-based! Just because you see the German word 'Zeitgeist' doesn't automatically mean it is a German organization. There are chapters all over the world including Germany but its "headquarters" are in California although it is also largely an 'internet-movement.' To say it is German-based is just plain wrong.
As of now there are 3 films, not 4. Another error. The first film, 'Zeitgeist the Movie' was a personal project by Peter Joseph and has in essence nothing to do with the movement that started after the second film; 'Zeitgeist Addendum.' I know it can be confusing at times but once again, there's plenty of information on the internet and Zeitgeist websites who would have told you exactly this. We also don't claim to be a political movement! Lastly, Peter Joseph made a case against religion in his first film but that doesn't mean we advocate banishing religion. A person is free to believe what they want!

With so many errors in McElroy's article is becomes painfully obvious that the man hardly did any research. Just like Robin van Helsum, shoddy journalism seems to be...[see Title].

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