Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

Practical propaganda



The first two books released in the Magic Propaganda Mill’s new Fast Furious Free downloadable book series live up to their promise of “quick and sketchy” material “written, researched, illustrated, designed and published” in less than two weeks. The facts seem decently checked and the topics are valid, but typos and hastily thrown-together drawings keep these short e-books in the realm of pamphlets handed out by weirdos at the bus station.

Magic Propaganda Mill is probably most famous for Cortés’s notably better-put-together It’s Just a Plant: A Children’s Guide to Marijuana, a youngster’s primer that seeks to combat the war on drugs by depicting scary, irresponsible pothead parents taking their daughter on a field trip to a weed farm and allowing her to chat with a street gang about the various slang terms for sticky icky, and surprisingly doesn’t end with a visit from Child Protective Services.

Jury: Welcome to the Special Power covers similar ground, explaining in moronically simple terms the wonders of jury nullification — the right to vote “not guilty” when the accused has clearly broken a law the juror disagrees with — mostly to inform potential jury pools that they can vote to release nonviolent drug-crime offenders regardless of their “guilt.” Though the book gets awfully preachy toward the end, instructing the reader exactly when this right should be exercised, and seems to gloss over some of nullifcation’s more sinister uses (the fact that racist white juries have used the principal to free perpetrators of hate crimes is only briefly mentioned), the idea is important and rarely mentioned in an actual court of law, so anyone unfamiliar with the concept should take a look before their next stint of jury duty.

Lil’ Craze Going on in South America, however, is less useful. Cortés, apparently better at writing material for children, seems overwhelmed tracking the reaming the U.S. military has given South America in the past few decades. The history of covert military operations, puppet governments, and shady economics is too much for a 13-page book thrown together in 12 days. Though Cortés admirably owns up to the book’s limitations and encourages readers to do their own research, this jumbling of military, intelligence, and corporate activities reads like it was copied and pasted from several loosely related Wikipedia articles and isn’t really coherent enough to serve as even a proper introduction for the uninformed. The effort to get this often unpublicized information out to the apathetic and largely ignorant public in a free booklet is commendable, but the issue is too complicated for a rush job. Bus-stop crazies and jurors unschooled in the laws they’re about to enforce can view or download these books (in Adobe Acrobat format) at Hopefully, Cortés will revisit these topics later, when he has a little more time for them.

Jury: Welcome to the Special Power
Lil’ Craze Going on in South America
Ricardo Cortés
Magic Propaganda Mill
18 pages/13 pages

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