Bitching Brew

Monday, December 19, 2005

Trash on Fox (!!!) and gay weddings in Belfast.

Well, I've had less time (and motivation) to blog over the last week than I would normally. Which is a little odd, given that term's over. I thought I'd be writing much more now. I haven't been in the mood for writing, nor have I really had the time - hard at study. An awful lot needs to get done over the next three weeks. Aaah! I need some release; an unusual tension has been wound up in my muscles for the past few weeks, and still is. I can't afford a masseur, unfortunately!

I have a few posts in mind. Hopefully I'll type them up tonight and over the next couple of days. One about a meandering wander through Dublin, one about why I'm looking forward, as ever, to the New Year rather than Christmas, and another about the WTO trade talks and why the 'compromise deal' they reached yesterday is a bit of a crock. Unless I decide to write about something else, of course.


I was flicking through the channels during breakfast this morning, and came across a Fox "News" special about religion in public life - essentially, the separation of church and state. There were two clear agendas with this programme. First - that religion ought to be brought back into the public and political sphere. Second - to get Judge Samuel Alito confirmed to the Supreme Court. That was crystal clear from the closing minutes. You call this 'fair and balanced'?

May I say that both agendas are valid points of view to have - whether I agree with them or not. To make a one-hour special advocating such agendas, with a couple of token dissenting opinions, is neither news nor investigative reporting - it's a blatantly political broadcast. A strict party line was adhered to throughout - anti-separation advocates had at least three times the total speaking time of their opponents. (I was eating breakfast - didn't have a stopwatch. It was an approximate count.)

The historical presentation was select in the extreme. True, the pilgrims were devoutly Christian. Yet they portrayed the founders of the US as unanimously religious. According to their own writings, that's a lie. Many were known sceptics, some of the most famous being deists. Benjamin Franklin was one; he didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus, though he was an admirer of his moral teachings. Likewise Thomas Jefferson. The influential writer Thomas Paine? Famous deist. It's such a pathetic thing to lie about. The overwhelming majority of the founders were sincerely Christian - why not leave it at that? Why the need to misrepresent the remaining few as well?

They decided to attack Hugo Black's (the original strict constructionist!) judgement in Everson v. Board of Education by resorting to the genetic fallacy. It's quite true that Black had a shady past, but if that's your best weapon in the debate, you might as well give up the argument. Unless of course, rhetoric trumps logic. Hmph!

Needless to say, in its overview of the historical relationship between religion and government, the programme didn't once mention the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously passed by the US Senate in 1797.

Art. 11.
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Bah. I hate shoddy journalism. Which is why I wouldn't dare call myself a journalist. ;)

Just because you say you're 'fair and balanced' every 15 minutes doesn't make you fair and balanced. (Though it seems to convince some people.) The lady doth protest too much, eh? Similarly, I could tell everyone - repeatedly - that I was gay... but I still wouldn't be gay. An example chosen to lead nicely onto the news that the UK had its first gay weddings this morning. In Belfast, of all places. Congratulations to the happy couples! Strictly speaking, these were civil partnership ceremonies, not weddings, but they're a huge step in the right direction.

This being Belfast, there were the usual fossilised protesters. To quote Yeats: "You have disgraced yourselves again."

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