Friday, December 31, 2010

Religionist Distortions Of Reality

Now that the website "No Apologies" is entirely under Tim Bloedow's control, it seems to rapidly be spiraling into self-parody, with headlines for stories that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the actual story and snide little comments at the beginning of the stories which completely misrepresent things.

Consider the following:

Is Christopher Hitchens about to become a Christian?

The real story is a repost and link to Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame? posted in the National Post - a column authored by Mr. Hitchens, and expressing outrage at some of Henry Kissinger's acts during the Nixon years.

Posted at the top of the story is a particularly vile bit of snide commentary:

As a die-hard atheist, Christopher Hitchens should have total moral ambivalence, much like the author of the grotesque article on cannibalism printed on the facing page from Mr. Hitchens’ article in the National Post yesterday. (both were reprinted from Slate.com.) Instead, he sounds remarkably like a Christian with his moral outrage against Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Maybe Mr. Hitchens will yet become a Christian before he dies.


The assumption - and I've seen it expressed many times - is that someone who isn't explicitly "Christian" can't possibly have morals or a moral compass since they do not cleave to the rules dictated in Christian scripture. The assumption itself is quite ridiculous, since there are a lot of people who are not religious in the first place, and in general they aren't any more or less morally upright members of society than their religious peers. Being an atheist does not make one amoral as well - one doesn't need the guidance of scripture to figure out how to treat your fellow human beings with respect and dignity, a little bit of simple observation in society usually works just fine.

Then there's this little headline: Incest by IVF? – Teenager helped lesbian aunt’s partner conceive

As usual, there's several levels of distortion here. First is the use of the term incest. Apparently the author of the headline thought it would be clever to confuse incest with consanguinity.

The definition of incest is quite simple:

1. sexual intercourse between closely related persons.
2. the crime of sexual intercourse, cohabitation, or marriage between persons within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity wherein marriage is legally forbidden.


Consanguinity is a little harder to pronounce, but pretty straightforward to understand:

1. relationship by descent from a common ancestor; kinship ( distinguished from affinity).
2. close relationship or connection.


In the actual story, the issue (if there was one at all) might be one of consanguinity, since IVF doesn't involve sexual intercourse to the best of my knowledge.

Guess what? Unless the Aunt's partner was a fairly close blood relation, chances are that there is no issue with the consanguinity laws either.

In short, there is no real issue here - although an attempt has been made to associate what actually happened with incest, with all of its accompanying taboos.

Lastly, we find this more blatant distortion: “Transgender” activist demands total acceptance despite huge freedoms

The real story Film about transgender dad banned after director refuses to cut scenes comes from Thailand:

Thailand’s film board has banned a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, a move the director says highlights the conservative side of Thai society despite its freewheeling reputation.


Let's examine the degree of distortion between what the NoApologies headline says and implies and the real story for a moment.

(1) The word Transgender is placed in quotes. The implication is that the author of the headline is trying to suggest that the notion of transgenderism is fictitious.

(2) The use of the word Activist falsely implies that a transgender person who does something that gets into the public sphere is doing so for political reasons.

(3) The overall headline itself implies that transgender people should be happy with the freedoms that they already have, and that pointing out where there's still room to improve the situation is somehow unacceptable.

Lastly, I think it's important to point out that this story itself isn't really all that much different than the recent CBSC ruling about McVety's television show. Apparently it's "okay" to censor the work and words of transpeople that you want to marginalize, but not okay to limit the speech of someone like McVety. Frankly, I think it's a case of "pick one" - you can't have it both ways. Either free speech is an absolute with no limitations, or it has limits - and it applies to everybody.

I haven't seen the film in question myself, so I won't comment on its content specifically.

However, coming back to the original point, the headline that NoApologies put on this story has little, if anything, to do with the actual story itself.

Lifesite's news headlines are bad enough as a rule, but they usually have something to do with the actual story. In the last month or so, NoApologies has slide below the already low bar set by Lifesite ... and is becoming almost laughable.

1 comment:

dentedbluemercedes said...

I tend to think that "moral" and christian nationalism are mutually inverse concepts: http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/moral/