Saturday, 21 July 2007

You didn't see it coming???

It's often hard to get perspective on different media stories when those who are feeding you the information want you to understand something less than the whole truth. Most media bias does not show up in anything as obvious as complete fabrications of the truth. Although as the media gets bolder and thus less accountable, we are beginning to see some fairly feeble attempts at unbiased journalism

What happens is that the media publishes articles that don't seem to be directly related in a way that helps you to think about a certain situation from a particular perspective without actually being aware that you are doing so. In a sense the media predisposes you to certain conclusions that just happen to appear in some article that ties it all together at a later time.

Now I am not trying to whet the appetite of conspiracy theorists, rather I am saying that the people who report the news are not always doing so without a particular slant. You might say that is the pot calling the kettle black. Well I don't report the news, I comment it. And my catholic's perspective is the first thing you see when you open the site. I am not hiding anything. 

Let's take three articles and see what conclusion they naturally lead to. I just did a search on the BBC- three common terms reported in the media: catholic, sex and homophobia and checked what came up under the heading 'recent articles'.
Now most of us are disturbed to hear that children are suffering violence in school. No child should be subject to abuse in any form- that's a given amongst decent folk. Yet alarmingly children are being subject to disturbing forms of abuse. Our natural reaction is outrage and we want someone (the government) to do something about it. What, we don't know- we just want it stopped. 

One of the most disturbing aspects of this article is that the reader is being set-up. Notice that all the juicy words are in the first few lines "children", "physical attack", "verbal threats" and the knock-out punch "death threats." Now that they have any decent parent/ person sufficiently horrified and on their side, they throw in this rather vague quote in the middle so it's not too noticeable:

"'Even if gay pupils are not experiencing bullying, they are learning in an environment where homophobic language and comments are common place', the report said."

By now your mind has rather stopped at the thought that children, possibly one day even yours, are at risk. Leaving aside the whole 'gay pupil' thing and how on earth they know from a survey which pre-pubescent or teenage children can make up their minds about such a thing when most don't even know what they want to do next week. However, the comment doesn't specify what forms of homophobic language are offensive- i.e. homosexuality is a sin? Homosexuality doesn't correspond to God's plan for men and women? Homosexual marriage is immoral? Hmm... it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, doesn't it?

Now we are not told anything about those doing the research, what criteria they used or how they went about their survey. We're just told that they did it for the kids- so we should trust them, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.
This article is less remarkable since it just comes out and names the principle perpetrator of homophobia- the Catholic Church. In language fit for post WWII celebrations, this new law is hailed as "a major step forward in ensuring the dignity, respect and fairness for all." Against whom- against the big bad homophobic Catholic Church whose current policy openly discriminates against those loving and caring gay couples who just want to complete their family with the love of a child. 
The article of the moment and with the topic of the day- that whopping great pay out over the clergy sexual abuse claim- $600,000,000 must buy you a lot of buggery. In most people's minds that sounds like a lot of guilt. And what's it all over- child sexual abuse.

Let's recap the central themes of these three articles:
  1. homophobic violence against children,
  2. homophobic institution,
  3. institution guilty of violence against children. 
What conclusions do you draw? It's as simple as one, two, three...

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