As God is my witness

What do evangelical Christian journalists mean by ‘objectivity’?

The current issue of the Columbia Journalism review carries a story about the World Journalism Institutean institution which "seeks to identify aspiring journalists who are Christians and help them become proficient and professional in their calling of journalism." The Institute’s original mission statement attracted some criticism and it’s not hard to understand why. If you believe that anything which contradicts the Bible is obviously untrue, then how will cope with the idea of journalistic objectivity?

The World‘s Marvin Olasky makes the Biblical position clear:

The Bible condemns homosexuality so clearly that only the most shameless of those who twist Scripture can try to assert the practice’s biblical acceptability. Biblical objectivity means showing the evil of homosexuality; balancing such stories by giving equal time to gay activists is ungodly journalism.

Interestingly the World Journalism Institute’s Robert Case II says that it is America’s homosexuals who taught him how to go about setting things right:

We have created an evangelical ghetto, and so we’ve forfeited the right to speak to the mainstream media. For years, gay journalists were excluded from the mainstream newsrooms, and so they developed a strategy to mainstream themselves. Looking at how the gays have used their intelligence and their gifts and their talents to mainstream themselves would be a role model for us.

No doubt there are are some ‘secular humanist’ journalists who think that giving evangelical Christian perspectives equal coverage in the media is ‘unethical journalism.’

Is there a kind of journalistic objectivity which transcends the culture wars? Or do we all have to choose sides?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
35 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alan Green
2022 years ago

I know I’m being picky again, but a quick flick through the Marvin Olasky page shows that he is not representative of what, say Sydney Anglicans, would label “Evangelical Christian.” It’s not even Assemblies of God style personal wealth accumulation. If I had to put a label to it, I’d say “American muscular Christianity.”

“Is there a kind of journalistic objectivity which transcends the culture wars?” I’d say no. We all see the world through the filter of our own experiences and assumptions.

While a good journalist will allow for their own world-view and attempt to present reality as it is, the good reader also has a responsibility to get their information from diverse sources and to make their own judgements.

Link
2022 years ago

Alan, I agree, journalistic objectivity is a quaint old fashioned notion, post-modernism has at least taught us that fact.

Its a problem all this so-called Christian stuff, nevertheless the secular west needs some sort of moral structure, lest if completely fall prey to the greed is good mentality. Can we live without a moral structure? What do we base such a structure on? The golden rule has been re worked to “he who has the gold makes the rules”, but there remains a little spark in our bleating hearts that whimpers, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Link, I agree with both your points. But I think it’s both possible and desirable to achieve something fairly closely resembling objectivity in news reporting if not comment/opinion. And there should be a much clearer differentiation between news and opinion (and between news, comment and “advertorial”) than seems to have become the current norm in the mainstream media.

And even in opinion, it’s desirable to acknoweldge the existence of conflicting opinions, and to avoid as far as possible rhetorical and logical sins like misdescribing opposing positions and setting up straw men which you then effortlessly demolish. To some extent we all fall prey to these sins on occasion, but at least if we’re aware of the tendency and try to combat it we might end up with more civil (and therefore more productive) discourse. Even where expression of opinion is passionate, and participants less willing to acknowledge their opponents’ arguments (or avoid mischaracterising them and firing other cheap shots), a good editor would make sure that the prejudicial opinion piece was counterbalanced by one putting the opposing position.

So I don’t think journalistic objectivity is a “quaint old fashioned notion”, and I don’t think post-modernism negated the force of at least aspiring to it.

As for religion and “he who has the gold makes the rules”, the irony of the Pentecostalists is that they wholeheartedly embrace both the getting of gold and their own divine right to make the rules and impose them on everyone else. That’s what makes them so dangerously repugnant. As you might have noticed from some of my previous posts on this topic, I strongly agree with your point about the need to find common values and a morality involving sharing, tolerance, mutual care, sense of community etc, but certainly not by authoritarian means. The Pentecostalists seem in most respects to be the antithesis of the sorts of common values to which I think we should all aspire.

Link
2022 years ago

Thanks Ken, what you’re describing sounds like debate. If I set out every thought I had in this form, I wouldn’t get anywhere, argument can go on and on, this way/that way etcetra. Good debate is . . good. I have no problem reading heavily biased views, there seems to be a pretty even spread of them. but

Sometimes you want to hear the truth trumpted loud and clear, (damn the liars, they will live to lie another day). Not giving so much creedence to so-called objectivity, allows for a pureness of truth to sound out from the soul. Bugger the dischord let me sometimes hear a crystal bell, for it soothes my worried soul.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

What big Marvin says is perfectly correct however I would argue that Adultery and fornication are more damaging to society today than homosexuality.

Thus I would argue it is values espoused by Ken Parish or Jason soon which are more harmful to society thah Geoff Honnor’s.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

I’m not sure about Jason, but I certainly don’t advocate adultery or fornication. What I DO advocate very strongly is loving tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and a realisation that we don’t and can’t know our neighbour’s business or the rights and wrongs of his/her personal situation. That is why I advocate liberal principles, especially the legal right of consenting adults to behave as they wish in private as long as non-consenting parties and children aren’t hurt/affected adversely.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “judgment is mine, said the Lord” seem to be biblical principles that the fundies/religious right happily ignore, in favour of ones that allow them to judge and condemn according to their own selective morality. If Jesus ever returns, I’ll give you short odds that one of his first acts will be to cast the greedy, hypocritical, sanctimonious pentecostals out of their temples, and give the more narrow-minded judgmental evangelicals a very stern dressing-down at the very least. None of them are exhibiting Christian values as I read Christ’s teachings.

One of the best comments on this succession of posts IMO came from Dan, who said about the difference between “mainstream” Christians and Pentecostalists, evangelists and other “fundamentalists” (leaving aside disagreement about wht we mean by that term):
The salvation theology above is quite modernist – there is a “right” answer on most theological, social and moral questions and it can be determined. Everything else is sin. The B christians (which to avoid the use of labels is everyone who doesn’t fall into the above description) will also have strongly held beliefs about theological, social and moral questions. However, the difference is that they will allow that it is not possible to know the mind of God with such certainty, and other positions may also be an expression of a deep faith in and obedience to God. B christians might say that while they believe that members of society at large would benefit from believing in, knowing and following God, to the extent that they don’t, it is insufficient to make the rules on the basis of “God said so”.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken , you are the only person I know of who can think a half baked reason which involves ‘only technical sex’ that a husband/wife can have with another person and not view it as adultery.

tto put one of the sayings you have into context. Let he is without sin cast the first stone is amde when a crowd wish to stone an adulteress. however you need to realise to ‘convist’ her she need to be in the ‘act. Obviously someone in clothes fleeing a crowd has not been ‘caught in the act’.

Pointing out what things are sinful is not the same as judging someone.

Afterall we are ALL sinners. I am no better than you or anyone else. I have merely recieved grace.

to put it another way ALL christians are hypocrites because it is impossible to practice what we preach thus the need for daily repentance.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Gee, thanks Homer! Exactly when did I advocate adultery? All I said in one post about Ross Cameron was that such weakness is understandable. Being weak-willed and hedonistic myself I will not cast the first stone! But I do believe in a monogamous relationship. Now, as for fornication it depends on how you define it. If you want you mean is sex before marriage then I plead guilty, but this isn’t inconsistent with monogamy. Marriage is just the piece of paper you get at your local council.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Actually when I was talking about Ken and yourself I was referring to values rather than support for A or F. I was only doing this as both of you have wriiten about them. I am pretty confident thy would gain wide support amongst the blogosphere but not amongst the community.
I hasten to add nor would mine.

apologies for not making myself clearer.

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Other commenters have made this point, but I’m curious about what people think. Ken objects to the fundamentalists because they “make the rules and impose them on everyone else.” But isn’t this what greens try to do when they propose banning GM crops? And isn’t this what David Marr is suggesting that the government ought to do?

As I understand it, Ken’s point about shared values is that we can’t avoid having laws which embody moral values (am I right Ken?) so unless we have some values in common it’s going to be hard to have a functioning society.

Some examples might be a prohibition on child pornography (not controversial but hardly value free) or laws against torturing animals (cock fighting etc).

I guess the argument some people would make against fundamentalist Christians as legislators is that they refuse to debate their values. Instead they claim authority from scripture as a mandate.

Curiously this seems to fairly close to where David Marr was heading in his Overland lecture. I think he’d argue that the Australian government ought to allow asylum seekers into the country regardless of what the community’s view is. I think he’d say that politicians ought to ignore the public if the public’s view is morally reprehensible.

I suspect that Marr believes that journalists have a responsibility to place some opinions outside the mainsteam – to not use some people as sources and to not quote their views in newspapers.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Don

I won’t touch on Marr’s lecture, except to observe that liberalism has always exhibited an uneasy ambivalence about the potential unfairness to individuals and minorities flowing from the “tyranny of the majority”. It’s an uneasiness and ambivalence that I share.

Otherwise, you’re more or less correctly characterising my position. However, I think values should only be embodied in legislation (and therefore imposed coercively) where potential victims of breach of those values cannot take care of themselves. That caveat explains prohibitions on child pronography and torturing animals. In consensual situations involving adults who are sui juris, I don’t think it’s the law’s business to impose any particular set of values. Hence my objection to Family First etc.

We can and should attempt by civil, civic dialogue to reach ongoing agreement about common values, duties etc, because that’s important to an ordered, reasonably cohesive society, but most of those values should remain in the realm of morality rather than law. One might even argue that coerced moral behaviour isn’t really ‘moral’ at all. The law is only one of many social constraints on behaviour, and in many situations a blunt and inappropriate instrument.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Don
you are conflating ‘impose values on the rest of us’ with ‘make rules and impose them on the rest of us’. Some Greens may believe in protecting the environment because they don’t want to offend Gaia but in public at least they are willing to put up *utilitarian* arguments that appeal to the one thing we have in common absent shared values, our long run rational self-interest (e.g. what happens if that GM crop gets into your food and you’re allergic to X?)
Family Firsters make some attempts at this for some of their policies (e.g. internet filtering -appeal to concerns about child porn where at least everyone seems to have shared values that children not be exposed to sex) but overall their policies are based on non-utilitarian cpnsiderations which are therefore not capable of broad appeal but depend on imposing their tastes.

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Jason,

OK, I see the distinction between making rules and imposing values. For example, it’s not hard to get people to agree that it’s in everyone’s interest to drive on one side of the road or the other. The only question is which side we choose.

But I’m not sure appealing to utilitarianism solves the values-in-politics problem. There are several difficulties I can think of off the top of my head:

1. Choosing utilitarianism (of whatever kind) over rival moral systems involves a value judgement. What’s so good about human happiness or preference satisfaction?

2. Self-interest is more slippery a concept than it appears. With narrow definitions (eg more money/material possessions) it’s not obviously a good thing and with wide definitions (whatever a person desires – including suicide or self-punishment)it’s vacuous.

3. Deep greens don’t justify biodiversity on the grounds that it makes people better off. They believe that the natural world has intrinsic value (something utilitarians choose to bestow only on human mental states).

4. Fundamentalists often justify their moral rules the same way greens do – they argue that it’s dangerous to tamper with ‘nature.’ For example, they sometimes argue that if everyone had listened to them and abstained from IV drugs, fornication, and gay sex then AIDS would never have become a problem. Similarly they might say that while they can’t predict what terrible things might happen if you allow lesbians to adopt children it’s best to be on the safe side. It’s the precautionary principle.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Don

I don’t especially want to have an argument about whether belief in liberal democratic values or social democratic values or utilitarianism or whatever is any more or less ‘distal’ than religious fundamentalism or green ideology. I think both liberal and social democracy are clearly more capable of being justified by rational, logical argumentation than religious moral codes imposed on others against their wills, but belief in the inherent worth of rationality and logic is itself ‘distal’.

I’m entirely prepared to defend my beliefs on that basis and advocate that they ought to be preferred over more rigid, coercive value systems, because I’m very confident that the vast majority accept some version of liberal democratic values as well as some aspects of social democracy, and that they’ll continue doing so whatever tricks and slick packaging the god-botherers attempt. But I also think the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And I accept that my preferences and beliefs are culturally and historically determined as well as ‘distal’. I don’t occupy an archimedian position, and nor do you. Does that get you where you want the argument to lead?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW It might not surprise you to learn that one of my favourite modern philosophers is legal academic Ronald Dworkin, and one of my favourite essays of his is one called “Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe It”. The whole thing is worth reading and it’s fairly long-winded, but the concluding paragraph is powerful and accessible:
We want to live decent, worthwhile lives, lives we can look back on with pride not shame. We want our communities to be fair and good and our laws to be wise and just. These are enormously difficult goals, in part because the issues at stake are complex and puzzling. When we are told that whatever convictions we do struggle to reach cannot in any case be true or false, or objective, or part of what we know, or that they are just moves in a game of language, or just steam from the turbines of our emotions, or just experimental projects we should try for size, to see how we get on, or just invitations to thoughts that we might find diverting or amusing or less boring than the ways we used to think, we must reply that these denigrating suggestions are all false, just bad philosophy. But these are pointless, unprofitable, wearying interruptions, and we must hope that the leaden spirits of our age, which nurture them, soon lift.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Don
I’ve long given up trying to square the circle. I accept that perhaps utilitarianism is itself a sort of unjustified value system and like Ken I would just claim that it is capable of broader appeal (and is the basis on which liberal/social democracy is founded) than Scriptural-based value systems. Perhaps I’d also throw in that it’s the closest you can get to an Archimedian point since it would be the value system people would be most willing to accept if they were fully rationally attuned to why other narrower value systems tend to conflict even more with each other and lead to more strife if implemented.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken is under tha assumption that ‘fundamentalists’ would impose their values on society and he doesn’t like that.

Let us leave aside the hypocrisy that only ‘tolerant’ people like ken are allowed to impose their views on society is there any basis for Ken’s assumption?

to a degree Ken is right but on another he is wrong.
I am the closest you wil get ot a big F in the blogosphere.

The Scriptures show a clear seperation of church and state.Give to Casear etc.

no person reading the scriptures would support a theocracy if only because the elect are so small in numbers!

however there is no question christians shoud lobby to support policies critical to society whether they be moral such as marriage, refugees, war or economic in assisting the poor.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

Restricting abortion, stem cell research, IVF, euthanasia, gay marriage and other gay rights, censorship etc etc all seem to be part of the fundamentalist policy agenda to varying extents. All of them are significant restrictions of the rights of adults in a liberal democratic society to make their own choices about their own behaviour, and not have them dictated to them by god-botherers who think they’re entitled to impose their values on other adults against their wills.

As for your bizarre remark that “only ‘tolerant’ people like ken are allowed to impose their views on society”, well it’s not only bizarre but utterly illogical. I don’t advocate that any adult should be forced (imposed on) to engage in homosexual activity, view pornography, have an abortion etc. You should be completely free to choose whether you do any of these things or not. Moreover, most of them are not things I would personally choose myself. My own lifestyle probably differs little if at all from that of the average church-going christian.

It’s the god-botherers who are attempting to “impose” their own moral code on others, by seeking to change the law to prevent adults from making their own choices in these areas. That you could seriously claim any linkage between the god-botherers’ position and mine just underlines how utterly devoid of rationality or intellectual merit the whole fundamentalist project really is. Allowing people the freedom to choose and denying them that freedom are not the same thing. They’re opposites.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

that a nice rationalisation Ken but essentially you are saying it is quite all right for your minority views to be imposed on society but not the God botherers.

you see nothing wrong on imposing your moral code but do not like others doing it and then try and legimatise this by saying it is all about choice.

It is not just the god botherers who are bothered about child pornography for example and then of course you have to define the line between what is all right for adults and for children.

your major problem is that Society is still governed by absolute values which is in conflict with your post modern relativist position.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

Your reference to child pornography is mischievous and irrelevant. I’ve previously specified that liberal freedom in no sense denies protection of children or other non-sui juris groups. And your reference to my supposed “post modern relativist position” is simply misconceived. There is nothing post-modern or relativist about a position that espouses a clear and definite liberal democratic position. Have a read of the Dworkin article I linked and quoted in an earlier comment.

Let’s run the gauntlet of Godwin’s Law, and test your argument. The Nazis had a moral code that believed Jews were evil and should be liquidated. Liberals have a moral code which believes adults should be able to believe and worship as they choose. Are you really suggesting these two positions are intellectually (or morally) equivalent? The Nazis would probably have agreed with you, but one suspects the Jews would have had a rather different perspective on whether liberal democratic freedoms were being “imposed” on them in the same sense as the nazi final solution.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Having now calmed down a bit from intense irritation provoked by Homer’s (silly) comments, I thought I’d better post a clarification in a bid to mitigate the unpleasantness that Nazi analogies invariably evoke. It was obviously intended as a reductio ad absurdum. I’m not in any sense suggesting that the policies of Family First, Hillsong et al are to be equated in any meaningful sense with Nazism (although they’re clearly significantly further along the continuum towards authoritarianism than classical liberalism). I was simply attempting to make the emphatic point that you can’t sensibly equate a moral code that “imposes” on adults the right to choose their own behaviour with one that denies them those choices. Using the word “impose” in both cases is a serious perversion of both logic and the English language.

Perhaps a less inflammatory analogy might be to compare the “imposition” of an income tax of $20,000, payable on pain of imprisonment, bankruptcy etc, with an opportunity to donate the same amount to charity if you wish, with no sanctions against those who choose not to do so. Can you sensibly say that both are being “imposed” on people? Apparently if you’re a Christian fundamentalist (or rather evangelical) like Homer, you can!!!

dan
dan
2022 years ago

Ken, I feel your pain. A couple of points. The first is that what has been described as the “fundamentalist policy agenda” does not at all reflect the diversity of theological and social thought in “the church” in the global sense. The current debate/schism in the global anglican church is an example of this.

The idea about the sort of organisation above is that it purports to represent “christians” but really only represents the sub-category that agree with the particular definition of “christian” that the organisation holds. I know plenty of christians who are horrified by the Australian Christian Lobby.

I think that the discussion about the values based discussion is interesting, but we could never agree even on a way to approach it let alone agree on what the basis of it should be. I would value a public discourse that expresses the diversity of the values/philosophical underpinnings of those that commentate on public issues. That is, that we don’t have a framework so much as a public discussion from different points of view.

Unfortunately the idea of reflecting a diversity of values systems seems to be dismissed as political correctness by most today, whereas identifying with a small sub-set of protestant western christianity is seen as reflecting the values of the “majority of Australians”.

Don
Don
2022 years ago

Ken & Jason,

I guess my worry with fundamentalism is that there is no neat philosophical argument that can dispose of it simply and easily.

It seems to me that political liberalism is what you do when philosophical argument doesn’t work. We live in a society where many of us have quite different ideas about what it means to live a good life. We can’t agree on what an ideal society would look like.

The way liberal democracies have dealt with this has been through habits and practices that separate ‘private’ and ‘public’ spheres. For example, despite the fact that many Americans are Christians, the elite media (eg the NYT) won’t treat appeals to scripture as valid moves in an argument. Even if this is what you personally believe you have to find some other argument for your position. Religious beliefs get relegated to the private sphere. This isn’t the case in every society. In some societies the government takes sides.

Fundamentalists see where these tacit boundaries between public and private are more clearly than the rest of us do. Because some of them believe that the authority of scripture can be rationally demonstrated, they think these arguments belong in the public sphere. They feel as if their views are being unreasonably censored.

The problem I have with some utilitarians and welfare economists is that they behave like fundamentalist Christians. They believe that everyone else is being irrational and that their position can be proved with logic. They want to fight it out in the public sphere.

It seems to me that we have to accept that some philosophical arguments are intractable. What we need to do is find some way of getting on with our lives even though we disagree on things we think are fundamentally important.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

Don
and why has it been the ‘habit and practice’ of liberal democracies to deal with these issues the way they have? could the confluence of these habits and practices have been implicitly adopted because of historical experience combined with an underlying development of theory that suggests that they ‘work well’? I realise all this is iffy and not as clearly defined as Euclid’s elements but in the end don’t you get down to some utilitarian justification for adopting this confluence of ‘habits and practices’ that involve maximising opportunities for ‘preference satisfaction’ but ignoring the ‘psychic externalities’ in the social calculus that translates, among other things, into being concerned with physical pollution but not ‘moral pollution’ ?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I think it CAN be demonstrated (albeit imprecisely) by examination of the historical record that the freedoms and values of the Rationalist Enlightenment (which include curiosity, scepticism, scientific method and, ultimately, formal political liberalism) have produced a much higher level of human dynamism, intellectual and artistic creativity and material progress than other more authoritarian systems of human governance.

Of course that assertion, even if you accept that it’s provable (or falsifiable if you prefer), involves the ‘distal’ value that dynamism, creativity and material progress are higher level values than obedience, order and social harmony/stability. Fairly clearly we also need those latter components to some extent for a functioning society where dynamism, creativity and progress can flower. Part of the reason for the current renaissance of conservative religious values lies in a perception that the Rationalist Enlightenment emphasis on individualism and rights has gone too far and now threatens social order, stability and harmony.

But ironically, as Nick eloquently argues on my “Dworkin on the Presidential election” post, heavy-handed coerced imposition of right-fundamentalist christian prescriptions itself actually potentially threatens social order, stability and harmony in a very serious way.

I actually agree with some of the concerns of those who fear that we are losing sight of the need for some core agreed values to maintain order/stability/harmony, but I think the only viable way to achieve this (in the context of a Rationalist Enlightenment ethos that cannot and should not be wound back) is through non-coerced means: – civil and civic dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect for diversity (which are in themselves some of the core agreed values I think we must have).

Don adds to that picture the observation that aggressively intolerant rationalists/utilitarians are as much of a threat to order/stability/harmony and civil society as are the intolerant extreme fundamentalist christians, and that we should agree to disagree and live and let live. I agree. But I’m not sure where that gets us. Pleas for tolerance and deep civility only work with those who value those qualities. For zealots who are convinced of their own moral or intellectual rectitude and infallibility*, and who believe that entitles them to impose their prescriptions by force on everyone else, those sorts of pleas don’t have resonance. And where those zealots begin organising politically and utilising sophisticated PR, advertising, psychology and lobbying skills to prosecute and impose their agenda on the rest of us, it may be that advocates of tolerance and civility might eventually have to aggressively defend their preferred values. That is, be aggressively intolerant of intolerance.

*To be more accurate, the infallibility the Religous Right profess to rely on is not their own but that of the Word of God as revealed through their pastors. The fact that the Word just happens to coincide with their own interests and aspirations must be overlooked. As must the frequent revelations that the pastors on whose interpretations of the Word of God they rely are invariably deeply flawed and compromised men. Hillsong’s Houston father and son duo are classic examples of that phenomenon.

In fact, one of the things I find most remarkable about the Pentecostalists especially is that so many of their pastors have backgrounds in sales and marketing, an industry where integrity and honesty are highly valued qualities: – if you can fake them, as they say, you’ve got it made.

Nick
Nick
2022 years ago

As a committed Secularist with non-believer tendencies, yet tolerant of other’s beliefs provided they don’t impose on my or my partners civil rights & privacy, i find the divisive politics & bullying tactics of the aptly referred to ‘muscular Christians’ simply repulsive. So often we set our focus upon the purveyors of ‘discrimination/hate messages’ & discover, not to our surprise, that the ‘greed for gain’ mentality lies behind their motivations, a manipulation of the political arena in order to gain access to those in power who can ascertain a specific property deal, promote a particular fossil fuel company or energy sector and so on. Also, how many times have we seen a corrupt politician, celebrity, businessperson & other high profile individuals revert to a ‘born again’ defence stance in order to gain public & legal forgiveness. Really irks me! I’m extremely cynical when it comes to the Fundamentalist Christian leadership…those who live less like Christ & more like Howard Hughes or Hugh Hefner. The issues this leadership purport to believe wholeheartedly in seems to have little bearing on the reality of their lifestyle when examined carefully by the media & such. Overt propaganda that attempts to mobilise a population against a common enemy & promotes bigotry, uniformity & discrimination is often utilised by leaders who have financial & ‘ultimate control over their own paranoia-filled space’ interests in mind, combined with a touch of lunacy & hard core prejudice stemming from mental/physical illness &/or deep trauma & neuroses/phobias…the demi-god attitude, ‘I/We know what’s best for you’ deriving from personality flaws & compulsive/obsessive behavioral patterns based on abandonment & rejection fears etc…case in point Hitler.
Having grown up in 60s Australia & 70s North America time after time I witnessed a type of politics that promoted irrational fear of the non-white population, an outward hatred for anything gay or assertive female(‘fag’ was a common word bandied about in the mainstream, a label utilised to demean any individual, particularly male who demonstrated any gay or stereotypical feminine traits). The changes in society due to technological progress, the alteration & occas. diminishment of job sectors due to early globalisation”

Alan Green
2022 years ago

Hoo-boy! This comment thread has ended up a long way from the topic of Don’s post :)

What I drew from the comments thread: (a) getting people to agree about everything is impossible, and when their world-views differ it’s worse; (b) where people disagree, we have elections to decide the laws, but that’s a blunt instrument, so it’s better to do it through consensus; (c) there has to be give and take in the consensus process, everybody’s going to end up happy about some results and unhappy about others.

To tie it back to journalistic standards, media that sets out to present multiple views on a subject – “just the facts, Mam” – is a valuable part of the consensus process.

I don’t mind the systematic kind of prejudgment and filtering espoused by the World Journalism Institute (hey, I read EvilPundit) so long as the publication is up front about it. From a purely secular point of view, the worst thing about the World Journalism Institute is that they present their views as though they were both completely normal and utterly unfalsifiable.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken,
you still can’t define the line between sex between children and adults indeed my guess is that you couldn’t with adults either.
Is it consensual when the woman says yes or does she mean no.

The major problem here is that you do not like people who say things are moral amd immoral or right and wrong.

I am surprised that a person at law would dispute a society does not try to impose a moral standard on people.

Last time I looked we try to impose a moral standard on subjects such as murder, robberry et al.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

I’m getting a bit tired of this discussion, but I’ll reply out of a sense of duty and deep civility.

1. Any form of sexual contact between children and adults is morally wrong and should also be treated as a serious crime. I think the Australian courts generally punish pedophiles too leniently.

2. Consensual sex between adults (hetero or same sex) is no business of the law. However, there is sometimes an issue in rape cases about whether a party consented or not. That is an evidentiary question rather than a moral one. However, I think there is a reasonable case for stronger protections against aggressive cross-examination of alleged victims by defence lawyers and a range of other measures to make the court process less traumatic for victims.

3. I am not a post-modernist or moral relativist. I have a personal sense of morality (right and wrong) that I’d back against yours any day of the week. But morality and law are not the same thing. There are some forms of behaviour which, though you and I may both agree they are immoral, should not be illegal. Lying and malicious gossip are examples. All consensual sexual activity between adults, and viewing pornography (other than violent stuff and child porn), also fall into that category.

4. Enacting and enforcing laws does, however, necessarily involve making judgments about which sorts of conduct should be made illegal and how severely they should be punished. Generally speaking, as I said, consensual sexual activity between adults should not be criminalised.

5. Similarly, many other targets of the christian fundamentalists are also no business of the law, again because they are consensual and there are no victims to protect. IVF; stem cell research; contraception; and euthanasia (albeit that there’s a need to ensure fully informed consent and for protection against people being pressured by unscrupulous relatives); are all in that category. So is early term abortion, but late term abortion raises much more difficult questions. Thus I support laws that make late term abortion difficult to obtain other than in exceptional circumstances (which is the law through most of Australia).

6. Finally, I agree that murder, rape, robbery etc are morally wrong and should be treated as serious crimes (as they are throughout Australia and just about all other countries). I doubt that there would be many people, even strong libertarians (of which I’m not one), who would argue otherwise.

So what exactly are you arguing about, Homer?

saint
2022 years ago

I’ve just noticed Ken that you get very cogent when you are deeply civil.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Ken ,
let us see what your superior morality leads us to.

3) means fornication, Adultery as well as dealings with prostitutes is okay. Of course to 60’s children there are no effects on society with this. I might add if this is an example of absolute moral standards then the bar is so low there is little point in having it.

your problem with that of other 60’s hedonistic children is that altough you rightly detest of any form of sexual contact betwen children and adults you have to define children something you haven’t done for reasons I can understand.

you approve of abortion despite that last survey of 10,00 odd I saw in the Medical journal i think where the main reason was simply lifestyle. In other words people have sex but don’t take any responsibilities. very 60’s.
Mind you when a woman is preganat these days they are asked if they wish to test that the baby has certain ‘defects’ such as downs syndrome. I remember asking what was the point of this and was immediately answered so you could abort it. Now you can abort babies simply if they may be dwarfs!

This reminds me of your fantastic rationalisation of a wife having sex with another man to have a child that was not possible with her husband. you didn’t believe that was adultery because it was only sex in a technical way!

The main argument simply is ken is that your moral code has a lot of fine lines in it such as where does the line start for Adult/children sexual activity or pornography?

On the other hand God’s code is pretty simple however despite that we all fall short of it.

yours is very complex and has never worked.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

My deep civility is exhausted. You keep asserting that I hold positions and opinions that bear no relationship whatever to what I’ve actually said (or believe). There is simply no point in having a discussion (civil or otherwise) with someone who simply ignores everything one says, and goes on repeating claims that I believe things that I’ve quite specifically and clearly negated.

trackback
2022 years ago

Revenge of the god-botherers

I’m not going to revive the shorter Hendo series, but today’s Gerry can’t be allowed to slide past. “Once again, the times are a’changing (in Bob Dylan’s terminology)” begins the director of the Sydney Institute. Wrong. Dylan actually wrote “the…

trackback
2022 years ago

US: conservatism

I’m sitting having a morning coffee and reading the New York Review of Books. I was catching up on the

trackback
2022 years ago

clash of civilizations

There has been some discussion of the rise of religious conservatism in Australia has a result of the shift to the right in the Australian federal election. The discussions be found at John Quiggin’s place, at Chris Shiel’s Back Pages at Troppo Armadil…