[11]   Society (2): Mass Media & Political Correctness

STORY: One evening, I was watching CBC News. Three persons were invited to talk about same-sex marriage, a reporter from Toronto positioned in the left of the screen, a pollsters from Ottawa positioned in the middle of the screen, and a reporter from Edmonton positioned in the right of the screen. The setup deliberately gave one an impression that the 3 persons represent the left, the middle, and the right. But after I listened to what they said, it was clear that all of them were liberals supporting homosexual rights and homosexual marriage.

On December 14, 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured and Americans were jubilant. Yet Peter Jennings, the liberal anchor of ABC (a Canadian) started his report with: “There’s not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment.”

For many centuries, the dating system used in the whole world has been one based on Jesus Christ, that is, with designations of B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, year of our Lord). In December 2002, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto decided to abandon the Christian dating system. From now on, B.C. will be substituted with B.C.E. (before the common era) and C.E. (common era). This is a deliberate attempt to eliminate the Christian heritage of Canada.

Background:

A survey reports that 70% of self-defined liberals think the media has a liberal bias; 89% of journalists voted for Clinton. 61% of all journalists self-identify as liberals; only 2% self-identify as conservatives.

In the US, about 93% of the 37,000 respondents to a “Spiritual State of the Nation Survey” do not trust the media.

49.  How does the mass media influence the people?

a.   The mass media include newspaper, magazines, radio, television, audio and video recordings, and modern electronic communication systems (including the Internet).

b.   The mass media are powerful influences to the culture today:

·         Mass media can reach a large number of people and influence their values and worldviews directly.

·         The most powerful of all media today is probably television because many people put themselves under its influence for an extensive period of time. Research shows that an average person (in North America) watches TV 3-7 hours each day. A child between 6 and 18 would have spent over 15,000 hours watching TV compared to 13,000 hours spent in school.

·         Charlton Heston said, “The moving image is the most powerful tool or weapon to change and shape the way people feel about the world and themselves.”

·         Ted Turner, founder of the liberal CNN admits in 1989 that: “Your delegates to the United Nations are not as important as the people in this room (broadcasters). We are the ones that determine what people’s attitudes are. It’s in our hands.” [He also said, “Christianity is a religion for losers.”]

·         The present is the Information Age where information is the main element that decides many areas in the society.

50.  Is there bias in mass media? What can Christians do about it?

a.   It is widely accepted that there is a liberal bias in mass media. Even self-professed liberals admit that there is a liberal bias. It is not found only in North America but in the whole industrialized world

b.   Evidence of liberal bias: (see also statistics in Background section above)

·         A survey of attitudes among Hollywood entertainment elite reported: only 33% said adultery is wrong; only 5% said homosexuality is wrong; 91% favour abortion; 90% “seldom or never attend religious services.”

·         Hollywood constantly promote their values of secularism, sexual liberation, radical feminism. They also denigrate religious faith, tradition, family, and patriotism. For example, the media often blasted abstinence-based campaigns like “True Love Waits” as an infantile approach.

·         “In TV fiction, religion is often shown as a deforming influence, rarely as a positive and supportive element in people’s lives. Religious believers are either hypocrites or fanatics.”

·         A liberal homosexual admitted that “entertainment, media, and the arts are nonstop advertisements for homosexuality these days.” The media makes homosexuality look “cool” and causes young people attracted to the homosexual lifestyle.

c.   Techniques used in biased reporting:

(1)  Suppression by omission: omitting news that the media dislike but concentrating only on news that reinforce their views.

o        Example: The media try to discredit the war in Iraq so the daily emphasis is put on the death of coalition soldiers while reconstuction and peace in 85% of Iraq is ignored. Even many Iraqis were reported to be angry about such biased reporting.

o        Example: The liberal media dislike the conservative President Bush. Even though there have been continuous good economic news including record high GDP growth, high consumer confidence, high consumer spending, high industrial production, large increase in stock values, the media try to emphasize some weaker economic indicators, such as employment growth or growth of wages.

(2)  Framing: creating wrong impressions by packaging the news (through amount of exposure, placement, tone of presentation) in a way to prove their views.

o        Example: In reporting polls on the public support of Bush, all 3 major US networks reported a 1% drop as a major news proving that he is losing support of Americans. Yet, a 6% increase 3 months later was downplayed and even not reported (in ABC).

o        When Halliburton (US company) was accused of wrongdoing, all major networks attached Vice President Cheney’s name to it. When the company was finally cleared, Cheney’s name was no longer attached to it. This produces an impression that he was guilty and was not cleared.

(3)  Manipulation of data: producing inaccurate data to exaggerate their views.

o        Example: In order to discredit the war in Iraq, a New York Times article in October 2003 reported that the “murder rate” in Baghdad is over 100 per 100,000 people, many times higher than the US rate. Later, it was discovered that the actual rate was only 5 per 100,000. The reason for the erroreous number was that other deaths including car accidental deaths and U.S. soldiers killing terrorists were included.

(4)  False balancing: only people sympathetic to the media’s viewpoint are selected for interviewing to produce a wrong impression that they represent the whole population. Sometimes the media deliberately select weak conservative debaters to make their arguments look weak.

o        Example: Most TV interviews include a majority of liberal interviewees. Sometimes, all of them represent the liberal viewpoint.

(5)  Labelling: putting a label before a person with the intention to discredit their view by implying that the person has biased or extremist views. The media have reserved the labelling mostly for conservatives.

o         Example: A research monitoring evening newscasts of ABC, CBS and NBC over 5 years shows that politicians were labelled either “conservative” or “liberal” a total of over 1,239 times, but 80% of them were for “conservatives”. Many known ultra-liberals were not labelled or were labelled as “moderates”.

o        Example: Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning was frequently labelled “fundamentalist”.

My first hand experience of media bias

On August 22, 2003, after the pro-family rally to protest against same-sex marriage in front of the Supreme Court of Canada and on the Parliament Hill, various newspapers, websites and television stations (both English and French) were monitored on their coverage of the event. At the event, there were almost 10,000 people plus about 30 pro-same-sex demonstrators. However, almost all of them interviewed someone from the pro-same-sex group and only half interviewed someone who participated the rally. In addition, all of them ended the report with a pro-same-sex comment as the “last word.”

d.   What can Christian do about media bias?

(1)  Avoid getting all the news from the liberal media. Otherwise, one can be unconsciously influenced by them and sometimes take up erroneous positions.

(2)  Adopt a more skeptical attitude towards news from major TV news channels, including CBC, CBS, NBC, CTV, ABC, CNN (arranged from moderately biased to very biased).

(3)  Obtain news from less biased websites. Most newspapers are less biased (except a few like Toronto Star and New York Times, both known for their liberal bias).

(4)  Read news commentaries from Christian and conservative websites (check list from course webpage).

51.  What is the meaning of “political correctness”?

a.   Origin:

(1)  Political Correctness (PC) is a communal tyranny that aims at preventing minorities being offended.

(2)  It is an influential movement started in the 1980s. It was originated from a demand to change undergraduate curricula in universities to emphasize the roles of minorities (women, non-white people, homosexuals) in history and culture.

(3)  The movement evolved into a widely accepted unannounced acknowledgment that words, ideas, expressions, and behaviour that may upset any minorities (homosexuals, women, none-whites, the crippled, the mentally impaired, the fat) are to be avoided. It started with a few voices but grew in popularity until it became the unwritten law in society.

(4)  The theme of PC becomes: TOLERANCE for a DIVERSITY of cultures, race, gender, ideology, religions, and alternate lifestyles (homosexuality, cohabitation). This is gradually expanded to include the whole agenda of liberalism, such as environmentalism, animal rights, quest of rights. Since the majority in North America are (supposed to be) Christians, PC becomes the excuse for attacking Christians, e.g. the deletion of BC and AD from the dating system in Royal Ontario Museum. Attack on any minority will not be allowed.

(5)  Since this is the only social and morally acceptable outlook, anyone who disagrees with this philosophy is not tolerated and will be silenced by the mob. They will be labelled intolerant, bigoted, biased, closed-minded. They will be called sexist, male chauvinist, racist, homophobic. [Just like “pro-choice” is not really for choice; tolerance in PC means intolerance for any opposition.]

Non-tolerance of Liberals

Those who insist others be tolerant are themselves not tolerant. University of California Berkeley is the origin of counterculture and has been dominated by liberal groups. In February 2002, a group of left-wing students broke into the office of The Patriot, a conservative student newspaper, and stole its entire press run, valued at $2,000. Editors who filed a police report were then met with death threats. In Tufts University, left-wing activists stole 4,000 copies of The Primary Source, a conservative students newspaper, and physically attacked its editor.

 (6) The ultimate objective is to make any person or any behaviour contrary to PC forbidden by law so that people who transgressed will be punished by the government.

b.   The central themes of political correctness are originated from ethical relativism. They involve half truths.

·         Theme 1: Tolerance

o        Tolerance is good. But the demand for PC of “tolerance even for all immoral acts” becomes wrong.

·         Theme 2: Diversity

o        Acceptance of diversity is good. But the demand for PC of “attainment of diversity even with unjust means” (like suppressing religious freedom of Christians, destroying traditional family) becomes wrong.

c.   Extension of diversity or pluralism:

·         Pluralism is the belief that there are many different cultures, religions and value systems, none of them should be recognized as the only truth. Everyone needs to respect others’ beliefs and try not to offend other people. Since some people are atheists, everyone has to respect them and try to avoid any reference to “God”. This in fact becomes the tyranny of the minority.

·         To avoid offending the sensibilities of women, the preferred personal pronouns is a neutral one. Therefore, using the word “man” to refer to human species is not PC and must be changed. Such reasoning extends to justify the attempt to make the Bible gender neutral. Even God is referred to as Father/Mother.

·         To avoid offending the sensibilities of homosexual people, Christians must not describe homosexuality as sin.

·         To avoid offending non-Christians, the word “Christmas” should be avoided as much as possible.

d.   Changes called “progress”:

·         The word “progress” sounds positive. It is defined as a “will to change” and to dismantle tradition.

·         Liberals often try to silence any opposition by using the buzz word of “progress” to describe socio-cultural changes, such as the invention of political correctness. Further, “progress” is the term frequently used for the quest for excessive rights. But changes are not always good. When what is described as “progress” destroys godly and traditional values, it is regress, not progress.

Liberal use of the term “progress”

Left-wing people in US (mostly Democrats) recently organized liberal think-tank called the Center for American Progress.

e.   Two examples of large scale cultural change hailed by liberals as “progress” (both started in the 1960s in the US):

(1)  Counterculture: rebelling against authority

(2)  Sexual revolution: popularizing sexual promiscuity

Background of protest movements

It is the continuation of protest movements, including civil rights movement, student movement, women’s rights movement, antiwar movement, environmental movement.

The objective of the movements: demonstrating their unhappiness with the status quo and their desire to change it

Two actions: political action to change laws and society (e.g. antiwar movement); cultural rebellion to change the values and ways of thinking (e.g. women’s movement)

 

Counterculture

It possibly began in Berkeley in 1964.

Artists and intellectuals known as the Beats began to argue that the American society and culture were intellectually and spiritually sterile and needed drastic revisions. They appeared with strange physical appearance (male with long hair called “hippies”) and used drugs widely.

They believed that America was materialistic, overcentralized, competitive, conformity-ridden, and riddled with conflict and anxiety. They hoped to construct a new culture based on individual freedom and love. But these ideas were so vague as to be nearly meaningless, and the people in the counterculture were actually self-indulgent sensation-seekers.

Drugs were central as means by which individuals could “expand their consciousness”. The movement soon degenerated into a quest for nothing more than a good time and immediate gratification (“kicks”).

They were a noisy minority: grew long hair, smoked dope (marijuana, LSD), listened to rock music.

Mentality: change jobs, spouses, hairstyles, clothes; change religion, politics, values, even the personality; try everything, experiment constantly, accept nothing as given

The corporations were vilified as source of most of what was wrong with America, including imperialism, war, materialism. “The Establishment” is the conspiracy of money and power; they include the corporations, the labour unions, politicians, teachers, reporters, generals. They wanted to seize power, dismantle the Establishment, redistribute the wealth.

 

Sexual revolution

The people demanded change and backed up their demand by deliberately breaking established rules.

It was connected to the questioning of gender roles and gender stereotypes that was a prominent feature of the women’s liberation movement.

Engaging in sexual activities that violated existing taboos was a revolutionary act, a way of affirming one’s opposition to society and its norms.

Though fizzled away, the sexual revolution have changed the whole system of values regarding such matters as marriage, the family, gender, and sexual conduct.

Impact

The change in the timing of marriage and childbearing (marrying later and with fewer children), control over fertility, the instability of the traditional nuclear family (increasing divorce rates, increased 90% between 1960 and 1980, over 25% of black persons aged 25 to 54 were divorced, compared to 10% for whites), and innovations in living arrangements (cohabitation of men and women, almost 20% of men had lived for at least 6 months with a woman other than their spouse, higher among blacks) all encourage a reorganization of sexual standards.

The rise of working mothers: resulting rising age of marriage, later childbearing, decline in fertility, higher likelihood of divorce and cohabitation.

By 1980, almost half of black households were female-headed, over 50% of black infants were born to unmarried women, about half of black adults were not married and living with their spouse.

Children and adolescents would know that their parents have sexual relations outside of marriage; the openness with cohabitation and homosexuality provided visible alternatives to marriage.

striking shift in sexual values toward approval of extra-marital sexuality [between 1950s and 1970s, from one quarter endorsing premarital sex to three quarters, especially males, blacks, college-educated, high income]

the tolerance of homosexuality, openness of homosexual relations, less police harassment, more publicity, gay pride marches, regional music festivals; much larger number of sexual partners, especially male homosexuals

feminism led the change in sexual roles

sex education in schools, sexual experience at younger ages, rise in birth to unmarried teenagers

distribution of contraceptive information in colleges

Planned Parenthood provided abortions

one important contributing factor was the availability of birth control: pill, IUD, sterilization, and abortion

conception without sex, IVF, surrogate mother

marketing of sex: sex businesses, sex clubs, saturation of sex in media, sexual explicitness in popular literature

advance in medicine lessened the danger of venereal diseases

f.    Conservativism vs. Liberalism:

·         Conservatism emphasizes the preservation of traditional values. Changes should be adopted slowly and only after careful reasoning. The emphasis is on reasoning.

·         Liberalism emphasize change (“progress”) shaped by modern values. Changes are often made to make everyone feel good. The emphasis is on feeling.

·         Biblical position:

o        economic or fiscal issues: emphasis on the responsibility to help the poor and the weak

o        social issues: emphasis on traditional (conservative) moral values because God does not change

·         Ideal: compassionate conservatism which upholds traditional values and at the same time being compassionate to the weak.

52.  How should Christians confront the tyranny of political correctness?

a.   The development of political correctness is a good example of the “slippery slope” argument. Tolerance and diversity began as good social concepts. But they evolved into forces that aim at attacking Christianity.

b.   For Christians, tolerance does not include condoling immoral acts. The emphasis in diversity must not hinder our religious freedom and must not destroy our traditional values. Everyone is created by God in diverse background and is to be respected. But such respect does not mean that every religion is equally true.

c.   Christians must not sacrifice our principles in the name of political correctness. We are not to conform and yield to the pressure of political correctness. We can be proud of being politically INcorrect when moral principles are involved.

d.   Christians need to be cautious (hoist the mental red flag) when someone uses the buzz words of “tolerance”, “diversity”, “pluralism”, “progress” to press an argument or to convince Christians that some changes are good.