Archive for the 'Mass media' Category

Journalistic bias in an online newspaper

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

 

Newspaper-5

(image courtesy freeimages)

newspaper_aubanel_monnie_01newspaper_nicu_buculei_01newspaper_nicu_buculei_01newspaper_nicu_buculei_01

By Spencer D. Gear PhD

If a newspaper regularly published articles exposing the negative qualities of Chinese restaurants (one of my favourite foods) but not a word about other restaurants, I’d suspect the publication had a bias.

If the Brisbane Times only published material in favour of the Labor Party and gave no or little coverage to the Liberals/Nationals, there would be an outcry – as there ought to be.

When it comes to Christianity in religious instruction (RI) conducted in state schools in Queensland, it is legitimate for two writers for the Brisbane Times, Amy Remeikis and Hugh Harris, to denigrate Christianity. The purpose of my article is not to comment primarily on the content of RI in Qld (as exposed in these articles) but to demonstrate the bias of the Brisbane Times in providing journalism against Christianity in the public schools but not to give equal time to Christian responses.

1. Bias beefed up newspaper_aubanel_monnie_01

That is what is happening with the Brisbane Times in its online attack on RI in the state schools. I first noticed it earlier this year with Amy Remeikis, ‘Should religion be part of the Queensland state school curriculum?’ (Feb 28 2016).[1] Here, Remeikis presented the anti-RI perspective. There was not one comment from anyone supporting RI, thus presenting intolerance against Christianity and the content of the RI curriculum.

Remeikis did provide some evidence of the RI requirements in another article, ‘”No plans” to change religious instruction in Queensland state schools’ (March 23 2016).[2] However, the presentation of bias in the name of opposition to RI continued by Ms Remeikis in ‘Religious instruction in state schools “soliciting” children to Christian faith’ (June 6 2016).[3]

Remeikis is at it again with ‘Race elements of religious education materials “highly offensive”: Minister’ (Remeikis 2016). Particularly note the comments in this article from Indigenous Christian users of the Connect curriculum:

“I fully endorse the Connect curriculum for Aboriginal students,” Rev Corowa said in a statement released by the QRIN [Qld Religious Instruction Network].

“I have been using it for many years across all year levels.  I love it.  No student or instructor of RI has ever expressed a problem about the material to me.  I believe that the teaching approach is culturally sensitive to the particular needs of Aboriginal students.

“In particular I agree that Aboriginal students can be most teachable when sitting outside in small groups under a tree.  And I never met any student who did not enjoy a barbecue lunch on a Friday.”

Comment was also anonymously provided from a second “Aboriginal community member and Christian leader” via the QRIN.

“I dispute any attempt to claim the Connect material is racist,” the unnamed defender said.

“…I am grateful that Connect has acknowledged the cultural differences of Aboriginal students and our unique role as first peoples of this land.  I’m also sure that all my students, of any culture, would much prefer any education and yarning take place sitting under a tree with a BBQ lunch afterwards.”

2. Controversial, biased articles

It seemed as though writers for the Brisbane Times were watching for opportunities to pounce on something in the RI curriculum to complain about in the next article. This happened in three contentious, anti-Christian articles from a member of the Rationalist Society of Australia, Hugh Harris:

(a) ‘Religious Instruction in Queensland schools is discriminatory’ (March 14 2016);[4]

(b) ‘The horrifying religious instruction classes planned for Qld schools (April 20 2016),[5] and

(c) ‘Connect religious instruction says vampires fake but Bible is fact’ (June 27 2016).[6]

There are issues that emerge from these articles in the Brisbane Times that include the fact that not one writer in 2016 has been published prior to 30 June 2016 who supported Christianity’s place in the RI curriculum in the state school system. This is an example of partiality in favour of writers who are antagonistic to Christianity and one who overtly supports the agenda of the Rationalist Society of Australia.

I have at least two major issues with Harris’s article of June 27: (1) He promotes a begging the question fallacy, and (2) His refusal to recognise or demonstrate that Christianity is an historical religion. I will address only the first of these.

2.1 Circular reasoning explained

Circular reasoning 4CWhat is a question begging or circular reasoning fallacy? If you start an article or discussion believing that Australian state schools ought to be secular and your conclusion is the same (schools must be secular), then you have committed the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. This also is called begging the question. Hugh Harris begins with the assumption that schools should be secular and concludes that RI should not be taught because we need secular schools.

We can explain this in a more detailed way. The Nizkor Project[7] demonstrates that this fallacy is one in which the premise includes the claim that the conclusion is true. It generally has the following form:

  1. Premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or the truth of the conclusion is assumed (either directly or indirectly).
  2. Claim C (the conclusion) is true.

It is erroneous reasoning because assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) does not provide evidence to reach that conclusion. Harris’s question begging fallacy follows from his association with QPSSS (Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools) and has this pattern:

Harris: The organisation, QPSSS, does not want Christianity in the Qld state school curriculum. (Note: He provided the link to the QPSSS webpage[8] in the first sentence of his article, thus indicating his support of its position.)

QPSSS: ‘QPSSS is a movement for parents and other interested

persons who would like to see state schools become truly secular as befits a multi-cultural, multi-faith country such as Australia’ (also found on the website of Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc).[9]

Harris: Let me find stories in the Connect RI curriculum so that I can denigrate Christianity in the RI state school curriculum. This included rejecting the aspects of the Bible as history.

QPSSS: ‘Tell us what you think. What role should religion play[10] in state school education?’

Harris: ‘The gravest concern is the contest for children’s souls,[11] which is the clear and explicit focus of the Youthworks Connect RI program’.

[For a simpler explanation of how circular reasoning works, see the ‘Feedback’ section 5 below.]

Of course Harris would conclude with objections to contesting for children’s souls through the Christian Youthworks Connect RI program. Why? That is the premise on which he began his article, with a commitment to secular school education.

When he concludes with his presuppositions, he has not dealt with the issues relating to why there is Christian RI in curriculum time in Qld schools. This is question begging erroneous reasoning that the Brisbane Times should not be tolerating from its writers. To which religion did Australia’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, swear at her coronation in 1953? She is still Australia’s sovereign.

3. Rationalist, secular worldview in action

high-voltage-warningIn addition, as a member of the Rationalist Society of Australia, Harris affirms the ‘10 Point Plan for a Secular Australia[12] in which ‘all Australian constitutions should be reformed to ensure clear separation between religion and the State, and all references to God removed’. His presupposition as a rationalist is for ‘a secular, pluralistic and democratic Australia’ which is promoting godlessness.

What are some of the other beliefs of the Rationalist Society of Australia?

  1. ‘All Australian constitutions should be reformed to ensure clear separation between religion and the State, and all references to God removed’. Why remove all references to God if God exists and belief in God needs to be supported?
  2. ‘Children not to suffer because of the religious views of their parents’.
  3. ‘Education to be strictly secular, not promoting any particular religion’.[13]

Thus, Hugh Harris’s commitment to secular, atheistic thinking in his worldview influences what he promotes in opposing RI in the state school system. This most definitely is circular reasoning. He starts with the presupposition that Australia is to be a secular, pluralistic and democratic society. This manifests itself in education that is to be ‘strictly secular’ and favouring no one religion. So, it gets up his nose when he finds RI taught in the public school. So he opposes it in print and the Brisbane Times gave him space to present his biased worldview of secular atheism.

3.1 What’s the definition of secularism?

The National Society of Secularism (UK) states that ‘secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law’.[14]

Secularism is not atheism.

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Secularism simply provides a framework for a democratic society. Atheists have an obvious interest in supporting secularism, but secularism itself does not seek to challenge the tenets of any particular religion or belief, neither does it seek to impose atheism on anyone.

Secularism is simply a framework for ensuring equality throughout society – in politics, education, the law and elsewhere, for believers and non-believers alike.[15]

The Macquarie Dictionary (3rd ed) defines secularism as ‘secular spirit or tendencies, especially a system of political or social philosophy which rejects all forms of religious faith and worship’ and ‘the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element’ (1997. s v secularism).[16] Christian philosophers, J P Moreland and William Lane Craig explain that secularism is ‘a system of doctrines and practices that disregards or rejects any form of religious faith and worship. Its primary objective is the total elimination of all religious elements from society’ (in Got Questions? 2016)[17]

The Rationalist Society of Australia states, ‘It’s time to return Australia to its secular roots’.[18] To the contrary, Australia was founded by Christians through the chaplain on the first fleet, evangelical Anglican clergyman, Richard Johnson,[19] and our roots were affirmed by our current head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, who swore allegiance to the Christian faith at her coronation on 2 June 1953.[20] We have a Governor-General in Australia to represent the Queen and her support of Christianity. Australia’s roots are not secular, but Christian.

Therefore, Harris’s secularist worldview drives his presupposition that schools in Qld should be secular. What is a secular school? He does not answer this and I found its promotion on an atheism website.[21] Therefore, Australian atheists have some bonding with secularists.

Circular reasoning amounts to illogic in action. No Queenslanders should fall for Mr Harris’s erroneous thinking. He wants RI out of the state school system and suspended immediately.[22] That’s the presupposition with which he begins and that’s where he concludes. It’s fallacious question begging reasoning.

3.2 One-way street until….

What did the Brisbane Times do with Harris’s promotion of secularism and call for the elimination of religion from state schools? It gave him several opportunities to ply his rationalist, secularist wares but without opportunity for Christian representatives to respond to expose his tactics. This bias in favour of secularism is exposed in my article. They should have been seeking people from the RI network in Qld to respond to Harris’s allegations.

However, it was only on the day I was writing the first draft of this article (June 30, 2016) that I became aware that the Brisbane Times eventually gave opportunity for Paul Clark, a promoter of RI, to show some of the benefits of RI in ‘Queensland religious instruction gives parents freedom’ (Brisbane Times, June 30, 2016).[23] Clark is ‘acting chair for Queensland’s Christian Religious Instruction Network, a former, decorated teacher, a children’s author and religious instructor’. Rev Clark of Redcliffe Uniting Church, Qld., told me that he had previously submitted an article of reply to the RI antagonism to the Brisbane Times but it was rejected for publication.

4. Am I using the same fallacy?

Could this be the pot calling the kettle black for me, a Christian, when I support Christianity in the RI state school curriculum? It could be seen that way if you didn’t know the facts.

In my education and ministry over the years, I have sought to verify or falsify the tenets of the Christian faith through careful testing of hypotheses relating to Christianity. This was pursued especially in my doctoral dissertation that examined the presuppositions of an eminent historical Jesus’ scholar and I could not verify his conclusions concerning the postmodern Jesus. The Jesus of history will be pursued in another article. However as a starter, see my brief article:

clip_image001 The Bible: fairy tale or history?

Eminent Australian historian (he has been visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University)[24] and former Anglican bishop of North Sydney, Dr Paul Barnett,[25] has concluded that the ‘points of intersection between early Christianity and “secular” history establish that the history of early Christianity is, indeed, genuinely historical and not “mythical” in character’ (Barnett 1997:120).

Barnett as an ancient historian provides evidence that challenges Harris’s attempt to deride the Connect RI curriculum content which states, ‘There aren’t any vampires in the Bible because the Bible is not a made-up book’ (Brisbane Times, June 27 2016).[26] Harris took opportunity to spoof at the curriculum’s statement of the Bible being fact when compared with vampires with language such as, ‘A fundamentalist adherence to the literal truth of scripture is a key element of Connect’.[27]

5. Feedback

feedback red glossy web iconTwo online newspapers rejected this article.

5.1 Comments, but no publishing of article

I submitted it to the Brisbane Times, 30 June 2016 and was advised on 1 July 2016 that it would not be published because a piece defending RI was published on 30 June 2016. If I wanted to comment on news stories dealing with RI I could send in a comment on that story to make any point I wanted.

This is a fob off because the Brisbane Times had published 6 articles opposed to RI and only one in favour from January 1 – June 30, 2016 as far as I could see and I read that newspaper daily. The editor wants me to make ‘comments’ to RI articles but would not accept a 1200 word article addressing the anti-RI issues.

Imagine it? Encouraging me to write words of comment (generally 20-50 words) to an article and rejecting a full length article challenging Harris’s content, presuppositions and a logical fallacy he used. That’s a cute way to minimise the importance of refuting false reasoning and bias by the Brisbane Times. In taking this line, it censored an opposing view. This is not freedom of the press. It is freedom to gag those who challenge secularism.

5.2 Rejection, but helpful comments

After the rejection by the Brisbane Times, I sent the article to another online newspaper for consideration where it also was rejected and these were the reasons given.

5.3 These are some issues with the article

The editor of this online newspaper wrote:

a. Too close to issue: ‘I’m going to decline it. I think you are too close to the issue and you are not explaining yourself particularly well’.

How can I be ‘too close to the issue’ when I have no connection with RI in the schools and am on no RI board? In this article sent to this magazine (see content above) I stated that ‘the purpose of my article is not to comment primarily on the content of RI in Qld but to expose the bias of the Brisbane Times in providing journalism against Christianity in the public schools but not to give equal time to Christian responses’. My article was not designed to address RI but the bias of journalism.
Is that not a reasonable critique of what the Brisbane Times did? Or does this online newspaper not like publishing an article that is critical of the content of another online publication?

When I sought clarification from the editor on this, he said that it meant I was not looking at the issue as a member of the general public might. My assumptions about what they might think are wrong were not persuasive. Why? It is because I’m a Christian minister and that is the problem. His view was that I need to try to walk in the public’s shoes a bit better so that I can try to explain what I’m saying in a better way.

My reply to him was that he had assumed too much about my being a Christian minister. It is 24 years since I was pastor of a church. Before my retirement in 2011, I worked 17 years straight as a counsellor and counselling manager with rebel youth and their disillusioned parents. Most of these were with secular clients. I’ve been up to my neck in dealing with out of control youth, drug addiction, severe depression, marriage and family breakdown. I know what it is to walk with the down and out.
However, I’ve spent the last 5 years writing a 488 page PhD dissertation exposing presuppositions of one of the leading postmodern, reader-response historical Jesus scholars. I didn’t tell him that that scholar was John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar.

b. Defend religious instruction in schools: ‘Rather than complaining about the Brisbane Times I think you would be much better off mounting a defence of religious instruction in schools’.

That is not my role or responsibility because I do not work in the RI network or instruct RI in schools. It is for those people to pursue.

c. A lot of Christians think it is badly done, alienating and a waste of time, and that might be worth dealing with as well as the issues raised in the Brisbane Times pieces’.

From where did he obtain that information? What are the stats to back it up? Is this based on his and others’ anecdotal evidence? It seems that more research needs to be done by this newspaper before making those kinds of presumptive statements.

His feedback to me was that he doesn’t have any stats to back up his statement about ‘a lot of Christians’. It is anecdotal evidence, and by ‘a lot’ he was not referring to the majority. His evidence is from priests, lay people and his own kids. This was not meant to be a conclusive statement.

I find this to be poor evidence from the editor of an online journal. Surely he deserves better data than anecdotal evidence. At least he was not publishing this but it was in an email to me.

d. Argument hard to follow: ‘I had some difficulty following your argument about assuming the conclusion as well. Might need to look at that again’.

He is correct that my explanation of the Hugh Harris’ use of circular reasoning was not as clear as it ought to have been. He said he had ‘some difficulty in following my argument’.

In addition, my language was too academic. It should be at the literacy level of a 15-year-old, one journalist has told me, if I want to be published in newspapers. I received similar feedback from another person to whom I sent the article. Thanks so much for drawing this to my attention. I hope this is a simpler way of explaining circular reasoning (question begging fallacy). I have created this example, using some information from Hugh Harris’s articles:

Hugh: Qld state schools need to be secular.
RI instructor: In spite of Hugh’s objections, the Qld government’s legislation provides for Christian RI in curriculum time in state schools.

Hugh: The only way to guarantee multicultural views are heard is for us to have fully functioning secular state schools.

Thus, Hugh began with the secular and he concluded with the secular, which is erroneous circular reasoning, also known as a begging the question fallacy.

e. RI issues with curriculum in Brisbane Times.

As for the RI issues raised in the Brisbane Times, they are for RI people who are familiar with the Youthworks, Connect RI curriculum to respond. However, I plan to write an article that deals with the historical reliability of the Bible when compared with secular history, vampires and fairy tales. Is this editor interested in considering for publication? I asked this of him in my return email.

f. ‘I’m also perplexed that apparently in RI you can’t proselytise. Not sure how this is supposed to work. This is a comment on what occurs, not on your article’.

I think the editor made a valid point when he said he doesn’t know how the RI curriculum is not to proselytise. My view is that any explanation, clarification, instruction on the Christian faith (or any other topic) cannot get away from supporting the content of that topic. How can explanations on the Christian faith be excused from proselytising? However, that’s for the RI people to address.

I offered the editor two further articles:

  • ‘Comments designed as distractions’ (this is addressed to those who comment on online articles and push their own agendas. Too often these are not related to the content of the article. I see this happening with many topics in online newspapers or journals.
  • ‘Fairytale fables vs facts of faith’

The editor is interested in my submitting further articles on, (1) The historical reliability of the Bible and, (2) ‘Fairytale fables vs facts of faith’.

5.4  A friend’s critique

I sent the article to a friend for critique and she responded:

a. ‘I think it is a bit too intellectual and deep to be considered in a newspaper. I think the online opinion spot is a better place for it’.

b. ‘However, the points you make are valid and need to be stated.  If I were writing it for publication in a newspaper, I would keep it simple and focus on the hypocrisy/bad journalism of only covering one side of the argument, and then make a case for the historical place of Christianity and RI in our culture and the case for children to be aware of the most published book in history.  It has shaped our Judeo-Christian government and society (at least up to recent times) and from that standpoint alone is worthy of teaching’.

c. ‘My son majored in philosophy at university, so I am acquainted with the circular reasoning problem and other devices used in discussion.  However, for the “common man”, I think it’s best to use examples and points that they can relate to’.

 

Those are excellent points, some of which have been addressed above. She is correct that only covering one side of the argument is poor journalism. However, when I examined J D Crossan’s presuppositions in my doctoral dissertation, he is a leading postmodern, historical Jesus scholar also is interested in only one side of the argument.

He has a one-eyed view of calling on those who principally are his ‘intellectual debt’. Crossan is clear (at least to me) about his view of which scholars he should call on for support and critique of his views. It is important to note Crossan’s perspective regarding those who offer a contrary opinion: In quoting ‘secondary literature, I spend no time citing other scholars to show how wrong they are’. Instead, he quotes those who ‘represent my intellectual debts’ (Crossan 1991:xxxiv; emphasis in original).

That amounts to bias towards his mates’ views. See my articles that deal with this issue:

clip_image001[1] Crossan’s buddies are his scholarly support

clip_image001[2] Only read authors who agree with you?

6. Fundament issues from this encounter

The issues to emerge from this exposure of the Brisbane Times articles and the bias against Christianity include:

  1. Harris wants to get religion out of the state schools. His is a self-defeating position because he wants Christianity out but wants his own religion of secularism in. That’s hypocritical because both are religious positions.
  2. My view is that the responsibility lies with the Brisbane Times to change to an editorial policy that says, ‘We have a responsibility of fairness and justice in our journalism. That means if we present an anti-Christianity article, we MUST allow a right of reply article’. They needed to seek a person to respond to Remeikis’s and Harris’s articles.
  3. Readers need to be alert to how writers attempt to push their own agendas by the use of illogical arguments, using logical fallacies.
  4. I have learned over many years of freelance writing, that there are more rejections of articles than there are acceptance notifications. This is par for the course for me in submitting articles to newspapers or journals. One experienced Christian scholar gave me some wise advice last year after I had submitted a journal article and it was rejected. He said that you need to take note of any feedback you received with the rejection and then submit it over and over to different journals until it is published. That has been his experience.
  5. I’ve learned that I need to modify my writing style to be more in line with the literacy of a mid teen if I want to get published. The editor of the online magazine reduced that even further by saying my writing and sermons should be at the level of a 12-year-old’s education. However, my articles also require more illustrative material for general audience interest.
  6. How should I respond when Harris was objecting, ‘A fundamentalist adherence to the literal truth of scripture is a key element of Connect’.[28] What would happen if I did not read Harris’s article with a literal understanding of the text? If he wants me to realise that he is talking about a literal RI curriculum called Connect in which there is a narrative about vampires and the Bible not being a made up book, I have to read his article literally. I can imagine some of the creative nonsense I could get up to and write as a postmodern, reader-response interpreter. If he wants me to read his article literally, he needs to give every Christian the right to read Scripture literally.
  7. Literal interpretation always allows for inclusion of symbols and figures of speech. Literal ‘means the customarily acknowledged meaning of an expression in its particular context. For example, when Christ declared that he was the door, the metaphorical meaning of “door” in that context would be obvious. although metaphorical, this obvious meaning is included in the literal meaning’ (Mickelsen 1963:33).

7. Christians to maintain the higher ground

Image result for clipart religion public domainWhat are the origins of a civilisation’s greatness and which ‘misguided beliefs’ threaten ‘to unravel its progress’? ‘The Bible transformed the social, political, and religious institutions that have sustained Western culture for the past millennium, and discover how secular corruption endangers the stability and longevity of Western civilization’ (Mangalwadi 2011:rear cover).

7.1 Secularism is a religion

Christians must not allow the secularists to control the debate on secular state schools. Secularism itself is a religion. A ‘religion’ can be defined as:

a. ‘a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects’.[29]

b. ‘the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices’.[30]

c. ‘something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience’.[31]

d. ‘A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion’.[32]

On the basis of these definitions, secularism and atheism can be labelled as religions as they contain fundamental sets of beliefs and practices that people follow with great devotion and build their ethical systems on them. Some beliefs of secularism can be found HERE, while some beliefs of atheism are HERE.

8. Conclusion

I pursued the bias and a logical fallacy of Hugh Harris, an author and member of the Rationalist Society of Australia, in his publications against RI in the Brisbane Times. I tried to demonstrate that he engaged in the use of circular reasoning, which is erroneous logic. When he uses such illogical statements, he cannot reason effectively about the content of RI in the state school system.

Secularism was defined and its influence as a religion on Hugh Harris’s worldview was noted.

I took the opportunity to critique the response from one editor who was making judgments on my article that were not consistent with my content.

The content of RI in state schools needs to be addressed by those who are RI leaders and the RI mass media liaison officers. However, I expect that the antagonists of RI will pursue their agenda to try to get it out of curriculum time in the schools (like has happened in the State of Victoria). I expect them to comb RI curricula with a fine-tooth comb to find something to grumble about that does not fit the secular, rationalist or atheistic agendas.

As long as Christians have the opportunity to present RI in the state school system, I encourage them to do and be what Jesus said:

Flower23  ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot’ (Matt 5:13 NIV).

Flower23  ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden’ (Matt 5:14 NIV).

9. Works consulted

Barnett, P 1997. Jesus and the logic of history. Leicester, England: Apollos.

Cable, K J 2016. Johnson, Richard (1753-1827), Australian dictionary of biography (online). Available at: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/johnson-richard-2275 (Accessed 4 July 2016).

Crossan, J D 1991. The historical Jesus: The life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Got Questions 2016. What is secularism? (online). Available at: http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-secularism.html (Accessed 4 July 2016).

Mangalwadi, V 2011, The Book that made your world: How the Bible created the soul of western civilization. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Mickelsen, A B 1963. Interpreting the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Moreland, J P & Craig, W L 2003. Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic.

Remeikis, A 2016. ‘Race elements of religious education materials ‘highly offensive’: Minister’, Brisbane Times (online), June 20. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/race-elements-of-religious-education-materials-highly-offensive-minister-20160620-gpnpvi.html (Accessed 5 July 2016).

10.  Notes


[1] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/should-religion-be-part-of-the-queensland-state-school-curriculum-20160227-gn5bwb.html (Accessed 30 June 2016)

[2] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/no-plans-to-change-religious-instruction-in-queensland-state-schools-20160323-gnpv8l.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[3] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/religious-instruction-in-state-schools-soliciting-children-to-christian-faith-20160606-gpcxtw.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[4] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/religious-instruction-in-queensland-schools-is-discriminatory-20160311-gngjyd.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[5] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/the-horrifying-religious-instruction-classes-planned-for-qld-schools-20160420-gobbpk.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[6] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/connect-religious-instruction-says-vampires-fake-but-bible-is-fact-20160627-gpslcs.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[7] Available at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html (Accessed 20 June 2016).

[8] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/QldParentsSecularStateSchools/photos/a.1444857872442174.1073741827.1443949422533019/1651201725141120/?type=3&theater (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[9] Available at: http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/forums/showthread.php?t=25369 (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[10] Available at: http://pandcsqld.townhallapp.io/en/questions/457 (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[11] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/connect-religious-instruction-says-vampires-fake-but-bible-is-fact-20160627-gpslcs.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[12] Available at: https://www.rationalist.com.au/10-point-plan-for-a-secular-australia/ (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Nationalist Secular Society: Challenging religious privilege, ‘What is secularism?’ Available at: http://www.secularism.org.uk/what-is-secularism.html (Accessed 4 July 2016).

[15] Ibid.

[16] This is the same definition as that in dictionary.com (2016. s v secularism). Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/secularism (Accessed 4 July 2016).

[17] This quote seems to be from Moreland & Craig (2002) but no page number was cited in the Got Questions article and I was unable to locate the page number through Internet searching.

[18] Loc cit., The Rationalist Society of Australia, ’10 point plan for a secular Australia’.

[19] See Cable (2016).

[20] See details of her commitment to the Christian faith for the Commonwealth countries she rules at: http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/coronation/cor1953b.html (Accessed 4 July 2016).

[21] Available at: http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/forums/showthread.php?t=25369 (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[22] Available at: http://rationalrazor.com/ (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[23] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/queensland-religious-instruction-gives-parents-freedom-20160630-gpv8o6.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[24] See Barnett, P Listings 2016. Available at: http://www.moorebooks.com.au/ap_barnett_p.html (Accessed 2 July 2016).

[25] See The Right Rev Paul Barnett. Available at: https://www.moore.edu.au/emeritus-faculty/paul-barnett (Accessed 2 July 2016).

[26] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/connect-religious-instruction-says-vampires-fake-but-bible-is-fact-20160627-gpslcs.html (Accessed 30 June 2016).

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] dictionary.com (2016. s v religion). Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/religion (Accessed 4 July 2016).

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Oxford dictionaries ( 2016. s v religion). Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/religion (Accessed 4 July 2016).

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 5 July 2016.

Traditional marriage = anti-marriage equality

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Wedding Rings

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

I was alerted to what SBS television had done with censoring heterosexual marriage by an item on news.com.au. The heading of the article was, ‘Anti-marriage equality ad pulled from SBS TV’ (March 09, 2015).

AN ADVERTISEMENT critical of same-sex marriage was pulled by SBS management ahead of their telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Sunday night, the ad’s sponsors say.

The Australian Marriage Forum said in a statement that the ad was booked and scheduled for broadcast during a Sunday night Mardi Gras special.

Dr van Gend says the ad was booked and paid for before he received an email on Friday to inform him it had been pulled from the Sunday night schedule. “I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast,” the email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, said….

Dr van Gend said: “It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage.”

“SBS is funded by taxpayers on both sides of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate”, Dr van Gend said.

Dr van Gend called the cancellation of the ad a “suppression of free speech on a matter of public importance”.

An SBS spokesperson told Fairfax Media that it reserved the right “to determine what advertisements it broadcasts” (emphasis in original).

My complaint about this censorship

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

(courtesy clker)

SBS TV is an Australian public broadcaster. It receives government funds to the tune of approximately $275,000 a year (see below) from the Australian taxpayer. So, on 11 March 2015, I sent this email:

The manager,
SBS television comments@sbs.com.au

Dear manager,
I object strongly to what SBS, a publicly funded broadcaster, did to an advertisement by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) on SBS on Saturday evening, 7 March, when SBS was telecasting the Gay Mardi Gras.

Here is a link to the advertisement that your network censored: youtu.be/s80wL5al5NA.

The AMF advertisement was booked and paid for to be shown on Saturday night, 7 March, during the SBS delayed broadcast of the Parade – but only on Friday 6 March did the AMF agent receive this message from SBS management: ‘We choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast’.[1]

No explanation was given. This is disgusting discrimination against the heterosexual community and traditional marriage. It is censorship to be condemned.

Please advise me why your publicly funded network engaged in this kind of discriminatory censorship of an advt that had been paid for and scheduled to be telecast?

Yours sincerely,
Mr S Gear

SBS reply

On 11 March 2015, SBS replied:

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for contacting SBS.

SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts.

Regardless, I have passed on your comments to our relevant departments as viewer feedback.

Regards,

SBS Audience Relations

In other words, SBS continues to promote its censorship with ‘SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts’. That’s not how Sam McLean of The Drum saw it.

‘SBS should have run this offensive ad’

Sam McLean of ABC’s, The Drum, even though he objected to the content of the advertisement, complained that SBS should have telecast the ad:

I was offended by the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV ad, but we shouldn’t censor any one side of a political debate, writes Sam McLean.

A lot of people have been in uproar over the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV advertisement – chief among them, my fellow progressives.

The ad, which the AMF pitched for a provocative first run on the night of Sydney Mardi Gras, implies same-sex marriage poses a danger to children. I was offended by the ad, but frankly, so too by SBS refusing to run it.

Yes, the ad is incendiary. Yes, it is wrong. But yes, the AMF has absolutely every right to run it – and no broadcaster should be able to deny them that. An email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, reads:

Our review board has instructed that SBS has the right to choose what ads we run, and I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast (Mclean 2015, emphasis in original).

The following represents a summary of the ABC and SBS funding from the Australian government over the next 5 years (Turnbull 2014):

clip_image001

Therefore, for the 2014-2015 financial year, $287,023 was funded from government proceeds to run this operation. The conclusion is that ‘80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government through triennial funding arrangements. Funding is legislated annually through the Budget Appropriation Bills…. The remainder of SBS revenue is derived from independent sources. These include advertising and sponsorship, production services and sale of programs and merchandise’ (Jolly 2007).

Conclusion

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

ringsview.com

Several issues are playing out in our Australian culture and the promotion of homosexual marriage:

6pointblue-small The promotion of heterosexual marriage in the language of anti-marriage equality, is deconstructing language to make heterosexual marriage mean something else.

6pointblue-small SBS has censored one side of the debate, the discussion that supports traditional marriage. That is abhorrent for a public broadcaster that receives 80% of its funding from the Australian government. It is supposed to represent ALL Australians and not just the homosexual community and its supporters.

6pointblue-small Those who support ‘marriage equality’ are ‘fellow progressives’ (Sam McLean). This again is deconstructing language. In an era of political correctness, to be conservative and supporting traditional marriage is to be radical in a mass media environment that wants to silence the traditional marriage voice.

6pointblue-small Sam McLean rightly concluded, ‘The anti marriage equality lobbyists said it was unfair for SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage, and I agree’ (McLean 2015). I would have stated it this way: Those promoting traditional marriage consider the censorship of their advertisement was unfair for SBS to withdraw the advertising.

6pointblue-small It’s impossible or extremely difficult to get through to public mass media with an alternate message to their allegedly progressive, anti-conservative views. Penetrating the barrier is like pounding a brick wall with a foam hammer.

Image result for hammer brick wall public domain

hanglogic

Works consulted

Jolly, R 2007. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS): Operations and funding. Parliament of Australia: House of Representatives, 28 March. Available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/archive/SBS (Accessed 10 August 2015).

McLean, S 2015. SBS should have run this offensive ad. The Drum (ABC), 13 March. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-13/mclean-sbs-shouldnt-censor-anti-gay-marriage-ad/6314748 (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Turnbull, M 2014. Communications and Broadband: FAQs on the ABC and SBS, How much do the national broadcasters receive from taxpayers in the budget each year? (online) Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, 19 December. Available at: http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/communications-broadband/faqs-on-the-abc-and-sbs#budget (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Notes:


[1] Included in McLean (2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

One writer’s illogical outburst

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

File:Logic portal.svg

Logic portal (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

How should we deal with a journalist who writes an op-ed piece in a popular newspaper online and uses unreasonable tactics? I am choosing to expose this writer’s illogical devices.

John Birmingham,[1] for the Brisbane Times, wrote an opinion piece, ‘For God’s sake, how did he get out?’ (February 6, 2014).[2] Part of Birmingham’s cynicism was:

I’m sorry, Kentucky. We could have kept him here, you know. We have a large containment facility where we store all of our Ken Hams, a free range Wallyworld we like to call the Sunshine State. I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system where he had been teaching – ahem – science, and made his way to your fair shores, but, sorry about that.

This is part of his ‘comment’ on the USA debate between Australian-born creationist and former Queensland science school teacher, Ken Ham, and popular scientist, Bill Nye. The debate was held at the Creation Museum, Petersburg, Kentucky, on February 4, 2014, and the debate was titled: ‘Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?’. All of the criticism was against Ken Ham, the creationist. I did not read one piece of critique of Bill Nye’s views. In fact, apart from identification of Nye as one debater, I didn’t read a thing about Nye’s views. There was only one snippet of news grab video associated with the article. It was nothing more than a grab one would get from a TV news bulletin. To listen to the debate, see, ‘Bill Nye debates Ken Ham’.

We will notice that John Birmingham used logical fallacies in his article and some of the comments which follow use logical fallacies that create situations where it is impossible to have a logical discussion. Reasonable conversation becomes futile. “Wallyworld’ labelling is using an ad hominem fallacy. Hang on, as I attempt to explain.

What is a logical fallacy?

‘A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support’ (Labossiere 1995).

Why should we even be concerned about people using logical fallacies in conversation or when they write? What is your response when a person doesn’t deal with the issues you are raising? They may give you the flick pass of avoidance, change the topic, reach a conclusion that is unrelated to the flow of the conversation, and may abuse you. Does that cause you to want to engage in discussion with them? Is it possible to have a rational conversation with people who do this?

When someone uses such a fallacy, it is unattainable to have a logical conversation with that person as the person is committing a logical error. He or she is being illogical in the discussion. When discussions become irrational – because of false logic – there is no way to get back on track until the matter is addressed.

I struck an example of an illogical discussion in this well-known journalist’s article in an opinion piece in an online newspaper.

Birmingham’s use of logical fallacies

Back to Birmingham’s cynicism and tactics in his article. He stated that

I’m sorry, Kentucky, that Ken Ham had nothing better to offer in argument than biblical passages and a weird new division between ‘observational science’ and ‘historical science’ which seemed to be based on a deeper categorical separation between ‘confusing thinky stuff often involving big sums’ and ‘awesome bible stories which would be even more awesome with a hard-rockin’ but not too hard Christian rock soundtrack.’

a. Appeal to ridicule

Notice his tactics:

  • ‘Ken Ham had nothing better to offer in argument than biblical passages and a weird new division between “observational science” and “historical science”’ (Birmingham 2014).

Here Birmingham committed the logical fallacy known as, ‘Appeal to ridicule fallacy’,[3] also known as ‘appeal to mockery, the horse laugh’. Labossiere explained the nature of this fallacy:

The Appeal to Ridicule is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.” This line of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. X, which is some form of ridicule is presented (typically directed at the claim).

2. Therefore claim C is false.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false (Appeal to ridicule fallacy: Labossiere 1995).

Birmingham’s appeal to ridicule continued: ‘“confusing thinky stuff often involving big sums” and “awesome bible stories which would be even more awesome with a hard-rockin’ but not too hard Christian rock soundtrack”’.

Birmingham is not dealing with the issues raised by Ham or Nye; he is only interested in scoffing at Ham’s tactics in the debate. It is a fallacious tactic using the illogic of an appeal to ridicule fallacy.

The ridicule continued against Ken Ham:

I promise you, Kentucky, this will not happen again.

We’ll get Mr Ham back here and make sure he’s securely confined again where he belongs. Teaching science in the Queensland school system (Birmingham 2014).

The ridicule is used to avoid dealing with the issues Ken Ham raised in the debate. It is obvious that Birmingham is against the content of Ham’s portion of the debate but not once in this article did he engage his readers with the evidence Ham raised. Birmingham’s points were to denigrate Ham and what Ham considers is a biblical position on creation. Birmingham’s view was:

We have a large containment facility where we store all of our Ken Hams, a free range Wallyworld we like to call the Sunshine State. I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system where he had been teaching – ahem – science, and made his way to your fair shores, but, sorry about that.

That’s another appeal to ridicule. It’s a despicable tactic to avoid dealing with the issues raised. It’s a scoffing ploy to avoid fronting the matters Ham advanced. It is sloppy, illogical journalism that is meant to divert attention from the content of the debate.

Birmingham did it especially with the title of his article, ‘For God’s sake, how did he get out?’ He detests biblical creation, but has no problem using ‘God’ in what seems like a blasphemous way. ‘How did he get out?’

He’s talking about how he got out of Queensland, Australia with this language: ‘Border control somehow slipped up and let Ken Ham out of the country’; ‘Ken Ham out of the country’, ‘I’m not sure how Ham got out of the Queensland high school system’, and ‘we’ll get Mr Ham back here and make sure he’s securely confined again where he belongs. Teaching science in the Queensland school system’.

But there is more….

b. Ad hominem fallacy

Birmingham’s use of logical fallacies continued. As an adjunct at the end of his article, he wrote an ‘updater’ in which he gave his assessment of those who made comments to his article:

Vintage comments below. Who’d a thunk a blog about nut job creationism would bring out the nut job creationists. I’d be fascinated for all the fairy tale fans who comment today to add some extra data. Just for me. If you believe the world was created in six days, could you also tell me whether you find the science of climate change to be (a) compelling, or (b) a conspiracy of super wealthy lab coat wearing geeks (Birmingham 2014)

Notice what he does here.

· He uses ‘thunk’, which is crass language for lack of thinking by idiots. The Urban Dictionary gives the meaning of ‘thunk’ as, ‘Hillbilly terminoligy for thought’ (Urban dictionary 2004. S v thunk). Another definition was, ‘bastardization of thought. Used only by idiots with poor grammar’ (Urban dictionary 2003. S v thunk).

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Nut job creationism’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Nut job creationists’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small ‘Fairy tale fans who comment’;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Six day creationists: Could you ‘tell me whether you find the science of climate change’ compelling or a conspiracy?

‘Thunk’ and ‘nut job’ are designed as name calling or an attack against the person. What is this? It is known as an ad hominem fallacy and is illogical (fallacious) reasoning:

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:

1. Person A makes claim X.

2. Person B makes an attack on person A.

3. Therefore A’s claim is false.

The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made) [Ad Hominem: Labossiere 1995].

c. Red herring fallacy

What is Birmingham doing when he asks, ‘Six day creationists: Could you “tell me whether you find the science of climate change” compelling or a conspiracy?’ The topic is six day creationism but he goes to ‘the science of climate change’. What is he doing? He’s switching topics. He doesn’t want to discuss the topic he raises, ‘six day creationists’, but goes to what he wants to discuss – climate change. This is known as a red herring fallacy because he switches topics but going to an irrelevant topic that is not related to the theory put forward by six day creationists.

What’s the nature of a red herring fallacy? It’s also called a smoke screen or a wild goose chase.

A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. Topic A is under discussion.

2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3. Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (Red Herring: Labossiere 1995).

Birmingham’s model set for the commenters

I took the opportunity to respond online to Birmingham with a comment:

I have come to respect the Brisbane Times as a reliable online news service.

That objectivity flew out the journalistic window with this comment.

John Birmingham’s cynical sarcasm of the Nye-Ham debate on creationism and science was an example of bias. The assessment of the debate in, ‘Clash over worldviews’ (Creation Ministries International), at least treated the content of the Nye vs Ham debate seriously. But that would be too creationist savvy for Birmingham.

Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced perspective by asking a creationist, say from the Brisbane-based Creation Ministries International (that employs PhD scientists), to respond to the debate and publish in the Brisbane Times.[4]

File:Nicolas P. Rougier's rendering of the human brain.png

Nicolas P. Rougier’s rendering of the human brain.png (courtesy Wikipedia)

The rant and rave

Then came the predictable tirade of comments against what I, a reasonable and responsible Christian, wrote. Let’s examine a few of the comments:

a. Ad hominem

Here’s one of them:

Dougie,
I hold responsible CMI, Church of ‘Christ’ or whatever the whackos call themselves and people like you for the following-
Back around 1999 2000 I was studying with a young man at tertiary Level in the subject of Physics.
We were lab partners and I very much enjoyed his company.
He left Uni after succumbing to the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called ‘Christianity’.
I am Christian, but the shit these cults use is very potent.
Like suicide bombers going to heaven in ISlam I guess.
Messes their heads up right and proper.
I tried after a plea from his family to call him back from picking nuts for some ‘church’.
Slave Labour in other words.
I don’t know where he is but I wish him well.
This type of ‘Religion’ is a mental illness.[5]

Note his ad hominem attacks, ‘the whackos … and people like you’; ‘the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called “Christianity”’; ‘the shit these cults use’, ‘Slave Labour in other words’. These are illogical ad hominem fallacies that prevent reasonable discussion of the issues raised.

To say, ‘I am Christian’, and then speak about ‘the shit that causes brain and knowledge cancer called “Christianity”’, smacks of hypocrisy.

Then this person is using another fallacy.

b. Genetic fallacy

He blamed CMI [Creation Ministries International], Church of ‘Christ’, ‘Christianity’ and me (he doesn’t even know me apart from what I wrote) for what happened to a young man studying physics with him.[6] Blaming other organisations, Christianity and me for causing this situation is using a genetic logical fallacy where ‘a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing’ (Genetic fallacy: Labossiere 1995).

Another commenter perpetrated the same fallacy when he wrote:

I roared with laughter when commenter Dougie suggested that Creation Ministries International, the Brisbane based Young Earth Creationist outfit, be asked to provide some context or commentary on the debate.
Dougie must have a short memory. Ken Ham committed a fraud against CMI when he stole CMI’s magazine subscriber base. When CMI filed suit against Ken Ham for “unbiblical, unethical, and unlawful behaviour”, Ken Ham shot straight back claiming CMI staff had “spiritual problems”, including inferring they had issues with “immorality, witchcraft and necrophilia.”

The dispute dragged on, acrimoniously, from 2005 to 2009, confirming to Christians and non-Christians alike that neither Creationist outfit neither understands or follows the teachings of Jesus. Hardly surprising.[7]

Observe his approach. He did not deal with the issue I raised but used the conflict about fraud between Ken Ham and CMI. This is blaming issues with two organisations and this has nothing to do with the matter which I raised. When Nathan referred to a defect in the origin of a claim rather than dealing with the claim itself, he committed a genetic logical fallacy.

By the way, I do not support Christians taking Christians to court on the basis of what is taught in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (NLT). However, Nathan scuttles logical discussion about the creation-evolution debate by spinning off into a discussion he wants to pursue about Ken Ham vs CMI conflict (a genetic fallacy). This shipwrecks logical discussion about the issues at hand.

c. Appeal to ridicule

Nathan also committed the appeal to ridicule fallacy of flaming and goading me with his comment, ‘I roared with laughter when commenter Dougie suggested….’. He also did it with his statement, ‘confirming to Christians and non-Christians alike that neither Creationist outfit neither (sic) understands or (sic) follows the teachings of Jesus. Hardly surprising’.

There are quite a few other responses to me that I could examine for fallacies used, but let’s look at one more by Big willie Style:

@ Dougie “Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced prspective…”

a. The article includes video footage of the debate between Nye & Ham. You’re free to investigate further, as is anyone else, and get both sides of the argument.

b. You do realise Blunt Instrument is an opinion column? JB [John Birmingham] isn’t BT’s [Brisbane Time’s] resident writer on scients, religion, politics or anything else. He’s free to give his opinion, as are you.

c. “A balanced perspective”. Spare me. Fairfax and the ABC are the only sane media organisations left in this country. Jump over to one of the Daily Terror’s online articles and try and post a comment that disagrees with their status quo. All the reason, logic and correct grammar in the world won’t help you get it through the moderator. For an institution that bangs on about free speech, the Murdochracy is doing its best to ensure otherwise.[8]

Big willie has engaged in one of the common fallacies to side-track an argument. He built a….

d. Straw man fallacy

What is that? ‘The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position…. This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person’ (Straw man: Labossiere 1995).

How does Big willie do this? He cited what I said, ‘Now is the time for the Brisbane Times to present a balanced perspective…’ Then he gave what he considered was ‘a balanced perspective’:

coil-gold-sm There is video footage of the debate in the article. No there is NOT, Willie. There is only a TV news grab, not the whole debate. What he failed to say was that John Birmingham’s article, even though an opinion piece, did not fairly address the issues raised by BOTH debaters. John hoed into Ken Ham’s views but Bill Nye’s views were given a clean slate.

coil-gold-sm I’m free to investigate further (both sides of the debate). That does not give a balanced written piece of opinion by JB. I had to Google for the debate online.

coil-gold-sm The writer is free to give his opinion because it is an opinion piece of writing. Fair enough! But opinion when it is one-eyed is not giving an opinion on the content that both men in the debate gave. It is bigotry when only one side is lambasted by a writer.

coil-gold-sm If I want ‘a balanced perspective’, I should go to Fairfax or the ABC says Big willie, as they ‘are the only sane media organisations left in this country’. The others are described as ‘Daily Terror’s online articles’ and ‘Murdochracy’.

These points are obviously in support of Big willie’s view but he is presenting a picture of a person who ‘simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position’. I’m speaking about the Ham-Nye positions. It’s a straw man fallacy (Straw man: Labossiere 1995).

In his last point, Big willie has committed another fallacy with his preferring Fairfax and the ABC over the Daily Mirror (which he calls Daily Terror) and Murdoch (News Limited) newspapers/publications, which he called ‘Murdochracy’. This is another example of the appeal to ridicule fallacy.

Conclusion

Logical discussion by both writers and those who provide comments to those writers (even letters-to-the-editor) can be inhibited when logical fallacies are used. An examination of this article by John Birmingham and some of the comments has demonstrated that some of the common fallacies used were: appeal to ridicule, ad hominem, red herring, straw man, and genetic fallacy.

It is important for readers of any material to be aware of the nature of logical fallacies, name them where possible, and to show how logical discussion is handicapped by the use of fallacies.

The creation-evolution debate is only one of the topics that attracts those who engage in this kind of illogical activity. Logical fallacies use fallacious reasoning that causes logical discussion to be shipwrecked on the rocks of unreasonableness.

I invite you to read all of the comments to the John Birmingham article to identify the use of further logical fallacies. I have relied on Michael Labossiere’s identification and explanation of a group of logical fallacies.

What kinds of logical fallacies are used in this comment?

That is correct. JB [John Birmingham] is biased. We all are.

He is biased in favour of common sense, critical thinking and evidence based knowledge.

On the other hand there are a lot of people posting here who are biased in favour of believing stories that are clearly not meant to be true or accurate.

Take your pick.[9]

Works consulted

Birmingham, J 2014. For God’s sake, how did he get out? Brisbane Times (online), February 6. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Labossiere, M C 1995. Fallacies. The Nizkor Project (online). Available at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ (Accessed 30 May 2015).

Notes


[1] The Brisbane Times identifies John Birmingham as ‘a columnist and blogger for Fairfax Media. He is also an award winning magazine writer and the author of Leviathan, the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney, which won the National Award for Non-Fiction. He amuses himself in his down time by writing novels which improve with altitude’. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/by/John-Birmingham (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[2] Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[3] All examples of logical fallacies in my article here are by Michael C Labossiere (1995).

[4] Dougie, North Lakes, Qld, February 06, 2014, 7.56AM, available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/blunt-instrument/for-gods-sake-how-did-he-get-out-20140205-321yi (Accessed 30 May 2015).

[5] Ibid., Dino not to be confused with, Sydney, February 06, 2014, 5:38PM.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., Nathan Zamprogno, Sydney, February 06, 2014, 1:49PM.

[8] Ibid., Big willie Style, February 06, 2014, 9:05AM.

[9] Ibid.,Seedysea, February 06, 2014, 11:36AM.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

The bashing of Fred Nile’s views on ABC TV (Australia)

Friday, April 17th, 2015

By Spencer D Gear

The Reverend and Honourable
Fred Nile
MLC

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales

(courtesy Wikipedia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation logoType
Statutory corporationAvailability
WorldwideHeadquarters
ABC Ultimo Centre
700 Harris Street
Ultimo 2007, SydneyBroadcast area: Australia

Owner
Government of Australia

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you want to see the mass media bias against Christians, watch what secular journalists do to a politician who is an evangelical Christian operating from a biblical worldview in his or her policies. That’s what I saw on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in the Australian ABC TV programme, 7.30. See, ‘Fred Nile: Controversial Christian Democrat MP poised to hold balance of power in New South Wales parliament’.

Here the ABC proceeded to expose Fred Nile MP (Upper House, New South Wales parliament), who is ‘renowned for campaigning on social issues. He opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, Islamic face coverings, and wants limits on halal food in Australian supermarkets’. The ABC’s bagging of him continued, ‘But despite his long history of activism, he does not understand why some people call him controversial’.

Fred’s response was:

“It always surprises me, because I’m the most non-controversial person you could get,” he said.

“Everything I believe is just so – in my opinion – mainstream and ordinary.

“The only controversy comes because there are groups of people who oppose what I’m saying.”

Then 7.30 proceeded to expose Nile’s approach to Muslim immigration:

Rev Nile once called for a halt to Muslim immigration, and now he fears that a larger Islamic community will try to impose sharia law.

“There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate,” he said.

“Once [the Muslim population] gets to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change [but] the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding.”

The opponents on ABC TV

So who does the ABC call on to oppose Fred Nile?

Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman Keysar Trad condemned Mr Nile’s statement.

“I’m very disappointed with Fred Nile’s contribution to New South Wales,” he said.

“As a man of God, as a Reverend, you’d expect him to be inclusive, you’d expect him to reach out with love and compassion and peace towards others.

“But what we’ve seen from him over the last couple of decades is vitriol, divisiveness and fear mongering about Islam and Muslims.”

Then there was Greens MP, John Kaye, who spruiked his opposition to Nile’s policies:

“Fred has always been the pilot fish of the lunar Right,” Greens MP John Kaye said.

“When homophobia was the cause of the day, Fred was right there as their man in parliament.

“Now it’s hatred of Muslims, and fear of Muslims, whether it’s mosques or halal food, Fred is their voice in parliament.”

Mr Kaye said he expected Rev Nile to vote with the Government on most issues.

“He is the Government’s patsy,” he said.

Enter illogical thinking

By calling Fred Nile ‘the pilot fish of the lunar Right’, John Kaye is using an ad hominem logical fallacy to put down Nile. What is a logical fallacy? It is illogic in action. But the journalist who did the interviewing of John Kaye did not call him for using such fallacious reasoning. If he called him to task, he could have said something like, ‘Why are you labelling Fred Nile’s character and actions when you should be dealing with the truth or falsity of his claims about homosexuality, Muslim immigration, halal food and mosques? That’s false reasoning that you are using’. Hearing that from an ABC journalist would send this viewer into an unnatural tizzy fit. The ABC, based on my past listening and viewing, is not in the habit of giving favourable coverage to Christians who are engaged in the public culture.

Does this contemporary journalist not have the common sense to know what John Kaye did in that kind of response? Kaye did not deal with the issues Nile is raising and their impact on Australian society.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fallacies

The supporters on ABC TV?

Who would you think that ABC TV’s 7.30 would bring in support of Fred Nile so that there would be ‘balance’ in the programme? Outside of his wife, there was

Not a soul. Not one! clip_image002[4] clip_image003[4] clip_image004[4]

The ABC receives approximately $6.61 billion (over 5 years) in Australian government funding to run its broadcast operations. There are many Christians who live in Australia, so who would any journalist worth his salt choose to engage positively with Fred Nile’s views? There was not a single person. So, I sent

A complaint

This is the online bellyache I had against the ABC and its bias:[1]

I’ve just watched your 7.30 programme featuring Fred Nile and his wife in which you proceed to bag Fred Nile for the things he stands for. This was a classic example of ABC bigotry towards this Christian parliamentarian. Who did you choose to oppose him? A Greens MP who proceeded to slam him for what he wants to do about Islamic migration and Fred’s support for the James Packer casino.

If the ABC was to present a balanced programme I’d just about have a heart attack. For every one who opposed Fred on 7.30, you should be presenting one in favour of Fred’s views. That would at least be fair. But Leigh Sales had only the bag in hand to bash Fred Nile’s views.

I’m tired of the bigotry that the ABC presents against those who don’t support the ABC’s agenda. If you did to a Muslim, what you did to Fred, you’d have a Jihad on your hands. But you think that it’s perfectly OK to bash Fred Nile, a Christian, while you receive $2 billion[2] in funding from the Federal Govt. It’s time that the ABC learned what fairness and justice are about.

You slammed Fred Nile with your dose of injustice. What will 7.30 do to change its approach to people who have views with which it disagrees?

P.S. I don’t live in NSW so I can’t vote for Fred Nile but as a Christian, I found what you did to be utterly offensive.

I omitted to mention that one other opponent was featured on 7.30, Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman, Keysar Trad.

The ABC’s reply

How do you think that ABC would reply to what I emailed to them? Well, I’m not allowed to tell you. But I can say, from my perspective, it was not favourable towards the content of my complaint to it about Fred Nile’s views.

But it did make sure that I couldn’t tell you exactly what it said, by making this claim at the end of the email received from a person at ABC’s ‘Audience and Consumer Affairs’ on 20 April 2015. It stated:

The information contained in this email and any attachment is confidential and may contain legally privileged or copyright material. It is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are not permitted to disseminate, distribute or copy this email or any attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. The ABC does not represent or warrant that this transmission is secure or virus free. Before opening any attachment you should check for viruses. The ABC’s liability is limited to resupplying any email and attachments.

I can’t even give you my response to this reply because I included some quotes from the ABCs reply.

Conclusion

The overall emphasis of the 7.30 story on Fred Nile was to paint this politician who could hold the balance of power as an extremist who doesn’t represent what the Greens MP or the Islamic association promotes.

There’s a lesson here for all Christians who want to engage in public issues through cultural apologetics. Be prepared for antagonistic bashing from mass media journalists and their producers.

New South Wales Legislative Council (55th Parliament)

Coat of arms or logo

Upper house (since 1856) of the Parliament of New South Wales

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] I sent this via an online complaints form to the ABC on Thursday, 16 April 2015, and at my request I received a copy of my complaint by email reply. I await a response from the ABC, but I’m not holding my breath expecting them to do anything by way of change of editorial policy. However, they need to hear my protests and reasons for it.

[2] Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, on his website stated, ‘the Government’s continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.61 billion over the same five year period’ (FAQs on ABC and SBS, 19 December 2014, Malcolm Turnbull MP).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

They don’t give a journalistic hoot about persecuted Christians!

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

The Bible Society Australia has drawn attention to this absence of reporting Christian persecution by publishing this article by Patrick Sookhdeo in which he stated: ‘In a world where mainstream media largely ignore the plight of Christians, we must make sure we stay informed. We must advocate politically for believers in need, and we must share with them the material blessings God has given us. Above all, we must pray continually (1 Thess 5:17)’ (‘A prayer for the persecuted church’, 28 December 2013).

Could you imagine the following newsworthy story appearing without Christians contacting a secular newspaper or news outlet here in Australia (my home country) or in the country where you live? What will it take to get the news media to quit their biases against reporting the abuse that is happening to Christian minorities worldwide?

What about this travesty of justice?

Christians forced to convert to Buddhism in rural Nepalese village

This report comes from the Barnabas Fund, 12 February, 2015:

A Buddhist monk visiting the predominantly Christian Borang village in Nepal’s Dhading district forced all the Christian villagers to convert to Buddhism and ordered them to stop all Christian worship. Two of the church’s leaders refused to obey the orders and were attacked in response.

clip_image004Nepali Christians gather to worship
stewie811 / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Commissioned by a political leader from the RPP Hindu nationalist party, a Buddhist monk came to the village to preach Buddhism. All of the Christian villagers were locked inside a hall and forced to listen to the Buddhist teachings and to accept Buddhism. They were asked to bow down before a statue, go around the village carrying Buddhist scriptures on their heads, and to place Buddhist flags on their houses.

Refusing to obey the orders, the pastor and elder of the church were attacked. Although the church elder managed to escape, the pastor was captured and beaten for three days. He was then forced to place his finger print on a document stating that he would stop running the church and that he would not report the incident to police authorities or leave the village.

Led by the Buddhist monk, a group of assailants attacked the church on 1 February. They destroyed the furniture and church building and tried to set fire to it. They also attacked the pastor’s home, cutting off the electricity and phone lines. Not allowed to use the phone or leave the village, the pastor is still in Borang. Local Christians told Barnabas Fund today that they are particularly concerned about the health of the church pastor since there is no information about his current condition. The church was unable to meet the following Saturday, the normal day for worship services across Nepal.

Although local police were sent from Setung to the village to find out what happened, the locals, under pressure from the attackers, reported that there had been no problems. The police then returned to Setung without reporting the incident.

Although Nepal is over 80% Hindu, Buddhism holds close ties to the majority religion; the birthplace of its founder is said to be in Lumbini, southern Nepal. Dhading district, however, has the highest number of Nepali Christians, with some villages almost entirely Christian.

Can you imagine that kind of story appearing in our Australian secular media without a Christian prompt? I’ve been so concerned at this lack of coverage that on 23 January 2015, I sent this letter via email to the editor of the Brisbane Times .

Dear Editor,

I read the Brisbane Times online every morning and I’ve read plenty about the Charlie Hebdo magazine terrorism and the killing of 12 people in Paris. But I’ve not heard the same kind of news coverage about what else is happening in other countries as a result of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Muhammad. It could be that I have missed your coverage because I could miss some of your news stories. However, could it be that Zinder and Niamey, cities in Niger, are not as large on the news radar as Paris?

However, I think it’s time that you gave extensive coverage to the violence that is happening in other countries as a result of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon. Here is but one example that has reached me via email.

In two days of targeted riots that began on 16 January 2015, violence across the northern African country of Niger has left ten people dead and over 70 churches are reported to have been destroyed. The rioters were protesting against the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad on the front cover of the French Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. More riots and protests occurred across many Muslim-majority countries, including many former French colonies.

Following Friday prayers on 16 January, hundreds of mainly young Muslim extremists took to the streets in Zinder, Niger’s second largest city, burning and destroying all of the city’s churches, as well as the homes of Christians.

The next day, more than 55 churches, pastors’ homes, Christian schools and Christian organisations were burned or destroyed in the capital city, Niamey, as rioters targeted Christians and French-related businesses.

Ten people have been killed in the weekend attacks, one of whom was burned inside a church. And more than 200 Christian families are now being housed in military camps. The army has been deployed and the homes of Christians have been identified and secured. With the authorities overwhelmed by the scale of the violence, Christians have been told to stay together, just in case.

I obtained this information from the Barnabas Fund. If you want further details, including an interview, please contact:

BARNABAS FUND
PO BOX 3527,
LOGANHOLME, QLD 4129

I also gave him the phone and fax numbers and the email address.

No response

Perhaps it is not surprising that I did not receive a response to this email from the editor and a search by Google has not found any of my letter published online. Reporting of the persecution of Christians around the world does not seem to be a favourite topic for the secular media.

More information from Dr Patrick Sookhdeo

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Dr Patrick Sookhdeo (public domain)

Dr Sookhdeo is the international director of the Barnabas Fund. He has a range of articles dealing with persecution of Christians on his own website: Patrick Sookhdeo. In his article, War on Christians (1 Peter 5:8-10), Dr Sookhdeo states:

The world has stood by and looked on. Leaders have condemned but procrastinated. Now the call is to arms: to bomb, to obliterate the Islamic State. But what of the Christian community? They have met with much sympathy. Many politicians and media commentators have expressed their concern for Christians, but still no decisive action has been taken to save them. The real problem is that the Christians have no power, and because of this they are deemed irrelevant. They have no weapons, therefore they are deemed to be no threat. They have no oil, so they have no economic weight. For some politicians it seems better that the Christians should leave the Middle East, for then at least they would not be a complication in the situation.

Patrick Sookhdeo did get mass media coverage in 2004 with The Age newspaper, Melbourne, ‘Islam, the West and the need for honesty’ (October 16). Part of this story, read,

Both sides face hard choices if further slaughter is to be prevented, an outspoken Anglican cleric and authority on radical jihadists tells Tony Parkinson.

According to Patrick Sookhdeo, it is time for plain speaking. If the world is not to become a sectarian slaughterhouse, Western and Islamic societies need to address with honesty the hard choices they face.

“I think the West has made a strategic mistake in seeking to distinguish al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden from the rest of Islam, by arguing they are extremists, and therefore cannot be authentic Muslims,” he says. “This is highly questionable.

“Bin Laden and his people come from an Islamic tradition where jihad is a cardinal principle in the fight against unbelievers. The fact is they have had tremendous backing from Muslims worldwide, many of whom regard bin Laden as a hero.

“In dealing with Islam, you have to tell the truth, and you have to meet it head on. You have to expose and confront the twisted interpretations that encourage, for example, suicidal terror.”

Sookhdeo is an Anglican clergyman based in Britain. He is also an international authority on jihadist ideology, a former Muslim, an author and a lecturer to British and NATO military officers on radical Islam. With many Muslims claiming their religion is being distorted by terrorists and the West, some of his views are controversial, or easily distorted. But during a visit to Australia this week, Sookhdeo insisted that honest dialogue was essential and the need for change urgent. Modern Muslim societies must rethink the more literal interpretations of the Koran, he argues, particularly the elevation of the 7th century edicts of Muhammad at Medina over the prophet’s earlier and more peaceable revelations at Mecca.

What about the Christian community? What will it take for Christian leaders to get off their procrastinating backside and act to deal with what is happening to the Christian communities that are being persecuted?

When will the Australian secular mass media determine that abuse of Christians (persecution) cannot be tolerated any longer and that they will expose this abuse whenever possible, whether it is in Niger, Pakistan, India or Kenya?

pink-arow-small Patrick Sookhdeo, ‘Yes, I criticise certain aspects of Islam, but don’t call me a bigot’ (The Guardian, 27 October 2011).

pink-arow-smallPlight of Middle Eastern Christians’, Rebecca Armstrong, ABC North West Queensland’ (17 October 2013).

pink-arow-small Patrick Sookhdeo, ‘The myth of moderate Islam’ (The Spectator, 30 July 2005).

Please pray for the persecuted church but don’t forget to act for them

snowflake-bronze-smallChristian-run rehab centre in Kazakhstan fined and shut down for three months’ (12 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallFears of increased anti-Christian violence as Nigeria’s presidential election looms’ (12 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallConditional release for Iranian Christian convert’ (10 Feb 2015);

snowflake-bronze-smallWestern procrastination could put Iraqi Christian lives at risk: comparable with 1939 Jewish refugee refusal’ (5 Feb 2015).

How many of you have contacted your local federal MP to ask what he or she could do in parliament to deal with the persecution issues in many countries? What could the Department of Foreign Affairs do? Imagine a debate on this issue in the Australian federal parliament? Or am I dreaming?

In a comment on the ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) site, Craig Kirk wrote:

Christian Persecution is certainly a world problem, I do a little bit presenting topics on the Persecuted Church in my church on a monthly basis. The persecution is pandemic and in some countries is genocide, unfortunately our liberal press do very little covering this Human Rights Atrocity, in many ways apathy in the West is a shame. The Situation is similar to the atrocities suffered by the minorities in Europe during the 1930- 1940’s while the West remained quiet (‘Persecution of Christians: Dr Patrick Sookhdeo speaking at Barnabas Fund event in Sydney’, 25 Sept 2012).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Labor Party wanted to censor Australian mass media

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Division of Petrie 2010.png

Division of Petrie (green), within Queensland (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

I read in The Australian newspaper online (3 March 2012), “Media fears for freedom as watchdog unleashed“, that

PRINT and online news will come under direct federal government oversight for the first time under proposals issued yesterday to create a statutory regulator with the power to prosecute media companies in the courts.

This historic change to media law would break with tradition by using government funds to replace an industry council that acts on complaints, in a move fiercely opposed by companies as a threat to the freedom of the press.

The proposals, issued yesterday by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, also seek to widen the scope of federal oversight to cover print, online, radio and TV within a single regulator for the first time.

Bloggers and other online authors would also be captured by a regime applying to any news site that gets more than 15,000 hits a year, a benchmark labelled “seriously dopey” by one site operator….

Greens leader Bob Brown urged the government to establish its new media watchdog so it could enforce standards across print, online, radio and television platforms by the end of the year.

While Fairfax Media said it would comment on the report “in the coming days”, the company’s submission to the Finkelstein inquiry objected to compulsory membership of a media regulator in a statutory scheme.

News Limited chief executive Kim Williams welcomed the report as a substantial work but spoke strongly against the concept of a government regulator.

“The spectre of a government-funded overseer of a free press in an open and forward-looking democracy like ours cannot be justified,” Mr Williams said.

“If print and online media are to continue to be able to robustly question, challenge and keep governments in check, they must remain self-regulated entirely independent of government.”

Family listening to crystal radio in 1920s (courtesy Wikipedia)

Therefore, I wrote to my local Federal MP, Mrs Yvette D’Ath (Labor Party), Member for Petrie, on 5 March 2012 to protest this interference. I wrote out of deep concern over what her Federal Labor Government was planning on doing to censor Australia’s mass media, including the Internet.

That the federal government should even be considering this legislation shows how out of touch it is with the democratic principles on which Australia was founded.

We live in a robust democracy which, up to this point, has freedom of speech. This move by the federal government to censor Australia’s mass media cuts to the heart of our democracy.

This move by your government installs censorship of horrific proportions. I don’t always agree with what the mass media (including the Internet) promotes, but the way to deal with it is not through censorship. Guaranteed freedom of speech is the way forward.
This is draconian, antiquated, communist-style, proposed legislation that would be more at-home in Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China.

Is this a statement about where the Australian Labor government is heading?

Australian Labor Party logo.svg

Courtesy Wikipedia

As my local member of federal parliament, I urged Mrs D’Ath to kill this proposed legislation by crossing the floor and not voting for it. I asked her to advise me what she would be doing about supporting or rejecting this legislation. However, that would have been a waste of time asking as the Labor Party would vote in a block according to its policy. It would not have proposed this legislation if it were not harmonious with Labor Party policy.

Visualization of Internet routing paths

A visualization of routing paths through a portion of the Internet (Wikipedia).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.

Religious marriage with a different twist: My response to Spencer Howson

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Marriage is from God

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

bmag is a Brisbane freebie newspaper-magazine style publication delivered to Brisbane households once a month. It can be accessed online HERE.

Spencer Howson is a breakfast presenter on radio, ABC 612 Brisbane. He used to write a regular column for bmag. Since my email letter of 11 July 2012 to Spencer Howson, a bmag contributor, was not published on 24 July 2012, p. 16, ‘Your say on marriage’, here I publish what I wrote to him on 11 July 2012 (his email was, spencer@bmag.com.au):

Your ‘Marriage shake-up‘ article (bmag, 10 July 2012) was your secular, religious, relativistic, politically correct (PC) promotion to accommodate the homosexual community. Yours is as religious a perspective as any in Australia. There is no philosophy, religion or worldview that is not devoted to some divinity – the object of its highest desire and deepest commitment. You may not call it ‘divinity’ but this pinnacle of desire and depth of commitment is the essence of the ‘divine’ (even though you define it differently).

Your use of projection triggers gives away your presuppositions (bold emphasis ahead). These projection triggers included,

(1) ‘I’ve never considered our marriage has anything to do with God’.

(2) Your marriage to Nikki was ‘a religion-free declaration of love and commitment’.

(3) ‘Nikki and I would have chosen a Civil Marriage’.

(4) ‘What do you think of my idea of having Church Marriage and Civil Marriage?’

Yours is a religion of autonomous reason – but it is as religious as any Christian’s view in Australia. [Here I add dot points that I did not include in the letter.] His presuppositions include:

  • Marriage has nothing to do with God.
  • A God-less marriage is religion-free.
  • Marriage is a declaration of love and commitment with no reference to God.
  • A Civil Marriage is preferred if you want it to be religion-free.

This is a pluralistic, relativistic religion that has considerable negative ramifications. How come? When the polyamory, polyandry, polygamy and marriage to children PC groups come along promoting their views, you have no rational basis to reject such religious perspectives. Yours is a slippery slope argument, Spencer, and you are standing at its pinnacle.

You are conning yourself by claiming yours is a non-religious perspective and your PC view should be considered or promoted. Having Church Marriage and Civil Marriage – your religious perspective – is a BIG compromise of the integrity of marriage.

By the way, your view of the church as ‘membership of a club – and that’s what church is’, is a country mile from the reality of the church being and functioning as the body of Christ (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27). If your knowledge of marriage is as far-off as your understanding of the church, our society is in deep trouble if it pursues your religious views.

Why is the church so adamant about marriage being between a man and a woman? In spite of your alternate religious values, from the beginning of time the Judeo-Christian Almighty God has declared that this is the foundation of marriage: ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). The foundation of a stable and just society is marriage of a man and a woman. [The following was not in my email to Spencer Howson.]

Jesus Christ supported the Genesis 2:24 passage when he was teaching about divorce:

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:4-6 ESV)

I add Karl Barth’s comment:

There is no man who does not have his own god or gods as the object of his highest desire and trust, or as the basis of his deepest loyalty and commitment. There is no one who is not to this extent also a theologian. There is, moreover, no religion, no philosophy, no world view that is not dedicated to some such divinity. Every world view … presupposes a divinity interpreted in one way or another and worshiped to some degree, whether wholeheartedly or superficially. There is no philosophy that is not to some extent also theology. Not only does this fact apply to philosophers who desire to affirm—or who, at least, are ready to admit—that divinity, in a positive sense, is the essence of truth and power of some kind of highest principle; but the same truth is valid even for thinkers denying such a divinity, for such a denial would in practice merely consist in transferring an identical dignity and function to another object. Such an alternative object might be “nature,” creativity, or an unconscious and amorphous will to life. It might be “reason,” progress, or even a redeeming nothingness into which man would be destined to disappear. Even such apparently “godless” ideologies are theologies (Barth 1963:3-4).

Reference:

Barth, K 1963.  Evangelical Theology: An Introduction. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

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The New Yorker’s biased journalism on Jesus

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

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ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

Andrew Gopnik wrote the article, “What did Jesus do?” (The New Yorker, 24 May 2010) in which he proceeded to give us his scepticism about Jesus with statements such as:

  • ‘The intractable complexities of fact produce the inevitable ambiguities of faith. The more one knows, the less one knows’;
  • ‘Belief remains a bounce, faith a leap’;
  • The reason for Jesus’ cry from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ was ‘the Jesus faith begins with a failure of faith. His father let him down’;

If you want comments from the sceptical left-wing of scholarship of Jesus and the Gospels, you’ll find it in this article with prominence given to people like, Bart Ehrman, who believes

that all the Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ death; that all were written in Greek, which Jesus and the apostles didn’t speak and couldn’t write (if they could read and write at all); and that they were written as testaments of faith, not chronicles of biography, shaped to fit a prophecy rather than report a profile.

Then you’ll find comments from the sceptical views of Jesus from people like L. Michael White, John Dominic Crossan co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, Philip Jenkins, Philip Pullman, William Empsom, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Paul Verhoeven.

There was not one quote from a biblical scholar who supported the integrity of Scripture and its reliable witness to the historical Jesus. So, I sent this….

Letter to the editor: The New Yorker

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ChristArt

I sent this online, 24 May 2010, but the letter was not printed in the online edition that I was able to see. A Google search on 16 July 2012 has not been able to find the following letter or part of it:

Andrew Gopnik’s “What did Jesus Do?” (24 May online) is an example of one-eyed journalistic bias. Scholars who supported his skeptical view towards the Gospels were quoted.

Nowhere were contrary opinions quoted from historical Jesus’ scholars such as Drs. N. T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, Samuel Byrskog, Kevin Vanhoozer, D. A. Carson, Ben Witherington III, Craig Evans, Michael Wilkins, William Lane Craig, Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock and others.

If you want me to believe The New Yorker supports balanced journalism, you’ll need to fix this prejudice.

After seeing this kind of journalism over a number of years from many news sources, I’ve grown used to the secular media taking it as par for the course that they will not deliver a reliable, biblically-based view of the historical Jesus.


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.

 

Mass media correct and Christian wrong!

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

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Photo: Gay rights protesters gathered outside the Victory Life Centre to make their views known. (ABC News: Claire Krohl)

Map: Perth 6000

By Spencer D Gear

How did the news media report on the ‘Rally to Preserve Marriage’ at the church which Margaret Court pastors in Perth, Victory Life Centre, on 24 April 2012?

This is what one of the speakers, Bill Muehlenberg, stated in his article, ‘Shouting Down the Opposition’. He stated:

The mainstream media was of course intolerant as well, refusing to offer balanced coverage. They did come out to video the protestors. Only a few dozen showed up, but the MSM focused on them and their loud shouting, and refused to have anything to do with what was happening inside the venue.

So if you check out and rely upon only the MSM today (see one example I link to below), you would not even know what occurred inside. All the focus was on the noisy militants. There will be plenty of shots on the television news tonight about the tolerance brigade seeking to drown out the meeting, but no coverage at all about what actually transpired inside.

And this is news coverage? This is professional journalism and news reporting? It is like covering a football match and only reporting on one team, with a complete blanket ban of coverage on the other team. But that is a poor analogy, since it implies two equal teams.

At the base of Bill Muehlenberg’s article, he gave the link to the ABC News (Australia) report on the rally, ‘Gay rights protesters rally outside Court’s church’. I took the Christian, Bill Muehlenberg, at his word and found these news items online to examine their coverage:

The West Australian newspaper provided a slightly different story but with the same slant – only on the protesters who were demonstrating outside the meeting, ‘Gay marriage sides clash at rally’, The West Australian, 25 April 2012.

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Courtesy: The West Australian

This is the email reply I received from one of The West Australian editors:

I have consulted with the reporter who wrote the article. She informs me that the press were not invited into the church. She said she “was barred from entering the church by security staff, who would not let me past the barriers to speak to anyone, so it would have been rather difficult to report on the meeting inside. Also tried to get in contact with Margaret Court, but she did not return my calls.”

I hope this addresses your query.

I have copied below an article from ABC online, which covered the story in a similar way to our reporter.

It sure did clarify my understanding. It gave me another side to the story.

Bill Muehlenberg was complaining about the intolerant, imbalanced view in the mainstream media, giving a link to the ABC news item reporting on this event that only gave coverage of the protesters. According to this news editor from The West Australian, that is the only version that was possible. The journalist had no alternative but to tell about the 70 homosexual protesters outside Victory Life Centre because journalists were banned from entering the church and reporting on the Rally.

This causes me to conclude on this occasion that one Christian gave an uninformed, slanted version of the way things are reported in the mass media. However, I need to observe that any journalist could have interviewed a number of people entering the rally – and they didn’t. Bill Muehlenberg informed me via email that he walked past the mass media journalists and cameras without being interviewed. However, this assumes that reporters knew who Bill was and could identify him for interview.

By the way, this one editor from The West Australian was the only letter of response I received from all of the other media mentioned above. All of these received an email from me.

This is not my opinion about all mass media coverage, but an example of what happened on one occasion that was misreported by a Christian (Bill Muehlenberg).

Marriage cover photo

Courtesy Salt Shakers (Christian ministry)

 

Copyright © 2011 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 March 2017.

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