Friday, January 12, 2007

An Inconvenient Decision

A school board in a Seattle suburb has restricted the showing to students of the Al Gore global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Apparently a "half-dozen" parents called to complain that the movie presented a "cockeyed" view on the issue and an opposing view such as the "Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up" should also be discussed.
"I am shocked that a school district would come to this decision," the movie's co-producer, Laurie David, said in a prepared statement. "There is no opposing view to science, which is fact, and the facts are clear that global warming is here, now."
Schools teach SCIENCE, churches teach RELIGION. The school board made this decision out of pure ignorance.
None has seen the movie. District policy, however, requires that an opposing view be aired whenever a controversial issue is examined in school.
The problem with the policy is that anyone can provide an opposing viewpoint to any issue at any time, thus making it controversial. It is the responsibility of every public school to teach children the facts about science, math and other subjects, and to nurture independent thinking. If parents have a problem with reality, they can homeschool their kids or place them in a parochial school.
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who doesn't want the film shown at all.
It's hard to believe that the school board would take this sort of comment seriously. Further proof of the dumbing of America.

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EJP said...

Well, there's two sides to this:

The fairness doctrine was abandoned in the 80's precisely for the reason the schoolboard gave. Because media outlets were compelled to offer "equal time" and present both sides of a topic, many would simply opt to avoid controversial topics altogether, and it was determined that the doctrine was therefore having a chilling effect on speech.

The downside of that repeal is that it paved the way for Rush Limbaugh and AM talk radio, as outlets no longer had to be concerned with fairness.

But the flip side is that there aren't always two sides to the issue - like in this case. Media outlets have become so fearful of being called "biased" that they've adopted a kind of objectivity that's simply "He said, she said": airing one viewpoint, then another, with little or no analysis. The effect is that an outright lie is given equal weight as fact and truth. Politicians know this.

That's basically the dilemma the school board faces here.

I think Stephen Colbert is a genius for nailing the phenomenon with one simple term: Truthiness. Collectively, Americans have little taste for "facts"; we like what feels right - which is mostly what agrees with our pre-conceived worldview.

In either case it's a sad, frightening state of affairs.

Nudiarist said...

Well said, great follow-up!