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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Week of Rants, Part Deuce: Bias in the Media, Church, Bloggernacle and more.

Because I've been lax in my blogging, I'm going to do another week-o-rants. It will include "Different Strokes: How different people find fulfillment in different ways"  and "Folk-doctrine, including prophetic infallibility"
Today's rant is on bias and unilateral thinking

Recently, a Sgt. in the Port Canaveral police force was suspended. The first headline about this said he was using a picture of Trayvon Martin for target practice. I held off making an opinion, because I knew there had to be more. Finally, Brighthouse News Network (Channel 13 News) reported that it was a training target intended not to be shot at; also, it wasn't actually a picture of him but a silhouette of his profile. Now, this was still a boneheaded move on his part, but using his silhouette for the intent of not shooting it is quite different from the intentional shooting has his actual picture. Still, this has been portrayed as if the officer was committing a hate crime, and not just being stupid.

Actually, the way the entire Trayvon case is being handled is disgusting me. The first headline said that a unarmed teenager was gunned down for being black. Then came the stories of how he was just walking home with some skittles but this overzealous pseudo-cop gunned him down without provocation. The media  showed Trayvon's picture from when he was 13, and used Zimmerman's mugshot from years earlier. They never told of how Trayvon had a history of violence, that he was on suspension from school for fighting, and how he had attacked Zimmerman after Zimmerman followed him. (Yahoo! eventually released the pictures of Zimmerman's injuries.)

 It's easy to show bias without telling a direct lie.

"Unarmed Black teenager shot dead by white man"

"Teenager shot and killed during fight"

"Older man shoots in defense against attack from African-American teenager teenager"

While all three are factually correct, only the middle one tells the story from a non-biased point-of-view.

I've seen this alot lately in many circumstances. There has been a lot of anger over the way the media defended the men who committed the Steubenville Rape of a 15 year-old girl. They Talked of how their lives were ruined. (Never mind the girl's life and the effect this has on her.)

Look at how the bloggernacle has blown up over sister Dalton's last talk. Sure, she annoyed me too, and I felt like her talk should have been worded differently when referring to rape, but at some point in time, you've got to stop whining about semantics and move on. (Let me add here that I believe the church needs an overhaul on how it talks about rape, and sexuality in general, but blasting Sister Dalton for not understanding the exact meaning of the exact words in a scripture is a little bit hypocritical. I've had someone very close to me sexually assaulted, but there is a point in time where we learn to understand intent.)

I could go on, but the point is simple: How do we detect bias, and how do we move past it?

I think one of the first things is to think "Is this really logical? Does this usually happen in real life? Does the world really work this way?" While we may all have different answers, just asking those questions would have raised a red flag for anyone when they were told an innocent teenager was gunned down in cold blood simply for being black. The world doesn't work that way these days in this part of the world.

It's also important to consider the source. I've stopped listening to certain people and news sources. Some people have no intention of being accurate if it doesn't prove them right.

I think sometimes, just certain words trigger a fight-or-flight mentality of sorts. As soon as I brought up feminism with my dad (a registered Democrat, interestingly enough) he didn't seem happy that I was labeling myself as a feminist. (After a long talk, he did admit to me he feels things aren't entirely being done correctly in his opinion.) Do you automatically shut down or go into defense mode when taught or controversial topics are brought up? Sometimes, we need to listen and seek to understand those with different views, no matter how much it may agitate us.

I guess what I'm trying to say is question everything and think logically. There is a wealth of information out there to be learned, but we instead choose to let others pick out their favorite parts, and take those parts as the whole.

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