Archive for February 16th, 2007|Daily archive page

Athiest Scum

I live in Germany, so when I watch CNN I get the nicely toned down, CNN-International version of the Cable ‘News’ Network.

Usually I ignore it unless something obviously newsy and obviously visible happens. That way I can avoid both the attempts of ‘news’ anchors attempting to make things like Bulgarian oil import levels interesting or international soccer fouls scandalous. I also have the benefit of avoiding Larry King and getting the urge to break something.

Thus when the first comments about the CNN atheist ‘coverage’ crossed into my radar, I simply thought it was pretty standard water-bong um water-cooler um blog conversation. Teresa convinced me that not everyone had heard of this. Thus my own memeage (and obsequious grovel in honor of Richard Dawkins).

It all started so innocuously, so “far and balanced.” On the exceptionally originally named program Now hosted by Paula Zahn, CNN broadcast a report on the discrimination of atheists in America.

Then came, in typical truthiness tradition, the discussion panel. Since the topic was atheism, the producers a CNN put together a panel of experts. Karen Hunter, journalism professor (Christian), Debbie Schlussel, attorney and columnist (Jewish) and Stephen A. Smith, ESPN analyst (Christian). A fine group of experts to discuss discrimination of atheists.

Transcript here.

Um. Wow!

Now this will probably surprise many, but CNN oddly got flack for this.

I mean really. A journalism ‘professor‘ telling us “What does an atheist believe? Nothing.“ Debbie Schlussel, ‘attorney,’ explaining “freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.“

The only person attempting to support the atheist side was Mr Smith, sports analyst. (And Sir I thank you.) Unfortunately he was ill prepared for the discussion (and how many people do you know, who have facts and figures on atheism on hand – um – in head?). On the other hand, Smith felt pressured enough to say, “We’re a Christian country. There’s no question about that. I love the Lord. So does Karen, so does everybody that I know.“

What is so off base here? *ahem*

Oh! And I won’t even touch the background banner slander comments questions.

Apparently, a few wackos wrote to CNN pointing out that it might have been a ‘good’ idea to have included an atheist on the panel. So, in standard, “We didn’t really do anything wrong but some ‘people’ are bitching” manner and in honor of Darwin Day (just to show how screwed up the discussion of evolution and religion really is), they did a second segment. This time they gave Richard Dawkins a (very short) chance to put forth a case for atheists. And they had a slightly more balanced panel. With an atheist! Yeah! (Full coverage at OneGoodMove)

Of course we couldn’t have this discussion either without those helpful ‘discuss among yourselves questions’ on the background banner. Questions like “Do Atheists Bring Intolerance On Themselves?” – Answer: I don’t know. Does CNN bring scorn and derision on itself?

Fortunately, and perhaps to help the beleaguered Mr Smith , a new and improved YouTube remix of the original appeared. With helpful answers and showing the repeated missteps.

I got the link from PZ Meyers who, unfortunately, had already concluded that the whole episode “convinced me of a couple of things. I apparently have not been militant enough, and am going to have to work harder at aggressively promoting godlessness. And I’m adding CNN to my list of news agencies to ignore, along with Fox.”

While I firmly support the last position but increased militancy will only play into the hands of the evil presented here. Increased understanding not increased militancy is the answer. Explaining that atheist is not Satanist and what the belief entails. Well. At least attempting to explain that before you get run out of town; tarred and feathered; or lynched.

One question on the February rebuttal show never got answered and I find it critical. Where do atheists get their morals? I would respond. Which is more important, where the American constitution came from or the ideals it represents? Most atheists have given morality and ethics a lot of thought. Indeed morality and ethics are almost as important to atheists as the question of the number of angels dancing on pins was to medieval theologians. But are the origins or the ideals more important. So, please, give me a step by step run down of the origins and precursors t0 the American constitution. When we finish that, I’ll feel obligated to you to discuss my ethics.

But I, thank God, do not live in a Christian nation. And am not forced to defend my rights to believe in –um – nothing?

(Hat Tip to BlondSense for my first contact on this. And to Trees/AnomalousData for showing me it was necessary to write it.)