Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In which the pond considers an important and vital question: Do both sides of the creationist debate get equal billing in the media?


Indeed, indeed, and well-played Mark Di Stefano at Buzzfeed, here, and here.

Something really weird in that noggin, and like every politician in the country, clueless about the new digital world.

Now don't forget the magic water man ...

But enough comedy and scalps, because, thanks to Media Watch, the pond has a hugely important question to ask:

Do both sides of the creationist debate get equal billing in the media? 

And now to something else that was big last week ... and that’s the debate over creationism ... where opponents of evolution are having difficulty getting their message out to the media

Foxtel has been bombarded with irate messages from customers upset that the pay TV company has run ads from opponents of evolution. 


Yes, some Foxtel viewers don’t just dislike the anti-evolution ads, they think the network shouldn’t be running them, as you can see from comments like this on Foxtel’s website.


“@Foxtel subscription cancelled. I guess you can make money off two thousand years of stupidity and ignorance, as if we haven't had enough of that already. 

 “@Foxtel should be ashamed of themselves. But at least we know they're as scientific as the PM who keeps pedalling religious bigotry and 'climate science is crap' notions. #canceledsubscription ...


Whatever happened to freedom of speech and the right to do with your subscription what you think?


And was the ad for creationism really so offensive? 


Take a look at the TV commercial from Westboro church and judge for yourself.

“VOICE OVER: So it’s time to step back and consider all the issues around the theory of evolution, like how it will affect science teaching in schools and how it will affect children. We could even lose certain rights, since arguing for evolution has unintended consequences." — Creationism Alliance Ad


All pretty mild, surely?


But Fairfax and Channel Nine, who also published the ad, ran into similar flak, including this broadside from Ditzy Women: 



“The ad’s inaccurate claims regarding evolution are offensive. They are untrue. They are inviting hate. And they are being aired to hundreds of thousands of Australians on free-to-air television. That’s why today, we’re asking: Why on earth did the Nine Network agree to air these ads? — Silly bunch of ditzy women.


The ad in fact makes hardly any claims at all in relation to evolution and in my opinion to say it’s inviting hate is ridiculous.


But by then, other media had already decided to ban it , with Channel Seven, Channel Ten, 2DayFM, The Australian Radio Network and Nova all refusing to give the ad an airing. 


So how did they justify this?


Well, Ten refused to comment ...


While Seven told Media Watch unconvincingly:


We could not accommodate the booking and scheduling request though we would have loved to have kept the evolution v. creation debate simmering the way it's been doing this past hundred years... -  Seven West Media


And Nova at least came clean on its reasons, telling the creationists in an email:


“We simply feel that, this messaging [is] significantly out of alignment with the Nova brand and our audience. We actually have a few scientists that listen to us. Hard to believe, but it's true  — Nova Entertainment 


By contrast, an ad from the other side of the debate — which supports evolution and climate science — has run on Sky, Foxtel and WIN.



And these useless ersatz scientists had no trouble getting their message to Australia:


Aren’t we about a fair go?

It’s about respect. Why haven't we heard more from the Taliban on this matter? Is it good enough that we leave it to the Prime Minister to mount the case? After all, he's only the PM and brings every message he spruiks into disrepute. Is it fair and just that religious crackpots and fundamentalists have only had two thousand years of spreading their message? Has anyone from Saudi Arabia been given a chance to join in the discussion?

 What’s all the fuss? — Creationist Ad 


Well indeed.

What is all the fuss about a station airing commercials that its viewers might disagree with? Where's the harm? Everyone knows the theory of evolution is just a theory.



And whatever happened to a fair go for both sides of this debate?



In response to the ban, Sophist Pork from the Creationist and Denialist Alliance issued a statement to complain. 


"It is quite shocking that two major TV networks are denying the basic right to freedom of speech and expression on an issue that supports the current science of the nation ... 
“We are asking for a fair-go to have a debate about an issue that should be discussed openly and transparently, and without intimidation or fear. Why is public debate being silenced?” — Creationist Media Statement 


But aside from the ads being banned, are opponents of the theory of evolution getting an equal run in the media? 

Or at least a fair hearing. We don’t think they are. 



When Canberra Airport lit up with pictures of monkeys last Sunday to support the theory of evolution it was front page in The Age and The Canberra Times next morning and also big news in the Sydney Morning Herald. And it scored almost fifty mentions on radio and TV.



But on Monday, when opponents of evolution piled Christmas crackers containing jokes about monkeys on the lawn at Parliament House they got just 14 mentions on radio and TV, one story on News.com.au, and this brief one liner, probably the worst of the jokes, on page 6 of the Adelaide Advertiser.



Why did the monkey cross the road?

Sure, the answer was pathetic and the airport monkeys were a better story. Aww, so cute. But the overall media coverage of the debate has also been skewed.



For example, none of the commercial TV stations covered the launch of the Creationist Alliance campaign. 

And major one-on-one interviews on radio and TV have also been out of kilter, 

with two key spokespeople for bigoted evolutionism, Oddish Spoon and Sistine Chapel scoring 32 interviews between them in the first 12 days of August

.

And by our count, two key speakers against—Sophist Pork and Raving Gerund —scoring a grand total of only 12. 



Amazingly, the ABC has not interviewed Sophist Pork from the Creationist Alliance even once—despite 16 interviews with Spoon and Chapel. 

Where's the religion report on RN when it comes to the crunch?

As the Creationist Forum’s Raving Gerund told Media Watch:


“No-one ever rings us. We send endless media releases ... I don’t want to pester anyone, but we’re here. And ready to explain how two thousand years of bigotry has had its finest flowering in ISIS, and their grand attitude to women, gay rights and science — Raving Gerund, Creationist, Flat Earth and Climate Denialist Forum.

We think those figures speak for themselves and we can only agree with the Creationist Federation’s Slightly Bent, who told us: 


“The media has a bias. There’s no question it is pro the theory of evolution and all the other nonsense that's peddled as science these days." — Slightly Bent, Creationist Federation.

And just before you pile into us on Twitter if you’re not already doing so. Media Watch and the pond are proud supporters of the theory of evolution and climate science and SSM and women's right to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, and all the other nonsense peddled by latte sipping inner city 'leets poncing around in their cardigans with leather patches on the elbows. 



But, as we’re constantly being reminded, science is a conscience issue and we have always believed in the importance of teaching any controversy, and an important change in our understanding of the universe is being proposed, and surely both sides of the debate have an equal right to be heard, so what we need right at the moment is more bigotry, and more phobias on parade, and shame on the media for denying us this timely spectacle.

- A thoughtful and timely message from Paul Barry and the pond and your ABC ...

A message that wouldn't have been possible without the tireless work of the Anti-Evolution League. We thank them all for their efforts.


6 comments:

  1. Oh I see what you did there. I read the transcript as have almost given up on watching MW.

    If Paul Barry had any principle he should have threatened to resign if pressure was being applied to him from above (the ABC Board, not the long absent one), instead of settling to be allowed to say on air that he wasn't a Creationist. Who gives a fuck what he believes in! Media Watch and the ABC are there to provide sensible, modern journalism, not to kowtow to religious bullies and allow fundamentalism to be presented as equal to science in the name of (debased) "ABC journalistic balance".

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I see what you did there. I read the transcript as have almost given up on watching MW.

    If Paul Barry had any principle he should have threatened to resign if pressure was being applied to him from above (the ABC Board, not the long absent one), instead of settling to be allowed to say on air that he wasn't a Creationist. Who gives a fuck what he believes in! Media Watch and the ABC are there to provide sensible, modern journalism, not to kowtow to religious bullies and allow fundamentalism to be presented as equal to science in the name of (debased) "ABC journalistic balance".

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so, so brilliant! (And much more eloquently demolishes Barry's facile argument than my infuriated rants on social media...)

    Being able to view a question of "do we continue to marginalise and denigrate people who don't fit into a particular privileged box, or do we treat them with the respect that we'd like to receive" as a debate topic akin to "lawyers are funnier than footballers" or "Qantas or Virginia?" really exemplifies unexamined privilege. Since when are media organisations expected to give every mouth breathing wingnut a platform and pretend they actually have something constructive to say because "balance"? Oh wait...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Virgin. Thanks for nothing, autocorrect.

      Delete
  4. This is so, so brilliant! (And much more eloquently demolishes Barry's facile argument than my infuriated rants on social media...)

    Being able to view a question of "do we continue to marginalise and denigrate people who don't fit into a particular privileged box, or do we treat them with the respect that we'd like to receive" as a debate topic akin to "lawyers are funnier than footballers" or "Qantas or Virginia?" really exemplifies unexamined privilege. Since when are media organisations expected to give every mouth breathing wingnut a platform and pretend they actually have something constructive to say because "balance"? Oh wait...

    ReplyDelete

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