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Christianity, current events, Politics

“Hear No Evil” Filter for Your TV, or Voluntary Fascism?

Focus on the Family is teaming up with TVGuardian to provide clean entertainment choices for families through the TVGuardian filter, a device that eliminates objectionable language from television shows.

Penned as a “foul language filter” for HDTV’s, the device seeks to protect children not only from all foul language, but also from offensive religious slurs, sexual references, and other inappropriate phrases.  (LINK)

Out of the gate, let me say something loudly, clearly, and unequivocally:  I am in favor of everyone’s right to choose what to read, what to watch, and what to listen to.  I do NOT believe that there’s anything *inherently* wrong with a device to censor objectionable material for individuals in their private homes.  I support the manufacturer’s right to make and sell this device.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what this device represents, and why I oppose it in ethical principle.

First, and most importantly, this device is a denial of reality.  It is designed primarily for Christian families, with the express purpose of keeping children ignorant of the pluralistic reality of the human condition.  It is a private extension of the public policy espoused by the Far Christian Right:  Deny it exists, prohibit people from talking about it, and it will magically disappear.

We’ve seen many examples of this tactic in recent weeks.  Tennessee made news for their legislation prohibiting teachers from even mentioning the existence of homosexuality.  North Carolina instituted a policy prohibiting inmates from reading anything but the Bible.  A California elementary school is taking flack for teaching the scientific reality that gender is not exclusively male/female in the animal kingdom.

Denialism is the foundation of Christian theology in America today, and this TV filter is another thread in the blindfold being voluntarily woven by those who would turn America into a Christian nation no matter the cost.

I'm no monkey! And nothing you can say will change my mind!

It’s not just about denialism, though.  It’s also about suppression of ideas, and that is something I am vehemently opposed to.  The only way to effectively discover the truth is to explore all options.  It’s a basic rule of debate:  Know your opponent’s position at least as well as they do, or look like a bumbling idiot.

While it is true that I am 99.99% convinced that Christianity is so much ancient mythology with no grounding in empirical reality, it’s possible that I’m wrong.  Because of this possibility, I am completely in favor of Christian apologetics.  I want them to keep trying to prove God’s existence, and I want them to try to convince people of their beliefs.  I want to engage in dialog and learn from the exchange of ideas.  I hope that if I am right, I will change some minds — by the free and open dissemination of my ideas.  Christian suppression and denial are the antithesis of open discussion, and do not further the pursuit of truth.

Denialism is also about fear.  Let’s say this plainly:  True ideas become more evident the more they are questioned.  That’s why science has such rigid protocols for trying to prove a conclusion wrong.  When an idea is sheltered from criticism, this is a giant red flag alerting us to the inability of the idea to stand up to criticism.

Socrates would disapprove.

Christians are either consciously or unconsciously protecting their beliefs from criticism.  They are afraid they are wrong, and they’re doing anything and everything they can to continue living in their insulated little universe, where gays don’t exist, atheists really believe in God, evolution doesn’t exist, and a great big boat somehow carried the buffalo of North America from the Middle East to the Middle East, and then magically transported them back to America.  Or something.

Finally, the suppression of ideas is the first and biggest red flag we should look for when a country is moving towards fascism.  And America is most definitely moving towards fascism.

  • 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
  • 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
  • 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
  • 4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
  • 5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
  • 6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
  • 7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
  • 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
  • 9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
  • 10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
  • 11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
  • 12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
  • 13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
  • 14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

I include all 14 criteria to illustrate the point that nothing happens in a vacuum, and that the Christian Agenda is systematically pursuing many, if not most, of these goals at a national, state, and local level.  The brilliance of the Christian leaders comes from the fact that they have convinced millions of Americans to voluntarily censor themselves, creating the appearance but not the reality of a free and objective media.  Christians across the nation are individually contributing to the suppression of homosexuality, religious dissent, plurality, and open debate, doing the fascists’ work for them.  It is the new brand of fascism, built from the ground up with the willing participation of the oppressed.

So… like I said, I am — in principle — in favor of people having the freedom to do whatever they want in the privacy of their homes.  And I am in favor of parents’ right to determine what their children can watch on TV.  However, I am not in favor of what this technology represents — the voluntary rise of fear, denialism, censorship, and fascism.  It is at one time both the embodiment of freedom and its extermination.

Discussion

10 thoughts on ““Hear No Evil” Filter for Your TV, or Voluntary Fascism?

  1. “Voluntary Fascism” my ass…

    There is absolutely nothing “fascist” about acknowledging the fact that there is offensive filth out there in the big bad world, and making the conscious decision to not let it into your house, not expose your kids to it, at least not until you, as a parent, decide they’re ready to encounter it.

    First, and most importantly, this device is a denial of reality

    Utter nonsense. On the contrary, this device is an acknowledgement of reality, not a denial thereof. If there were, in fact, no offensive filth out there, there would be no need for this device. Claiming that it represents a denial of reality is absurd, unless you can demonstrate your next claim:

    It is designed primarily for Christian families, with the express purpose of keeping children ignorant of the pluralistic reality of the human condition.

    More nonsense. That’s like saying, “forbidding children from driving cars, drinking alcohol, smoking, having sex and swearing, is expressly for the purpose of keeping children ignorant of the pluralistic reality of the human condition…”

    The mere idea of keeping certain things away from children until they are mature enough to handle it apparently never even enters what passes for your mind. No, it’s all about “denying reality” with you, which is itself a distortion of reality. And we should be free to at least attempt to elevate the level of discourse in our personal households above what is apparently considered the societal norm without some self-righteous blogger twit proclaiming it to be “voluntary fascism”.

    Denialism is the foundation of Christian theology in America today…

    Oh, so you are now a Christian Theologian, Hamby? Can we see your creds? Which School of Theology did you attend?

    It’s not just about denialism, though. It’s also about suppression of ideas, and that is something I am vehemently opposed to.

    Unless, of course, those ideas are about raising kids in something resembling a controlled environment until deemed ready to handle certain things. No, in those cases we label it “fascism” and, in utter denial of reality, hope it goes away…

    “But but but but PUBLIC SCHOOLS!” you cry in rebuttal. Well, sure, kids will encounter gutteral garbage once they exit the front door, but that’s beside the point. Inside that house, the adults can set the rules and lead by example in the attempt to raise their kids better than what is considered “normal” these days. At least for now, parents do have the right to raise their kids as they see fit, but, in order to “protect” them from “voluntary fascism”, some people may attempt to put more power into the hands of Government to strip away those rights, “for the children” of course…

    And, of course, that way leads to authentic fascism.

    Know your opponent’s position at least as well as they do, or look like a bumbling idiot.

    Very true, and you guys on the atheism side of the aisle would do well to heed this advice, instead of just spouting it as a platitude.

    The remainder of your Straw Man Rant is dismissed, with the caveat that, much of what you say is indeed true about humanity in general, not just Christians, and holds true to differing degrees from one individual to another. This idea that “all” Christians are in denial and “all” atheists are “enlightened” is just so much wishful thinking. Atheists also “either consciously or unconsciously protect their beliefs from criticism” to some degree — witness all of the name calling and ad hominem on this blog for an illustration. If you guys were utterly secure in your various beliefs and myths, you would have no reason to hurl invective as some of you so often do.

    As a parting thought, consider the progress of technology and why that makes this type of device so attractive in this day and age. Way Back When I was a kid, for example, most households only had one TV set, and the whole family gathered ’round for the evening entertainment, which was, of course, controlled by Ma and Pa. Today, TVs are cheap and each kid may very well have his or her own in his or her room, not to mention a computer with high-speed Internet, a mobile phone with its own Internet access, an X-Box or equivalent, and so on and so on. There is much more multimedia content flooding into households today than was the case a few decades ago, but parents who take their parenting responsibilities seriously still need some way to control that content. Again, acknowledging this is not “fascism”, “voluntary” or otherwise, nor is it “denying” reality.

    It’s simply acknowledging and dealing with today’s reality.

    Posted by CB | May 31, 2011, 1:22 pm
  2. It’s simply acknowledging and dealing with today’s reality.

    I’m sorry, but I politely disagree. Acknowledging and dealing with today’s reality would involve teaching children what they’re allowed to watch and dealing with them as thinking individuals who are capable of making rational decisions, not simply blocking them from seeing the reality around them.

    This is the same as abstinence only education. It would totally deal with the problem (of pregnancy/health aspects of sex), but it doesn’t because you can’t control their entire lives, and thus a more thorough education does a much better job (in both sex and shitty tv)…

    Of course, we could stick with denying reality…

    If you guys were utterly secure in your various beliefs and myths, you would have no reason to hurl invective as some of you so often do.

    I guess the possibility that we just find it entertaining to insult you never came up?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | May 31, 2011, 2:46 pm
  3. Alex says:
    This is the same as abstinence only education. It would totally deal with the problem (of pregnancy/health aspects of sex), but it doesn’t because you can’t control their entire lives, and thus a more thorough education does a much better job (in both sex and shitty tv)…

    PG says:

    So Alex does not see any problems with gradeschool children being exposed to the playboy channel to get a more complete sex education.

    I used to insult you for entertainment until I realized your retarded. Now I just pity you.

    Posted by PG | May 31, 2011, 4:26 pm
  4. So Alex does not see any problems with gradeschool children being exposed to the playboy channel to get a more complete sex education.

    Considering how tame playboy is, no I actually don’t. Nude pictures of women are not something I’d prevent my children from seeing, however old/young they are.

    What you’re trying to imply (that I’m fine with young children being exposed to porn) however, is asinine and in no way contained in what I said previously. I should have guessed you wouldn’t be able to contain two similar situations intelligently however.

    I used to insult you for entertainment until I realized your retarded. Now I just pity you.

    Maybe one day you’ll be able to actually insult me instead of just displaying your amazing lack of general intelligence. Your != you’re. Good try though.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | May 31, 2011, 5:06 pm
  5. Alex says:
    “Considering how tame playboy is, no I actually don’t. Nude pictures of women are not something I’d prevent my children from seeing, however old/young they are.
    What you’re trying to imply (that I’m fine with young children being exposed to porn) however, is asinine and in no way contained in what I said previously.

    PG says:
    Wow, Bedtime stories take on a whole new meaning in Alex’s household. After reading to your children about Miss June 2011 Bio, then you got that fold out. Dr Seuss cant compete with that! If you are wondering why other parents dont allow their kids to play with your kids, this might be a clue.

    May I suggest in the future, you use science books to educate your children about sex, rather than a Playboy Mag?

    Just funning! : )

    Posted by PG | May 31, 2011, 8:41 pm
  6. After reading to your children about Miss June 2011 Bio…

    There are articles in those mags? I demand evidence before I believe such preposterous claims…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | June 1, 2011, 8:04 am
  7. Alex says:
    “There are articles in those mags? I demand evidence before I believe such preposterous claims.”

    PG says:
    Well, I consider the “Party Jokes” page to represent the highest level of journalistic achievement in the history of mankind.

    Posted by PG | June 1, 2011, 10:32 am
  8. Alex, I hope the following will meet your demand for evidence. I cite the following:

    One day the zoo keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books,On the Origin of Species and the Bible.

    Surprised,he asked the orangutan “why are you reading both those books”

    “Well,” said the orangutan. “I just wanted to know if I was my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother”

    Posted by PG | June 1, 2011, 11:02 am
  9. Acknowledging and dealing with today’s reality would involve teaching children what they’re allowed to watch and dealing with them as thinking individuals who are capable of making rational decisions, not simply blocking them from seeing the reality around them.

    Well, it certainly would “involve teaching children what they’re allowed to watch”, obviously, but as far as “dealing with them as thinking individuals who are capable of making rational decisions” is concerned, remember that we are dealing with people who are still developing, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc., and are therefore obviously not fully developed yet. Again, our society doesn’t allow kids to drive cars, drink alcohol, smoke, have sex or use colorful language — is our society therefore failing to “deal with kids as thinking individuals who are capable of making rational decisions”? Or merely recognizing and dealing with the reality that kids are simply not mature, rational adults?

    And once the parents “teach their children what they’re allowed to watch”, how do they enforce that? Just hope the kids obey? That would be a shining example of not dealing with reality. Barge into their rooms unannounced to try and catch them in the act? Install surveillance gear in their rooms and spy on them?

    No solution is perfect, obviously, but this device would give parents a measure of control they otherwise would not have. To equate that with “fascism” at any level is simply absurd.

    Posted by CB | June 2, 2011, 7:55 am
  10. No solution is perfect, obviously, but this device would give parents a measure of control they otherwise would not have. To equate that with “fascism” at any level is simply absurd.

    I can’t disagree with you entirely (that equating this device with fascism is a bit strong), but also think you are missing a key component. How is this any different than barging into their room unannounced, or installing spy cams? Both invade the child’s privacy without notice and in a way that would be unacceptable to adults, at least those who value their privacy which these children will never do because they’ve been taught from birth that their parents have the right to invade it…

    Again, our society doesn’t allow kids to drive cars, drink alcohol, smoke, have sex or use colorful language — is our society therefore failing to “deal with kids as thinking individuals who are capable of making rational decisions”? Or merely recognizing and dealing with the reality that kids are simply not mature, rational adults?

    In many of those instances, yes society is failing. We do allow kids to drive cars, have sex, smoke, drink alcohol, and have sex, as long as they meet certain conditions. To drive, one must be 16, in school and otherwise upstanding (at least in my locale). To have sex, you just need to get married. To drink/smoke you just need to join the military at 17 and be on base.

    My point is that most of the conditions we allow these things to occur under are asinine and do not serve to reduce the activity in any meaningful way (cause kids don’t have sex, right???), when study after study has shown that educating kids effectively does deal with these behaviors we want reduced in the underage population, i.e. better, more accurate sex education reduces teen sex, or at least its negative consequences, which is what we really want. The same thing holds true for drug use (such as alcohol and smoking).

    To be clear, when I say “deal with them as rational, thinking individuals”, I mean educate them as age appropriate in the most effective way and they will make the decisions that are best for them in most cases, at least that’s what the studies show…

    Posted by Alex Hardman | June 2, 2011, 8:58 am

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