Truth, the Media, and Ideology

Those who are pro-faith and pro-family have long realized that it is hard to get a fair hearing in much of today’s media. Last night on television there was a good example of this. The May 16 episode of the Insight program on SBS featured a debate about same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

One feature of the debate stands out, and was reported in today’s Australian. Former Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson was on the program, and among other things, made the incredible claim that it is “an act of cruelty” to not recognize and legalise same-sex marriage and adoption rights.

Of course for years Nicholson has been a strident proponent of various radical agendas. But his claims are simply bewildering, considering the actual facts of the matter. Indeed, he went on to say that there is “not one shred of credible evidence” that children raised in a same-sex relationship “have any disadvantage in relation to other children”. He continued, “I don’t think it matters whether the person is a male or female or two males, (or) two females, provided they are loving parents”.

Sorry, but he is simply denying the facts in the interests of pushing his own radical agenda. The truth is, there are over 10,000 social science studies that have come out over the past four decades, and they all point in one direction: Children are best served, by every indicator, when living with their biological mother and father. No other family structure comes close to the positive benefits of being raised in a biological two-parent family. Indeed, there are many negative benefits associated with not being raised in the natural family.

Generally speaking, the research clearly shows that kids are more likely to commit suicide, do less well in school, and be more likely to become involved in crime and drugs, when raised in households other than the two-parent family. Of course there are exceptions, but this is the clear weight of the social research.

Thus he is simply ignoring the evidence, in order to ram through his own ideological goals. But he did not stop there. He went on to say that Christian values on marriage should not apply to the law. This is another incredible claim, and is simply wrong-headed for several reasons.

The truth is, Western society is built on the Judeo-Christian worldview and moral system. What is he suggesting? That we renounce every law, every custom, every social more that may have a trace of religious background to it? Perhaps then we must ditch our laws on murder, theft, and lying to begin with. After all, they are all part of our Christian heritage.

And what would the former judge do with the fact that 68 per cent of Australians are Christian, according to the last census? Should they be disqualified from voting, from public life, from positions of power and influence, because they might contaminate society with religious beliefs? Nicholson is simply pushing his radical secular agenda – which is a minority viewpoint – on to the rest of Australia.

And he was quite happy to resort to some cheap tricks as well in his presentation. He made the comparison between a loving, close homosexual family and an abusive, dysfunctional heterosexual family. Said Nicholson: “Certainly if [the homosexual relationship] is a loving relationship, as many of these ones we’ve discussed tonight are, then it’s highly likely that the children will be much better off than in a heterosexual relationship which is not a good one”.

Well of course, who wouldn’t agree? But (as I told a radio interviewer today on this very point), that is simply chalk and cheese. It is comparing apples with oranges. There is no comparison. A fair comparison would be a loving heterosexual family with a loving homosexual family, or a dysfunctional homosexual family with a dysfunctional heterosexual family. But such fair comparisons are seldom offered. The debate is usually rigged from the outset.

How not to conduct a debate

Indeed, this debate bore all the hallmarks of how the media often conducts a debate: quite one-sided. Interestingly, I had been invited to appear on this very debate, but I declined. I have been on too many of these debates before to know that they are a stacked deck, and one’s chances of getting a proper hearing are next to zero.

It is not just the fact that I am usually the only conservative voice in such debates (or if it is a larger crowd, there may be several token conservative voices), but the very medium of television is just not conducive to proper debate.

For example, the producers of these shows (who are almost always radicals themselves, – or very sympathetic to trendy causes), are no dummies. They will not only have a majority of the debaters on the radical side, but the supposedly disinterested audience members will also be well to the left on such issues as well.

Indeed, I recall being on a very similar debate some years ago (in fact, with the same SBS program – Insight), and I was amazed that I and only two others out of a debating audience of about 40 were on the conservative, pro-family side. But I should not have been surprised. After the taping of the program, a number of the most vocal lesbian and homosexual activists went up to the show’s producers and they exchanged hugs and greetings, and said how nice it was to see each other again, etc.

As I say, a simple set-up, from the word go. The activists working at the television networks simply invite their activist friends on the show, and pass them off as disinterested participants, simply a cross-section of society. And they add a few token conservative voices, in order to claim that they offered a balanced and objective debate.

But that is not the only problem. In these debates, they will pit emotive human interest stories against the plain hard logic of the conservative side. That is, they will bring in a lesbian “family” or what have you, and the whole spectacle will play to the emotions of the viewing audience. The child in the lesbian household will fawn over his two “mums”, while the two lesbians will profusely demonstrate their great love for their child. Facts and evidence will never stand up against such a display of emotion, so you lose every time.

In such a situation, it is no good for me (or anyone else) to try to cite the clear social evidence which shows the vast superiority of the two-parent family. Cold hard facts will always lose out to a visual, emotive story played out before one’s eyes.

And not only will such “debates” feature many of these alternative “families”, they will not feature an opposing sort of family: a mum, dad and child who can speak of their loving and functional home. If a homosexual activist wants to debate the evidence with one opposed to that agenda, that is one thing. But to pit a real live alternative lifestyle “family” against a conservative talking head is never fair nor balanced.

And it goes even further than that. Not only is the emotional story always going to trump the simple presentation of objective facts, but if the one side is presented as a victim, as an underdog, then the other side (the conservatives) will automatically come across as the cold, uncompassionate, judgmental, intolerant types, no matter what they say. Because modern society puts such a high value on a soppy version of tolerance, anyone speaking the truth about these sorts of issues will just be cast as the intolerant bigot who is preventing people from doing their thing.

So television debates seldom offer a real chance of a fair or objective exchange of ideas. They simply become theatre, pitting the ‘good guys’ versus the ‘bad guys’. That is why I declined the debate, although I congratulate those few conservatives who were willing to appear anyway.

In sum, both the Insight debate, and the comments of Nicholson, were typical of how a largely radical and secular media skew truth and manipulate information. I have had too many years experience of such activities to expect otherwise. That is why I and so many others are turning to websites and other forms of communication. Truth is important and needs to be heard. If it will not come freely from the mainstream media, then it needs to come from elsewhere. Let the debate continue!

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