Thursday, February 08, 2007

CNN Disses Atheists

Here is the video, in two parts. The story is below.

Part One:

Part Two:

This is the story about the whole thing, courtesy of The Questionable Authority.

A recent CNN story on atheism has sparked a great deal of outrage from the online atheist community. The story, which was broadcast on the January 31st edition of Paula Zahn Now (transcript) (video) detailed the plight of two families of atheists who say they were ostracized from their communities as the result of their beliefs - in one case, just for having identified themselves as atheists, and in another for objecting to the prayer and bible study that were taking place at their child's public school. The show then moved from the story to a panel discussion. The topic, displayed prominently behind the panel, was, "Why do atheists inspire such hatred?" The panel consisted of three people - a sports commentator, a journalism professor, and a right-wing political commentator. None of these three was an atheist, and two of the three quickly decided that the hatred toward atheists is the result of outspoken atheism, and that atheists need to, in the words of the journalism professor, "shut up and let people do what they do." (The sports comentator was the lone voice of reason on the panel, and even there reason consisted of arguing that there are lots of people who should shut up and don't, so why penalize atheists for that.)

I was disgusted by the tone of the discussion, but I am more upset at the substantial lack of anything even remotely similar to balance in the treatment of the topic. There is absolutely no excuse for a "news" broadcast to conduct a discussion like that without including an atheist. Had they attempted something similar involving any other minority group, there would already have been a massive outcry.

I'm reading Richard Dawkins' new book on atheism right now, and there is quite a lot in there that I disagree with, but there is one thing that he definitely gets right. If those of us who are agnostics, or atheists, or freethinkers or other nonbelievers want to change the way we are treated as a group, we need to act like a group. We need to be more vocal, not less vocal, in demanding our basic rights.

CNN did something that was very wrong here, and we need to get them to right the wrong. A tactic that has worked for other groups faced with similar situations is a boycott, and I think one is called for here. Let's tell CNN that they need to take definte steps to address the unfair and unbalanced way they treated atheists on that program, and that if they do not, we will boycott their advertisers. At a minimum, these steps should include: (1) a public apology for their failure to include atheists in a discussion about the treatment that atheists sometimes receive; and (2) a broadcast that re-examines this issue and that does include atheists in the discussion.

If you think this is a good idea, and are willing to participate in something like this, leave your name and the city that you live in in the comments section of this post, or click on the "contact" tab up top and send me an email. If there is a good response over the next couple of days, I'll contact CNN with the relevant information.

Having seen the videos, do you agree?

I'm not a huge fan of the atheist movement of late, but personally, the thing that ticks me off is that CNN didn't even put on the facade of a fair debate. What a load of shit. CNN has been Faux News lite for quite a while now, but it seems they may be trying to use the tactics of their masters and idols.

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