Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams: Objective Subjectivity or Vice Versa

One has to wonder—even the most liberal-minded of us—if NPR made a big mistake in terminating news analyst Juan Williams for his insensitive and opinionated remarks about Muslims on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

I’m still processing it.

Some have pointed out that this event has been a long time coming since Williams has weighed in before on other controversial issues—on the same program.

Perhaps it’s a no-win situation for NPR. Had they not reacted at all, hard-core, left-leaning NPR listeners surely would have been calling for his resignation—especially if he had expressed such feelings on one of NPR’s programs.

Many comments are coming in that NPR doesn’t respect Williams’ first amendment rights of free speech unless it is in line with their views. That’s doubtful. Everyone in this country has the right to free speech, but are there really any guarantees when it comes to free speech and job security—especially in the journalism profession?

Perhaps NPR is only guilty in its zeal for objectivity—much like Fox’s zeal for subjectivity. Just take a look at their nightly line-up of opinion-based programming (see image above).

NPR made the following statement following Williams’ termination, “…his remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a News Analyst with NPR.” Translation: If your career is that of a news analyst, that pretty much means you’re about as objective as they come, so you shouldn’t be out there expressing opinions in any public forums—especially on one of the most opinionated shows in the country.
And I thought Daniel Schorr lived a long life, but now I’m thinking he didn’t live long enough in having the opportunity to chime in on this little drama.

From That Minority
What Williams said was dumb, plain and simple. But it was also “dumb” for National Public Radio—one of his media employers—to summarily fire him. Williams deserves the opportunity to defend himself, and at the very least explain what he meant and why he said what he said. And there are few better places for open and honest discourse than NPR. Even if his termination was inevitable, wouldn’t a few moments of clarity been of benefit to both Williams and the listening audience? If not NPR, where? Trust us, discussions of prejudice are best left off cable news. If Don Imus and Dr. Laura were given the chance to illuminate their moments of idiocy, why not Williams?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Goldilocks’ Planets, coffee, algae, and the Gospel

Wall Drug Dino
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
After hearing a story about the finding of a Goldilocks’ planet like our own (not too hot, not too cold, just right), I was reminded of an Arthur C. Clarke quote about whether or not we (Humans on Earth) are alone in the Universe. Then I took a tangent off into religion and from there, posted the following on my Facebook wall...

Let’s just say we not only discover life on one of these planets, but we make contact with intelligent life as well. Will Christians be obligated/encouraged to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

You can read or listen to the story here.

The following comments came in—most of which were on the light-hearted side of the spectrum.

Right after the 1st Starbucks opens there!

Christians will probably engage in evangelism and Muslims will engage in jihad. But cynicism aside, wouldn’t it be cool to find some kind of life somewhere else? Even if it were only algae.

A few days past and then one of my friends on Facebook sent me this as a message:

I was curious about your comment regarding the gospel of Jesus Christ and Christians. I think I was offended by what you had to say and I wanted to be sure before I would make a comment on your wall.

I thought it was a fair question and as cynical as I can be, I felt an explanation was due that had a little more thought to it. Perhaps this is what I should have posted for starters...

Aside the light-hearted feedback regarding coffee, the question I offered up was sincere. I suppose directing the question at Christianity is only because I thought there would be more who would weigh in—I doubt I have many “friends” here on FB who are Muslim, Jewish or other established faiths.

The question is an extension of an Arthur C. Clarke (sci-fi author): “Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”

I don’t recall ever hearing (or reading) anything about this “scenario”—in the Bible or in church when I attended regularly. That said, I’m not making any claims on authority here. Thus, my question.

At this point in time, it might seem a bit far-fetched, but given mankind’s curiosity and ability to see deeper into the universe, might it be an issue that those of faith will have to wrestle with someday should such proof be presented or contact made?

I found myself considering the two possible directions should such proof materialize and how it could be a conundrum—1. in sharing and preaching the Gospel with/to other intelligent life (non-Human), how does that sit with the teachings of the Bible that are leveled at mankind on Earth only? 2. in not sharing and/or preaching the Gospel with/to this same group, might that be seen as dismissive—elevating ourselves above another intelligent life form as if they were looked upon as animals on Earth—especially if their intelligence is superior to ours?

I hope this explanation clears things up and is not considered offensive as much as it might be simply naive. Regardless, feel free to comment on my wall as you see fit.

… or here in the case of this Facebook-thread-turned-blog.