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Paula Zahn follow-up

I think the atheist segment is over now. I guess I'll leave it to others to get all the player's names right and post the video on YouTube and track down a transcript. Perhaps I'll post links eventually, but just a few thoughts...

Finally, a host who actually contributed! Who moderated! Instead of just letting everyone jabber on mindlessly.

Ellen Johnson and Richard Dawkins clearly have different views of theists. Ellen Johnson's view is much more cynical than Dawkin's. She thinks theists do know the truth about atheists, but simply choose to be bigoted. Dawkins believes that discrimination of atheists is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. I suspect that both views are true, and that some people are willfully ignorant to promote their bigotry.

The Reverend Petersen they had on there was a classic bigot, and he repeated many of the same claims that the previous panel had stated. He did not go unchallenged this time, but he did not really want to let the others speak.

The show did a much better job of avoiding statements that suggested that atheists were to blame for the discrimination they face.

The re-air of the video segment on anti-atheist discrimination had not be editted to correct their factual errors, like only 1-3% of Americans are atheists is not true... as many as 14% of Americans do not belong to any religion. And the truth is, atheist is such an ugly label that many people who really ARE atheists don't label themselves AS atheists.

I need a transcript before I can pick apart specific points, but they did manage to do a better job than their on-air "dress rehearsal".


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
I agree with all your points except for one. I did think that the panel makeup was a bit better, but I don't think that CNN avoided statements that suggested that atheists are to blame for discrimination. A banner in the background of this new panel segment asked "Are Atheists Morally Compromised?" and "Do Atheists Bring Intolerance on Themselves?" The host even asked if atheists are encouraging discrimination by bringing suits in the Supreme Court: "you're only 1-3% of the population, why are you so loud?"

Someone left a comment on OneGoodMove.org that said "I'd like to ask the reverend if he felt that African-Americans were imposing themselves on other Americans when they decided to fight for equal rights." I wonder if CNN would get away with the exact same language if they were talking about a different minority group. For instance, do you think it would be tolerated if CNN were doing a panel on discrimination against Jewish people, and they put up a banner in the background that said, "Do Jews Bring Intolerance on Themselves?"

I do think one positive thing came out of this, and that's that it got a lot of people talking. Hopefully that continues.
Feb. 13th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I was trying to follow what they were saying and admittedly wasn't paying a lot of attention to the background. I'll pay more attention to that when I can find the video on YouTube. Thanks.

I agree with you completely about substituting another minority group for 'atheist' and getting a statement that would be morally indefensible in this country. It's true that when racism and anti-semitism were bad in this country, people didn't get it about those statements either.
Feb. 13th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the banners in the background weren't the easiest thing to catch, especially if you're trying to pay attention to what's being said. It was just something that really bothered me about the first panel, when they displayed "Why Do Atheists Inspire Such Hatred?" in the background. So, I was looking for it this time.

If you still haven't found the videos (I just ran a search on YouTube and found the Dawkins interview, but not the panel discussion), I posted them both to my blog; you can access them through this post.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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