Friday, December 17, 2004

Faith-Based Research

Our friends at The Parents Television Council, the group that's responsible for practically all complaints about indecency on television, except those about Janet Jackson's mammary gland, are now trying their hand on research!

What they appear to find, based on the title of this article: "Study: Religion Portrayed Negatively on TV", is that the television entertainment programs bash religion. In fact, what they said they found was something quite different:

Television entertainment programs mention God more often than they did in the mid-1990s but tend to depict organized religion negatively, a study released Thursday said.
The Parents Television Council watched every hour of prime-time on the broadcast networks during the 2003-04 season and logged 2,344 treatments of religion. They judged 22 percent of the mentions positive, 24 percent negative and the rest neutral.

Given the obviously biased stance of these people, I'd love to see how they judged when a mention was negative! Actually, I'm pretty angry at this article. Research is something that people study for years before they attempt to do any;research is a difficult skill and requires a lot of care. It's not something that fanatic proponents of one view can do just like that and it's not something that articles should report as if it was real research. What's next? Echidne of the snakes' extensive investigation of the slurs against snake goddesses in the wingnut media?

This "study" also found out that members of the cergy were mentioned more negatively than religion in general:

But any mention of a religious institution or member of the clergy was at least twice as likely to be negative than positive, the council said.
"Ninety percent of the American people believes in God," said Brent Bozell, the council's president. "It is an important issue to most people. Hollywood is attacking the very thing that they consider important in their own lives. Perhaps Hollywood ought to be changing its world view."
Negative examples varied widely: from comic Jimmy Kimmel joking on the American Music Awards that winners should resist thanking God, to a Catholic priest admitting on "The Practice" that he had had sex with a woman who was later murdered.
Well-publicized scandals about pedophile priests made Catholics particularly vulnerable, the council found.
"Catholicism is in the bulls-eye of the entertainment medium," Bozell said.

Well, there is a reason for that, Mr. Bozell, and most sane people would agree that pedophile priests are hard to discuss without appearing negative. The right to practise a religion may be guaranteed in the United States, but I don't see anything that guarantees the members of the clergy immunity from criticism. Come to that, I don't see anything that requires us not to criticize religions when they deserve criticism.

Mr. Bozell is trying to make hay on the supposed election results about moral values being important to the voters, even though this has been shown to be false. He wants the media of this gigantic country to reflect the values of only those who belong to the Parents Television Council. Now that is immoral. And so is the way in which the linked article discusses the findings.