Wednesday, June 20, 2007

They Know Better

Maybe this is confessing too much, but ours is one of the few homes on earth that doesn't have cable TV. It's not that we're so high-minded about television content. If anything, we like it TOO much, but don't trust ourselves to get anything done at home with the lure of ESPN, The History Channel and the Tennis Channel tugging at us every day.
Among the fuzzy stations coming to us free is TBN, the Christian-based network that's been around for 30-some years. Around here it's Channel 47. Some of the fare is pretty light in nature, including programming for children. Even the minister-based shows have different approaches to teaching the Word to the TV audience.
No question TBS also has a politically-based section of programming aimed at adults, the faith-based voters you hear so much about. To me, these programs carry a hard to miss overtone that says "We know best. Get in line, brothers and sisters, and we'll tell you enough so that you'll know how to vote." Of course, they can't be too specific in order to keep their favored tax status, but you'd be hard pressed to find one of the TBN Brothers sounding like Barak Obama or Dennis Kucinic.
I was watching not long ago, and a suited guy whose name I didn't catch was talking about "hate crimes", the same term used here last week. Great, I thought, even THESE guys can't come out in favor of HATE. Maybe we have more in common than I had thought. Then I got a whole new slant on how the "Preacher Right" defines the term.
A "hate crime" as defined on TBN is a crime in which "hate" is expressed at someone else. High on the suspect list in this interpretation are ministers who "hate" homosexuality and speak forcefully against the always-dreaded "gay lifestyle". The "frame" thus sounded something like this: "We, your ministers, could go to jail if the evil federal gummint comes after us for hating the sin of homosexuality. It's your duty, therefore, to oppose all proposals that involve anything called a "Hate crime", so that we can be sure that the sunglasses-wearing guy in the suit occupying the back pew isn't a federal agent who's come to gather evidence against us".
I was pretty surprised, not only at this deliberate misinterpretation, but by the implication it would be swallowed whole by the audience. The show's producers must have known that their line wasn't truthful, but that it would be believed anyway just because of the source - Christian ministers. No wonder Americans have become more cynical these past few years, governed by those who don't care past the next election, and ministered to by people wanting to control the legislative agenda against the people they should be serving - the poor sinners who, after all, are the rest of us.


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