Another day, another sensationalist story and headline too good to be true. With headlines like, “Arizona Lawmaker: Church Attendance Should Be Mandatory,” social media feeds burst with anger, vitriol, and waxed lyrically about the necessity of Church and State and the insane and theocratic idea that is mandatory church attendance…
Except that context of this entire faux outrage is crucial, but inconvenient in how it gets in the way of relaying the full picture about mandatory “church attendance”. It is of course very easy to believe the worst about people’s whose politics you don’t like.
During a committee with lawmakers in Arizona about gun control – specifically conceal and carry, state senator Sylvia Allen made some of the following comments that need to be seen for context:
‘“I believe what’s happening to our country is that there’s a moral erosion of the soul of America,” Allen said.’
‘Allen said more people may feel the need to carry weapons if a “moral rebirth” doesn’t occur in America.’
Notice that she is talking about the moral problems that are causing people to feel that they need to carry weapons. She also points out that our erosion of religion is causing the problem – she is trying to go to the root of what she believes to be the problem – the sad state of morality in our nation.
“It’s the soul that is corrupt. How we get back to a moral rebirth I don’t know. Since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have. Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth…”
A vicious statement endorsing the violation of separation of church and state right? Cue the twitter mobs, Facebook notifications, and maybe even the remnants of Atheism Plus to extract judgement. for this backwards Bible thumper.
Well, what does she say next?
“But since that would not be allowed and we would not even be debating that, I’m going to vote yes that people who are responsible who have a CCW permit don’t have to worry about their guns as they’re out and about and doing business in whatever building they’re in except ones that where they aren’t allowed,” Allen went on to say.”
She used hyperbole – or specifically an extreme to make a point, something that we all do in any honest conversation, because its far easier for people to understand extreme on a subject like gun control.
That didn’t stop 5NewsOnline from tossing out this Gawker like headline gem, “Arizona Sen. Files Bill To Make Church Attendance Mandatory.” Except, yet again, there was no bill filed. There wasn’t even a serious suggestion. Or was there?
Skepticism Of The Headlines?
The blogosphere for the most part didn’t get it either. SkepticJourney ironically forgot to be skeptical in his thoughts and/or examination of the entire story and MindfulDigressions wasn’t particularly mindful in a thorough expose of her comments in which he appeared to have noticed the context, but still missed the significance of it.
Neither did Bozosphere or TangoFoxTrot who didn’t bother to give the story a closer look. Let’s not forget Commodore 1864, who just added this as a nother notch to the nutcases a.k.a. people he doesn’t agree with. Nutspov may have understood the hyperbole, but I don’t think that’s because of developed skepticism of sensationalist news, but because it was pounced upon by left-wing outlets.
SeeingRedAz might have been the only guy who actually noticed her point in his justified criticism of Arizona Republic:
“State Sen. Sylvia Allen never called for “mandatory church attendance” though the newspaper wishes she had”
Facts. Those aren’t important. I actually would have thought that people would understand the extreme idea of mandatory and compulsory church attendance. She noted that it wouldn’t even be allowed, which is obviously clear. As one commentor put it:
“She was saying it was not possible to legislate church attendance even though it might help stem the moral erosion in America. The context was — since we can’t turn the tide of moral decay that she would vote yes for people have CCW licenses to carry and protect themselves in public places where it is legal. The headline is deceiving and the Farley was exploiting the comment by taking it out of context. What else is new in politics?
Indeed. Context was deliberately ignored for this video as well, but who cares right? It’s free traffic and is convenient to the narrative that a certain group likes to push.
Dem. Senator Steve Farley however was certainly going to ingeniously seize upon this “opportunity” to score some political points, regardless of the context or the point she was making. This is why we can’t have nice things in politics – like open honest dialogue – because people are more interested in it making a sound byte then tackling issues the nation faces.
She was shocked that her comments would have been considered “controversial”. They aren’t, if we bother to look at the context and her actual point, but social media feeds don’t bother with context.
There will never be conversations about “racism” which so many on the left lament the lack of “honest race dialogue”, when any attempt to actually be real and discuss it will be taken out of context for political gain. If it can happen with something like hyperbole regarding mandatory church attendance, then imagine the backlash on an “out-of-context” statement about race. It could and would be far worse in that companies care about their PR images, not if what was said was actually racist or if the person is a racist. Behold the fate of “truth on the internet.”
If I’m honest this faux outrage has caused me to give the “Obama called for mandatory voting” story much more scrutiny, because as I watched the video again, he appeared to lament that enough people don’t vote – not propose any actual legislation about “mandatory voting”. (Interesting critique here from HuffPo)
Is this an example of Obama simply trying to have an honest open talk that is yet once subjected to the merciless out-of-context machine that is internet journalism?
I’ve discussed the idea myself before, but I haven’t had to worry about someone tweeting it for the world to see. Note, my libertarian views don’t allow for “mandatory voting”, but I’ve used the concept to make a point. Maybe the president was doing the same.