Sunday, February 08, 2009

At the Fox sausage factory

Today's lesson in the social construc- tion of reality comes courtesy of the Fair 'n' Balanced Network. Our goal: Build a front-page story from almost nothing!

The example here was No. 3 on the front page Saturday, meaning it was almost as important as 'Spendulus' awaits vote ("spendulus" apparently being secret Fox code for a stimulus package that has too much spending, get it?) and Iran nuke boast: Sanctions helping (the day's excuse to run a scary picture of Ahmadinejad, only it's illustrating a story about some remarks by Khamenei). And don't forget a sidebar to the top story, Runnin' late? That's 'Obama time':

There's a new time zone in the nation's capital: Obama Time.

Barely two weeks into his presidency, Barack Obama has made a clean break from George W. Bush in several high-profile moves, including reversing a number of the 43rd president's policies.

He's also reversed an unwritten but much-noticed Bush policy: Be on time, all the time.

But enough with the thinly veiled racist jokes; let's get to those evil greens and their "environment religion"!

Could environmental education be crossing into environmental indoctrination? Some critics say yes, as schools boast that such curricula simply is teaching children ways of caring for the earth.

Critics say, schools boast: Liebling, thou shouldst be living at this hour. And hang on to the Stupid Question for a bit.

Being a "good" student at Western Avenue Elementary School in Flossmoor, Ill., means more than just doing reading, writing and arithmetic well. It also means trying to save the planet.

(Fallacy alert in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...)

... The students are taking part in what's called "National Green Week," organized by the Green Education Foundation. Schools across the country are encouraged to teach children about recycling, global warming and carbon footprints.

... Children as young as 5 years old are told to avoid plastic water bottles, carry lunches in reusable containers, to conserve water and reduce their trash, both at school and at home. They're also taught that planet earth is in trouble and animals' lives could be in danger.

While that may seem politically correct to many people, all the talk of "green" is making some people see red.

The people who aren't bothered by this are generally not going to think it seems "politically correct," a derogatory term that usually says a lot about the user's inability to tell motes from logs.

Critics say using public schools as a means to change habits and opinions on things such as ecology and global warming, amounts to environmental religion, because the beliefs of some are being forced on all children. The kids are then pressured to bring that information home and impose it on their families.

Whee! Category error! So any case in which "the beliefs of some" are "forced on all children" amounts to some sort of "religion"? (Yes, the first comma's out of place, and yes, "critics" is a plural noun.)

Angela Logomasini, from a free-market environmental policy group called the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says it's political indoctrination.

"I think children should not be forced to take one set of values over another," Logomasini said.

Oh, I do. Democracy, disestablishment, not extorting lunch money from first graders -- lots of values ought to be forced on children in elementary school! If you haven't noticed that schools already do a great deal of socializing, you weren't paying attention. But the bigger issue is the ideological boost Fox gives to the source's argument: Everything taught in school is equally reducible to "values." It's the same mechanism that enables the claim that science is just another kind of religion.

"This isn't simply about controlling litter, like we had in the '70s. (In the snow! Uphill! Both ways!) It's more about recycling, living organically — it's a lifestyle choice that is being forced on students whether they like it or not, whether parents like it or not." (Which, again, is not necessarily a Bad Thing; having to sit in the same room as Those People is the sort of "lifestyle choice" that eventually had to be forced on the country by court order -- whether parents liked it or not.)

Logomasini said this type of teaching doesn't belong in taxpayer funded schools — students should be "learning science and they should be learning different perspectives from which they can make a critical analysis," rather than being taught that there's only one viewpoint.

No one has yet said they shouldn't learn science or offered evidence that they aren't (and, just to spoil the surprise, Logomasini is the only "critic" who appears in the story). Fox is keeping its thumb on the scales. Learning science and learning social practice aren't mutually exclusive. Conservation isn't necessarily science, though it can reflect it (and "parsimony," whether it's with resources or hypotheses, is a handy principle of most brands of science). And -- how many times do you think we need to say it? -- we really, really ought to be teaching "only one viewpoint" on lots of stuff. Breaking people's legs on the playground is wrong. Mythology and biology are both cool, but they're not interchangeable. And so on.

It's going to be a busy few years at Fox, what with the walls caving in on every side. Enjoy.



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Some people need to see red - and then to be ignored.

Boy, Fox is gonna explode this year, aren't they?

8:11 PM, February 08, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Fox is saying that kids need to be taught about consumption habits the old-fashioned way: by TV ads. It's OK to teach them that sort of stuff, and to teach them evolution is a falsehood, but don't teach them to conserve. That'll get you hauled up before the HUAC

9:34 AM, February 09, 2009  

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