Focus on the Family is teaming up with TVGuardian to provide clean entertainment choices for families through the TVGuardian filter, a device that eliminates objectionable language from television shows.
Penned as a “foul language filter” for HDTV’s, the device seeks to protect children not only from all foul language, but also from offensive religious slurs, sexual references, and other inappropriate phrases. (LINK)
Out of the gate, let me say something loudly, clearly, and unequivocally: I am in favor of everyone’s right to choose what to read, what to watch, and what to listen to. I do NOT believe that there’s anything *inherently* wrong with a device to censor objectionable material for individuals in their private homes. I support the manufacturer’s right to make and sell this device.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what this device represents, and why I oppose it in ethical principle.
First, and most importantly, this device is a denial of reality. It is designed primarily for Christian families, with the express purpose of keeping children ignorant of the pluralistic reality of the human condition. It is a private extension of the public policy espoused by the Far Christian Right: Deny it exists, prohibit people from talking about it, and it will magically disappear.
We’ve seen many examples of this tactic in recent weeks. Tennessee made news for their legislation prohibiting teachers from even mentioning the existence of homosexu.... North Carolina instituted a policy prohibiting inmates from reading anything but the Bible. A California elementary school is taking flack for teaching the scientific reality that gender is not exclusively male/female in the animal kingdom.
Denialism is the foundation of Christian theology in America today, and this TV filter is another thread in the blindfold being voluntarily woven by those who would turn America into a Christian nation no matter the cost.
It’s not just about denialism, though. It’s also about suppression of ideas, and that is something I am vehemently opposed to. The only way to effectively discover the truth is to explore all options. It’s a basic rule of debate: Know your opponent’s position at least as well as they do, or look like a bumbling idiot.
While it is true that I am 99.99% convinced that Christianity is so much ancient mythology with no grounding in empirical reality, it’s possible that I’m wrong. Because of this possibility, I am completely in favor of Christian apologetics. I want them to keep trying to prove God’s existence, and I want them to try to convince people of their beliefs. I want to engage in dialog and learn from the exchange of ideas. I hope that if I am right, I will change some minds — by the free and open dissemination of my ideas. Christian suppression and denial are the antithesis of open discussion, and do not further the pursuit of truth.
Denialism is also about fear. Let’s say this plainly: True ideas become more evident the more they are questioned. That’s why science has such rigid protocols for trying to prove a conclusion wrong. When an idea is sheltered from criticism, this is a giant red flag alerting us to the inability of the idea to stand up to criticism.
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