Commentary on current events, politics, government, and popular culture from John Sheirer, author of the book, Make Common Sense Common Again.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Which is Worse: Distasteful Satire or Massive Dishonesty?


A progressive Christian friend of mine recently posted this picture on Facebook. The picture depicts Christ on the cross with the Fox News headline: "Socialist Hippie Executed." She said that it had been sent to her by another progressive Christian (a minister, in fact). My friend said she thought long and hard about whether or not she should post it and, if she did, what to say about it. In the end, she simply said that she couldn't decide on a comment but wanted to post it anyway.

A mutual friend who is a conservative Christian made the first comment: "I wish you had thought about this more before posting such a terrible and asinine picture."

But I realized that the true thoughtless and asinine views were expressed by the conservative friend who condemned the picture because he completely missed the point.

I did some research and found that the picture comes from a Facebook community called "If Fox News was Around." The group creates satirical pictures like this one showing moments in history as they might have been covered by the slanted and dishonest perspective of Fox News. I certainly don't find this particular picture very tasteful (and it is the most extreme one posted on their site), but satire is, by its nature, often not very tasteful. And I imagine anyone who actually thinks that the right-wing propaganda outfit known as Fox News accurately reports on current events would find this picture particularly objectionable.

Tastefulness aside, this picture definitely raises some insightful points. For example, the life and teachings of Jesus are not compatible with the not-very-Christian extreme right-wing views that are now very popular among Fox News viewers and the Republican Party. In relation to Jesus himself, depicted in the picture, Christ's teachings didn't praise unregulated capitalism or support the death penalty (which was imposed on Jesus himself), two key planks of the Republican Party promoted on Fox News. And Fox News is very fond of falsely portraying Democrats as socialists for caring about how our government treats the poor and the oppressed--a central component of Christ's teachings. Overall, Fox News also doesn't seem to have much respect for the Ninth Commandment as the network bears false witness against political opponents at an alarming rate.

So, while I find this picture distasteful, I can see beyond my distaste and recognize that it makes a very good point. My progressive Christian friend clearly put a great deal of thought into what to make of this picture before posting it, and I support her right to free speech in posting it for us to consider and form our own opinions. I also respect my conservative Christian's right to free speech, but I wish he put more thought into his unfounded accusations of thoughtlessness. Moreover, I wish the people on Fox News, most of whom make claims to being Christians, would put some real thought into the things that they say on the dishonest pretense of presenting "news." I watch Fox News regularly (distressing and mind-numbing though it can be) and closely follow the websites that fact-check Fox News's rampant dishonesty. The bottom line is that Fox News itself is far more asinine and a far worse affront to Christianity than anyone posting this satirical photo.

Thanks to my progressive Christian friend for posting the photo. I still find this picture distasteful, but I appreciate the point behind the satire, and I certainly appreciate that my friend gave us the opportunity to think about these important issues. When we stop thinking and simply accept the kind of propaganda that Fox News distributes, we lose the reality-based critical thinking that defines America at its best.


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