An inside look at blogger burnout

Lest anyone think emotional or illogical reporting is limited to mainstream media outlets like the Philadelphia Inquirer, a blaring headline in WorldNetDaily proclaims "Bill to ban 'mom, dad' from texts advances -- California law would remove sex-specific terms from books, mandate pro-homosexual lessons. WorldNetDaily asserts that the bill (SB 1437) would do all of the following:

A bill requiring students to learn about the contributions homosexuals have made to society and that would remove sex-specific terms such as "mom" and "dad" from textbooks has passed another hurdle on the way to becoming the law of the land in California.

Having already been approved by the state's Senate Judiciary Committee, SB 1437, which would mandate grades 1-12 buy books "accurately" portraying "the sexual diversity of our society," got the nod yesterday of the Senate Education Committee.

The bill also requires students hear history lessons on "the contributions of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America."

Here's the text of SB 1437, and the amended version (with the history lesson stuff) is here.

While it's not a bill I would support (because it is steeped in unending identity politics), what it seems to do is revise existing law by adding to the already long list of categories who are protected against "instructional materials that contain any matter reflecting adversely" on them. It would lengthen the list to include the following: race or ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and occupation.

Here's the specific language prohibiting activities, textbooks, or instructional materials that:

reflect[] adversely upon persons because of their
race or ethnicity , color, creed, national origin,
ancestry, sex, handicap,
gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or occupation.
I don't think government should be dictating the content of textbooks, because that opens the door for various identity politics activist crackpots to complain that something "reflects adversely" on their group.

However, notice that religion and sexual orientation are treated equally. That means angry fundamentalist activists would have just as much right to maintain that school activities or statements in the textbooks reflect adversely upon them as would angry gay activists.

A group called the Campaign for Children and Familes claims that the bill mandates the "promotion" of homosexuality:

Clearly, SB 1437’s changes existing law by inserting transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual language. By forbidding schools from adopting educational material that “reflects adversely” on these sexual lifestyles, SB 1437 mandates these sexual lifestyles be taught and promoted to impressionable schoolchildren.
I am not clear on how forbidding the adoption of material that reflects adversely on a sexual lifestyle requires promotion of it -- any more than forbidding the adoption of material reflecting adversely on a religion mandates promotion of that religion.

In logic, possible interpretations of a law are not the same thing as what the text of the law says, and these two things should be distinguished. WorldNetDaily is making a huge stretch in reporting what might happen as what would happen.

Of course, we can argue whether it's important to differentiate between opinion and fact. I think it is important -- even in blogging. But in news reporting, I think it is more important, and WorldNetDaily describes itself as a newssite. As such, I think it is fair to at least try to hold them to the same standard to which I hold the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The stated journalistic philosophy of WorldNetDaily appears in its mission statement:

"WorldNetDaily.com is an independent newssite created to capitalize on new media technology, to reinvigorate and revitalize the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and justice, an uncompromising disseminator of news.

"WorldNetDaily.com performs this function by remaining faithful to the central role of a free press in a free society: as a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power - the mission envisioned by our founders and protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution."

Indeed, WorldNetDaily.com is a fiercely independent newssite committed to hard-hitting investigative reporting of government waste, fraud and abuse.

I like fierce independence, but I don't think it's an excuse for reporting opinions as facts.

WorldNetDaily has just as much right to its opinion as I have to mine. But neither of us have the right to have opinions be the facts.

WorldNetDaily's bottom line is that "the world has a right to know."

I even agree. The world has a right to know WorldNetDaily's opinions. (And they have a right to know that some of WorldNetDaily opinions are offered as facts.)

But what did I just waste an hour doing? Showing that WorldNetDaily is biased? What a solid accomplishment that is. Gee, maybe if I looked hard enough I could find more anti-gun bias in the Inquirer!

I sometimes worry that I spend inordinate amounts of time demonstrating things readers already know.

And of course, if I didn't do it somebody else would.

Or has (a more likely blogosphere scenario).

I'm wondering, if we are suffering from stress and annoyance caused by information overload, might that cause some of us to focus unduly on particularly annoying items?

That's a horrible thought. Because if it's true, it means that burnout is heightened by lashing out at things that cause burnout.

In my case, I often find myself annoyed by the failure of logic, which I see everywhere, so by habit I bring examples into focus. Not only does that not make the problem go away, it heightens it by reminding me of it. The more I look for errors in logic, the more errors in logic I find. I shudder to think that the thing I hate most -- bad logic -- has become fuel for this blog. Yet what is the alternative? Taking a break? Sure, I can take a break from blogging, but there's no taking a break from bad logic or manipulative arguments. The reason I drifted into blogging was that it beat the old days of yelling at the television, or writing a letter.

But I don't want to be consumed by my fuel. That's not what fuel is for.

(And that wouldn't be logical, would it?)

posted by Eric on 05.04.06 at 01:48 PM










Comments

Instead of worrying about hurting some minority-groups feelings, or slighting their choice of bed-partners; perhaps we should concentrate first on teaching them where "Louisiana" and "Canada" are on a map.

Ted B. (Charging Rhino)   ·  May 4, 2006 6:20 PM

Or, and this is just the mad spit-balling of a man with no mind to speak of, we could start with teaching them all to read before we indoctrinate them with whatever view of gender and sexuality that we've decided is the right one today.

Jon Thompson   ·  May 5, 2006 2:16 AM

Or amybe they could work on fixing the damned levee system. You know, the one that isn't half as good as that of New Orleans.

My mom is right. Shut off the air conditioning at the state Capitol. They'd vote THEMSELVES back to a part-time legislature.

B. Durbin   ·  May 6, 2006 12:05 AM

Here is how these stupid laws would translate to history books:

Adolf Hitler, a suspected bisexual and pagan was...

Or...

Ronald Reagan, a Christian heterosexual...

That doesn't have anything to do with their contributions to history. It would be like describing what kind of car they drove.

If, however, we were talking about Martin Luther King, the fact that he was a Baptist Preacher is extremely relevant to the man.

It's almost textbook writing by numbers. Except some colors don't belong in the painting.

I have a better solution: Just ban textbooks. Use other books, like literature and history books. What a concept!

Grand Stand   ·  May 6, 2006 10:35 AM

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