Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Subjective Life

To paraphrase Jesus Christ, let those who are without sin cast the first stone. Whenever one jumps to conclusions, in their own rush to judgment, there never seems to be an end of stone throwing these days. Certain people seem to think that they are the purest of the pure, with no stink that would attest otherwise. As Christ pointed out, no one is without sin, and no one should pass judgment unless they too be judged.

Bias plays a part in this judgment. Despite the greatest efforts, no one can completely remove themselves from their own ideas, philosophies and prejudices. Racism, socio-political propaganda or even outright sensationalism are unfortunate examples throughout the history of mankind. Whether intentional or not, bias is an inherent part of everyday life. However, arguments and conclusions that are based on truth and evidence, rather than preconceived suppositions and opinion, can supplant any inherent bias.

A typical companion to bias – the double standard – plays a major part in the problem. Far too often people are held to a higher standard than we would apply to ourselves. The inequities of life make it so. People often take an allegedly principled stand, only to switch to the exact opposite if it is to their advantage – utilizing a set of standards only when they support a particular preference at the time. Throughout our lives, we are bombarded by contradictions and stereotypes which fail to convey uniformity, let alone a sense of fair play, toward all. Often times they go unchallenged.

No where is this more prevalent than in the media. There are countless examples in which journalists put forth their own agenda over the reporting of the news. It is nothing new. Since the first scribe put stylus to papyrus, reputations have been built and ruined on innuendo and rumor rather than the truth. It has become far too common in today’s world to distort and misrepresent in the pursuit of a story, in spite of the facts and ramifications of such. If a journalist has an ax to grind and uses the media forum to express it, they become, in essence, a lobbyist for the formation of public opinion – no longer upholding journalistic principles of presenting the facts and allowing readers to form their own opinions.

While attaining objectivity may be theoretically futile, it is a necessity for journalistic integrity. Like anything in life, this is not easy, but there must still be the attempt. Biases and double standards violate the principle of impartiality by holding different people to different standards. Whichever part of the spectrum one is on, all sides are quick to point fingers in spite of their own biases and the failure to acknowledge such a double standard. Without reverence for the facts and truth, journalists will become nothing more than advocates for a certain perspective – their own. So, for anyone who would throw a stone, be certain you are aware what it’s casting entails. Otherwise, what goes around comes around.

©2006 Steve Sagarra