The attempts to de-fund NPR as part of budget cuts have prompted a lot of angry reactions from NPR defendants. On one hand, they claim that NPR is objective and diverse. On the other hand, the vast majority of the objections seem to come from very liberal quarters. I’d be willing to bet that if a poll were taken, a solid majority of NPR employees and listeners would be liberal Democrats. Basically, many NPR defendents are arguing that Democrats are balanced and objective, and Republicans are biased, ignorant, and politically motivated.
I fell justified in saying this, because I listen to quite a lot of NPR podcasts, and the liberal slant is as clear as day. From what I’ve heard (which is hours and hours of programming), NPR is no less biased than a lot of the conservative radio and TV programs that NPR defenders love to malign. I grant that conservative media can at times be hateful, xenophobic, simplistic, sensationalistic, and insensitive. However, it’s also true that NPR can be smug, elitist, condescending, simplistic, relativistic, illogical, and insensitive. And both sides can be quite blind to their own biases.
Perhaps, since NPR is at least partly funded by the government, there should be some effort to have more diversity of political affiliation represented therein. Or maybe there really is more conservative programming available on NPR and I’ve just missed it (but I doubt it).
So, you might ask, why do I, who am conservative on many issues, bother listening to NPR? Because they also have great interviews and human interest stories, fascinating science programming, and coverage of a diverse range of arts and music. It is often insightful, and helps me see things from a different perspective. I hope it doesn’t get defunded.
Today I ran across a good example of liberal bias mixed with real insight. I was listening to the “Fresh Air” podcast of an interview with Dan Savage and Terry Miller, a homosexual couple who have made a website to give encouragement to depressed teens who are being bullied because of acting or self-identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual. No real argument is presented to justify the acceptability of homosexual behavior; it is assumed that the listener agrees. Liberal bias! Obviously, I agree on the basic idea that teens with problems need help and support, and no one should be bullied. However, just as obviously, I have some profound disagreements with their philosophy and their ideology.
That said, these men are smart, and one of them pointed out very clearly that there is a profound inconsistency in our society’s objection to homosexual marriage. Here’s what Dan Savage said:
You know, people who are against gay marriage talk about gay people wanting to redefine marriage. The irony is that straight people have redefined marriage to a point where you can’t logically make a case for excluding same-sex couples from it. It’s no longer a gendered institution. It’s the, you know, union of two legally autonomous individuals and there isn’t a male role and a female role. There’s just – and it’s whatever they say it is. It can be monogamous or not, for life or not. There could be children or not. It can be a religious ceremony or not. It’s entirely up to them.
[starting at minute 36 of the interview – full transcript here]
He is right on target. When contraception becomes widely accepted, when it is considered unenlightened to say that men and women have different roles in the family and moms and dads are not interchangeable as such, when divorce becomes a viable option and civil unions and cohabitation are run-of-the-mill, when single parenthood is normal… what is left of the real (traditional) meaning of marriage?
It ceases to be understood as a sacramental, spiritual, physical, indissoluble union beween a man and a woman based on the spiritual, psychological and biological complementarity of the two equal-but-not-identical sexes, for the purpose of mutual, life-giving love. Marriage becomes nothing but a contract of convenience, a legal recognition of a more or less stable commitment between two people. Unless the true meaning of marriage is reaffirmed and restored, there is no way to logically deny homosexuals the right to the watered-down idea of “marriage” that seems to be predominant in the West today.
So, while I agree with the point that Dan Savage made in the quote above, I disagree with his conclusion. He thinks that gay marriage should be permitted in the USA (he is legally married to his “husband” in Canada); in reality, we should work to restore a correct understanding of marriage as an intrinsically heterosexual institution. The push for homosexual “marriage” is – at least in part – a symptom of the profound crisis of heterosexual relationships.
For the Catholic Church’s explanation of the nature of marriage, see the Catechism, paragraphs 1601 and following.
For the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, see paragraphs 2357 and following (towards the bottom of the page).