Thursday, March 19, 2009

Current American news programming du jour: debating the existence of ... Satan

It's a very sad day when this is what American news shows have sunk to in order to attract ratings. News shows are not talk shows, they are not meant to give the public what they want and pander to them like 99% other shows on the air. They are supposed to be beacons of credibility, accuracy and reason/rationality (except for the omnipresent rightist or leftist bias here and there).

This was the case for Nightline, an ABC show that actually used to be quite credible – until this announcement that it will air a debate on whether or not Satan actually exists.

I seriously wish I were kidding.

The debate over whether Satan exists is hardly going to be settled in a 30-minute television show.

But that's not stopping a rather curious lineup from debating that question for ABC's "Nightline."

The reasons for such a nonsensical debate? The obvious: ratings and getting reactions.

For one, the topic can be particularly relevant in troubled times such as these, when people are looking for explanations for economic chaos.

For another: "There's always an interest in these topics," said James Goldston, the show's executive producer.

Not to mention potentially great ratings.

"Every time we've done one, the response has been pretty dramatic," he said.

Okay, if people are really looking for 'explanations for economic chaos' and are too stupid or ignorant to figure out it's, um, the government's failure to put a leash on reckless and greedy corporations and firms – not to mention Bush and his war that has plunged America headfirst into a bottomless sea of debt – and are turning to Satan for explanations ... that pretty much says all one needs to know about religion and stupid faiths in America.

Now, what about the lineup of debaters for the debate? Surely they've got people actually qualified to talk about this sort of metaphysical or philosophical stuff? Perhaps an atheist or scientist (or likely both) in the four? Not even that.

Those arguing 'Satan Walks Amongst Us!' are Pastor Mark Driscoll, head of a megachurch in Seattle, and Annie Lobert, a former prostitute who then created the 'Hookers for Jesus' group (...). (Must ... omit ... obligatory ... hooker ... joke ...) One might say that doesn't bode well for their side of lunacy, but then you realize over 70% of Americans actually believe in this sort of rubbish ... (And 100% of viewers will be in that 70%, naturally.)

Unfortunately, those on the supposedly rational side of 'He's Imaginary!' aren't all that better: instead of people with actual proof Satan doesn't exist – such as any scientist or historian who used his brain to figure out the stupid icon only appeared to launch the famous Witch Hunts (hey, those darned witches had to be somebody's brides, eh?) – we've got Bishop Carlton Pearson, a former Pentecostal preacher who was denounced as a heretic for his assertion that Heaven is for everyone instead of just for Christians, and Deepak Chopra, the author of works on alternative medicine (such credibility already!). Hell, I do believe we may be faring even worse than the Pro-Lucifer side.

I won't be watching this debate – not only am I really not interested in witnessing part of the decline in news shows' respectability and credibility, but I simply don't receive American channels here – but I expect at least some who know of this blog will, so if you could post your comments on your abhorrence, I'd be pleased. (Or on how I'm just being close-minded and/or intolerant of others' beliefs for not believing in a half-goat man with an ugly goatee and a wicked trident who grills sinners for all eternity. Either way.)


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