September 16th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: Quarantine: time is running out

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Flogging off the last of the family silver

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Opening door to embryo experimentation

MEDIA: Time to be angry at media bias

NATIONAL SECURITY: Re-thinking our response to terrorism

STATE POLITICS: Queensland goes to the polls

PREGNANCY COUNSELLING: Pro-life pregnancy counselling in jeopardy

OPINION: Dads lost in cloud cuckold land

TAIWAN: Taiwan's latest bid to gain UN membership

EDUCATION: Can parental choice fix our schools?

SCHOOLS: Can we interest students in Australian history?

CULTURE AND CIVILISATION: Contemporary threats to Western society

OPINION: Knifed on altar of free trade

CINEMA: September 11 heroism remembered in United 93

BOOKS: RESPONSIBLE MANHOOD: Reflections on what it means to be a man, by Winston Smith

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Time to be angry at media bias

by Brian J. Coman

News Weekly, September 16, 2006
The media's one-sided coverage of the debate on human cloning and embryo experimentation is tantamount to carefully orchestrated psychological warfare against those who question the use of new biotechnologies, argues Brian J. Coman.

This morning, I happened to be in a doctor's waiting room where I formed part of a captive audience in front of a television set.

It was a "morning program" where the host interviews invited guests. This particular show was a panel discussion on the findings of the Federal Government Lockhart Review concerning human cloning and use of embryos for research.

I have watched a number of such shows over the last few months and they all follow a certain pattern.

Firstly, it is always the case that the panel members include people suffering from some serious physical disability which - theoretically at least - might be cured by the application of the controversial technology under review.

This is the first carefully orchestrated psychological barrage aimed at those who might question the use of the technology.

Entirely predictable

The background of the remaining panel members is entirely predictable. First, we have the learned scientists, usually two or three, whose only concern is to help mankind and alleviate suffering. These saintly souls have dedicated their lives to the service of others, surrendering all hope of personal fame and career enhancement to the great cause. How could you possibly be against that?

Then, a legal-type person, an "expert" on ethics. Whose ethics? Ah, well, that's another matter.

Finally, there is always the single soul representing "the churches". And what tremendous respect the other panel members have for his/her contrarian view - "I fully respect your views, Bishop. I, too, think human life must be respected...." And so on, ad nauseam.

No, they don't. They think certain types of human life must be respected, not all human life. And the "church spokesperson" is not there to contribute to the debate. He or she is there simply to provide the illusion of "balance".

These programs are not "debates" in any sense at all. They are advertising campaigns to promote the research in question. In order to have a real debate, one needs to have some agreed final reference points.

But, as the moral philosopher Alasdair McIntyre points out, there are none today. The old system of morality, based on a combination of Christian teaching and Aristotelian teleology, has been destroyed and nothing (not even Kant!) has come along as a suitable substitute.

Morality is free-floating. The so-called "debates" then become simply competitions in sophistry and manipulation. And when it comes to sophistry and manipulation, the media people are way out in front.

On the way home from my doctor's visit, I called for our mail and unwrapped my copy of News Weekly (September 2, 2006).

The front cover featured a headline about the Chinese Government's practice of killing prisoners of conscience for their valuable organs, and showed a picture of a young Chinese women about to be shot.

What's that got to do with "spare" embryo research?


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