Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The News

This is going to be a rather intense rant about the news and humanity, so if you're not in the mood, feel free to skip this posting. It's also pretty sweary.

Since becoming a parent, I've started to notice a couple of things about myself: I'm starting to accept that ratings on things regarding adult content are a Good Thing; and I tend to get a lot more upset about some of the things I see on the news.

First things first: our eldest son is, like most seven year old boys, fascinated by violence. We try to keep a reasonably strong leash on his viewing, because he'd love to be watching all of the hideously violent sci-fi action films that come out these days. So many sci fi franchises (I'm looking at you, Star Wars and Transformers) that were formerly kid-friendly are starting to release M-rated films. Poor Eldest Son doesn't get to watch M-rated films, so he's missing out. The worst of it is that most of his friends are taken to watch them by their parents, leaving our poor boy a social pariah who only learns the content of movies by rumour. He's pretty good at explaining the plot of several movies he's never seen, simply because a lot of these films are Required Watching in his social milieu.

What really gives me the shits, however, is the 6 o'clock news. If the content of the news was made into a film, it would typically be M-rated, and frequently R. It's basically What's Happening In The Wars, plus the Daily Pedophile Update. Often with a side dose of gang rape. While I want my kids to be wary of the dangers adults can pose, They Don't Fucking Need To Know Specifically How Many Pedophiles Are Out There And What They Did. I don't get why they can't have a decent news update at 6pm, saying at the worst "25 more soldiers dead", with no details, and then the full R-rated parade of humanity's hideous monstrosity after 9pm. It would be so easy. I mean, really, news of one pedophile is not something that everyone in the country needs to know.

It wouldn't be a problem for me, except that we frequently have dinner with my in-laws, who insist on the daily news being watched. I frequently find myself cringing through the more horrifying news reports, talking loudly and hoping the kids aren't listening to the news. How do you answer the question "Daddy, what does 'rape' mean?" from a little boy who hasn't yet been taught the birds and the bees? Trust me, it isn't easy.

My second, related, issue, is personal sensitivity to the events in the world. I used to be quite jaded about things - I watch sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films, and enjoy a good dose of violence and nastiness in them. But since having kids, the distinction between fiction and reality has been emphasised, and I often find myself close to tears or wanting to go and kill someone after reading the news. Some people are fucking savages, and deserve brutal, swift and harsh punishment.

I mean, fuck, there's this. Don't read it if you are sensitive to cruelty to small children. It put me off my lunch today, and it was all I could do not to break down in tears in the restaurant (I had Thai). The guy who did it is an obscene parody of a human being, and if someone told me they were starting a mob to go and kick him to death, I'd sign up straight away. I guess I lose my pacifist cred by saying that, but really, people like that don't deserve to be treated with the dignity normally accorded to human beings or animals.

And there was this. Again, not something to read if hideous injustice and inhumanity upsets you. It certainly did me. It's things like this that make me want to ban religions, simply because they give wondrously convenient excuses to psychopaths wanting to hurt and kill innocent people. I'm aware that Somalia is a basket case, and pretty much needs someone to go there, put every fucker holding a gun in jail forever, and to have the African Union peacekeepers run the place for fifty years until there are a couple of generations of people not completely shattered by the turmoil and horror that fills the place now, who can actually set up a civilised government. But even so, I can't imagine a better case study for the separation of church and state than the above. "Cautious Agnostic" should be a requirement on CVs of anyone seeking a position of authority.

Well, I think I've got that out of my system for now. I should add a disclaimer that I'm absolutely against the death penalty. Just because someone doesn't deserve to live, doesn't mean you've a right to kill them. There's just a part of me that would join in on some mob justice now and then, when small children have been tortured to death.

Also, I'm not against Islam. Evil psychopaths crop up anywhere there are Rules Which Must Be Obeyed, and mechanisms for adding to those rules. Christianity, Communism, Fascism, and any number of other dogmas have exactly the same potential for evil; it's just that the current geopolitical situation means that those in Islam are getting the most press these days.

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