Thursday, October 11, 2007

Balanced Dialogue, my ass

You know what pisses me off? OK, a lot of things, but right this moment in particular? When well-meaning people take the concept of Presenting A Balanced Perspective to new levels of stoopid, that's what. Case in point: In my never-ending search for cheap or free activities to take the kid to, I've signed up for a weekly email from GoCityKids, which conveniently assembles local stuff and dumps it in my inbox for my perusal. I'm browsing this weekend's options and I stumble across this little entry:

The Great Global Warming Swindle
To foster a balanced dialogue within the community, the nature center presents a screening of The Great Global Warming Swindle, which offers an alternate viewpoint on global warming to An Inconvenient Truth, which the center showed earlier in the year. The 90-minute film is followed by a discussion. Children must be accompanied. Advance registration is required.

The location of this fine, balanced event? Why, the Westwood Hills Nature Center, of course! Because who has more interest in giving crackpots a bully pulpit than the very places those crackpot ideas will destroy? Gah. From the wording of the entry, it's clear that the Nature Center is showing this in a (misguided) effort to avoid the charge of ... what? Liberal bias, I guess. But this, of course, is absurd. Say the center presented a talk on, oh, the lifecycle of the salmon, for example. Would anyone expect them to offer equal time to a presentation called "The Great Salmon Swindle: They Really Swim Downstream"? OF COURSE NOT. Balanced dialogue means offering people or groups of differing opinions equal say. OPINIONS. Like, in circumstances where multiple valid viewpoints can be expressed. The tastiness of liver, say, or the possibility of a "just war." You can have a debate about these matters because it's possible to be rational and sane and still have differing viewpoints on them. You know what's not like that? GLOBAL WARMING.