I was subjected to a Fox "News" program at the gym last night. The host was interviewing two psychiatrists about the Andrea Yates case - Yates stoned her 8 and 6 year old sons to death and did serious damage to her 14-month old. It became obvious that the host had a definite agenda - and that was to vent his anger at anyone who didn't think the death penalty was all she deserved. I kept thinking: 'Why did this guy even invite two "experts" onto the show when he had absolutely no intention of using the opportunity to try and understand Yates' actions. A friend of mine had a really great way of summing this up as a feature of American news media. He said: 'These news channels present the archetypal male, conservative, no-nonsense hard-liner who gives the impression that the news is about analysis and understanding, but all he does is say: Here, let's learn something from these people, but then completely undermines and ignores everything they say by rigidly directing the conversation along their own preconceived ideas. It serves their purpose really well. People think that they're learning something, but actually they're just reinforcing their own conservative beliefs.'
It made me realise that the only way that we can really learn is to regulate the delicate process of opening our minds to different perspectives but still having our own opinions on issues - still being open to that possibility that we could change our minds based on changing circumstances. It's not a sign of weakness, but I'm beginning to realise that most people think it is.