Friday, August 3, 2012

What a chicken sandwich tells you about bias

On Wednesday I was driving through the small town of Pace, Florida when all of a sudden I found myself in a traffic jam. Which should never happen in a place like this. A quick look to my right told me why.

There was a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on the corner.

The parking lot was packed. The parking lot of the business next door was packed. There were cars parked on the lawn. The drive-through line snaked out of the parking lot, onto the main road and around the corner as far as the eye could see.

Since then I've seen similar video and photos from around the country. I'm sure you have as well.

You're probably thinking this whole controversy centers on people voicing their opinions about gay marriage. It doesn't.

It's about people, both on the left and right, being fed up with media people and politicians telling them how to think. Telling them that if they think a certain way they're wrong. Or stupid.

It's about politicians needing to realize you cannot legislate thought. Change the laws all you want, and you're still not going to change people's basic beliefs. Choose any politician in the country, and chances are at least 40 percent of the voting public voted against him. So just because someone holds office, that doesn't mean he represents the views of everyone.

But lately politicians and some journalists are starting to look a lot alike.

Here's how viewers react to bias and attempts at thought control: Imagine you're a reporter doing a man-in-the-street interview. You get a sound bite from a guy whose views are opposite of yours. You then tell the man he's stupid. He's wrong. He doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't understand.

How would he react? You might get a punch in the mouth. You might get in a big argument. But what's certain is that the man would never watch your station again.

That's what you're doing when you're biased, when you try to impose your opinions on someone else. You're telling viewers they're wrong, they're stupid. And you're chasing them away. You may not be doing it face to face, but the result is the same.

And you've lost all respect and credibility as a broadcaster.

Does it finally take a chicken sandwich to make the light bulb turn on?  Does a one hour wait to get fast food in a state like New Jersey tell you anything? Does it speak volumes that people in New Jersey (who are not exactly noted for patience) would actually wait that long?

Apparently some have forgotten that the right to free speech also gives one the right to independent thought and the right to have an opinion.

And here's the big irony: when I got into this business, we were the one group of people who weren't supposed to have an opinion.

Now some of us apparently think we're the only people entitled to one.


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