New Material: Movies

December 30, 2008

In order to keep up my readership, I’ll do my best to keep posting notwithstanding the lack of comments so far (hint hint).  So here goes…

I’ve often noticed that Hollywood producers use movies to convey political messages, and not just in the obvious Michael Moore mockumentaries.  It is important to analyze the subtler messages we receive in movies, to get to the worldview underneath. 

In this regard, the most disturbing movie I have ever seen is The Cider House Rules, starring Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, and Michael Caine.  Most conservatives would find the obvious pro-abortion messages in the 1999 film offensive.  However, an even more sinister message underscores the film. 

The “cider house rules” were a list of rules on the wall of a cider house occupied by black apple orchard workers.  The black workers could not read, so they had lived in the cider house oblivious to the rules for some time.  Along comes Tobey Mcguire’s character, who begins to read the rules to them (rules they had been unknowingly breaking all along), but the patriarch of the black family abruptly interrupts and says that those rules were written by someone else who does not live here, but we (black workers) live here and we make our own rules. 

To me, this is an obvious metaphor for a very common attitude: God does not live here, we live here, so we make our own rules.  It does not matter if abortion or anything else is immoral or prohibited by God, we humans are the measure of all that matters on earth.  Scary stuff. 

This attitude is largely echoed in law schools today.  The school of legal positivism, prevailing among law professors, declares that the law is simply what we humans decide it is, and there is nothing natural, inherent, or moral about it.  It is arbitrary.  Legally speaking, the difference between allowing rape and prohibiting it is about the same as that between designating the right or the left hand side of the road for driving (there may be reasons for choosing one or the other, but the law itself is indifferent to the choice).

Please share any movies you found particularly disturbing on a worldview level. 

I would like to add here, to make this post a little more pleasant, that I recently saw the movie the Gran Torino.  While the movie has more racial epithets and swearing than any other movie I’ve ever seen, it had a very redemptive message.  I commend it to mature audiences.

As I described in my previous post, the writers of a recent Law & Order SVU episode apparently would allow a customer to force her beliefs on a pharmacist when it comes to the morning-after pill, and then even characterize the pharamacist as the aggressor.  It’s even worse in real life.  In response to the recently-passed Provider Conscience Rule, which requires only that federal funding recipients promise not to violate consciences of healthcare providers in certain situations, the Connecticut Attorney General has issued this troubling statement:

This Provider Conscience Rule, thinly veiled as a promise of fairness to doctors, jeopardizes assurances that sexual assault victims are provided emergency contraception. This new rule puts personal agendas before patient care — protecting doctor objections, but entirely ignoring the rights of rape victims and others to access birth control and other vital services. This rule upsets the careful balance between physician beliefs and a patient’s right to affordable, accessible health care.

(Emphasis mine.) 

Sound familiar?  It’s not as though anyone in Connecticut is forced to accept federal funding or the rules that accompany accepting national tax-payer money, just as the customer in the episode wasn’t forced to visit that particular pharmacist.  But apparently allowing one person to force her views on another person (i.e., ram her views down someone else’s throat) isn’t such a bad thing afterall, as long as you’re on the right (i.e., left) side.

Law & Order SVU

December 27, 2008

If you watch Law & Order: SVU for very long, you may notice that many of the episodes display an interesting bias, presumably in keeping with the political leanings of the show’s writers. 

One particular episode revealed a very troubling line of thinking.  What you will see when you click here (after an irrelevant commercial courtesy of NBC) is a two minute excerpt from said episode that shows a woman customer asking a woman pharmacist for the “morning after pill”, and when the pharmacist asks if the customer had considered adoption, the customer assaults the pharmacist.  What you will not see on the online two-minute episode highlight, however, is a short remark that followed the scene, if you watched the show on television like I did. 

Following the assault, Detective Benson and Detective Fin, protagonists in the show, walked down the sidewalk and Detective Fin said to Detective Benson regarding the pharmacist, (quoting from memory) “that’s what happens when people try to ram their beliefs down other people’s throats” (or something equally snide to that effect).  It turns out that the customer had been raped and that’s why she needed the morning after pill — though the pharmacist obviously had no way of knowing that.

So let’s get this straight.  Customer apparently believes day-after-conception abortions are permissible, at least in the case of rape.  Pharmacist apparently does not.  Customer approaches Pharmacist and asks demands that Pharmacist act in accordance with Customer’s beliefs.  Pharmacist suggests that Customer’s beliefs may not be correct.  Customer assaults Pharmacist.  And the conclusion is that Pharmacist forced her beliefs on Customer?  Not that Customer forced her beliefs on Pharmacist?  It is remarkable that the writers of Law & Order SVU, or any reflective person, could think that makes sense.  But such are the times in which we live.

The First Post

December 23, 2008

While I highly doubt anyone will read this post for a while (I would imagine it takes quite some time before one can get another person to bookmark one’s blog), I suppose there must be a first. 

I will start by setting forth the goals of this blog.  This blog is intended to provide a forum to discuss various cultural developments (mostly in America, but not limited to that) from a legal, philosophical, and theological perspective.  In particular, I am interested in exploring ideas such as neutrality and tolerance.  I find Americans’ fascination with the value of moral and political neutrality fascinating in itself. 

Our American society loathes “extremism,” a term reserved for those whose beliefs differ from the supposed prevailing societal views, from the viewpoint of the one casting the term about of course.  But why is it a bad thing to be “extremely” _____?  It depends on the idea filling in that blank, not the fact that it is “extreme.”  If someone is extremely loving, i.e. an “extremist” for love, that is presumably a good thing (citation credit to be given here to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail).  I might submit here that most of the time that the term “extremist” is used in the American media, the hidden word in the blank above is “religious.” 

Even so, there is something about the term “extremist” that resonates with Americans because we like the “middle,” whatever that may be.  But is that even a legitimate value in itself?  Was there not a day that it required “extremists” to oppose the popular practice of slavery in certain places? 

These are the types of questions I would like to explore through a group discussion, if I am able to get one going.  Of course, that will require some readers with comments they are willing to share…