We see “balance” as a good thing; a goal worthy to be achieved. The “right” thing to do. The Statue of Justice holds a scale in her left hand. The scale is…balanced.
I attended a seminar on jury trials, and the speaker indicated studies showed jurors reacted negatively to the question (commonly asked) “Can you be fair and impartial?” The implication perceived was that the lawyer thought the juror could not be “fair and impartial”—and who wants to think that? The recommended question was “Can you be balanced?”—inquiring whether they can “weigh” the evidence.
Since balance is a good, worthy goal; the opposite of balance—imbalance—is reprehensible. An injustice to be avoided and disparaged. I see people claiming they are not pushing for their agenda, or desiring their particular viewpoint prevail. Oh no—they are performing a much higher calling—a service to humankind. They are only desiring “balance.”
The other day I was listening to Dr. Albert Mohler discuss the recent California decision to allow same sex marriage, and the media attention surrounding the first marriages allowed. Dr. Mohler’s complaint was the focus on the human side of the story. The tales of couples who had been together for a long, long time and could finally be married. He was concerned the media was not presenting any depiction from the viewpoint of those against same-sex marriage. And how this was another step in the complete unraveling of our society.
I was interested in how he framed his concern. “The media is not being balanced in their presentation of the story.”
Balanced. “How horribly wicked of the media to be imbalanced,” I thought, “I am against imbalance. We must rise as one and rid ourselves of the evil of imbalance from the media failing to present Dr. Mohler’s point of view.” As I was gathering my pitchfork, club and torch in preparation to advance on my local newspaper, it struck me—where is it written the media has to be balanced? And what does “balanced” even mean in presenting an issue?
Does every story require the newspaper or television or radio present the Christian view and the non-Christian view? And the Jewish view? And the Muslim view? And the view of the people from Nebraska? And the people with tattoos? Imagine the attempt to present a “balanced” view of all representations on an event. It would take 12 hours to cover all the editorials on a 2-alarm fire!
Humorously, Dr. Mohler was speaking through a medium of media—satellite radio. I wonder what would happen if I called his radio show and said, “You didn’t present the non-theist position accurately. Please give me a five minute rebuttal everyday.” Would Dr. Mohler proclaim, “Oh yes. Because I hold ‘balance in the media’ in such high ideal, this is absolutely necessary”? Or would he discover he was not quite so interested in “balance” after all?
Or what if I asked my local church to teach a class from a non-theistic standpoint on the Bible? We discover (rightly so) the church is not so interested nor designed to be “balanced.” It is presenting a decidedly one-sided view.
As it turns out—we are NOT so interested in balance. Let you in on a not-so-secret secret. The absolutely last thing I want is a “balanced” jury. I want a jury so inclined to be favorable to me, they are simply aching to render a verdict on behalf of my client by the time I have finished my opening statement.
I don’t want the politicians I vote for to be “balanced.” I want them to make laws in support of viewpoints I hold. Not surprisingly, I expect Christians equally do not want “balanced” politicians—they, too, want lawmakers and judges favorable disposed toward their Christian standpoint.
I don’t expect news agencies to be “balanced.” Anyone who compares the same story on CNN with FOX will quickly discover how easy it is to put spin on an event. Sometimes I wonder if the reporters were at the same occurrence! These are companies intent on doing what companies do—make a profit. This is not some “higher institution” with lofty goals and sacred trusts of being “balanced.” These are businesses making money.
Don’t try and sell me that you are looking out for the best interests of humans under the guise of “being balanced.” That you are not upset at the lack of your viewpoint being represented, but are perturbed over the injustice of imbalance. Don’t couch the dissatisfaction with the noble self-congratulatory claim of just wanting balance.
Because you might find you get what you wished for. And what church would want Dr. Dawkins giving a rebuttal every Sunday?