God's Politics

God's Politics


Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Comic Relief

posted by gp_intern

On Monday, in my homage to Kurt Vonnegut, I affirmed his assertion that:

Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears. Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion, to the futility of thinking and striving anymore. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward – and since I can start thinking and striving again that much sooner.

Looking back at the events that unfolded later that day in Blacksburg, I have to question if this is always true. There is plenty of absurdity in that tragedy, but little to laugh at.

I did, however, smile upon reading a recent piece by Ethics Daily’s Bob Allen on a Pew Research Center poll comparing Fox “News” watchers to fans of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. (Sorry, I always have to put sarcasm quotes around “news” when it’s next to the word Fox.)

Allen reports:

Along with education, income and political interest, researchers found where people get their news had a significant impact on how much they know. Fifty-four percent of those ranked with high knowledge of current events said they watched “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” with Stephen Colbert, the same percentage as readers of major newspaper Web sites and one point ahead of “News Hour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS.

That compared to 35 percent in the high-knowledge category that get their news from Fox and/or their local TV news and 34 percent who watch network morning shows.

Daily Show and Report fans shouldn’t be too smug, however:

Other programs with a high percentage of very knowledgeable viewers and listeners included “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News (51 percent) and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (50 percent).

Still, it would seem that smart and funny beats smart and mean 54% to 51%. There is hope. The poll apparently makes no mention of Fox’s attempt at satire, The 1/2 Hour News Hour, likely because it contains neither news nor humor.

But even – or especially – during a week like this, I guess I still agree with Vonnegut about laughter. As I wrote in Sojourners a few years back about The Daily Show: “Satire can be a vital tonic to those numbed by current events—a way of engaging the powers that be without going crazy.”

We need that medicine now more than ever. Get a double dose with an archive clip of Jon Stewart’s interview of Vonnegut – showing his age, but still plenty of edge.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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kevin s.

posted April 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm


Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not funny unless you have knowledge of current events. They parody current events. News dicussion blogs didn’t do particularly well either, which is unsurprising.



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jesse

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:28 pm


Fox “News”…hardy har…though such jabs will surely evoke many a guffaw here at Sojo, I’d like to remind you that Faux News, or more specifically The Special Report with Brit Hume, is more centrist/balanced than other major news outlets, as this UCLA study found:http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6664 You’d do well to check your news from multiple sources. The myth of unbiased news is fading fast.



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jesse

posted April 20, 2007 at 6:39 pm


BTW, does Sojo have any praise at all for the partial birth abortion ruling the other day? Many Democrats even supported this ban (including Harry Reid and Pat Leahy). Support for this decision would seem like a no-brainer for anyone with the slightest bit of prolife sentiment. Though it would put them at odds with their favorite presidential candidates, I’d be impressed if Sojo showed at least a small amount of impartiality and independence of thought.They say their politics isn’t captive to any political party, right?



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 20, 2007 at 7:56 pm


Fox “News”…hardy har…though such jabs will surely evoke many a guffaw here at Sojo, I’d like to remind you that Faux News, or more specifically The Special Report with Brit Hume, is more centrist/balanced than other major news outlets, as this UCLA study found: We who actually are in the media know full well that Fox News is indeed a joke. BTW, does Sojo have any praise at all for the partial birth abortion ruling the other day? Do you know how this “partial-birth abortion” thing really got started? As a device to hopefully separate then-President Clinton from his pro-choice support. So you’ll have to excuse this normally staunch “pro-lifer” for not rejoicing. (It’s my understanding that you can’t get second- and third-trimester abortions in most states anyway, making the bill a red herring.)



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Will

posted April 20, 2007 at 8:38 pm


I love all of the debates about left or right leaning news outlets in this country. Our definition of “right” and “left” are absurd and meaningless when compared to politics in the rest of the world. Socialism is not even an option in this country and yet people on the right act as though democrats are a bunch of pinko commies. And on the other side there is no significant fascist movement in this country yet democrats constantly accuse republicans of being fascists. Major corporation own all major news outlets so by definition they are all conservative. The corporations that own the news will only show news that supports their self interest. And the corporations who own these outlets do not want revolution or change, they want the status quo to remain otherwise they will be threatened. Therefore they are conservative in their politics. So what we get is the mind numbing crap that we call news with all of the flashing bells and whistles and stupid scrolling Las Vegas style infotainment on a daily basis. It’s not left or right to me it’s just crap.



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Doug

posted April 20, 2007 at 9:12 pm


Rick, Do you have any idea what partial-abortion is? You are wrong in your understanding of when you can get an abortion in this country. You can get an abortion in this country up to the day of birth. The reason most people do not know this is that the media refuses to report it. They want people to be ignorant of what is really going on in the abortion industry. There are plenty of crisis pregnancy centers that have all kinds of information on abortion that the media refuses to tell. On economic issues I totally disagree with the left in this country and I believe that republicans have the right answers to keep this great country of ours moving mocing forward. The reason I bring this up is even if I thought the left was right on economic issues which history they are not I would still never ever vote for a democrat. Why not? Very simply they are the party of Death and are anti-God. Don’t believe me. When was the last time a democrat stood against abortion or assisted suicide? Democrats are the ones pushing God out of our schools and are devaluing human life.They are for Gay marriage. All of these things are an abomanation to the Lord our God. Harsh? You are darn right but it’s the truth. Heck,they are even taking the side of our enemy in the war we are fighting right now. If you disagree that is ok but please come back with exapmles of the last time democrats were in charge any meanigfull legislation got passed to protect the family. If the republicans were not in power last congress this bill to ban this most horrific procedure would not have passed.



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Joey

posted April 20, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Okay, OTHER than bashing Fox News—and, implicitly, Republicans—did this post have a point? God bless.



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Wes Roberts

posted April 20, 2007 at 9:58 pm


…a point may be… …there is a time to laugh… …and there is a time to weep. …both, if done well, and for the correct reasons, bring cleansing tears to the soul. …many may assume there is little to laugh about and much to weep over, but as I squeezed the hand of an old friend who has the privilege of knowing he is dying within days, I was thankful we could both laugh and cry as we said our good-byes last week. A problem…too many don’t get that privilege with relatives and other friends.



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Deryll

posted April 20, 2007 at 10:32 pm


[It's not left or right to me it's just crap. Will] [...there is a time to laugh... ...and there is a time to weep. ...both, if done well, and for the correct reasons, bring cleansing tears to the soul.Wes Roberts] Both of you are correct!



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Wolverine

posted April 20, 2007 at 10:44 pm


Worth noting from the Pew study: Only 41 percent of CNN viewers fall in the “high knowledge” category. It looks like Cable “News” Network viewers aren’t all that much brighter than the lunkheads watching Fox. Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted April 20, 2007 at 10:46 pm


By the way: Rick, do you have a source for your assertion that second and third term abortions are not available in most states? Wolverine



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Carl Copas

posted April 20, 2007 at 11:06 pm


Ryan,a cute article. I don’t watch news on television at all. But love the comedy of Colbert and Stewart.



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rain man

posted April 21, 2007 at 12:56 am


Does anyone know how many partial-birth abortions are performed each year? I’d be surprised if there are many women who carry a child that far and say, “you know what, this isn’t really for me.”



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Canuckelhead

posted April 21, 2007 at 5:51 am


is “lunkhead” from the original Greek?



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butch

posted April 21, 2007 at 4:49 pm


Interesting, don’t see a single woman at this point. As a man I don’t feel I have a voice in the matter. I do suggest my clinic. You enter and go to the registration desk and tell the scheduler whether you are considering an abortion or not. If you are you down the hall to right and see a counselor who will help with that decision. If you are not you down the hall to the left for counseling. After that you go to the end of the hall for counseling with whatever decision you’ve made. I offer for all with strong opinions if you work 8-10 hours in any of the counseling offices you will not have the energy to talk about it here. And you won’t be so sure you know what someone else should do.



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HASH(0x116d85e4)

posted April 21, 2007 at 8:35 pm


you can’t get second- and third-trimester abortions in most states anyway – Rick You can get an abortion in this country up to the day of birth. – Doug In 2001 (latest available data) 90% of abortions were in the first trimester, and just 1% later than 21 weeks. (Guttmacher institute) are the party of Death and are anti-God. Don’t believe me. When was the last time a democrat stood against abortion or assisted suicide? Doug First of all that’s nonsense – proposals for reducing the number of abortions (which in my book is “standing against abortions”) were presented by Harry Reid when minotiry senate leader. Practical proposals that actually reduce the demand for abortions may actually be more useful for those genuinely pro-life than mouth frothing denunciations of Democrates. Not least because democratic presidents actually have a much better record of seeing abortion figures reduce on their watch than Repubs. The numbers of abortion rose 2 or 6% under Reagan (depending upon whether you use Centre of Disease control or Guttmacher figures. Fell 1 or 4% under Bush 1. Fell 14 or 37% (that’s right 10x greater fall – I reject the 37% figure by the way, it’s a fallacy of calcuation) under Clinton, and have since stabilised at 1-2% fall under Bush 2. But whatever way you look at it abortions have trended much worse in the Bush whitehouse than the Clinton one. Now this doesn’t prove causation but does mean that there’s a need to understand what happened under the Clinton and stop mouthing childish anti-democrat rhetoric if you genuinely want to reduce the numbers of abortions.



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l'etranger

posted April 21, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Apols that anonymous was me



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted April 25, 2007 at 4:00 pm


“Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not funny unless you have knowledge of current events. They parody current events.” Well, DUH! Knowledge of current events is paramount to being a productive, contributing member of society. It is those without such “knowledge” against whom we struggle. Combatting ignorance is THE challenge of education today. “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge the wings wherewith we fly to Heaven.” – W. Shakespeare P.S. Did you know that it is NOT illegal to falsify the news in the U.S.? Perhaps THAT is the raison d’etre of Faux “News”. And they’ve done such a good job of it too since, oh, let’s just say 2000. We all know what happened in that particular year. Don’t we?



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