The media is an interesting thing. In its desire to appear objective it will pretty consistently go out and seek “both sides of the story.” When discretion is not used — and let’s be honest, how often is it? — the result is kooks getting exposure for their causes. For instance, anti-vaccine nuts have become a prevalent danger over the past decade or so because of people willing to give Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy a platform from which to tell lies.

This is bad, but it gets worse when the media does manage to use its discretion but in the wrong way. Take the recent articles and reports all across the state on this new legislative prayer caucus. I have yet to find a single dissenting view. Apparently there are no atheists in the state of Maine.

Of course, it isn’t easy to find organized atheists. We don’t have any central dogma. We don’t have tenets of faith (also known as belief without evidence). So I can cut a little slack on that point — though let’s be honest, it’s unlikely anyone bothered to open up Google and do a search for some Maine groups — but how about talking to some historians? Surely someone could have found a qualified person to slap down garbage like this from Maine Senate President Kevin Raye: “Let us keep in mind this nation’s founders placed such importance on prayer and God’s role in the life of our fledgling experiment in democracy.”

This is blatantly false. The founders placed importance on individual freedoms and the right to believe or not believe as one pleased. They did not want church and state to be entangled, or to have one’s religious beliefs be the de facto principle by which the nation operates.

Even when the media only gets one side of the story I guess it’s still possible to find the kooks.

Michael Hawkins


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