Judgment Day, the PBS/Nova’s show on Dover’s intelligent design trial has aired. For those who were part of it, what played out for two hours on the television set could never fully capture (but indeed, came as close as I think anyone could) to this amazing experience. (Full disclosure – I appear in the show.)
However, in something of an ironic twist, the show seems to have sparked a bit of a brouhaha over censorship. In Tennessee, the land of the Scopes Monkey Trial, the subject was deemed too controversial for Memphis public broadcast viewers. Sigh. While most of the country was able to watch the show on local Public Broadcasting System stations (or, as the oh-so-irked Discovery Institute likes to refer to it, “The Propaganda Broadcasting System.” Oh my goodness, Casey. It’s funny because it’s so clever.), folks there watched a post-Veterans Day show on WWII.
To their credit, many viewers are not pleased.
According to the article in The Memphis Commercial Appeal, “in response to one viewer complaint, WKNO program manager Debi Robertson said Wednesday that while the ‘Nova’ episode reported the outcome of the trial and the arguments during the trial it ‘might look particularly one-sided to most of our audience.’ ” As the letter writers correctly point out, the station’s decision to protect viewers from information with which they might or might not disagree, is an abdication of public television’s commitments and responsibilities. It smacks of condescending paternalism of the worst kind.
The good news, however, is that overall, most stations had no qualms about airing the show. According to Paula Apsell, the show’s senior executive producer, “the pick-up of this show in the PBS system at large was terrific.” Ninety-eight percent of the top fifty markets aired it.
The discussion’s title? “Evolutionary Controversy and a Side of Pasta: The Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Subversive Function of Religious Parody.”
Lauri in York