On Impartiality—What About It?

I remember a good many times when I was a great deal younger, various folks talking about the concept of impartiality where media (and particularly journalism) was concerned. And for a very long time, I was right there with them. I felt that, at some point, there was some sort of “breakdown” that had occurred, and that “the media” (and again, most particularly journalists) had somehow lost the ability to be impartial.

The fact is, looking back on things, I came to a realization that, for some reason it took me far too long to reach. No media outlet, no particular reporter or journalist was ever impartial; nor—in my humble opinion—should anybody ever have expected them to be so.

I will acknowledge that, over the course of time, the tendency towards glaring partiality became greatly stronger. Now if I believed in the concept of impartiality being a possible thing, that might be—in fact, at one time was, to me—shocking and problematic.

These days though, I have a totally different take on that, than did the young, naive version of myself. Presently, I view the display of partiality to be in line with the reality. Nobody should expect another person to be entirely impartial.

In case you’re wondering, it’s my view that people tried very hard to manage impartiality when I was a child (and in times prior to that), but the problem is, you can show partiality as much in what you report, as how you report it.

The fact is, whether you’re an atheist, a devout Catholic, a “reformed” Christian, a Muslim, or whatever, you will have values that drive your very existence. Those values will affect how you expect others to behave (and how not). You may think this doesn’t apply to you, but if you live in any “societal unit,” I think everyone can pretty much assume and accept that at a bare minimum you have expectations on how you would like others to treat you. For example, most folks would really rather not be killed for no cause. Most folks would rather that their children were not raped or tortured.

I think my point here should be pretty easy to understand. We all have some “moral code” by which we behave, and, fairly, we would like it if others behaved in some way (or, more likely, set thereof) when dealing with us.

As for me, I would prefer that your “morals” show in your communication. Assuming they did, I could have some idea what to expect when reading or hearing what you had to say.

Yes, it’s absolutely true that, if I find your perspectives concerning that which is correct and incorrect to be too very far out of line with my own, I will be much less likely to “hear you out.” The question you should be asking yourself is, “Should I expect anything else?” And for that matter, considering that people discard actions and perspectives of others apparently out of hand quite often (myself certainly included in the list), “Do I not already do this, regardless my supposed ‘open mind’?”

Now, in order to make things clear, you should be aware that, should you say, “I believe this or that,” you should not assume I will believe you without analyzing what else you say and do. I (and hopefully most folks) will look at what your life says about you (in its  various forms of communication), and on doing so, will decide that what you represent yourself to be is, or is not accurate.

In the long run then, you need to be aware that I do not consider anybody—and this certainly includes myself—to be impartial, and to make sure you “get it,” that’s not a bad thing in my view. In fact, if you attempt to present yourself as impartial, you pretty much immediately earn a “black markin my way of thinking.

For those of you still supposedly trying to practice impartiality, let me make something clear to you. How you “see the World,” pretty much makes it so there is no way for you not to “filter” that which you see. Equally important, assuming that there is some “gold standard” for how the World ought to be perceived cannot help but create problems.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that humanity—particularly when they congregate in groups—ought to have limits. As an example, it ought not be okay for me to kill folks without something referred to as “just cause”—however that ends up being defined.

The simple fact that my surrounds are blurry without the introduction of prescription glasses, or that I don’t see colors the same way as others (being red/green deficient), is enough to ensure that I will see the world differently than do others.

We need not even get into differences in how we were raised, or differences in our life experiences—and you can be equally assured that both will “color” your viewpoint and your perceptions.

So, to those out there thinking they are being impartial, claiming to “miss” impartial reporting, and thinking that we have strayed from rectitude in our moving away from claims of “fairness and balance,” or that folks are somehow hypocritical in making those claims because you don’t happen to agree with their perception(s), please know that you are the “rube,” as I see it (as—by the way—was I), for ever believing such a thing existed to begin with.

None of this means that you cannot and, in fact, should not be willing to hear and attempt to understand the perspectives of those around you.

You may well come to the conclusion that others are “broken”—some even beyond apparent repair or reformation. That’s not necessarily an unreasonable conclusion to which one might come.

Equally though, the possibility exists that that you might find yourself seeing things you had either considered and discarded, or never considered, but which, on consideration appear to be a superior way of thinking and doing to your own.

All this being said, please be aware that we all discriminate, and that this is a necessary part of life. The result is, we are, by necessity, “partial.”

As usual, thanks for reading, and have a good day!

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