The truth in media and journalism.

Author:Leishman, Rory
Position::Column - Reprint

The Truth in Media and Journalism is reprinted from the Notes for an address by Rory Leishman to the Christian Legal Institute, London, Ontario, May 5, 2014

What passes for the truth in media and journalism? While some journalists have been led to believe in their university days that the truth is always unknowable or, at best, a matter of personal opinion, most understand that they should uphold the truth in reporting on a matter of empirical reality such as the rising level of out-of-wedlock birth rates in Canada.

Affirming the truth in relation to morality is quite another and far more contentious issue. If you were to ask a representative sample of contemporary journalists to give an account of moral truth, many, if not most, would be apt to respond like jesting Pilate: "What is truth?"

Prior to the 1960s, such cynical, moral confusion was rare among Canadian intellectuals and journalists. A preponderant majority then paid at least lip service to the truths of Judeo-Christian morality. Few questioned the affirmation in the United States Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Like most Canadians in the 1950s, most journalists still understood that all innocent human beings, including babies in the womb, have an inalienable right to life. Few Canadians then questioned the wisdom and justice of a longstanding provision of the Criminal Code which provided that:

"Every one who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a female person, whether or not she is pregnant, uses any means for the purpose of carrying out his intention is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life."

In the 1950s, there were no palliative-care units in Canada and, compared to today, pain-management was primitive, yet hardly any academic or journalist called for the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Why not?

Up to the 1950s, most Canadian journalists, lawyers and law professors were Christians. They would not have disagreed with the affirmation of John Locke in his Second Treatise on Civil Government:

"The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions; for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise Maker--all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business--they are his property whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another's pleasure."

Sir William Blackstone likewise affirmed in his magisterial Commentaries on the Laws of England that the moral authority of all laws is grounded in an immutable law of nature. In his words:

"This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this, and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."

Granted, few journalists have ever had more than a nodding acquaintance with Locke and Blackstone. And that is to be expected. With rare exceptions, journalists are poorly educated. They are not innovative thinkers, but retailers of second-hand ideas derived from their intellectual mentors in academia and the courts. Up to the middle of the 20th century, the ideology of these opinion makers was shaped by Chrisitians like Locke and Blackstone.

In the 1960s, Canadas intellectual leaders and their acolytes, the journalists, began in droves to abandon Christianity and the traditional teachings of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Now, most opinion leaders in our society are atheists or agnostics. They typically have nothing but contempt for the dead, white, Christian intellectuals who shaped our civilization. Blackstones Commentaries, which used to be tantamount to Holy Writ in our law schools, is now virtually ignored so that today, most law school graduates are likely to have little more knowledge of Blackstones classic treatise on the law than a typical journalist.

On questions of morality, the current...

To continue reading