Dutton Hughes – World Religions Final Project
In this day and age, it is becoming more frequently noticed that individuals are using religion as a basis for their violent acts. Although this is not a relatively “new” topic (ie. terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center, the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the racial “cleansing” of African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan, etc.), the media portrays such events in both a more harsh light as well as a more negative one. For example, following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, the spotlight was immediately on the two brothers who insinuated the attack, more specifically, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who wanted “to defend Islam from attack.” No questions were asked about religious “justification” for the act, but rather they were both seen as Islamic radicals stoking the fire for the ‘War on Terror’. This use of propaganda embellishes its viewers with claims that are not necessarily wrong, but do not embrace a larger picture. Thus touching our religious and personal beliefs and ‘forcing’ us to cast judgment. It is by questioning the media as well as ourselves that we may be further knowledgeable about religious violence.
More and more forms of media are beginning to shed their own light on modern day religious debate. Obviously, the first form of media that is most known and most common is the reported news (in all forms: televised, internet, radio, etc.). It is common for news stations/reporters to carry a bias in their reporting. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, these biases become evident during major events. The issue that arises because of this is that these biases are quickly absorbed by the public who have a tendency to believe all that they hear. As you could imagine, this could lead to even stronger biases that are unwilling to acknowledge opinions that differ from their own. And sadly this issue is not seen in just reported news. Propaganda campaigns occur quite frequently, stemming from public and personal creation to government funded.
Not only does the news and propaganda treat all religious violence the same, but society is beginning to see video games touch on the subject as well. A couple examples are derived from one game alone: Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2. The popular Call of Duty franchise releases a new title annually, selling millions of copies worldwide as well as generating over $10 billion dollars in revenue since its creation. Modern Warfare 2 has been critically acclaimed as one of the best first-person shooter video games of all time, but its contents have been the center of two controversies. First, when playing multiplayer online, text inside a bathroom stall can be seen that, when translated, reads, “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” Muslims took offense to this because it is against their tradition to mention Allah in a bathroom, and demanded that Activision, Call of Duty’s developer, remove it immediately. The second controversy occurs when the main character of the game partakes in a widespread shooting of a Russian airport. The level, titled “No Russian,” was skippable, but generated controversy nonetheless. Video games are essentially an artistic medium, but where is the line crossed? More importantly, whose decision is it to clarify that answer? The general public needs to be aware that these mediums of entertainment are for just that…..entertainment.
[[The link below is for the “No Russian” level of Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2. As previously stated, it contains images of graphic (albeit fictional) violence and blood. I do not advocate violence and post this link to show what I’ve discussed]]
My last point is to examine the effect that these forms of media have upon its audiences, us, the general public. The desired outcome of reported news or propaganda is to challenge your state of mind. However, this cannot be accomplished if they project an already biased message. Most Christians, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. are all knowledgeable of their own religion and may not be as accepting of others due to their lack of knowledge about them. Are they to be judged because of this? I will say no. Everyone should have the resources to make an educated decision on any topic, especially in regards to religious violence. This issue can be tackled from birth, allowing the child to grow up in an environment exposed to differences in opinion or taught to be open with the world around them. Action at an early age could benefit them for an entire life of new ideas and interactions with others, thus giving them a fuller perspective of the world and its cultures, therefore decreasing the possibility of having a narrow mindset.
All in all, religious violence is not an easily discussed topic. However, with proper knowledge and unbiased sources around you, it can be easier to agree or disagree with other opinions. This can lead to a better understanding of current as well as past events and why they happened in the first place.
“Call of Duty.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty>.
Goldfarb, Andrew. “Modern Warfare 2 Map Removed Following Controversy.” IGN.com. IGN.com, 8 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/10/08/modern-warfare-2-map-removed-following-controversy>.
“How to Detect Bias In News Media.” Fair & Accuracy In Reporting. Fair & Accuracy In Reporting, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://fair.org/take-action-now/media-activism-kit/how-to-detect-bias-in-news-media/>.
Tapper, Jake, and Matt Smith. “Boston Bomb Suspect Says Brother Was The Brains Behind The Attack.” CNN.com. CNN.com, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2013%2F04%2F22%2Fus%2Fboston-attack%2F>.