The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Newspapers have a responsibility

During the years after World War I a wave of antisemitism swept the country, and some newspapers printed articles or opinions that fueled hatred against the Jews. An example would be the automobile manufacturer Henry Ford's reprinting of Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a series of articles in the Dearborn Independent.

This action was widely criticised and Ford later apologized.

In the late 1800's the Birmingham News warned that the Negroes in Birmingham be restrained lest they "develop into human tigers and give vent to their hatred of some white men." The 'restraint' which ensued included banning Negroes from the front of streetcars, public parks and white-zoned neighborhoods. (Diane McWhorter - Carry Me Home)

During the mid 20th century in Birmingham, a newspaper (the Birmingham Post) fueled racial hostilities with its support of Bull Conner with an article headlined "Commies Sponsor Negro Youth Meet." (McWhorter)

I give these examples to show that newspapers sometimes choose to act in irresponsible and harmful ways. They sometimes allow debate where there is clearly not an issue that is debatable. They sometimes allow rhetoric that is clearly hateful, that is clearly meant to inflame, and that clearly crosses the boundaries of decency.

Always society looks back in amazement if not disbelief at the hatred that was allowed or encouraged by the media. Henry Ford was forced to apologize. The Birmingham News sort of apologized years...many years, later.

Now the media thinks it is ok to allow smears against the gay community in the form of debate or opinion. Terms such as "sodomite" might be used, which immediately gives an impression of a Higher Power giving disapproval, and thus influencing the reader toward disapproval.

The Western Tribune has allowed a reader to respond to my writings in that paper and in the Birmingham News in hateful ways on more than one occasion.

"It is well known that there are biblical injunctions that prohibit the crime of sodomy, so sodomites must overcome this injunction.

"They do it by several means.

"First, they ignore the bible or pass it off as an antiquated and irrelevant document because it prohibits what a sodomite desires to do.

"Other sodomites claim the biblical passages - and there are many - are unclear and therefore they obfuscate the arguments opposing their acts of sodomy.

"Some sodomites have made this argument null and void by producing their own version of the Bible and omitting those scriptures that condemn sodomy, therefore exposing their knowledge that the injunctions exist.

"To give you the right to legally engage in sodomy (marry another man) is to grant you supra-rights (rights above and beyond the rest of us)."

Aubrey "Snuffy" Garrett" Western Tribune 10-14-2009

The letter writer repeats the term "sodomy" in an effort to defame, with God's blessing, the gay community.

Would the same newspaper, or any other, allow a letter to be printed that defamed the black community in the same way?

Imagine reading a letter in your paper calling for suppression of blacks using biblical references. (this is not a real letter)

Dear Editor,

The blacks are getting too much power. The Bible instructs us

"Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ." (Ephesians 6:5)

"Slaves are to be submissive to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back ." (Titus 2:9)

"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. " (1 Peter 2:18)

We would never stand for such to be printed in the newspapers. Why, pray tell, can the Bible be used to degrade gays? Why would a newspaper allow it?

What really gets me is that this is a newspaper that I write for!!!

In this week's Western Tribune Mr. Garrett continued his biblical assault on the gay community.
In a letter Mr. Garrett responds to my recent letter in The Birmingham News supporting marriage equality, in which I used the terms "loving relationships" and "sacred."

"You must ask yourself the question: If God condemns an act, how could He consider it sacred or holy, the answer is of course, He cannot. A man could so love his horse that he commits sodomy with it and then calls it a loving relationship but God would still call it sodomy!"

Aubrey "Snuffy" Garrett Western Tribune 2-24-10

So loving relationships between gay men or women are compared to having relations with a horse, with the premise that the Bible, and God, back up this comparison.

Just as using the Bible to support the enslavement of blacks is a form of spiritual terrorism, using it to slander the gay community is spiritual terrorism as well.

This egregious example is from the Western Tribune, but the same thing happens every day in newspapers and on radio and TV across the country.

This will continue as long as we allow it. A good start to putting an end to this would be to contact the Western Tribune. Contact information can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Great comparison Joe! I say "Snuffy" be censored in newspapers, as well as other ignorant bigots, just like we censor television programs to protect our children from seeing offensive things that parents would not agree with.

Stephen from Southside

Dianne said...

I grew up thinking that God turned Cain black when he cursed him and he became the ancestor to all the black people. The I has a science class....

Anonymous said...

Your opinion is a complete defamation to the entire gay community. Did you know that there are more straight couples that practice sodomy then gay men. Did you know that lesbian couples don't practice sodomy. Did you also know that there is more to a gay couple than just sex?

Did you also know that a woman who has sex before marriage should be stoned to death according to the bible?

What about working on the sabbath or visiting a place on the sabbath that has workers, you are committing a ten commandment.

You are a hypocrite my friend, You throw stones, when your house is made of glass.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I thought you were Aubrey, that is why I left the previous comment!

Joe said...

Thanks for your comment. I hope you will send that as a letter or email to the paper so it might be printed in the paper.

Helen said...

Does a newspaper have a duty to protect the ignorant from public embarrassment? This 'Snuffy' doesn't know what he is talking about--the people of Sodom were destroyed because they were greedy selfish and mean, treating others, even their own townspeople quite badly.
Someone give that person a real Bible to read.

Anonymous said...

People have a right to express their opinion in this country and freedom of the press is one of our most cherished freedoms.
Also, people are free to agree or disagree with the opinions expressed by anyone.
It seems to me that you want to see only opinions expressed that agree with you and I find that small minded and very unfortunate.
You have the freedom to disagree with Snuffy and he has the freedom to do the same.

Joe said...

You missed the point. I cherish Snuffy's right to express his opinion, however uneducated they may be. I say this because I have been reading his weekly letters since October. Its the newspaper I have the problem with, allowing a reader to express bigotry against an entire class of people. Do you believe a paper should print reader's letters that advocate segregation or even a return to slavery, based on the words in the bible? Apparently so. I disagree.

Anonymous said...

If you cherish Snuffy's right to express his/her opinion, why then does it matter where or how he/she does it? You don't mind them expressing it as long as you are not exposed to it? Is that it? You write about your gayness in the paper all the time and about things in which you believe. I don't agree with you at all but I don't wave a flag to stop you. If snuffy wants to bring back slavery and a paper wants to print his opinions about that who are you to say say they shouldn't? Do you own the paper of have some managing role in it? If you are mad about it stop writing for them, PLEASE STOP WRITING FOR THAT PAPER!

Joe said...

You and I will just have to agree to disagree. I think that a responsible journalist, or owner of any paper, not just this one, would choose to to encourage hatred and resentment by publishing an opinion advocating a return to slavery. Sure, freedom of speech is one thing, but decency and community are another.

And Snuffy is using religious based terrorism against gays, just as advocating a return to slavery based on the Bible would be religious based terrorism toward blacks. That you can't see that, speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

By the same token, a responible paper owner should choose not to print your gay agenda and your negative opinions about anyone who does not agree or think as you do.

Joe said...

Again you are blinded. I do not use the the Bible to hurt or disenfranchise anyone in my columns or letters. My views on the Bible focus on the message of love.

I don't complain about others opinions unless I see where they might result in harm to others (like Hank's) or harm society (like Lawrence McAdory - see this week's column)

Oh, and believe me, I have thought about leaving the paper.

BoyGenius said...

To the question of why the paper, or any paper, would allow such things to be printed? Because, though it can hurt like hell sometimes, stirring a hornets' nest is often a great avenue to getting the attention of others. This is about selling papers and getting free publicity. I'm sure the biggest and oldest papers all across the country have been, at some time or another, guilty of printing things they knew were grossly untrue and inflammatory because they knew it was what the majority of their reader base would approve of...just take a look at the tabloids the next time you visit the supermarket. The question of right or wrong most likely never enters the equation of whether or not to publish, just the possibility of dollar signs. As for Mr. Snuffy, I like to think that the ignorant were put on the earth to occasionally enrage the rest of the population so the rest of us (I do hope I'm not one of the ignorant) wouldn't get too complacent.