Saturday, December 11, 2010

Do not censor religious right groups. Demand that they answer questions

I am in TOTAL disagreement with other lgbt activists (such as Dan Savage) who think that the news media shouldn't have religious right organizations on their shows on the grounds that their opinions are akin to those of the Ku Klux Klan.

It's not that I don't agree with the root part of this argument. Just like the Klan demonizes African-Americans based on ignorance, fear, and (in some extreme cases) religion, religious right groups do the same to the lgbt community.

But I think veteran newscaster Tom Brokaw put it best:

Asked how antigay views should be presented, he said, “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”

That's the thing which as been solely missing from this controversy regarding the religious right and the lgbt community. No one in the lgbt community has issued a clear plan of attack. It has been a morass of words thrown around, such as "bigots" and "haters, and tangents devoted to the issue of gay marriage or sidetracked to the larger issue of condemnation  of the Christian religion.

And in the middle of  this complicated muddle, religious right groups zero in on one issue, i.e. censorship, and begin to control the debate.

This issue is not about gay marriage per se, nor is it about condemnation of religion. It's about the intentional propagation of falsehoods and junk science in order to smear a group of people.

Therefore demanding that the news media keep people like Tony Perkins or groups like the Family Research Council off television is extremely counterproductive. It gives the inaccurate notion that somehow their ideas are so truthful that the lgbt community is fearful of letting them be heard.

Instead, we need to demand that certain questions be asked. For example:

"Mr Perkins, why did your organization freely and unapologetically cite the work Paul Cameron, a discredited researcher who thinks that gay men stuff gerbils up their rectums?"


"Why do religious right groups continue to cite a 1997 study to claim that gays have a short lifespan when in 2001, the researchers of the study complained that you all were distorting their work?  To be more specific, why do religious right group ignore legitimate researchers who complain about how they distort their work?"


"Mr. Perkins, why did your organization remove several anti-gay studies from your web page on the grounds that they used outdated studies? And this being the case, why did you cite those supposed "outdated" studies in works that do appear on your pages?"

Or even better, demand that the news media interview some of us on their shows when they have people like Perkins on. The lgbt community is a bit more intelligent and sophisticated than we were in the past in terms of calling attention to how religious right groups lie. We should be chomping at the bit to confront them on national television and making them spell out in exact terms why their distortions and junk science are accurate.

But instead of relishing the thought of a public feud, we seem to be backtracking from it or trying to sidestep it.

The lgbt community should take note of the recent hell President Obama has been getting from progressives about his need to compromise with the GOP. Just like it seems that President Obama has been reluctant to get into a war with the bullies of the GOP, the lgbt community seems to be reluctant to get into a needed fight with our bullies, i.e. the religious right.

But whereas as Obama tries to compromise with the GOP, the lgbt community seem to view the media as our parents and we run to them crying that they keep the big, bad bullies of the religious right from picking on us.

The media is not the parents of the lgbt community and it's not their job to stop the religious right from picking on us via their lies. It's our job to call them out and not just with words like "bigots," but with demands that they either explain their propagation of lies (such as linking homosexuality to pedophilia or claiming that gays caused the Holocaust) or apologize for them.

But we can't do this adequately without calling them out.

Doesn't anyone think that it's time we started?



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4 comments :

Brad said...

The problem is that the main stream media never asks those kind of questions. It's a great idea in theory, but the reality is, people like Tom Brokaw give them a pass time and time again while giving them a public forum to spew their hatred. Besides, Tom Brokaw is not very sympathetic himself to LGBT issues.

BlackTsunami said...

And that's where the community has to make a lot of noise. If we can raise hell and get noticed about other things, we can with this.

Also, we have an entire network - LOGO - as well as several lgbt publications. I refuse to believe that pressure cannot be applied on these outlets to make them focus on these issues.

The Red 9 said...

I would argue there's a difference between censorship and not allowing a particular individual to speak on a television show and outright censorship.

Your implications that news organizations are obligated to give a voice to groups that are known for spreading lies about the LGBTQA community on the grounds that it would look like "we believed them to be telling the truth", is interesting.

There are plenty of conservative groups that don't spread lies about LGBTQA people, yet still take a stand (for various reasons, including religion) against our community. Shouldn't the news media turn to them instead, when they need to present both sides of an issue?

Mykelb said...

Alvin, the MSM are too ignorant of the facts or are too lazy to do any in-depth research, to counter the lies of the likes of the FRC, NOM, etc. Then they let the bigots get on the air without any challenge to their credibility nor challenge their lies while on the air. The MSM is not doing their jobs. I don't trust they ever will because the bottom lines is that the Corporatists are using our issues for sensationalism, not news. They are only interested in the conflict, not truth. Truth doesn't pay as we have seen through all of the anti-gay paychecks being cut all over America.