Alex Blaze

AP: Queers = Lions

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 02, 2007 8:38 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Associated Press, Equality Ride, narrative construction, soulforce

Apparently the most complex narrative that the established media can handle with regards to GLBT people and religion is "the Christians versus the gays". Apparently, there can't be non-homophobic Christians, religious queers, or secular homophobes. Or anything else.

That's the take-home message from the AP story on the Soulforce equality riders' stop at Fresno Pacific College, a Mennonite school:

Officials at Fresno Pacific said the Bible guided their policies, and the student handbook would continue to oppose any sex outside of marriage.

"We see sexuality as within the bounds of marriage and do not believe that the Bible supports a homosexual lifestyle," said campus pastor Rod Reed.

There's no quotation from Soulforce. And of course there's nothing about how Soulforce believes the Bible backs up their position here. The AP makes it seems like Christianity is solidly and objectively against LGBT folk, and those gays are 100% secular.

With stories like this, you can see how the religious right develops their "religious oppression" narrative.

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I often wonder about the "impartiality" of the press. Not getting a quote from Soulforce is a good example, but the one that always pushes my buttons are the "balanced" coverage pieces.

For example, if we were reading a story about MLK Day, would we have to read a quote from the KKK? If the story were about the Holocaust would the neo-Nazis get to respond? If not, then why do we still have to suffer through quotes from Eric Miller and his ilk whenever there's a story about LGBT people? Spreading lies and bigotry makes a story "balanced?" Wuh?

It's a tough balance, I suppose, in some instances. It's funny b/c in the previous post I wrote I said that there are instances where balanced excludes certain voices.... I think that since here the story was entirely that soulforce was protesting that they needed a quote from them. Like a parallel situation would prolly be a story about an Advance America protest, there they'd need to talk to someone from advance america.

I think it's all about the way that the story chooses to frame an issue. Like how Time went straight to Dobson after the Mary Cheney pregnancy was announced frames the issue as "Mary Cheney is having a political football". Here, not getting a quote from soulforce makes it seem like "Christians are being attacked by the gays" when a more accurate and more objective narrative would be something like "Theological debate sparks protest at Fresno Pacific", which would require the journalist to explain both sides of the theological debate.

I guess what I'm saying is that issues of balance and fairness in journalism should be decided on the narrative that they promote. That decision on which on to promote is inherently subjective, but they can choose to make it as objective as possible and choose centrism when subjectivity is required.

Just my two cents.