Associated Press Promotes Ridiculous Pro-Gay Bullying Meme
June 14, 2011 6:32 pm ET by Carlos Maza
As the American public continues to move in the direction of supporting full marriage equality, anti-LGBT groups are finding themselves increasingly on the defensive in the battle for public opinion. Facing growing public opposition, many have decided to “play the victim,” accusing gay rights groups of “bullying” Americans into accepting LGBT equality.
In a June 12 article, the Associated Press picked up on that meme, providing a number of right-wing groups with a platform to spread their misinformation from in the process. Think Progress’s Zack Ford broke down the line-up of anti-LGBT voices that AP National Writer David Crary chose to use for his piece:
JIM CAMPBELL (Alliance Defense Fund): The ADF regularly spreads negative stereotypes about the LGBT community as part of their legal “defense” of Christian hegemony.
RICHARD BARNES (New York State Catholic Conference): The Catholic Conference has defended the vitriolic rhetoric of Sen. Rubén Díaz (D) and been a primary opponent of marriage equality in New York.
CHUCK COLSON (The Manhattan Declaration): In addition to signing the odious Manhattan Declaration (a willful commitment to ignore any laws that protect same-sex couples’ equality), Colson, a convicted felon from the Watergate scandal, regularly condemns LGBT people.
ALAN CHAMBERS (Exodus International): Exodus International is perhaps the most dangerous anti-gay propaganda machine, reinforcing the harmful junk science that same-sex orientations are disordered and can be changed.
ROBERT GEORGE (National Organization for Marriage): Crary neglects to even mention George’s connection to NOM, let alone that he is, in fact, its chairman and co-founder. NOM regularly reinforces the victim meme by distorting supposed “consequences” of LGBT equality. It’s no surprise George helped draft the Manhattan Declaration.
By failing to accurately identify these people as members of an extreme, fringe, and viciously anti-LGBT component of the right-wing, Crary lends them and their ridiculous complaints a level of credibility that none of them deserve.
These anti-LGBT groups have accused gays and lesbians of trying to “poison young minds,” railed against laws to protect LGBT youth from bullying, likened homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and promoted extremely damaging and widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy. These groups target the LGBT community and work tirelessly to deny them equal rights, accepting communities, and fair treatment.
When pro-equality groups act aggressively, they do so to protect themselves from discrimination and intolerance. It’s not bullying – it’s fighting back.
While the article does interview several pro-equality activists, it suffers from a problem that seems to be plaguing a number of major news outlets and networks: in an effort to appear neutral and objective, it fails to point out that anti-LGBT groups are just wrong.
Research has found that news reports that fail to resolve factual disputes can leave readers feeling incapable of determining which side is right. By failing to aggressively challenge the claims made by anti-LGBT groups, then, the article leads reader to believe that perhaps these groups really are being bullied, and that maybe it is the gay rights groups that are now being “intolerant.”
Who knows, right?
Choosing to remain “neutral” in the debate over LGBT equality isn’t just journalistically lazy - it’s intellectually dishonest. There is a “right” and “wrong” on this issue, and reporters like Crary should realize that the desire to appear unbiased should not come at the expense of accurately calling out anti-LGBT bigotry, even when it disguises itself as a helpless victim.