Rather's Discrimination; Banned in Boston by Liberal Intolerance?
>>> This Just In: Connie ("Just between you and me") Chung is back with a network: ABC News has hired her to work on Prime Time Live and 20/20. The Washington Post's John Carmody reports in the November 4 paper: "Network sources say Chung is ticketed for an anchor position eventually and her starting salary, believed to be in the $2 million range, would be high for a correspondent."
Monday night, of the broadcast networks, only the CBS Evening News let viewers know of the Supreme Court decision letting stand California's proposition banning racial preferences in state programs. But Dan Rather delivered the news wrapped in the language of liberals opposed to the anti-discrimination law.
Noting that the Supreme Court announced rulings Monday on both lie
detector tests and the California law, Rather declared:
A couple of weeks ago Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe's only conservative columnist, wrote a piece on how liberals at Harvard have little tolerance for those who believe someone can leave the gay lifestyle. Jacoby had disagreed with the contention that those saying you can leave the gay lifestyle are no different than Nazis advocating the elimination of Jews. "Diversity," he suggested, "includes ex-gays, too."
Condemnation came Monday with a very harsh attack on Jacoby from the Globe's Ombudsman, who concluded his criticism of Jacoby: "Was his column on Oct. 23 offensive? Yes. Should it have been published? Yes. But it's a high price to pay for freedom of the press." Crossing the politically correct line on gay rights is a sure way to be ostracized at a major media outlet like the Globe, which is owned by the New York Times Company. (The New York Times syndicate distributes Jacoby's columns, so even of you are outside of Boston you may be familiar with his work.)
Jacoby's column delivered a plea for tolerance, but it outraged a couple of left-wing gay thought police on the Globe staff. One of those upset, copy editor Bob Hardman, I understand, owns all or part of Out magazine. Jacoby told me that he fears that what is being set in motion is an attempt to stifle him for good: "Other newspapers may be able to tolerate a multiplicity of views, but at the Boston Globe, the PC radicals are so strong that they will not permit even a single conservative. Having succeeded in triggering an ombudsman attack on me this time, I can only imagine what they will try the next time I offend them."
Judge for yourself the appropriateness of the reaction to the original column. Instead of offering an edited version, I think it's best to let you read the whole thing. Whether you approach the issue from a socially conservative view that it's a matter of choice and environment or from a more libertarian view, as I do, with sympathy for the position that being gay is usually an orientation beyond one's control, I'm confident you'll find nothing offensive about what Jacoby wrote in his October 23 column. Copyright 1997 by the Globe Newspaper Company. (* = italics)
Where's the Tolerance Now?
There still are Christians at Harvard, and some of them thought that National Coming Out Day, when homosexuality is celebrated and "closeted" gays are urged to reveal themselves, might be a good moment to communicate a contrary message. So the Society for Law, Life & Religion at Harvard Law School scheduled a panel discussion to mark "National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day" -- to offer, in its words, "a message of compassion and hope for those homosexuals who desperately seek a way to leave the lifestyle of self-destruction behind."
The Society for Law, Life & Religion comprises traditional Christians who hold the traditional Judeo-Christian view that homosexual behavior is sinful and unhealthy. They also maintain the traditional Judeo-Christian distinction -- recently underscored in a pastoral letter from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops -- between having a homosexual *orientation,* which is usually not freely chosen and therefore not sinful, and engaging in homosexual *activity,* which is a matter of free will. Young people who feel the orientation are often deeply conflicted about engaging in the activity; it was to them that the Society for Law, Life & Religion directed its message.
"For those struggling with homosexuality, there is hope in the truth," it announced in posters tacked up all over campus. "You *can* walk away." The posters gave the time and place of the National Coming Out of Homosexuality presentation, noted that it was "sponsored by the HLS Society for Law, Life & Religion," and added: "Open to the entire Harvard community. (Harvard ID will be required for admission.)"
Within 24 hours, most of the SLLR posters were torn down or mutilated. In their place appeared new posters, identically laid out but bearing a different message.
"For those struggling with Judaism, there is hope in the truth. You *can* walk away. (To the gas chambers.) The National Coming Out of Diversity Day. Sponsored by the HLS Society for Law, Loathing & Hate."
There was more. "Open to the entire Harvard community," the forged posters read. "Except you. Yes, the Jewish-looking kid. Or you Black and Asian guys. Or you, wearing the pink triangle. No, on second thought, keep wearing the pink triangle. (American Nazi Party ID will be required for admission. Non-Aryans will be required to present proof of non-mongrel ancestry for at least four generations.) Bring your own rope."
It would be soothing to think that this vicious mockery was an aberration. But in bastions of the Left from Harvard to Hollywood, it is routine. Dare to suggest that homosexuality may not be something to celebrate, and instantly you are a Nazi, a hatemonger, a gas-chamber operator. Offer to share the teachings of Christianity or Judaism with students "struggling with homosexuality," and you become as vile as a Ku Kluxer, as despicable as David Duke. Decline to esteem homosexuality as a key aspect of human "diversity," and you become the object of vitriolic name-calling and fury.
When the Harvard "Coming Out of Homosexuality" event took place, gay activists thronged the entrance, many wearing t-shirts or holding signs demanding, "Stop the hate!" But why is it hate to propose that people "struggling with homosexuality" may be able, with the help of friends and religious faith, to live a non-homosexual life? "Because it isn't possible!" shout the activists.
It *is* possible.
One of the speakers at the Harvard roundtable was Michael Johnston, president of Kerusso Ministries in Newport News, Va. Much of his story sounds like a typical coming-out experience. Growing up in Alaska, he was very shy and a late bloomer. He went through adolescence never quite feeling that he fit in with other boys, yearning to get his confused emotions sorted out. In college, he was drawn to a group of theater students, in whose company he felt comfortable enough to experiment with sex. "A friend introduced me to homosexuality," he says. Attracted by the pleasure of the experience, he spent 11 years as an out and active gay man.
If Johnston's tale ended there, gay activists would embrace him today as one more stripe in the rainbow of human sexual diversity. But it continues. In 1986, he learned he was HIV-positive. "That really caused me to stop and reevaluate my life. I kept thinking about the Christianity of my childhood. Eventually I decided I could not live as a Christian and be an active homosexual." In 1988, Johnston rejected the sexual identity he had previously embraced. "Today, I can tell you I am not the man I was in 1986."
There is no hate in Johnston's story. He doesn't berate gays, or mock them, or demand that they renounce homosexuality. He knows that many gays are content and happy with their lives. He also knows that many are not.
"All I say is: 'Here's my story. This is what happened to me. It may be something you'd like to hear.'
" Some questions: How was inviting this man to speak at Harvard analogous to sending Jews to gas chambers? Isn't his experience also an element of human "diversity?" And what does it say about gay advocates, who so loudly champion tolerance and freedom of sexual choice, that they are so poisonously intolerant of people who make a choice different from theirs?
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for the Boston Globe. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org).
Should a Column that Targeted Homosexuals Have Been Published?
By Jack Thomas
To anyone who reads letters to the editor, it is no secret that Boston's gay community loathes the work of Jeff Jacoby, who from time to time has used his column on the op-ed page to deride gay men and lesbians in language that is often intolerant, frequently overbearing, and sometimes downright insulting.
From the time Jacoby was hired in 1994 to provide a conservative balance to the Globe's notoriously left-leaning stable of columnists, his relationship with gay members of the staff has been fractious. The gods must have a sense of humor, though, for both of Jacoby's copy editors are gay activists.
The feud simmered to a boil in 1994 after two homophobic columns by Jacoby, one of which argued that gays are united by nothing more than sexual desire -- as if gay relationships are not emotional, heterosexual relationships not carnal.
In response, 15 members of the staff petitioned the editor of the page, David Greenway: "Free speech," they said, "is not a license for the Globe to purvey bigotry or hatred."
After hearing them, Greenway told Jacoby it was appropriate to criticize gays for actions, but not merely for being gay.
The uneasy truce that ensued was broken Oct. 23 when Jacoby wrote a column that chastised gays for attempting to thwart a panel discussion by a Christian group at Harvard that wanted to lure gays to the heterosexual life.
Posters promoting the event had been torn down and replaced by hate signs, but the discussion itself was not interrupted by gays or anyone else.
The column Jacoby submitted made op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard uncomfortable, and she referred it to Greenway. Jacoby's copy editors, Peter Accardi and Robert Hardman, were incensed. They argued that the column was insulting, that it violated the rule imposed by Greenway.
Hardman wrote to Greenway: "Can you think of any other article we've printed that's based on a negative judgment about a group of people because of a characteristic that is either inborn or formed very early in childhood?"
Judging the column to be within bounds, Greenway refused to kill it, and it was published under a headline: "Where's the tolerance now?"
"I would hope our editorial position always argues for the rights of gays and others," he says. "But I think the op-ed page should be just that, opposite, and that it ought to have a broader range of opinions than our editorial position.
"We lean over backwards not to interfere with columnists. In this case, for better or worse, what he's saying is mainstream, similar to the position of the Catholic Church. It's not some wacko neo-Nazi position. The thrust of the column was to attack those at Harvard who would not let others speak. If the facts are accurate, the column is within bounds."
Alas, however, the facts are not so clear. In the column, Jacoby merges the defacement of posters, which is intolerant behavior, with the panel discussion, which was peaceful. Jacoby did not attend the meeting, but by means of rhetorical devices -- "gay activists thronged the entrance" Jacoby left some readers with an impression the meeting had been unruly.
Globe correspondent Mac Davis recalls that it was peaceful. "I never witnessed any protest or anything less than civility." Ariel R. Frank, a reporter for the Harvard Crimson says the debate was noisy, but that nobody interfered with anybody's right to speak.
Jacoby, meanwhile, bristles at complaints by gay colleagues. "A lot of gay activists think that any point of view different from theirs is not only wrong, but so illegitimate and beneath contempt that it doesn't even deserve to be considered. I know up front that if I want to write about this topic, I have to be prepared to run a gauntlet and to jump a lot of hurdles -- not among the readers, who I think mostly agree with me, but right here inside the Globe.
"I don't want to pick a fight with these guys. They're my copy editors -- I need their good will and they need my trust. But I do feel a chilling effect, and I'm afraid that's exactly what they want me to feel.
"I can assure you that on no topic -- not race, not the death penalty, not multiculturalism, not welfare -- are you made to endure as much fury as you have to endure if you say anything on this topic that is considered politically incorrect."
For now, Jacoby's columns about homosexuality will be judged case by case.
Was his column on Oct. 23 offensive? Yes.
Should it have been published? Yes.
But it's a high price to pay for freedom of the press.
The Globe Web site only allows free access to two day's worth of papers, which is why I ran these columns in full here since one is not on the site and the other will soon be gone, but I'll give it a plug anyway for those who might want to see if any follow-up letters or articles appear: http://www.boston.com/globe.
Even Fox has standards, sort of. Check TV Guide or the TV listing
magazine carried in your Sunday newspaper and it won't match what is
really on Fox Tuesday night at 9pm ET. MRC entertainment analyst Tom
Johnson alerted me to this item in the just-published November 3
Broadcasting & Cable magazine:
Much better. Only on Fox could something called the World's Deadliest Swarms ("Birds, bees and more" is how the November 4 Washington Post describes it) be considered a programming upgrade.
-- Brent Baker