Friday, February 27, 2004
Ah, The Poison Begins To Seep...

I woke this morning to The Edge 102.1 FM's morning programming - The Dean Blundell Show - and was put into a foul mood. I hope it doesn't last the rest of the day.

Why was my mood so pre-empted, you ask? Well, first, Blundell is a wannabe Howard Stern, so the content of his morning show is less than good clean fun (I enjoy listening to the Edge, and thus, my radio stays dialed in), but as he still has to play actual music, he can't go into the full-time shock jock gig. So on a normal day, it's usually a toss-up as to whether or not I'll be starting off well. Today the coin fell on it's head.

On the news portion of the show, given at the top of every hour, Blundell's correspondent (he has a number of them) gave the headlines, as per usual, and recounted the tale of Rosie O'Donnell's 'marriage' to her partner yesterday. Recounting her reasons for marriage, Rosie said, "We were both inspired to come here after the sitting president made the vile and hateful comments he made." But that quote wasn't used in the show. (And nevermind the fact that 'anger' isn't really all that high on the list of good reasons to get married).

What was used in the show was the correspondent's summary of Bush's comments. Now, I believe what the newsreader was attempting to do was summarize Rosie O'Donnell's viewpoint on Bush's statement, but he didn't attribute it to her, and he didn't quote her verbatim. He didn't even say "Rosie said she was getting married in response to Bush's cruel comments." No, he just referred to the comments as evil things.

Let's go take a look at what the President said.

Eight years ago, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-67 and the Senate by a vote of 85-14.

Those congressional votes, and the passage of similar defense of marriage laws in 38 states, express an overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

In recent months, however, some activist judges and local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage. In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest court have indicated they will order the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender in May of this year.


On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we're to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America. Decisive and democratic action is needed because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country.

The Constitution says that "full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts and records and judicial proceedings of every other state."


An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern, and the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance.

The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.

Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.


America's a free society which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions.

Our government should respect every person and protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction between these responsibilities.

We should also conduct this difficult debate in a matter worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger.

In all that lies ahead, let us match strong convictions with kindness and good will and decency.
I'm willing to wager large amounts of money (though I won't) that Rosie O'Donnell didn't read the President's comments. But that does not in any way excuse those who deliver the news to the listeners from not knowing what the President said, and reporting it accurately.

Over at Peeve Farm, Brian Tiemann has some incredibly insightful comments. [Language Alert/emphasis in original]
I'm now caught between like 90% of my friends, who are now convinced more than ever that Bush is a gay-bashing, hateful, bigoted asshole in the thrall of the Religious Right-- and the rational rest of the world, who is trying with complete sincerity to keep the concept of "marriage" from being redefined by state judiciaries who almost without exception seem to keep coming to the opposite conclusions about gay marriage that the state legislatures do when they get around to voting on the issue. (What does it tell you when state judiciary after state judiciary legalizes gay marriage, followed immediately by each state legislature in question ratifying a constitutional amendment or other state law banning it? I don't know about you, but it tells me that the judiciaries aren't enacting the will of the people.)

I have to choose sides if I'm going to be able to weather this storm. And you know... the aforementioned friends aren't impressing me with their rationality or their tolerance or their willingness to compromise. Or, especially, with their desire to actually research the matter and consider it from an opposing viewpoint, one that might be founded on something other than hatred.


[R]eading Bush's actual statement reveals a position so reluctant, so sad, so compromising, so full of genuine desire for kindness and understanding for all Americans and a hope that they can all come to an amicable solution without the need for playing out a tired Civil Rights-era script that can't even be cast properly today, that the people who continue even after reading it to insist that Bush is a bigot do so by implying that he's reading a prepared statement through gritted teeth, his chain jerked by an offstage puppet-handler under a floating cross.

Brian provides quite a unique perspective on this issue, as he is gay himself. He's really starting to feel the pressure, too - from both sides.
I've written post after post, starting as calmly and evenly as I knew how, and ending up with this bristly piece of lunatic ravery that I know full well looks like I've come totally unhinged. And maybe that's sort of intentional-- maybe I wanted to just stick a stake in the ground that shows how far I'm willing to go if I'm pushed really hard, but where I'm really not comfortable being. I imagine people from all the aforementioned walks of life will read the post above, and each will have his or her own strong reaction.

And I know who I'll really be catching it from, if and when they stumble across this post: my dearest and closest friends.
Indeed. Brian needs the support and encouragement of those of us who are in the middle ground with him. I publicly offer him mine.

To get back to the original focus of this entry, it is unacceptable for 'journalists,' even those as lowly as the headline readers on morning music radio shows that play to the GenX crowd, to repeat, without attribution or disclaimer, the bias and opinions of a person (celebrity or not) as fact.

You want to know why Canada at large is anti-American? In part, because of a rather large inferiority complex. But also because of lots of little tidbits like this. If you repeat a lie often enough, and with enough conviction, people will believe it. Well, people up here started to believe it a long time ago, and now it's just piling on.
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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