by Dan Savage
on Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 9:16 AM
NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates filed a dishonest, misleading, and biased report on the "backlash" suffered by business owners in California who donated money to the effort to strip gay and lesbian Californians of their civil rights.
People who funded Prop 8 in California—the same people in court today, right now, demanding that the state forcibly divorce the 18,000 same-sex couples who wed in California before Prop 8 was approved—found themselves in the "squarely in the bull's-eye of angry gay rights activists," KGB's report begins. (What's with the deranged gay shooter imagery lately? Has a gay activist ever shot anyone?) And who are these people? They're good people, well-meaning people. A "faithful Mormon" who managed her mother's Mexican restaurant, which just so happened to be located in a gay neighborhood and which once served a large gay clientele; a "devout Roman Catholic father of 10" whose business was picketed—"retaliation was swift"—after he donated $20,000 to "Yes on 8"; and "devout Mormons" who headed up California arts organizations that presented works by gay and lesbian artists.
And who does Bates go to for a quote about what all this means? Frank Schubert, spokesman for the Yes on 8 campaign. No gay activists are quoted about the impact of Prop 8, or the reasoning behind the boycotts. Bates speaks to no gay leaders, she doesn't quote anyone about the role that boycotts have played in other civil rights struggles, from the African American Civil Rights Movement (think of that poor bus company!) to struggles farm workers' rights (did anyone ever think of the poor people who owned the vineyards where grapes were grown?). All we hear from our faithful Mormons and devout Roman Catholics who "exercised their constitutional right to freedom of religion" and now find themselves "endangered" by "angry gay rights activists."
KGB's report ends with this:
"[These incidents have] given rise to charges that as gay rights advocates tried to change public opinion, some stepped over the line and turned their protest into a witch hunt."
Gee, maybe a gay person should've been asked to respond to those charges. Perhaps a gay person could've pointed out that we are under no obligation to patronize businesses that are owned and operated by our enemies, discussed other boycotts launched during other civil rights struggles, and pointed out that gays and lesbians have just as much right as faithful Mormons or devout Roman Catholics to act on our consciences and spend our money accordingly, and, again, that boycotts are a peaceful and legitimate form of protest, not "witch hunts."
Direct complaints about KGB's idiotic and unfair "reporting" to NPR's ombudsman here, or call 202-513-3245.