20 February 2012

Exponent reporting on Problem of God LGBTQ issue session

The Purdue Exponent today ran an article on the "Problem of God" symposium event concerning LGBTQ issues (my post on this event here). I have a number of problems with this article.

First, and least important, just because the event chose to use the word "homosexual" does not mean that is the proper term for the newspaper. The heterosexism present in the event should have clued the reporter in to the fact that the language chosen by some speakers may not be the preferred terminology (and that they should look up the best practices). Every group has the right to define their own identity, and journalism generally accepts these guidelines. Reporters of the Exponent should be aware of best practices, such as the following:

Gay - Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual. (Christian, D., S. Jacobsen, D. Minthorn. 2008. 2008 Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Associated Press. New York, NY: The Associated Press)
Secondly, I dislike that the Exponent chooses to include the statement by Chi Alpha's Linda Seiler that blames LGBTQ identity on individuals' relationship with their parents. This claim is inaccurate. There are plenty of other statements from her that could have been included. Unless the goal of including this detail was to point out the ignorance illustrated by two of the speakers at the event this statement should not have been included. The misinformation at this event was startling, and work should be done to counter that misinformation rather than further spread it.

Finally, the Exponent barely discusses any rebuttal of the remarks made by the two anti-LGBTQ speakers, as the only statement they have involving the pro-LGBTQ speaker was that he has struggled with this issue. The Exponent then goes on to act as if a reasonable diversity of Christian views was presented when they state, "These perspectives approached the issue of homosexuality differently." To think that this event somehow presented "both sides" is laughable. The Christian Faculty Staff Network did not try to present both sides. Including one pro-LGBTQ speaker, and two anti-LGBTQ speakers (with the main speaker being clearly anti-LGBTQ, spreading much anti-LGBTQ misinformation, and the keynote being anti-LGBTQ) is not presenting both sides. The Network involved was using a common tactic to attempt to make the pro-LGBTQ argument look weak, where they give two speakers that share their views the bulk of the time and then give only one speaker a short chance to attempt to rebuttal. I understand that the Exponent can't really call them out on this, but they could at least either represented the disparity or noted more of the pro-LGBTQ discussion.

Exponent article aside, let's be honest about this event - it was focused on presenting an anti-LGBTQ message and was not intended to give both sides fair representation. In no way was the diversity of Christianity's views on LGBTQ identity presented. Mark Thomas was given neither the time nor the climate to refute the misinformation presented by the bulk of the event. I am disappointed in the organizations that put on this event. I hope that the audience saw through the guise presented.

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