Equality Ride 2006

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Continuing Debate on the Utah Daily Herald Editorial Page About Showing Nate and Chad with Their Arms Around Each Other

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Herald ‘glorified’ homosexual lifestyle covering Soulforce

April 13, 2006 11:00 pm  •  Daily Herald

When you put a four-column, full color picture of the two “gay” men with their arms around each other on the front page, then you are a little “twisted” in your philosophy.

We all care deeply about these people, but, when you feature them on your front page, in full color, then you are glorifying a lifestyle that is sad and morally unacceptable.

What is dignified about a life-choice that kills people long before they should be dyingfi If you believe in God and his instructions for having a happy, fulfilling life, then you would need to rethink your willingness to promote “alternative” lifestyles on the front page and in color.

It is a sad choice for them, and completely opposite to our reason for living — to be committed to a marriage between a man and a woman who are totally devoted to each other. That is the plan.

There is either a God or there isn’t. If there is, then we should be smart enough to follow His “manual.” These lifestyles are not OK, they are sad and contrary to life’s purposes.

They have the divine right to choose, but why glorify and encourage itfi

Millie F. Cheesman, Orem

 

Should papers hide ‘bad’ news?

April 13, 2006 11:00 pm  •  Daily Herald

Should a newspaper be a mirror or a filter?

Some people would prefer it to be a filter, showing only the things that reflect their view of the world and excluding those things that they find offensive. They would rather see a sanitized version of current events than be exposed to anything that contradicts their particular world view or moral orientation.

We heard from a few of those folks this week as a result of our coverage of the Soulforce Equality Riders’ visit to Brigham Young University. Soulforce is a gay advocacy group that is going around the country visiting private universities and military academies to speak out against discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgendered people.

What upset some readers a picture on the front page of two men sitting at a Unitarian-Universalist church meeting with their arms around each other. The picture itself was not lurid or sexual, but the fact that the men in the picture were gay was too much for a few callers. One reader said she had to hide the paper so her children wouldn’t see it.

Some said covering the event at all was an affront to BYU and its sponsoring church, and that a newspaper based in the heart of Mormon Country should not show such things. They would rather have a paper that only published only “uplifting” news about BYU and the community.

But what is the newspaper’s role? Is it to present news through rose-colored glass, or to hide some of the more difficult questions facing society? Should it deny people the right to decide for themselves how to react to a public event?

A few things will never get into the Daily Herald or other U.S. newspapers — pornographic photographs, for example. Many newspapers even have policies regarding advertisements for liquor and other things that are deemed offensive in a community. But a picture of a man with his arm around another in church is not pornographic.

Traditionally, news articles report what is going on, leaving opinion to the editorial page. By showing what takes place in a community, the news media enable people to exercise their responsibilities — or at least to form responsible opinions. Uninformed people make poor citizens in a democratic system.

Censorship is a dangerous course. If a newspaper censors information to conform to what it believes are one group’s sensitivities, it ignores the fact that there may be diverse opinions within that group. Mormons are not monolithic in their views, so if the newspaper set out to be sensitive to Mormons, which strain would it show sensitivity to? And what of other religions in the community, such as the Unitarians, whose church service was depicted in Monday’s photograph.

Once on the slippery slope, how could a newspaper resist censoring other minority views as it attempts to kowtow to it’s interpretation of the majority? Could Utah County Democrats, for example, ever be represented again? And what of other races in mostly white Utah Valley?

When you stop to think about it, the down side of censorship is a long way down indeed.

A fundamental purpose of journalism is to give an accurate account of current events so that people can take action as citizens. That means reporting things that may be uncomfortable or which shatter their preconceptions.

When a gay-rights group decides to stage a demonstration at BYU, and its members indicate they hope to be handcuffed, readers should know about it. And, in fact, many thousands of people wanted to know the outcome in this case, judging from data on our Web site.

Holding back news that people would deem “unworthy” does not help the community. It hurts. Problems do not go away when they are ignored. Shining a light on them and discussing them publicly brings about solutions. As the old saying goes, light is the best disinfectant.

Sinclair Lewis, the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature, was routinely assailed for his criticism of American society in such works as “Elmer Gantry” and “Babbitt.” But Lewis said his criticism was an act of patriotism: he loved America enough to point out its flaws and try in some way to clean up the mess.

A well-known LDS scripture warns that one of the devil’s snares is convincing people that all is well, thereby lulling them into a false sense of security. By this reasoning, a newspaper that endeavors to show the truth is the devil’s worst nightmare.

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What do you think?

Should news be censored to appeal to the majority? Send your comments to dhpolls@heraldextra.com or call 344-2942. Please leave your name, hometown and phone number with your comments. E-mail comments should not exceed 100 words; voice-mail comments should be no longer than 30 seconds. Anonymous and unverifiable responses will not be published.

The Daily Herald will publish comments on April 23.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A6.

Reporting news good, promoting deviants bad

April 22, 2006 11:00 pm  •  Daily Herald

Editor’s note: The Daily Herald recently asked readers if the news should be censored to reflect the views of the majority. Here are the comments we received:

I certainly don’t have a problem with the Daily Herald reporting a wide range of news, but I do have a problem with the way the Daily Herald does so. It is hard to imagine, with so many momentous events occurring throughout the world, that the SoulForce Equality Riders deserved front-page coverage. The photograph of the gay men embracing was hardly newsworthy, but it was obviously intended to arouse passions in a community with strong moral values. The Daily Herald and the community would be better served by better reporting rather than by flagrant pandering to deviancy.

Name Withheld, Orem

People have nothing to fear from SoulForce coverage

The news media have a responsibility to report the truth. News organizations should never cave to special interests. To those parents who were “offended” by the Herald’s coverage of the Soulforce Equality Riders’ visit: What are you afraid offi If your values are strong, you don’t need to “protect” your children from “other influences.” Keeping your heads in the sand leaves your vulnerable parts exposed and prevents you from seeing clearly or using your brains. Remember that intolerance caused some of your pioneer ancestors to suffer persecution and even death.

Lynne Harter, Lehi

Paper’s reputation strong for giving balanced view of news

I really enjoy reading the Daily Herald. I tell people it is the most balanced newspaper on the Wasatch Front. It is wonderful to have a newspaper report the news in an unbiased way. Please don’t change.

Wanda Vowles, Spanish Fork

Newspaper must point out good, bad and ugly in life

The news should not be censored in any way, shape for form. You should put it out the way it is, and that’s what the media is supposed to be about. Don’t censor anything.

Dean Lott, Lehi

Even censorship for ‘good’ reason bad for people

News should not be censored. You should publish everything that is news. We need to know what is going on. It is good for young people to see news, and see it presented in the newspaper.

Justin Lowder, Provo

Promoting SoulForce acts not proper journalism in Provo

The Herald evidently does not know the difference between reporting, promoting and maligning. Promoting SoulForce and maligning community and university values is not reporting. Criticizing the Herald for so doing is not censorship but indignation.

Warren Hardy, Provo

Daily Herald not putting enough good news out

Unless we become a recluse and go live in a cave we can’t avoid the bad news. It’s pervasive, it’s everywhere. So we will see or hear it whether or not the Daily Herald publishes it. But the Herald could do a better job of emphasizing the good stuff.

Fay S. Parker, Orem