Today's Portland Press Herald features news from a debate at USM on "Question 1"'s gay-marriage law. Yes, good-old "balanced" journalistic "objectivity" at its best.
My question is how is there any debate at all concerning this topic? Yes, I understand there exist brain-dead, Christian homophobes who seem to relish in denying others the same rights and basic liberties they enjoy. Yet, how are their opinions at all credible? Those in support of gay-marriage cite the Constitution and equal rights to back up their arguments, while those opposed have only the outdated, rigid guidelines of the Bible. (Which, despite what some will argue, are not the supreme law of the United States.)
This is where the approach of journalistic "objectivity" proves to be hollow and ineffective at presenting "both sides of the issue." In the case of gay-rights, there is no "other side." There are only those who believe in democracy and the idea that freedom should extend to all individuals, and those who do not.
I cannot help but wonder: Would USM host a "debate" on "both sides" of interracial marriage? Or, for a national return to segregated schools and re-instating Jim Crow laws? How about denying women equal opportunities at the workplace? This is the great ruse of so-called objectivity: The misguided notion that every issue has two sides to it.
As journalist Chris Hedges notes in a piece for Truthdig.com early this year, ("With Gaza, Journalists Fail Again," Jan. 26, 2009), "Balance and objectivity are the antidote to facing unpleasant truths, a way of avoidance, a way to placate the powerful. We record the fury of a Palestinian who has lost his child in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza but make sure to mention Israel’s 'security needs,' include statements by Israeli officials who insist there was firing from the home or the mosque or the school and of course note Israel’s right to defend itself."
"We ask how and who," Hedges continues, "but never do we ask why."
Objectivity is a farce--one the mainstream press has hid behind for far too long. If there are two sides in the gay-marriage debate, they are only between those who believe in freedom for all, and those who do not.