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GLAAD's latest adventure in activism

By Gregory J. Hand
web posted June 25, 2001

The activist organization Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), seemingly bored after the demise of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's television program, has instituted what it calls "AM/FM Activism," which according to an April 10th press release, helps enable "local activists to combat defamatory radio programming in their own communities." According to GLAAD Regional Media Director Kevin McClelland, "local radio continues to be a place where defamation and exclusion often thrive unchallenged."

Luckily, the computer literate can even submit an incident report to GLAAD by logging onto glaad.org. They do, however, request that before submitting such a report, to "please monitor and tape the radio program in question every day for at least two consecutive weeks (or four consecutive weeks in the case of weekly or weekend programs). This will allow you to fairly and accurately evaluate the show's defamatory content. Please also begin developing a library of audio tapes that contain offensive content and label them by date and time." Oh, the cruelty of forcing the would-be tattle tale to have to produce such an extensive catalogue of 'hate.' To the amateurish, up and coming activist this would be a baptism of fire like no other.

GLAAD has come to the rescue of those who want to develop not only the skills necessary to index such garbage, but to develop their own team of like-minded individuals with GLAAD's Media Monitor & Response Team Handbook (the "Handbook.") This all encompassing guide not only includes the monitoring of radio but also monitoring of all broadcast and print media, and also claims to give such neophyte activists "access to many of the tools and strategies they can use to develop and conduct education and activism campaigns in their own communities."

According to the Handbook a Media & Response ("M&R") team is "basically a group of GLAAD volunteers who meet regularly to report on and respond to media representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." Their duties? "Teams monitor local, regional and national media outlets. The primary emphasis is on systematically capturing representations in local and regional media and prompt, thoughtful response to those representatives." And the snitch ("report on") and lecture ("thoughtful response") brigade begins to take shape.

There are several steps that these M&R teams are encouraged to take, but of primary importance is being able to correctly identify defamation. The average American defines 'defamation' as the act of damaging the reputation, character, or good name of another by slander or libel. As part of GLAAD's continuing effort to reshape the concept of free speech on their terms, GLAAD has broadly expanded the definition of 'defamation' by creating five separate categories, each of which is a separate form of defamation.

Charen: maliciously anti-gay
Charen: maliciously anti-gay

The first of these categories is Vicious Slander. An example given by GLAAD for what defines vicious slander, which sounds like an extreme form of defamation, is "syndicated columns by such maliciously anti-gay figures as Pat Buchanan, Laura Schlessinger, Cal Thomas and Mona Charen." Ouch! While referring to the above columnists as "maliciously anti-gay" is hyperbole at best, it is vicious slander in and of itself; nonetheless this is part of the standard operating procedures of organizations such as GLAAD.

Oft-cited complaints by GLAAD are directed toward all-too-convenient-target Dr. Laura, who is apparently not only a homophobe, but also "maliciously anti-gay" for calling homosexuality (not homosexuals) a "biological error" and referring to lesbian and gay parenting as inferior to heterosexual parenting. While not defending the comments, Dr. Laura has shown that she is more than capable of defending herself when allowed to get her message out unfiltered: these columnists and others who philosophically disagree with either the lifestyle or agenda of homosexual activists are hardly "maliciously anti-gay," and to highlight the four respected columnists cited belies the weakness of GLAAD's Handbook. If these columnists are the best examples of "maliciously anti-gay figures," then how would GLAAD categorize Russell Arthur Henderson and Aaron James McKinney, the two killers of Matthew Shepard? Really, really maliciously anti-gay figures?

Reliance on Stereotypes is the second category of defamation that GLAAD has provided. As an example they reference Gay Pride celebrations, where "media outlets often focus their coverage on drag queens and members of the leather community." The only thing that can be gleaned from this statement is that the transgendered(ing), Dykes on Bikes, and go-go boys are feeling a bit jealous that they are not the center of media attention.

It seems somewhat ironic that GLAAD would complain that the media is only focusing on some of the community's more supportive members (i.e. drag queens and leathermen.) If diversity and tolerance are the supposed goals, what is wrong with showing the drag queens and leather community? If the parades are going to have Dykes on Bikes, men wearing women's clothing, men is skimpy shorts, bare breasted lesbians and members of the fetish and S&M communities, to name just a few, in a parade that is supposed to be about 'Pride,' why would GLAAD be upset to have these sub-groups displayed as faces of the community? This seems not only somewhat intolerant, but GLAAD doesn't sound too proud, either.

Casual Prejudice, GLAAD's third variety of defamation, is defined by the following example from the Handbook: "In Philadelphia, a newspaper article about flower vendors tried to prove the toughness of the lot by joking, 'Make no mistake these vendors aren't pansies.'" Fighting this type of prejudice is important, according to GLAAD, because while it "might not be malicious in intent, it is still damaging given the tacit approval which is given to prejudice against our community." Really? It seems a stretch to claim that using the word 'pansies' will "reinforce societal prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," especially when referring to vendors of those very same flowers in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

While a popular societal prejudice that liberals viciously label conservatives with is that conservatives are mind-numbed robots waiting for their daily commands from the GOP or Rush Limbaugh, the use of the word 'pansies,' surprisingly enough, is not a code word of the "extreme right" that either consciously or subconsciously reinforces this supposed all encompassing societal prejudice against the 'community.' At best the newspaper's "pansies" reference was a very lame joke, but it was hardly the reinforcer of bigotry that GLAAD seems to think it is.

Deference to Homophobia, the fourth defamation category, is a means of the homosexual activist community silencing their critics by branding them as hateful for merely having philosophical disagreements. Among several examples cited were "a San Francisco television news feature about two men going through the processes of planning a wedding together had a local homophobic minister talking about how such marriages 'destroy the traditional family,'" and "A 1996 ABC 20/20 interview with Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher about having a baby together included commentary by the virulently anti-gay Lou Sheldon of the religious political extremist group, Traditional Values Coalition."

A religious or philosophical belief against homosexual marriage does not necessarily equal homophobic tendencies. Nor does the principle that a homosexual couple having children may not be in the best interest of children make someone "virulently anti-gay," or the organization that condemns such a practice a "political extremist group." These are terms that GLAAD runs into the ground, labeling anyone and everyone who disagrees with them and their agenda as homophobic, even disagreeable homosexuals. Conservative homosexuals such as myself are frequently attacked, often derided, as either self-loathing homosexuals or homophobic homosexuals (I can't even try to explain it.) Maybe our ilk are suffering from some sort of warped version of a Freudian 'daddy' complex, whereby homosexuals criticize their own to gain the approval of those who disagree with the lifestyle. It is as if being a homosexual and liberal is the norm, and those of us who choose a more conservative lifestyle are, to borrow a phrase, 'biological errors.'

To further drive home this rather weak point, GLAAD uses a rather bizarre parallel: "While no reputable media outlet would consider garnering comment from the Aryan Nation if they were interviewing a mixed race or mixed religion couple, many stories concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people including feature or 'style' stories still contain representations of bigoted anti-gay spokespeople." Given GLAAD's extensive history of name calling at the drop of a hat, the threshold for what would make someone both "bigoted" and "anti-gay" is so low as to be laughable. To equate anyone who disagrees with any aspect of the homosexual lifestyle as akin to white supremacists (read Nazis) is ludicrous. Unfortunately, GLAAD is perfectly serious when leveling the charge. By the way, don't raise the point that the Handbook now puts "lesbian" in front of "gay" (it has been heretofore been "gay and lesbian") as you may find out you are a sexist as well.

GLAAD saves the best category for last. Defamation by Omission, which has to be the most paranoid of all, is identified by such examples as "failing to cover proposed additions of sexual orientation and gender identity when discussing hate crimes legislation," and "A story on June Weddings with no same-sex couples." So those media outlets who just throw up their hands, not wanting to deal with the cumbersome and often peculiar 'regulations' for how one refers to homosexuals and those who refuse to address the subject at all for fear of criticism and having to schedule lectures by the GLAAD media nannies are also now anti-gay bigots for failing to include homosexuals at every turn. The media is left in a no-win situation, unless of course they either get prior approval to do something from GLAAD's Executive Director Joan M. Garry, or they have one of her minions produce the segment or story.

The Handbook, scarily enough, continues. After one has absorbed the many new definitions of defamation, GLAAD offers a step-by-step guide on how to build a team of other like-minded individuals. The purpose, of course, is to continue to push GLAAD's vision of political correctness and one-sided "free" speech with an army of volunteer recruits spread out over the nation.

The first step in this portion of the Handbook is Getting the Goods, where "each M&R team member should be alert for possible positive or negative representation in all forms of media." This includes such suggestions as "each M&R team chair should receive a subscription to TV Guide and review upcoming listings prior to the meeting," and "with television, have all the team members keep a couple of video tapes handy for popping into their VCR if they happen to see something." I will not begin to get into the divvying up responsibilities for M&R team members to monitor magazines, newspapers and television shows, or clipping "defaming" articles.

The remaining four sections of the Handbook, Proposing and Initiating a Course of Action, Collaborating on National Monitoring Initiatives, Getting and Keeping Volunteers, and Holding Meetings, are a continuation of setting-up the M&R teams. These sections continue the litany previously highlighted, and get into the minutia of organizing these activities and groups and has little to do with the subject at hand.

Of course the people who would volunteer to be part of an M&R team would have to have the necessary proverbial chips on their shoulders and the requisite hyper-sensitivity in order to find bigotry in, for example, "a feature outlining the diversity within a suburban community that includes no lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals." Adherents to any perverted notion of a 'vast right wing conspiracy,' would easily find homophobia in any situation where it does not exist as readily as Al Sharpton and Jesse "love child" Jackson can find racism in any situation involving a person of color.

GLAAD's actions represent a level of narcissism not seen since early January when the Clintons, the embodiment of the ME-ME-ME mentality, thankfully departed the White House. In pre-Clintonian times it would have been outrageous for a group, such as GLAAD, to dictate how coverage of homosexuals is presented by the media, much less accuse that a failure to present a homosexual viewpoint, as in their fifth perversion of defamation (defamation by omission) is akin to a form of bigotry.

But we are in post-Clintonian times. The very idea that GLAAD can dictate how the media presents issues affecting the 'community' is frightening. What is more alarming is that media outlets cannot even get away with ignoring GLAAD. GLAAD spies are everywhere in their little collectives, taping radio and television, pouring over newspapers and magazines, and scouring the web, looking, just hoping, to be offended so they can leap to action.

While GLAAD would probably disagree with the assessment that their campaign is one bent on controlling press coverage, their campaign is further designed to intimidate those who would criticize them by hurling childlike insults. GLAAD seems to have forgotten about protected free speech embodied in our cherished First Amendment. It is simply amazing how liberal organizations use the First Amendment when it works for them but wish to forget its existence when anyone disagrees with their agenda.

What is just as appalling as GLAAD's efforts at total media control are their usually successful attempts to slander and assassinate the character of their detractors. As cited above, their Handbook is riddled with petty name-calling and bad clichés with no gradient. Infractions against the "community," great and small, are all met with the same litany of insulting names: bigot, homophobe, vicious hatemonger, anti-gay, etc. It does not appear that GLAAD is willing to have a discussion of opposing viewpoints. The only apparent goal is to discredit those with whom GLAAD disagrees, and to cloud discussion to the point where they win simply by humiliating their detractors with lies and distortions. GLAAD sees this as a win, (albeit a sleazy way to do so.)

What is GLAAD so afraid of? What is wrong with, say, a discussion on gay adoption, without all the undisguised hatred towards those who disagree with the position of the homosexual activists? Why can't both sides present their ideas without the labeling, which comes primarily from a left so terrified of losing that the best they can do is insult their opposition and tear the opposition down with the vicious slander and restrictions on free speech that they always like to lecture everyone else about?

This condescension of a supposedly enlightened few is a disingenuous con job. Inclusion and tolerance and diversity are what are being lectured about by GLAAD; opposing viewpoints are never tolerated, nor are the people that espouse them. "Hate is not a family value" is a popular bumper sticker in the homosexual community. It is a lesson GLAAD has yet to learn.

Gregory J. Hand is currently a weekly columnist with NewsCorridor.com, and a contributing columnist with OpinioNet.com. He can be reached at ghand@newscorridor.com.

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