Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gay Bashing and Responses in the Public Square

Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta,
with Young People from Within His "Ministry"

Some people say Bishop Eddie Long is "innocent until proven guilty."  They forget that Constitutional Due Process includes the right to be considered innocent BY THE GOVERNMENT until proven guilty in a court of law. Nothing compels private citizens to refrain from drawing our own conclusions from the evidence that is available, and nothing compels us to accept or wait for the decision of a jury or judge, in our own opinions and beliefs.

It is true that if we assert to others that private citizens are guilty of a crime or shameful behavior when they are NOT GUILTY of that crime, then we may be liable for slander and/or libel. But TRUTH is a complete defense to a legal action alleging slander or libel. And a fact-based belief that a public figure has committed horrid acts is enough to go on, because public figures criticize homosexuals in the public square and they must expect public scrutiny of themselves as well.

So, if I have enough information to say with some level of certainty that satisfies me that a very public minister figure's actions have been horrid, there is nothing that prevents me, as a private citizen, from saying so, even before the "minister" has been found guilty in a court of law.

Moreover, when the "pastor" is a public figure, his right to allege slander or libel are reduced. When he steps into the national fray to express his opinions about homosexuality, others have a right to express their opinions about HIS sexuality.

I, however, am content to let the information come out, as it sometimes does, and let the public come to its own conclusions, one person (or thousands) at a time.

Many of us are afraid to "smear" public figures, and we define "smear" as "reporting true or false information that makes someone look bad." To me, a smear is reporting FALSE information that makes someone look bad. Meanwhile, reporting TRUE information is what blogs are made for.

Take Markos C. Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga, for example. Am I smearing him by pointing out to the public that he published a letter in his college newspaper in which he vehemently opposed ALL gay service in the US military, calling it "inherently uncomfortable" and and an assault on his "sensibilities" to serve in the Armed Forces alongside gay people? That's what he said, and while having said so makes him look bad, I am not smearing him by publishing the Truth About Kos.

As quoted at Jack and Jill Politics, one group decided to confront public figures' gaybashing this way:
"Each day for one week Keith and I profiled a Black pastor highlighting his relationship with the Bush Administration, recent homophobic gay comments, and ending with the question, is this pastor gay? "
Hmmmmm. Maybe we should give all public figures, especially people like US Senator Larry Craig and Markos C. Alberto Moulitsas Zúñiga, the same treatment. If we don't know what the 'C' in Moulitsas Zúñiga's name stands for, there's probably a lot more that we don't know.  As Jack and Jill Politics said yesterday,  Where There's Smoke . . .

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