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Michigan TV Station Declines To Air Anti-Gay Propaganda

Jim Burroway

February 11th, 2009

The American Family Association has been flogging a paid program to television programs called “Speechless: Silencing Christians” Already one television station had agreed to air the special before backing down from a national outcry.

WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan originally scheduled the program to air right before President Barack Obama’s Monday news conference. Program director Craig Cole decided to move it to Wednesday, saying “We didn’t feel it was an appropriate place, leading into the presidential event.” After receiving hundreds of emails, the station’s general manager acknowledged that the show “slipped through our filters,” and offered the AFA a Saturday afternoon time slot. Now we learn that the offer to air the infomercial has been taken off the table:

“We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It’s been 24 hours and we had no response,” Kniowski said. “Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter.”

“Speechless” is a veritable tour-de-force of false accusations that the “homosexual agenda” seeks to destroy Christianity. It begins by citing Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen’s book “After the Ball” as the very agenda itself. The book, published in 1989, simply offers gay activists a set of more professional public relations techniques — the very same public relation techniques that anti-gay activists have been using for decades.

The offense that Kirk and Madsen committed, of course, is in denying anti-gay activists a monopoly on those techniques. And boy are they outraged. This latest television program is a perfect example of the AFA’s following Kirk and Madsen’s formula to a tee — with the added mix of false accusations, one-sided reporting of events, and the time-honored fear-mongering slander that gay activists pose a sinister threat to children.

All of this effort is directed towards convincing Americans that Christians are under assault by “homosexualists”, and that if we’re not all careful everyone will be “forced” to accept LGBT people as citizens deserving of civil rights, freedom from bullying, assault and murder, or even the simple right to visit dying partners in hospitals.

Of all the nerve!

“Speechless” is the latest attempt among anti-gay activists to portray Christians as a persecuted minority, even though they make up more than three-quarters of the population — and a rather religious population at that. According to the American Religious Identification Survey taken in 2001 (PDF: 452KB/47 pages), only 16% of Americans described themselves as secular or somewhat secular, while 75% regarded themselves as religious or somewhat religious.

And if there’s any question as to who’s being persecuted, all we need to do is revisit the latest hate crime statistics. According to the FBI, hate crimes against gays and lesbians continued to increase in 2007, contradicting the overall trend of fewer hate crimes since 2006. Crimes based on sexual orientation very nearly tied those based on religion for second place:

  Hate Crime Offenses, 2006 Hate Crime Offenses, 2007
Race 4,737 52% 4,724 52%
Religion 1,597 18% 1,477 16%
Sexual Orientation 1,415 16% 1,460 16%
Ethnicity 1,233 14% 1,256 14%
Disability 94 1% 82 <1%
TOTAL 9,080 100%* 9,006 100%*
Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.
Percentages don’t add to 100%
due to rounding errors.

Of the religion category for 2007, anti-Jewish offenses 1,010 of the total. Anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant combined make up only 124 offenses for an anti-Christian total. And of those, only 23 were attacks against persons. The rest were crimes against property.

In fact, we noted earlier that hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to be the most violent type of hate crime by far. Attacks based on sexual orientation are much more likely to be physically violent than in any other category:

  Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007 Violent Crimes, percentage of total
Race 4,724 1,471 31%
Religion 1,477 126 9%
Sexual Orientation 1,460 695 48%
Ethnicity 1,256 497 40%
Disability 82 21 26%
TOTAL 9,006 2,810 31%
Violent crimes include:
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, aggravated assault
and simple assault.

While we are still disturbed that WOOD-TV continued to offer to air the AFA’s hate-filled propaganda, we nevertheless congratulate them for listening to the outcry raised in this debacle. Let’s hope other station managers around the country don’t fall into the same mistake.

Comments

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Tara TASW
February 11th, 2009 | LINK

Some right-wingers have a very weird fixation with “After the Ball.” I have no idea why. I read it when it came out to mediocre reviews 20 years ago. It’s just a book about effective use of media, and the biggest criticism used against it at the time was “assimilationist.”

-Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

Jonathan Justice
February 11th, 2009 | LINK

While, of course, the Persecuted Christians meme is mostly about defending a position of privilege that should make any serious Christian cringe, there is an associated consideration: Too many of the ostensible Christians making the argument are coming from a position of lording it over other Christians by claiming that their orthodoxy trumps the beliefs of the ill informed masses. This Leninist stance makes them dependent upon their ability to intimidate other Christians into making it appear that we are on their side so that they can claim that their prejudices are typical of some imagined majority. When challenged, they pronounce themselves, in the most hilariously un-ironic of projectionist whines, “!Victims of Attempted Intimidation!” They put a lot of energy into this enterprise because these challenges threaten to expose just how tawdry they are and blow their whole game, reduce their psychological and financial income, and stick them with all that ‘widows, orphans, sick folks, prisoners and the poor’ stuff that Jesus is said to have actually talked about

Laura
February 11th, 2009 | LINK

I may be wrong, but I think the “Christians” mentioned here are Evangelicals (Born-agains), and they may actually constitute a minority. I have known a few and they don’t self-identify with other denominations under the umbrella of “Christians” (like Catholics). I have always found it annoying that Evangelicals call themselves simply “Christians”, as if other denominations don’t get to use that term. Anyway my point is that the pie chart doesn’t apply to them – they think most of those in the blue area of the pie chart (Catholics, Methodists, etc) are going to hell with all the other non-believers.

Emily K
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

Actually Laura the Catholics might be the most populous, but Southern Baptists (which would definitely be included in the anti-gay crowd) are the second largest. “conservative Christians” make up a significant part of the American religious population.

Tavdy
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

I just want to expand on that data a bit more (and give people some quotable figures):

126 violent crimes out of 2810 were against Christians, while 695 were against LGBTs. That’s just under 5% against Christians, and just under 25% against LGBTs. For non-violent hate crimes there 1351 against Christians, and 765 against LGBTs, out of a total of 6196. That’s just under 22% against Christians and just over 12% against LGBTs. The totals number of hate crimes are about equal.

So if the two groups were equal in size, LGBs would be five times more likely to be attacked than Christians, but roughly half as likely to be a victim of a non-violent hate-crime. However the two groups are not the same size – assuming that LGBs make up 5% of the population, there are fifteen times as many Christians as LGBs.

Factor that into the equation, and LGBTs are seventy-five five times more likely than Christians to be victims of violent hate-crime. In addition, even though almost twice as many non-violent hate crimes are against Christians, the massive disparity in the size of the two populations means that LGBTs are over eight times more likely to be victims of a non-violent hate crime. Finally, because the total number of hate crimes is roughly equal for both groups, LGBTs are fifteen times more likely than Christians to be victims of a hate-crime. Finally, 9% of hate crimes against Christians involve violence, vs. 48% of those against LGBTs, meaning that LGBT hate crime victims are over five times more likely to be victims of violent hate crime than Christian hate crime victims.

Joel
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

i dislike censorship in all its forms.

Srsly.. if the US population cant see through the load of bollocks or simply is already biased enough to believe it, then… we are doomed already.

I understand the honest intentions behind this boycotting of free speech. And that this free speech is offensive and demeaning of gays. Yet, the way to counter this is through our own use of free speech and NOT through the censorship of it. GEECH for crying out loud.

Jason D
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

Joel, this isn’t censorship. The TV station is privately owned and has the right to air whatever it wants, whenever it wants. There is no obligation for it to give a forum to every and any person who asks. The station, absolutely, reserves the right to refuse to air anything and everything that is brought before it and that doesn’t even come close to censorship.

The analogy, of course, is simple, Joel, if you turn off a program you don’t want to watch — is that censorship, too? If you refuse to let your neighbors write on your lawn “Joel is evil” — would that be censorship?

Censorship is when you are not allowed your OWN forum, or a government sponsored forum available to everyone else, or when the government destroys your work, original drafts, master tapes and throws you in jail. This doesn’t even come close.

Regan DuCasse
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

Over at TowmHall, a definitive tattler on all things gay, the opinion threads become manipulative in exactly the way Jon Justice describes. Several of the regulars include myself and Swampfox who are the rare dissenters, and he’s one of the few who identify as gay.

I mention that I am a crime scene photographer with the LAPD. And that I can utilize the LAPD databases to track crime stats that breakdown hate crimes, homicides, simple assaults and major crimes as well as victim to perp percentages when it comes to sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender.
This was just as a point of reference because one of the posters claimed he’d been in forensics for thirty years.
And also claimed that gays and lesbians were the most violent, threatening and indolent people he’d ever come across.
Well, I knew him to be a liar because of my own profession.
But before I knew it, he’d said I’d gone into PERSONAL data, used the access illegally and deserved prosecution for doing so.

But I knew, as does most of us in law enforcement, that intense law enforcement biases such as his will blow a case, even a major crime. Hello?
OJ Simpson!

And a recent article titled “Is Gay the New Black?”, has now become an exposition that paints Christians or the anti gay as the new black, and victims of militant homosexuals and homosexuaLISTS.

On this anniversary of Lawrence King’s death, and the recent assaults on a lesbian in the Bay area and the Suszuchanay brothers, the claims made regarding vandalism and assault ring so petty.

When it’s all said and done, the powerful majority, i.e. Christians or those who identify as against gay equality are more able to manipulate the media in their favor.

But an unpopular minority has a difficult time with the MSM reporting on issues that are either positive, comprehensive or honest.
Until extreme incidents require their attention, such as the murder of Lawrence King, most people aren’t too well informed or don’t care about what’s really going on.

That’s why the attack ads around Prop. 8 were so effective, and even people who don’t live in CA got involved from all over the country.
I’ve been analyzing the similarities in how the media reported on the Civil Rights movement.
I have an excellent book, published in 2006, called “The Race Beat”, by Gene Roberts and Hank Kibanoff.
I can easily see so many parallels in how gay issues are covered, or have been even up until the Matt Shepard killing and since.
And that we consider gay related situations a civil rights one, is legitimate.

That the AFA and other orgs such as FOTF and FRC criticize gay people for ‘hijacking’ the language, intentions and socio/political history of the civil rights movement is screamingly hypocritical…because that’s exactly what the AFA and all the rest is doing as we speak.

Joel
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

I srsly don’t think that the minority that presesnts themselves as against the ad really have no interest in, “The station, absolutely, reserves the right to refuse to air anything and everything that is brought before it…”, but rather exploit this to censor.

I do understand that the station per se is not a public entity and therefore has the freedom to refuse to air anything. And that on the behalf of $$ they might choose to not air something.
But srsly.. its probably not even a majority, so the $$ issue is moot. Yet, why pander to those that wish to censor, cant they just turn off their TV’s?

They need to ask permission to do so on my lawn. That’s not really the point.

Ben in Oakland
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

I have to say that the answer to speech is in fact more speech. In fact, I think I would encourage the station to air it, and sponsor a one minute commercial afterwards.

Voice over: “This is what being hated is like. The previous documentary is mostly a web of lies, distortions, and half-truths. If this sounds like the gay people you know– your friends, your family, your neighbors and co-workers, then this message is not for you. But if it sounds like the hate speech that it is, please be outraged.”

someone far cleverer than I could make it work. We don’t have to call people bigots. we do have to start talking about bigotry. we lost on prop. 8 because the campaign was unwilling to talk about bigotry and prejudice, and unwilling to show real gay people who are hurt by this. A closet campaign.

Using your time and energy to ask gay people in the grand rapids area to come out to their friends and families in order to counter this hate speech would also be effective.

I think most people are actually pretty decent and reasonable. They just need to be shown how much this stuff hurts real people that they know.

Out of the closets, into the streets, as we used to say in my youth. True now as it was then.

Jason D
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

“They need to ask permission to do so on my lawn. That’s not really the point.”

THAT is the point Joel. Neighbors need your permission to use your lawn.

Well guess what? The AFA needs the TV station’s permission to use their broadcasting signal — and they don’t have it, it’s the same thing, and that’s the point.

By tossing around the words “censor” and “censorship” you cheapen the concept and undermine the seriousness of real censorship….for example, the government in China has made a deal with google to restrict search results — THAT’s true censorship, google is not being allowed to present it’s own search results on it’s own website to Chinese users. Please read up on the word “censorship” and it’s history before making such hyperbolic statements.

Tavdy
February 12th, 2009 | LINK

Srsly.. if the US population cant see through the load of bollocks or simply is already biased enough to believe it, then… we are doomed already.

Joel, the problem isn’t that people can’t see through the bollocks (as you so eloquently and accurately put it) it’s that they don’t want to.

In many cases this is because they’ve chosen their position, nailed their flag to the mast, and now for the sake of their pride they do not dare to backtrack – so they will eagerly seize any bullshit propaganda they can which supports their position, and consciously choose to ignore any inconvenient truths (like the fact that said propaganda is invariably a crock of codswallop) in an effort to avoid the possibility that they could be wrong.

For others, it’s simple moral & ethical laziness: they want someone else to worry about what is and isn’t moral in this life. They want a nice black-and-white rule-book to live by, they don’t want to have to face tough questions with loads of inconvenient grey areas, so they choose whichever option gives that all nicely packaged.

For some (mostly politicians and preachers) it’s a matter of expediency – having a whipping-boy is a good way of getting the troops all fired up and eager, which is good for business and winning elections.

Taken with what you said, America is doomed because many Americans are proud, lazy, greedy and/or power-hungry. Fortunately for America these are all common human failings, so finding another nation where they aren’t a problem is highly unlikely. If America is doomed, it’s no more doomed than any other country.

NancyP
February 13th, 2009 | LINK

Tavdy, beware subset analysis! You can’t go from the general category “religion” to the subset “Christian” by strict proportionality to the religious breakdown in the population. Similarly, you can’t go from the general category “race” to the subset “white non-Hispanic” by strict proportionality. As we all can surmise, the population frequency of events can vary among subsets – in this case, I would assume that hate crime population frequency against Jews and Muslims (~2% of total) is much higher than the pop.freq. against Christians (~76%), given the admittedly incomplete reporting of events in the press. Likewise, the HC pop.freq against LGBT is likely to be much higher than the HC pop.freq. against straight cissexuals.

re: right of station to refuse adverts or programs. It’s been 30 years or so since the Fairness Doctrine was removed from FCC license requirements. A privately owned station can play what it pleases and refuse what it pleases. All that said, citizens need to be more vocal about problem stations when FCC license renewal comes up periodically – the stations did not have perpetual rights to public airwaves (usable frequencies serving a specific area – a resource limited by laws of physics and current engineering issues). Stations that directly incite violence* ought to be shut down immediately on the free speech exemption usually illustrated by the example “crying “FIRE!” in a crowded theater in order to start a stampede”. Customers can boycott the station’s advertisers, can engage in publicity embarrassing to the station, and so on. I don’t consider any of these acts censorship.

I doubt that the WOOD-TV station was presented with an offer from FOTF equivalent to the price of all 20 minutes of advertising on a one hour show, added to the price of the advertising immediately following the Presidential press conference. As the conference is usually covered by multiple sources, a large majority of the prime-time viewing public is going to avoid the snoozer of a religious broadcast on a non-religious station, and end up spending all evening on some other station. The station would get twice as many viewers by just putting a syndicated rerun of almost any show in the slot. There’s a reason why long paid adverts don’t make it on prime time TV (with the remarkable exception of Obama’s 30 minute ad – likely to attract large numbers of viewers). Prime time long paid adverts are prohibitively expensive.

*(per the “reasonable person” standard – a call to grab guns and shoot any gay on sight would qualify, whereas a preacher stating that gays will go to hell would not)

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