Our Mission and Principles
January 9, 2006
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals have been a hot topic of conversation lately which, unfortunately, has turned very ugly at times. People on all sides hurl claims and counterclaims, and it seems that everyone is relying on stereotypes and misinformation to support their arguments. It’s hard for ordinary folks to know what to believe.
In the heat of the debate, several things have been lost. We’ve lost the ability to look at the situation calmly, rationally and with civility. We’ve lost the ability to oppose other viewpoints without demonizing those who hold them. We’ve lost the ability to know who is telling the truth and who is practicing deception or spreading falsehoods. We’ve lost the ability to treat each other with respect and dignity.
We’ve lost a lot.
Box Turtle Bulletin exists to help address this problem. I hope to shed some light, with honesty and integrity, and without rancor. I hope to earn your trust in what we report, and your respect in how we report it.
To be successful, any endeavor like this must be undertaken with a clear sense of mission, and guided by core principles. Without this, it would be too easy to drift into the knee-jerk shoutfest that seems to characterize much of what passes for debate these days. This Statement of Mission and Principles will guide everyone who is associated with Box Turtle Bulletin.
The mission of Box Turtle Bulletin is to serve you — whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or questioning — by providing well documented and accurate information that you can rely on. We intend to not only be a valuable resource for the many issues facing gays, lesbians, their families and friends, but to refute as much misinformation as possible. We are especially interested in serving:
- Those who are questioning their sexuality and are concerned about some of the misinformation that they are hearing.
- Those who are friends or relatives of someone who is gay or lesbian, and are seeking accurate and reliable information about the issues facing them.
- Those who support equal rights for gays and lesbians and seek accurate, reliable information on which to base their arguments.
- Those who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians, but wish to avoid the pitfalls of the massive misinformation coming from all sides of the issues – from gay-rights opponents as well as gay-rights advocates.
We will pursue our mission while following these principles:
- We are compassionate. Discussions of sexuality are profoundly personal, and for some people it can be a source of shame or embarrassment. While we believe that shame and embarrassment are not the hallmarks of a healthy outlook, we recognize that self assurance and acceptance for many come only after a very long journey. We will strive to be sensitive to that in everything we do.
- We are tolerant. Those who oppose gay rights come from many different points of view, as do those who support equality for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. It doesn’t matter if you’re Republicans or Democrat; liberal or conservative; Christians, Jew, Muslim or Buddhists; or even agnostic or atheist. Gays and lesbians are members of each of these groups, as are those who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians. That’s why we must remember that group leaders are unable to speak for all members of their group, nor can every member of a group be held accountable for the actions of every other member of the group. Consequently, we will not denigrate anyone’s religious beliefs or political affiliation based on the actions of individuals in a given religious or political organization.
- We are civil. We speak, and we listen. We consider other points of view, and we formulate our arguments with respect to those points of view. We will acknowledge when opposing arguments are valid, and we will point out errors of fact where we find them. We will carefully characterize opposing positions without putting words in anyone’s mouth. We don’t shout, we don’t use straw-man arguments, and we don’t toss the term “homophobic” around carelessly, which happens all too often. We will refrain from facile moral equivalency arguments. We recognize that the best atmosphere for debate is one in which emotions do not get in the way.
- We are honest. It is easy to spin a story out of whole cloth, and it is easy to spin a scientific study to claim that it says whatever you want it to say. All too often, these tactics have been used when discussing gay and lesbian issues. We will represent the information truthfully. We will tell you where it came from, its strengths, and its weaknesses. We will document what we claim so you can check it out for yourself. And if it turns out we made a mistake and it is brought to our attention, we will correct it as quickly as possible.
- We are hopeful. We hope — we believe — these efforts will allow everyone to be better informed. We hope and believe that by replacing misinformation with facts and unspinning the spin on both sides of the arguments, we can allow everyone to understand each other better – with compassion, tolerance, civility, honesty and hope.