24 July 2011

A Little Outrage On Your Sundae?

Dear Reader,

This is been a tough week for those who are believe in democracy. Our ‘best and brightest’ stomp about like cheated children, more worried about what they will lose than what we will lose. But the week started out badly when in my local newspaper, the only major daily we have, the following letter appeared. I shorten it only to save time and space. Reacting to the effort of some local politicians to pass an equal access ordinance for LGBT people in a nearby city, J. B. Wright said, in the July 17th edition,

“This immoral and dysfunctional behavior should not be validated by any city official or clergyman, since it only helps preserve this sordid and unnatural sexual conduct by recognizing it as normal. The four council members and clergyman (not yours truly btw, but a colleague I know) wish to preserve and celebrate the essence of this most decadent and perverted lifestyle… by patronizing these misguided deviants. This behavior must be interpreted as abnormal and socially revolting. I am not suggesting that we expel them to a remote island, but neither do we need to excuse and accept this perverted, vulgar lifestyle.”

I would like to direct you to the online version to verify this but when I asked the webmaster for the newspaper where to find it she replied, I was told they do not post letters to the editor.

You need to see this to understand my response, which I sent to the newspaper on Monday, July 18th. Here it is:

“To the Editors,

I am sorely disappointed in you, the editors the GR Press, for ignoring your responsibility to maintain a civil public discourse in the Public Pulse. While wide and passionate differences are both inevitable and tolerable, the letter from J. B. Wright in the July 17the Pulse went beyond stating a point to character assassination and outright bigotry.

I am sure, and fervently hope I am right, that a letter speaking in similar ways of African-Americans or Catholics or Muslims or Jews would not be published (“Immoral, dysfunctional, sordid, unnatural, deviant, decadent” and “perverse” all appeared in Wright’s letter.) That you permit such letters when they speak of LGBT citizens distresses me. Indeed, I sincerely doubt that the other organs of the local press such as radio or television would allow such vitriolic language to be shared in their forums, knowing it would be roundly condemned. Is it only the absence of outrage that allows this?

If so, I call upon my colleague clergy to join me and demand that the GR Press refuse to publish letters that insult, inflame and belittle any fellow citizens. Differences of political opinion that cannot be expressed without character assassination are unacceptable in a free society. If the GR Press will not say so, then I do and ask others to speak up too. The local press in all forms needs to model respect for all our citizens, and that includes demanding that those who speak out through their publications are themselves respectful of others. A free nation and a free press must do this or we lose the mutual respect citizens must for a free society to live.

To J. B. Wright who I surmise founds his antipathy on religious bases, if the entirety of the Bible is authoritative, then Matthew 7 and 18 are as incumbent as Leviticus 18 and Romans 1. When you have mastered the former, then you may be qualified to speak on the latter.

Yours Truly,

W. Frederick Wooden, Senior Minister
Fountain Street Church
Chair, GR Urban League
member, West Michigan ACLU Advisory Board”

The Press declined to publish my letter. Hence this post. I suspect it will take more than one inconsequential pastor to get their attention.

Maybe you would like to try. The email address for the managing editor is: pkeep@grpress.com


RalfW said...

The fine folks at MUUSJN - the Michigan UU Social Justice Alliance might like to make common cause with you on this!

Angie said...

Fred, thank you so much for being vocal about this situation. I have been out of town (ironically spending a vacation with my sister, her partner and their son so this is obviously of utmost importance to me) and missed this in the paper. I will be responding to them today. I hope others have done so as well.

Garnett said...

Makes me even more proud to live in New York City.