Is the Washington Post Pro-Gay? And to What Degree is That Even A Thing?


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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162 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    Most people on these pages would agree that Mr. Rodgers was not “pro-gay”.
    They would further deplore the death threats that were sent to this aging pastor.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    But hasn’t the Team Hetero in this exchange showed that they can’t handle seeing Team The Gay described in a non-bad manner. They don’t even like puff pieces. The Team The Gay side is not taking the zero sum approach of saying “don’t even talk about the other side in a decent manner” while the Team Hetero is explicitly saying the WaPo must be negative or be against them. There is a bit of false equivalence here especially when it seems some of the schpilkas is over lifestyle level pieces about those darn non-hetero’s.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

      Pedant alert:

      “Shpilkes” is nervous energy or excitement, similar to the expression “ants in the pants”. Perhaps you mean “kvetching”.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      False equivalence? Where, of where, oh where do I claim equivalence? In what post *ever* have I suggested that gay rights and stigmatizing gays were equivalent?

      I need to invent a word that means false false equivalence.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Sorry, it is theoretically possible i was unclear. I think the two positions are being discussed, in the WaPo piece, in a false equivalent manner. Of course EQM is one of the grounding biases of the WaPo. Team Hetero is saying: any positive mention, even in shallow lifestyle bits, is disrespectful and against us. Team WaPo is saying a couple things. One is “hey we are just doing simple articles that every paper runs” and also that gay rights is the civil rights struggle of our times so we will discuss it. The FE is in one side saying don’t mention those people in a non-negative manner and the other side is saying we’ll discuss all of it. The WaPo does have traditional conservatives in their Ed section so they ARE getting their point expressed in the paper. Team Hetero wants it all their way, while Team Gay isn’t looking for that, so expressing it as two equivalent sides is a bit false. And at this point i’ve spent far to much time explaining my initial lack of clarity that i should just go look at TPM for some news.Report

  3. we have a pretty pro-Gay (and often times, actually gay) set of contributors and readers

    Gross. I want my contribution back.

    Also, did you see Conor’s piece?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      From Conor’s post:

      Suppose for a moment that gay rights are a civil-rights issue of our time — and that the news media does a terrible job reporting on the people whose opposition to gay marriage isn’t rooted in bigotry.

      He then goes on to discuss how he'd argue for the view that gay rights is a civil rights issue. But I don't think that requires an argument. It's just an obvious fact. And conservatives would entirely agree with that description since gay rights advocates are arguing that the legal protections accorded by the institution of marriage are civil rights that ought to be extended to gays. The conservative response is a normative one: that certain currently existing civil rights ought not be extended to gays. That normative view is not newsworthy in and of itself since it's the reason gay rights issues attain the level of newsorthiness.

      I’d say that there is no way to separate bigotry from conservatives arguments on this issue no matter how delicately that person tap-dances across topics like procreative sex or state rights or tradition….Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I don’t think that requires an argument. It’s just an obvious fact.

        As much as it seems so to you and me, it’s clearly not. Read what conservatives are actually saying, particular their talk about “special rights” and “gays already have equal rights, they can marry opposite sex people just like we can,” and “gay marriage isn’t actually marriage, so they’re not being denied anything.” Sure, to you and me it reads as complete bullshit, but it’s really obviously true to these people.

        Fortunately our arguments that it is a civil rights issue seem to be more persuasive, so we’re winning the battle for the hearts and minds of middle America.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          This is where you get the crazyification factor. These people are using a reality that is so different than my own that I simply don’t know how to talk to them.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        It seems to me you’re agreeing with me, that both sides agree it’s a civil rights issue.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I didn’t. (And when I first read this my initial thought was, “Connor is posting somewhere else?!” before I realized you meant Friedersdorf.)Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I join Russell in being shocked. This is a sign of the continuing moral decay of the League today.Report

  4. Avatar trumwill mobile says:

    The coverage of the Post is what it is and frankly I struggle to think of much reason it should be differenr. The complainants are correct that they ate not “neutral dealers” but it’s a question here of whether such a think can exist. I do consider coverage of the issue often to be an examples of media bias, but it’s one I am quite happy about.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    It’s no surprise that I read the ombudsman piece completely differently. The reporter looked like a fool to me.

    Why does he say that “it” (by which he apparently means gays) is THE civil rights issue of our time? That’s subjective. I bet that Arab-Americans would have a different answer about the primary civil rights issue of the day. Ditto immigration reform activists. Ditto anti-PATRIOT Act people. Ditto those who oppose mandatory contraception coverage.

    How is it that journalist’s right to declare what THE civil rights issue is, much less whose side he should be on? As the reader correctly notes, the journalist’s goal should be information. This journalist was peddling opinion – if not in the original article which isn’t referenced in the piece, then in the exchange with the reader.

    As for Tod’s point about the zero-sum game, I’d have to read the original article(s) to know exactly what the reader was objecting to.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      I have a hard time taking the anti-contraception coverage people seriously. I don’t think bosses should be able to deny people their earned benefits due to religious beliefs.

      Just like they shouldn’t be able to withhold some pay for employees who want to purchase bacon.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I wonder if the New York Times gets similar letters for Gay Weddings in the Sunday Styles section.

    I think you are right that there is no middle ground here. You are either for gay marriage or against it. The same was probably true during the Civil Rights Movement. Did people complain about the Times not presenting the pro-segregation argument? Probably. There is even a famous court case sort of about it (NY Times v. Sullivan).

    So much of modern social conservatism seems to be resentment and fear of being mocked by the “cool” kids. This seems to be in the background of many significant conservatives. Nixon felt like an outsider and mocked by the cool kids. The published of the National Review (not Buckley, the other guy I can’t remember his name) also had feelings of being mocked by his classmates at Princeton for being uncool and unsophisticated and a study-hard striver. Talk Radio and Fox News and many other’s before them made a career milking these fears and resentments. The story is always the same and so is the language. The “DuPont Circle crowd” What does that even mean?Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

      The “DuPont Circle crowd” What does that even mean?

      Delawarean Jews who dance the hora covered in toxic waste. It’s really, really gay.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      It’s a neighborhood in DC. I remember as a kid people called it the “fruit loop.” I also remember a friend visiting from San Francisco who was disgusted with how conservative that area is: “Seriously, that’s the gay neighborhood here? Oh, please!”Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I know it is the gay area around there.

        My question was more meant at the concept of resentment in general. Tod was right on another thread when he summarized San Francisco’s position on small towns: “Really, we are not thinking about you at all.”Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    In reading Conor’s piece, I see that Rod Dreher made an interesting point here.

    “They really do hate people like me, and consider us not worthy of the basic fairness they would use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists.”

    Now, of course, my first response was to roll my eyes.

    But then I thought about it.

    Dig for a moment a young Palestinian man who might be interviewed before firing a rocket from Gaza into Israel. “I hope this rocket kills many Israelis”, the translator tells the reporter. “What about women or children?”, the reporter asks the translator. Back and forth between the two. “I hope this rocket kills many Israelis”, the translator repeats.

    Now. Imagine, for a moment, a news reporter. Would it be possible to portray this Palestinian as a bad person who doesn’t have a serious grievance against Israel? Would it be possible to look at every side of the underlying issue and explain how, to be sure, killing women and children with rockets may seem to be a fairly straightforward “bad thing” to decadent white people living in comfort in the US, there is a lot more going on and a lot more context that really needs to be understood before we judge an oppressed minority teenager for wanting to kill many Israelis?

    Now, of course, my example is deliberately provocative. I know of no such interview with a Palestinian teenager.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

      “They really do hate people like me, and consider us not worthy of the basic fairness they would use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists.”

      Now, of course, my first response was to roll my eyes.

      Unless he’s kind of full of it, your first response would be to hate him.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I’m not a member of “The Media”. Well, I’m a blogger. That doesn’t count.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

          I’m reasonably confident that the dread WaPO reporters are also eye-rollers rather than haters. I’ll ask them at the next Liberal Conspiracy to Destroy Traditional Values meeting.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of “LEAVE OTHER PEOPLE THE HELL ALONE” and think that the folks who want to marry each other are on the side of the angels and those who oppose gay marriage are, at best, pharisees and sadducees and, at worst, hate-filled jerkfaces who are not only wrong but evil.

            I just can’t help but notice that there are people who get the “well, you have to understand” treatment and people who do not. I suppose I ought to be complaining about the huge groups of people who get it but don’t deserve it rather than note that there are people much more malicious than Dreher who get it and wonder “so why *NOT* him?”Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

              Do you see that what I’m questioning is Dreher’s use of the word “hate”? I could go with “dismiss” or “disrespect”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So let’s swap those words out. For me, the interesting part of his quotation is the “consider us not worthy of the basic fairness they would use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists”.

                That strikes me as being true (even as I consider him to be, at best, a pharisee/sadducee).Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “That strikes me as being true”

                It does? I’m not sure I agree – or at least not for the reasons you (or at least Dreher) seem to be suggesting.

                I remember a lot of ink being spilled after 9/11 in regards to, why would they do something like this? But I think that has more to do with those actions being so alien and horrific to most that it was a question that truly bewildered many. I don’t think you have to grasp at straws to come up for a reason why people – who live in a country where just a decade ago you could criminalize homosexuality – might not support gay marriage.

                I’ll also grant that there are some that write about what we might do differently as a country or a society to eliminate crime, or terrorism in a way that we do not, say, look at a way to appease people that want to treat others as second class citizens. But I think it’s a bit of a stretch (and highly specious) to to take that and go all the way to “liberals love terrorists more than they do conservatives.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But he didn’t say “liberals love terrorists more than they do conservatives”. If he did, I wouldn’t have said “this strikes me as true.”

                The part of the sentence that I saw was interesting was the “consider us not worthy of the basic fairness they would use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists”.

                And I don’t see how pointing out (cut paste your last two paragraphs here) demonstrates that his take on things is erroneous.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                OK, then I will rephrase.

                I see there being various reasons for reporting on the possible roots of crime and terrorism; I do not believe that any of these is to be “fair” to criminals and terrorists.

                To take the example the WaPo writes about that I, Conor, and Dreher all pivot off of, I do not believe that having wedding announcements for gay couples without having an opposing point of view attached to them is in any way, positive or negative, related to “fairness.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t see where Pexton mentions wedding announcements and I don’t see where Dreher mentions them either (Pexton does mention the “Date Lab” feature and Dreher quotes Pexton).

                I mean, if someone was arguing that wedding announcements require disclaimers, then, I agree, that’d be absurd.

                But if no one is saying that, attributing that argument to one side of the debate is one of those things that strikes me as, yes, unfair (even as I know it’s a tactic being used against people that I know are bad).Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Why does disagreeing with them, and opting not to include their opinions on stories that otherwise have nothing to do with them, constitute “hate”?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Let’s get rid of the word “hate”. Swap it out for “dismiss” or “disrespect”.

                I don’t find that to be the interesting part of his quotation, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m sorry, then I am obviously misinturpreting what “fluffy pieces” about gay marriages are meant to describe.

                Fun caterers? This seasons hot matching tuxes? I confess if it isn’t society-page stuff about actual weddings, I don’t know what it would be.

                But if you replace “wedding announcements” with whatever you (not me, you) might consider puff pieces about gay weddings, does everything I wrote really just crumble to bits?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                To be honest, a “wedding announcement” is something that I, myself, could buy in a paper tomorrow. There is a phone number on this page right here that you can call and get rates. I’m sure that if I were willing to shell out the cash, I could get a wedding announcement for myself (and I’m already married). So, as far as wedding announcements are concerned? The reason one is in the paper is because someone who does not work for the paper spent some cash to put the wedding announcement in the paper.

                This strikes me as different from a “puff piece”. Those are included in the paper as part of an editorial/journalistic decision.

                So… yeah. There is a difference here. Not just a distinction.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Okay… let’s focus on the other part.

                Dreher’s point seems to be that A) criminals and terrorists are treated fairly and B) folks like himself are not.

                What evidence does he offer us to support this claim?

                Last I checked, not a single terrorist has written an Op-Ed for WaPo. I betcha dollars to donuts I can find one written by someone who opposes gay marriage.

                To me, it seems that he is arguing that the absence of privileged treatment amounts to oppression when it comes to himself and the absence of outright oppression amounts to special treatment.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                This all seems a little Tom-like. I notice you said much without actually engaging my question at all. So I’ll try again, and be as direct as I can:

                Imagine a puff piece about weddings. Don’t worry about what I might call a puff piece! Whatever you want that puff piece to be, I’m cool with. Now…

                Is it really a question of fairness that that puff piece (again! it’s your puff piece, not mine!) didn’t have a paragraph giving an opposing view?

                When I read an fun bio about a HS football star (he loves the Avett Brothers!) in the Oregonian, I think it neither fair nor unfair that they don’t put concussion stats and an argument to ban football in the middle of it. When I read an interview with whatver Top 40 is performing at the Rose Garden, I don’t think it unfair that people that thought their music sucks weren’t also interviewed.

                So again, why does fairness dictate that puff wedding pieces (your definition of puff, not mine!) need an alternate point of view? Not having an opposing view seems in puff pieces neither fair nor unfair to me. It seems the nature of puff pieces.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I dunno, Tod. The video we made at my wedding, which is about as puffy as it gets, included several shots of my grandma scowling over my decision to marry a half-Jewish girl.

                (Actually, we never made a video… and my grandma is passed… but had we made one… and had she been there… a-scowlin’ she would have been. And I couldn’t pass up the chance to make this joke… Or use “a-scowlin'”!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I believe that his argument was something to the effect of that the news media does not consider social conservatives opposed to gay marriage with the same basic fairness that they’d use in approaching their reporting on criminals and terrorists.

                I think that an example of this would be an article that explains why a criminal was inspired to rob a bank or the specific grievances of a person who is a prominent member of any given insurgency in any given war-torn country. Something that lets the humanity of these people shine through and allows us to get a fuller picture and say “this bank robber isn’t *JUST* a criminal” or “this insurgent isn’t *JUST* a terrorist”.

                Think I could find an example of this if I went looking?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                This all seems a little Tom-like.

                Well, then.

                Allow me to say that you’re obviously right and I’ll just bow out and allow you to enjoy the consensus you’ve established.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “Think I could find an example of this if I went looking?”

                I do.

                Do you think I could fins a story in the Times or the Post or any national mag that talked about the faith of someone opposed to SSM? Think I could find one that quotes directly their arguments that SSM threatens their own marriage, and accept it at face value without bothering to challenge how?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Is there anyway that I *could* phrase my question and have you bother to acknowledge it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Jaybird, two things:

                The first is that a story on the conditions that give rise to terrorism are interesting because the causal conditions people live in can give rise to extra-political solutions to problems that should be, or at least could be, politically solved. So the analogy doesn’t hold in the case of the gay marriage debate: people already understand the disagreements and the arguments grounding those disagreements.

                Second: the pages of WaPo and other major medial outlets are filled with editorials and other writing (sometimes just straight ahead reporting) that express conservatives views on the topic. So again, it seems to me the analogy doesn’t hold.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                FWIW there is a link to the Date Lab in the Wapo article. I checked it out. Its in the Lifestyle section. It’s a running feature where people apply to matched up for a blind date then agree to talk about it afterwards. They put pix of the people and important info like their favorite singer and such.

                Doesn’t get much puffier than that. It’s Love Connection in a newspaper. They do appear to have actually gay folks on dates. If Team Hetero has a problem with this then they aren’t wanting “fair” treatment of their arguments and to not be “hated.” They, instead, don’t want to see gays doing things people do. That is more of a “just stay in the closet and we’ll get along ” fine type of argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I would say that puff pieces are just that: puff pieces.

                The fact that there is an editorial/journalistic decision in the first place to run such a story is the interesting decision rather than whether there are pictures of the Westboro Baptist Church was shown standing across the street in a picture with a caption of “opponents of gay marriage also made an appearance”.

                As you say: it is the nature of a puff piece to be puffy.

                But I’d also like to point out that Dreher’s article does not complain about puff pieces. He’s complaining about how people who oppose gay marriage are treated in the mainstream media.

                Again: I am someone who supports gay marriage. My interest in this debate is not about gay marriage but in how opponents to gay marriage are treated. Keep in mind: I’m someone who has compared opponents to gay marriage to opponents to inter-racial marriage.

                What I found interesting about Dreher’s statement was that I was more than happy to read any given story about Israel/Palestine and say “it’s a complicated issue with complicated sides”, any given story about criminals and say “the guy shouldn’t be reduced to the one bad day he had”, but when I read a story about gay marriage, I’m willing to see *THIS* side as obviously right and *THAT* side as obviously wrong to the point where I’m more than happy to just say that opponents are bigots and leave it there.

                And I found that interesting.

                And now I find myself supposing that my nose would be less bloody if I had failed to stray into heterodoxy. Which I also find interesting.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I won’t dispute any of that. But none of that stakes Dreher’s claim. My hunch is that he thinks ANYTHING written about terrorists/criminals that doesn’t paint them as solely terrorists/criminals is “fair”, perhaps excessively so. And ANYTHING about folks who are anti-SSM that doesn’t paint them as wholly virtuous people entitled to their opinions is “unfair”.

                It is self-victimization, plain and simple. “You did what? You wrote an article sympathetic to terrorists and another article that didn’t include the opinions of folks opposed to gay marriage? YOU MONSTERS!” “Yes, but that is one of ten articles on terrorism this much, the only one of which is remotely sympathetic. And here are ten articles on SSM that offers nuanced opinions of those on both sides.” “Doesn’t matter. That’s unfair.”

                I realize that Dreher likely legitimately FEELS as if he is hated, as if he is not given the same benefit of the doubt that criminals and terrorists are. But that doesn’t make it so. He is in a country wherein most places still have his beliefs codified into law. And he wants to talk about fairness? Please.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Jay- It might back up Dreher’s claim if he showed example of what he was talking about. We all have different filters. For example i’ve seen plenty of SoCon’s explain their rationale for not wanting gay marriage, so i’m not seeing his complaint. I’ve certainly seen people put down those against GM and of course i’ve seen many many times where gays were called vile names and put down as worse then criminals and terrorists (hell i’ve heard terrorists and criminals disparage gay folk) . If there is anything to this kind of communication debate its that in groups tend to often feel persecuted and that nobody hears them. Since the SoCons are losing this debate fast and hard i’m surprised they are leaning towards feeling persecuted and that its because people won’t hear them.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “…when I read a story about gay marriage, I’m willing to see *THIS* side as obviously right and *THAT* side as obviously wrong to the point where I’m more than happy to just say that opponents are bigots and leave it there.”

                But who is making the job from saying, “They’re just wrong,” to “They’re just bigoted”? I think that is a *REALLY* important question.

                If the WaPo decides that opposition to gay marriage is as wrong as arguing a triangle has four sides and that they aren’t going to give serious consideration to opinions they believe are blatantly wrong, that doesn’t mean they’re calling those folks bigots. It just means they see SSM as a black-and-white, obviously-right-and-wrong issue. They shouldn’t have to pretend otherwise out of some strange sense of fairness.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                An example? How about a reporter who said:

                “As for accuracy, should the media make room for racists, i.e. those people who believe that black people shouldn’t marry white people? Any story on African-Americans wouldn’t be wholly accurate without the opinion of a racist, right?

                “Of course I have a bias. I have a bias toward fairness,” the reporter continued. “The true conservative would have the same bias. The true conservative would want the government out of people’s bedrooms, and religion out of government.”

                Would that be an example of a reporter coming out and saying that the other side of this particular debate being given a fair shake would be like giving a racist a paragraph in a story about inter-racial marriage?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                The WaPo would not accept a wedding announcement for you and your dog. I don’t know whether they’s accept one for you and your third (concurrent) wife. Arguably not. By accepting one for two men, it is explicitly accepting the paring as a legitimate marriage.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Dreher’s whining would have more substance if he you know, based his arguments on something other than “because my imaginary friend says so” without actually backing THAT up (theologically Christianity at least in the gospels and epistles seems to be anti-Marriage in GENERAL) and saying he’s under attack for his “traditionalist”(if by which you define “tradition” as things normative for white people 50 years ago) views.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I’d actually love to know what the reporter has actually written, in actual articles, that is unfair or derogatory. Would it sway you if i noted Con’s on the Wapo editorial page C. Krauthammerj, J. Rubin, M. Theissen, M. Gerson or F. Hiatt?Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                I would imagine this to be the case because social conservatives like Dreher are, like it or not, on the fringes of the debate rather than being the subject of the debate itself.

                That is to say, the terrorist/criminal reporting analogy is flawed because Dreher in this case isn’t in a position analogous to the terrorist or criminal. It would be more akin to wondering why there isn’t a random interview with an Israeli Mossad agent in a piece about Palestinian terrorist teenagers.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                That is to say, despite his myopic obsessive need to make everything about him, he’s a bit player in the gay marriage issue.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                he’s a bit player in the gay marriage issue.

                If that were true, gay marriage would be legal in all fifty states. Opposition to such, and social conservatism in general, isn’t really fringe. It’s sometimes treated as fringe by a lot of major news outlets, in part because where they reside such views are not common. Which, if that were the extent of it, would be an example of urban or coastal bias, though not necessarily liberal bias per se.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Your use of racial slurs aside[1], I disagree, too. The fairness that’s given to criminals and terrorists is presumption of innocence or disagreement about how to best prevent or oppose them, not open-mindedness about their (alleged) actions.

                1. Kidding, of course. Though judging people entirely by what their enemies said is an interesting parallel to the main discussion. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots were at bottom groups with different answers to the question of how to deal with the Roman Empire, with “create a new religion” not being an option.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Fair enough. I meant to use the term in such a way to communicate “people who were being Immoral in the name of adhering to the letter of the law”.Report

    • I know of no such interview with a Palestinian teenager.

      Five bucks says Ben Shapiro links him to Chuck Hagel anyway.Report

  8. Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

    I suppose it depends to a degree on how you define reportage. Is the role of the reporter to simply be a stenographer, in this case to record and relay the words and actions of advocates on both sides of the issue? Or is it allowable (or required!) for said reporter to analyze these words and actions and attempt to assess the truth value of the propositions contained therein and then report that as well?

    Does objective reporting require that every claim reported on one side of an argument necessarily need to be “balanced” by an opposing claim made by the other? And are both claims necessarily to be accorded equal weight regardless of their merits?

    Sometimes reality itself is biased.Report

    • Avatar trumwill mobile says:

      Reality isn’t biased for or against gay marriage, though. This is a value judgment, by and large. The Washington Post has its values and it comes through. It is under no obligation really to pretend otherwise. The whole thing does strike at the notion that “objective reporting can exist” though I’m not sure that it does more than that.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        True, this isn’t a scientific question like global warming. But the bleat seems to be that if the WaPo prints a story claiming that a new poll reveals 55% support for gay marriage (for instance) then being “fair” would require them to also tell you why it’s a terrible idea. At least that’s the impression I’m getting.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          yeah, but we’ve blokes around here won’t believe in global warming neither.
          There’s more than a few conspiracies floating around (mostly boring)… but that sure as hell isn’t one of ’em.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          I’ve got a question (slightly off-topic maybe). Why is a poll a legitimate news story? Your comment implies that it is. Polls like that are an easy way for a paper to push an agenda. How does the Post choose issues for their polls? Which results do they highlight?Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Two issues here.

      One is on the coverage of the debate. And that has to be done fairly, or it’s bad journalism. I don’t buy this relatively new cop-out that objective journalism is impossible so we shouldn’t try for it. It’s the journalist’s job to try to write objectively, just as much as it’s the policeman’s job to enforce the laws equally, however much he may like or dislike a particular suspect.

      Secondly, there’s the fluff pieces, the human interest stuff. Does anyone read that stuff? This is where we get into the zero-sum arguments, but as much as I’d like to take one side or the other, I’d just be happier if my newspaper reported the news.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        I’m all for journalist at least attempting to be objective. I think in practice that’s a very difficult knife-edge to walk, however.

        What bothers me is the trend, not so new actually, of defining “objective” as presenting both sides of any debate with the presumption that both arguments are equally valid and worthwhile. But what if one side clearly has the weight of the evidence and logic going for them and the other is just making up crap? Is it really “objective” to treat the two sides the same? Shouldn’t our concept of objective be more global and encompass the fact that one side has a very good, compelling argument and the other is full of shit?Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          I believe it was Evan Sayet who wrote a good piece about this phenomenon. He distinguished objectivity from neutrality. The objective reporter writes about a new tetanus vaccine. The neutral reporter considers both the human’s and the bacteria’s point of view.

          I think the increase in fact-checking stories is a conscious move against the one-spokesman-from-each-side type of reporting.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Do you see an increase in fact checking? I’m not sure I see it, so I really hope you’re seeing things from a higher peak than I am.

            I would see that as a very, very good sign.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              Those kind of articles show up mostly around elections, critiquing candidates’ ads or claims during debates. But I do think that they’ve been increasing in recent years, thanks to sites like PolitiFact. How biased those sites are, though, varies. Everyone’s got a fav0rite media critic.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              Oh, I should also add: why is fact-checking considered an independent act from reporting? The fact that media outlets label some columns “fact-check” indicates that they themselves recognize their failure to perform that task in their regular pieces.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                You’d hope that all original material is fact-checked before being published. Different publications are better or worse about it. The New Yorker used to be famous for the meticulousness of its fact-checking, but I have no idea if that survived the Tina Brown regime.

                In my experience, a piece labelled a “fact-check” is checking material that originates elsewhere.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Most of it isn’t, though. Hell, a good deal of writing isn’t even done by reporters.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Oh the fallacies. My brain hurts.

    Failing to make a point of explaining how awesome heterosexual families are is not the same thing as saying heterosexual families are bad.

    You don’t have to report an “opposing point of view” if the opposing point of view is crap. For instance when reporting on NASA it is not required to find advocates of geocentric cosmological theory.

    Journalism should be about providing the reader with accurate information. “Fairness” can mean a lot of different things. One of those things is about being a reporter, not an advocate.

    When reporting on a live political controversy or a pending dispute, both sides should get fair air time.Report

  10. Avatar Damon says:

    “The Washington Post has its values and it comes through. It is under no obligation really to pretend otherwise.”

    Yep, and the WP is pro gay, so of course the opposing side gets less attention. This is surprising?Report

  11. Avatar dexter says:

    When conservativess talk about traditional marriage I can’t help wonder if they are thinking of Solomon or David. Dreher is a damn fine writer, but what a whiny little twit.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    If we’re going to start using the phrase “pro-gay” to denote people who support equal rights for gays, does that mean we can use “anti-gay” to denote people who reject equal rights (or certain rights) for gays? Because, for a long time, that latter group was steadfastly insisting they were NOT anti-gay.Report

  13. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “caters slavishly to Dupont Circle.”

    This is not false; all my life, the Post has catered to everyone in the DC area with economic and politic clout of Dupont Circle residents.Report

  14. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    I think I might be part of “Dupont Circle”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.Report

  15. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    Also, to be slightly (but only slightly) more productive, let’s think about this:

    “…the news media does a terrible job reporting on the people whose opposition to gay marriage isn’t rooted in bigotry.”

    The news media also does a terrible job reporting on unicorns made of ham sandwiches. This may or may not have something to do with their nonexistence.Report

  16. Dreher is 100% right.

    That is, if we want to have a fair, level-playing-field debate.

    If we don’t want that kind of debate, we can just call him names. That’s an easy out, but it can betray a certain lack of confidence on the side calling the names.

    Note also that there is a flip side to what I’m saying: We don’t give Nazis or flat-earthers a fair, level-playing-field debate, and our failure do to so doesn’t actually indicate a lack of confidence. Only a respect for the principle of economy – there are more important debates to be had.

    In this case, the debate between the more inclusive approach to marriage and the less inclusive one is not settled. So resorting to name-calling is both bad form and indicative of a lack of confidence. It’s hardly even an exaggeration to say that I would rather lose than win in this manner.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      This kind of claim comes up a lot. I know virtually no smart, educated people who consider this debate anything like unsettled. The percentage of the population whose job/hobbies include thinking deeply about political philosophy who reject the marriage equality position is absolutely tiny (on par with creationists or climate change deniers? quite possibly). The only extent to which this debate is not settled is that public opinion still divides somewhat evenly, but public opinion is a terrible barometer of the quality of the arguments made.

      The reason to call people like Dreher names is because he’s one of the people in the “thinking deeply” group who has all the evidence and insists on drawing the wrong conclusions for no reason other than he’s a cranky asshole who hates people who aren’t like him. He doesn’t deserve the respect of an actual argument, and every time we give him one we grant that his position is something other than totally and completely stupid.

      That said, I think benign neglect is probably better than name-calling as a way of dealing with cranky assholes, but for some reason a large number of smart people insist on feeding trolls as a matter of principle. It’s utterly flabbergasting.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Is anyone calling Dreher names?Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          It is to our everlasting shame that we spend so much effort not calling him names. Have you ever read anything he’s written about the poor? This is a guy who simply hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            I actually like Dreher. He’s a good and gentle soul, even if I disagree with him much of the time. And he’s been a good friend to the League, FWIW.Report

            • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

              I also think it’s to our everlasting shame that we are so easily suckered by vicious bastards who sell their vicious bastardy with nice-sounding words, but to each his own, I guess.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              It’s not his soul that’s at question, but his mind and possibly his empathy.

              His reasoning is often viciously specious and full of pious gibberish or bigotry masked as brave truthtelling.

              For example is the following statement a sign of gentleness and goodness?

              The observable common behavior [of the poor] is so strange, irresponsible, and wholly dysfunctional that it’s hard to relate it to any norms we recognize as healthy, or even sane. But one is not permitted to say things like this out loud, or one will be accused of heartlessness, and worse.


              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                It certainly can be.

                That paragraph to my mind doesn’t seem so different from my own beliefs that extreme poverty is a terrible cycle that is almost impossible to break free from, even if you want to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” That paragraph could well be my argument for why safety nets are necessary, and government assistance with education, food, etc. is so vital.

                In order to take that quote and get to a place of evil, I think I have to bring my own baggage to the reading.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                I think you’re stretching a bit to give as generous an interpretation as possible.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                To Tod’s everlasting *credit*, he really is a good and generous soul.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                No, I’m just reading what it says and not disagreeing.

                If I didn’t believe that poverty and the choices it breeds were highly dysfunctional – that people trapped in it were just as easily able to make healthy, sane, and non-self destructive choices as upper middle class people – I wouldn’t be in favor of government programs to try to help people out of the system.

                In fact, if you believe that poverty isn’t dysfunctional and people trapped in it make really healthy choices for themselves, shouldn’t you be against safety nets in most cases? If it’s such a cinch to break out if poverty, why bother lending a hand?Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:


                Here’s the rest of the piece. It’s a lament on how the “underclass” (his words, not mine) have no moral scruple and abuse the system. It’s not a paean to the need to have a social safety net, but rather a cry against the sentimentality of people who think the poor should have access to health care.

                It’s not an argument in favor of the safety net system and the whole, but rather the opposite.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                If I believe that people trapped in poverty are incapable of making healthy or sane choices, then I should advocate for their institutionalization. My support for safety nets presumes that, if you give people a hand up, they have the capacity to flourish. They aren’t (in general) crazy or dysfunctional or strange; they merely lack the means (money, security, safety, whatever) to get out of their situation.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                And it’s not even the worst of what he’s written. He’s also in the past said the following:
                1. Claimed the cultural left paved the way for pedophilia.
                2. Admits he keeps a gun in his house because he’s afraid “enraged activists” will attack him for his traditionalist views.
                3. I’ll let this lede speak for itself: “The bride’s a slut. They call it progress.”Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                It’s a lament on how the “underclass” (his words, not mine) have no moral scruple and abuse the system.

                That’s completely true, though let’s dispose with the euphemism “underclass” and call them by their real name, “bankers”.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Nob –

                I highly disagree with the doctor in this story. But I also feel the need to point out that, throughout the essay, Dreher seems to be saying he can’t quite get there either.

                Ryan –

                Do poorer neighborhoods have a higher rate of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and school drop out rates than middle class neighborhoods? Are these things not dysfunctional? If you stop going to HS in your junior year AND you don’t want to be poor, is that not a crazy (in the colloquial sense of that word) choice?

                The choice of how to help those in poverty (and the choice about whether or not you should) are very much in dispute. But in all my years of working with social service agencies that served the poor, I can’t think of a one that didn’t think poverty encouraged dysfunctional choices that are amazingly hard to break free from.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Nob –

                All of those would be truly terrible things to say. Do you have links?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                We’re picking at nits at this point, but I think it’s massively ungenerous to describe those activities as strange or insane. It reflects a basic lack of empathy or of any attempt to understand why people make those choices.

                If this were the only offensive thing Dreher had ever said, I might be inclined to cede him some charity. But this is a guy who is regularly on about how terrible other people are, how destructive their choices are, how they cause immorality in “normal” people like him, etc. This is a pattern, not an instance.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Well, there I’ll have to step off my train. I don’t read him enough to either dispute or confirm that.Report

              • It seems to me as if the liberal commenters here are offended at an assertion of facts.

                “People often call 911 to get prescriptions filled” is either true or false. Once we’ve established the statement’s truth or falsity, we can maybe decide what to do about it. But damning Dreher simply for claiming it, and other presumably falsifiable facts about poor people, strikes me as very odd.

                Is he telling the truth? Or not? If he’s lying, then of course we should string him up, ethically speaking. But if he’s telling the truth — then is it really an appropriate response to answer that he’s being un-empathetic?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Nob, you’re not going to persuade people of faith by insulting their archive systems.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Nob, did you read the first two sentences of this post? His very first sentence is a firm statement that he’s NOT saying that liberalism leads to pedophelia. His second sentence is that he is only talking about one very extreme instance, in Germany 50 years ago, where such a thing DID happen – and it appears that it did in fact actually happen.

                I for one can add that there were several fringe-left-co-ops in the United States circa 1970 that were caught sexually abusing using minors, who used equally crackpot political theorizing for why it was OK.

                If you want to paint Dreher as a monster, you need to link to an essay where he doesn’t *in the very first sentence* take pains to point out he’s not saying what you’re suggesting he’s saying.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I think the functionality of using cheap forms of self-medication is in doubt.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:


                here’s corroboration for #3:

                It has a link to where the original was but it appears BeliefNet has pulled a MiniTrue and taken down Dreher’s original “CrunchyCon” blog, consigning all articles that he wrote on it into the ether.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Ok, so I’ve tried to put in a link to corroboration for #3 twice. Either it’s not taking or for some reason the link’s being filtered. Could someone check?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                So, Dreher is so prude he doesn’t like wedding dresses with plunging necklines that show above the ass-tatoos?

                I take it all back. He is truly history’s greatest monster.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Do you consider “slut” a neutral term that merely expresses disapproval?Report

              • Avatar clawback says:

                He wrote this:

                This post is only about a particularly deranged cultural attitude powerful in self-identified progressive circles in a particular time and place, which might help explain why people who ought to have known better — Christians, especially Christian clergy — gave way to a persistent human evil that ought to have been fought.

                Yes, that can fairly be described as claiming that the cultural left paved the way for pedophilia.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Tod, I read the post several times, because I wasn’t entirely sure what he was getting at to begin with.

                The hedging and hawing is an attempt to cover his ass from the accusations of blame shifting, when in fact he uses the fact that a semi-prominent leftist radical circle in Germany was responsible for pedophilia might construe “reasons” why Christians didn’t fight it better.

                One wonders if the leadership of the national Catholic churches — I’m thinking right now of the Belgian church, and retired Cardinal Danneels, one of the Roman Church’s most progressive top churchmen for decades — assimilated any of this so-called progressivism in the way they thought about sexuality.

                But as the Spiegel report says, some on the German Left who were involved in this say today that it didn’t count as pedophilia, because hey, the Leftists meant well and were doing it for the good of the children (like Lee Podles says, this is what pedophiles always say to justify their crimes). What’s more, these prominent Leftists denounce those, even their critics on the Left, as aiding and abetting anti-progressive forces by bringing all this up now.

                Yes, the post is NOT a “liberals caused pedophilia by debasing culture!” type posts, but it IS one where it tries to posit a causal relationship in a tortured fashion from “the left” that led to the church abuses, and no amount of hedging with statements about how he’s not out to blame liberalism changes that fact.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                No, I would find the use of that word to be highly offensive and entirely inappropriate.

                Will you show me in the link provided where he used that word? Because, yet again, I’m not seeing what you guys tell me is there.

                And I have to say, in a post that seems to exist for no other reason than to convince me that Rod Dreher is a sexist misogynist, I find it odd that they quoted him but forgot to include any quoting of the word “slut.” Seems a big opportunity missed.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                The title of the post being quoted, which is included in the quote, is “The bride’s a slut. They call it progress.”Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Nob –

                No, I read him as saying that when given the opportunity to condemn one of their own fringe members doing something heinous, many in the German left chose to defend them for this or that political reason.

                If Dreher is a monster for discussing and condemning this, than I am equally a monster – most of my long-form posts are about this exact same phenomena with the American right these days.

                And all of this seems to be sidestepping the fact that what he says seems to be entirely correct.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Ryan –

                Ah, so it does. Agreed, then.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                I honestly don’t see the causal link between how German left radicalism embraced pedophilia and how that led to the German cardinals and bishops taking a similar attitude. So I’m not sure how I’m side-stepping Dreher being “correct”.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Um, yes?

                Try this one on for size: “Faggots make unhealthy choices.”

                Is that statement true or false? Does its truth value matter?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Oops, I misaligned that. It’s to Jason.Report

              • False equivalence. I don’t see Dreher using smears like that one.

                But to answer your question, the statement is otherwise true. Lots of gay people make unhealthy choices. This is very, very well documented. And not just by conservatives. Gay people are more likely to smoke and to drink heavily, to have unsafe sex, and to use recreational drugs, including some of the really dangerous ones.

                Then, as I said, the question becomes what to do about it.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                I think calling poor people insane is not exactly unlike a smear. Ditto “underclass”, frankly.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Also, unless you think gay people make poor health choices *by virtue of being gay* it’s hard to see where you’d be going.

                The paragraph Nob quotes comes from a post in which Dreher wants to talk about the immorality of the poor. If you think poor people make certain kinds of choices because they’re basically immoral, then again, I’m not sure what kind of response you want from me. I’m not going to have a reasoned discussion where I try to convince you that a large segment of the human population really is okay, morally speaking. I’m going to tell you to fuck off.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            Agreed entirely. Sanctimonious viciousness dressed up as pious concern is still viciousness.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I haven’t really read him… don’t know much about the guy other than what I’ve seen here. The worst I’ve seen written here is that he is a bigot or, perhaps slightly more generously, holds bigoted views (those are not one in the same, in my book).Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I know of no smart, educated people who give this debate much thought. They are too busy dealing with their own lives.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


      You’ll need to point out where in the OP I called Dreher names. Or where the Washington Post did.Report

      • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

        Jason, like Merlin in The Once and Future King, experiences time backward. He knew I was going to call Dreher names, so he preempted me.Report

        • Well, Dreher raised the possibility, and I was talking about his post, and so it seemed like fair game to me:

          It’s not just the Post. I remember once speaking with a senior executive at another big newspaper about his paper’s agenda-driven reporting on homosexuality and the marriage issue. This wasn’t an accusation on my part; he admitted the bias, and was proud of it. I brought up the likelihood that his paper’s bias could alienate many socially conservative readers, at a time when all of us who worked at newspapers were hemorrhaging readers. The executive said, indignantly, “We don’t need bigots for readers.”

          And that executive’s approach is one way of dealing with the question. Is it the best way? Perhaps. But perhaps not. It certainly isn’t the way one would go about having a reasoned argument, or convincing people in the persuadable middle.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Oh, well I would agree that this approach is not at all productive, and for bigger, additional reasons that have nothing to do with name calling.

            Out of curiosity, would you have considered it to be a name-calling issue if “bigots” had been replaced by “people prejudiced against gays?”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I often viciously call Dreher “a decent man with several large blind spots”.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      The standard conservative definition of “fairness” is “agreeing with our bigotry.”

      We don’t give Nazis or flat-earthers a fair, level-playing-field debate, and our failure do to so doesn’t actually indicate a lack of confidence. Only a respect for the principle of economy – there are more important debates to be had.

      Or perhaps a recognition that they are simply wrong, and that there need be no hemming and hawing and nonsensical caveats trying to play the game of “well the other side says” when the other side is clearly batshit loco.

      In this case, the debate between the more inclusive approach to marriage and the less inclusive one is not settled.

      Not a single country that has passed gay-marriage legalization since 2001 has fallen to blood in the water, frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, eclipse or mass cloud blockade, or had all their firstborn slain by a vengeful spaghetti monster.

      Not a single state in the US that has passed either civil unions or full marriage equality has seen a significant issue or major social unrest or even a drop in birthrate.

      Not a single one of the predictions made by Pat Buchanan, Scott Lively, Bryan Fischer, Peter LaBarbera, Rick Santorum, Gary DeMar, Lou Sheldon, the LaHayes, Terry Jones, Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, Paul Cameron, or the GOP platform’s prediction of DADT’s repeal leading to a total collapse of the military – not one of those have come to pass.

      The fact that the bigoted homophobes of the far-right wing fail to recognize this does not mean that we should tender them any more legitimacy on this issue than we grant to flat-earthers on science or the Nazis and Stormfront crowd on race relations.Report

      • These are points that you don’t need to explain… to me.

        But let’s take some other people, like, say, my parents.

        My parents are as far right as you can possibly be — while still being persuadable on this issue. It took years, but I’ve done it, and they’re persuaded. More or less.

        Which approach do you think I used? Was it “You’re a couple of bigoted homophobes with no more legitimacy than flat-earthers or Nazis”?

        Do you seriously think that method would have worked?Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          To be fair, I don’t think patient explanation works either. As I’ve said a thousand times, Will & Grace was more useful for the cause of gay rights than every single blog post about gay rights in the history of the internet. It’s by ignoring people like Dreher and just getting on with a world that doesn’t take their point of view seriously – to the extent that we actually refuse to acknowledge its existence, preferably – that we demonstrate how unfounded that point of view is.

          Let’s call it the subtle form of “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”. It appears to be massively successful.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          The persuadable will come around. They will see that the predictions they’ve made about the “horrible effects” of people being able to marry who they choose, make lives with who they choose, never came to pass just as none of the “horrible effects” of societal acceptance for interreligious couples, interracial couples, or any of the other things conservatives have been wrong on time and again have ever come to pass.

          It doesn’t mean we should recognize the un-persuadable as being “right” or having valid points, nor should we tender legitimacy even when the persuadable repeat clearly bigoted arguments with no basis in reality.Report

          • The persuadable will come around.

            Would that be before or after you liken them to Nazis?Report

            • Avatar M.A. says:

              As Ryan said, it need not be meeting every argument with “that’s just like the Nazis.”

              But it should include not bothering to claim that their side has legitimate points when they don’t. And not taking seriously their claims of “unfair” coverage when the news coverage of the issues doesn’t agree with their bigoted worldview.

              We don’t go looking for a Klan member every time there’s a story on race relations.
              We don’t go looking for a flat-earther every time there’s a story on space exploration.

              And we are in no way obligated to dignify the homophobes of the far right wing with even a single column-inch or scant second of airtime to “reflect”, and thereby validate, their bigoted views in the public discourse.Report

              • And we are in no way obligated to dignify the homophobes of the far right wing with even a single column-inch or scant second of airtime to “reflect”, and thereby validate, their bigoted views in the public discourse.

                Given that their views are vastly more representative of a huge chunk of the American electorate, it would be irresponsible for a newspaper not to give them space. That’s what a newspaper is supposed to do – tell the facts, and then give a fair picture of differing opinions on them, including all of the major views one might be likely to have.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                A newspaper’s job is to tell the truth, not give equal time to smart people and stupid people.Report

              • Have you never gotten anything wrong in your life, such that you’re the one who can distinguish them so unfailingly?Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                How would you say you assess the probability of Dreher and his ilk being right about homosexuality? Is it higher than the climate change deniers or the flat-earthers or the creationists?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                You’d think, wouldn’t you?
                No, the newspaper’s job is to find plausible and interesting stories.
                That don’t turn out to be false.

                Stories about waffles need not apply.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                “Given that their views are vastly more representative”


                Congratulations, you’ve successfully found proof of the existence of dumb people. Doesn’t mean that we should take bigoted homophobes any more seriously than we do young-earth creationists.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          While I am highly sympathetic to Jason’s position on this issue, and I have successfully used the same approach myself, I think there is also a place for the abrupt, even aggressive denunciation.

          Why? Because I’ve seen that work too. There are people of my acquaintance who changed their views – really changed them – but the change started with an epiphany of “wow, this perspective is SO OUT THERE to my friends that they’re treating me like I was a racist or something.” Or, “I got tired of being ashamed to tell people my views, and I realized maybe the problem was me.” It’s rarer? I think? But it does happen.

          I suspect the most effective method of change is 3-pronged:
          1) shame and anger
          2) sympathy, friendliness, and logical argument
          3) indirect cultural argument

          Once all of those things are going on simultaneously, in sufficient numbers, most people find new ideas very hard to resist. Regardless of the content of those ideas.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            This is slightly OT, but maybe not – did anyone see this?:


            Short version: Swedes were given surveys on which they answered questions designed to demonstrate their acceptance or non-acceptance of illegal immigration.

            Then, their surveys were switched out for altered ones, so that the questions they had answered before were now subtly reversed – so the effect was, if you had originally answered the questions in such a way to indicate you were against illegal immigration, now you were for it, and vice versa.

            These switcheroo’d surveys were returned to the subjects, and they were asked to write an essay or argument supporting their “position” as indicated on the returned survey.

            Here’s the thing: a huge chunk of people not only didn’t notice that the questions had been switcheroo’d on them; many actually constructed arguments in support of the switcheroo’d answers (said arguments being essentially the OPPOSITE of what they had originally indicated).

            Anyway, this seems to have potentially big implications on “how do people decide what they believe” and “how do you change people’s minds”.Report