PG coverage on the hearing: This is what insomnia does

I can't let the man called Potter have all the blogging firsts.  So I stayed up until 2:07 AM to post the Post-Gazette coverage of the hearing before Allegheny County Council.   Here is the link.

This article sucks.  The reporter quotes multiple Chrisitan-flavored bigots and only two proponents of the ordinance.  There is no sense of how many people turned out for and against, nor any perspective on the magnitude of the turnout itself. While the excerpt from Janet Edwards is good, the reporter just talked to religious people and hey — this isn't about religion.  It is such an easy trap to fall into, but not a single person supporting this ordinance is trying to legislate behavior or values in communities of faith.  Preach bigotry if you want, just don't deny gay people the right to hold a job or rent an apartment. Or join a gym!  Someone testified that they couldn't join a gym.  What would Jesus say about that?  Isn't exercise and wellness a good thing?

There is also no mention of four co-sponsors succumbing to pressure to withdraw their support.  There is no mention of which Council members attended the hearing and which of those attendees stayed throughout the hearing.  No exploration of why Vince Gastgeb doesn't know what the ordinance entails or how Bob Macy is going to explain to my parent's why their daughter is fair-game for the bigots in West Mifflin.  None of that.

We get a short sterile piece that celebrates the ignorance and bigotry of a man who “braved the cold” to share an opinion based on bad information.  Isn't that a story?  The fact that no one informed this  man that his church isn't going to be forced to accept anything.  There are no provisions to require you to put up a rainbow flag and start performing same-sex blessings.  You just can't go into your public life and discriminate against gay people.  It is a pretty easy to understand distinction.  Marriage is not being redefined.  Frivolous law suits are an urban myth.

This sort of coverage makes me absolutely irate.  As irate as I can muster at 2:17 AM.  It is great that the PG editorial board took a strong stance, alongside columnist Tony Norman.  But which editor let this slip by?  You invest hundreds of staff hours and many, many inches of column space exploring a pay for play “gay story” including an in-depth profile of the establishment owners, but when it comes to a sweeping piece of civil rights legislation that could lay the foundation for a protracted statewide battle over similiar issues — we get this.  Whatever. 

I'm going to bed.  Wake me when Rich Lord gets in the office.

ps:  Supportive but interesting letter to the editor about his very topic.  Patrick J. Corr, formerly of Northern Ireland and now of West Deer, writes as former victim of human rights abuses and the father of a gay son.

I left a country ruined by people who did not respect the rights of others and did not grant parity of esteem to all of its citizens/residents. As the father of a gay man, I hope that I do not have to watch his human rights be revoked by those who believe in discrimination as a way of life and who intimidate others into denying all the people all of the protections of the law.

To have come so far to see so few belittle so many!

Mr. Corr certainly sees the perspective in the issue – a vocal, tyrranical minority will stop at nothing to strip away the human rights of another group.  Simply because they can?  Maybe.  It is so hard for me to take seriously the truth of the wingnut rhetoric (Same Sex Attraction Disorder ??) that I often underestimate the power of the rhetoric to fulfill a general public's fear and restlestness.  (It is 7 am and I am back up again.  Darn weather.)


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  • This sort of coverage makes me absolutely irate. As irate as I can muster at 2:17 AM. It is great that the PG editorial board took a strong stance, alongside columnist Tony Norman. But which editor let this slip by? You invest hundreds of staff hours and many, many inches of column space exploring a pay for play “gay story” including an in-depth profile of the establishment owners, but when it comes to a sweeping piece of civil rights legislation that could lay the foundation for a protracted statewide battle over similiar issues — we get this. Whatever.

    If You were standing in front of me , I would stand and applaud!!

  • Well, in fairness (that's not the word), the religious contingent at the hearing consistently framed the issue as one of landlords' and employers' freedom of religion — they believed they have the right to run their own building / business according to biblical principles if they so choose, and this ordinance would be the county forcing them to live a certain way. I didn't stick around for the speaker who specifically demanded the “right to discriminate”, but that was the gist. It's an interesting argument.

  • The city ordinance specifically limits housing coverage to apartment buildings with 4 or more units. Does anyone know if the proposed county ordinance is similarly worded? If not, we need to get it amended to read accordingly. That would quite effectively defuse the concerns of people like that florist who was concerned about “renting out a room in my house.”

  • The Post-Gazette should be ashamed for playing the gay-sex card. This is lazy, sensational journalism and a good reason why people don't trust the paper. Their opinions are great, but they really miss the ball on actual facts. Of course we should be outraged after having all the dirty laundry flaunted all over the front page! Opportunistic bastards. How can they justify running a feature fluff piece right out of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Fabulous” about the sex kings and then slam us against the walls with this pathetic little article?
    You can run your personal life according to Biblical principles, Bram, but history has demonstrated that it wasn't such a great guideline for people of color in our nation (and continues not to be). When your personal life meets my personal life, there has to be someone to make sure no one gets trampled. Or guess who gets trampled? It ain't the folks making a fancy living off of poppers and porn, that's for sure.

  • Amen, sister! I notice all the little nasty people went away leaving us the chance to have a real chat about issues instead of defending the indefensible.
    The Post-Gazette sent some cub reporter out who had no clue about this issue. At least that's what you think when you read the article. The Tribune Review did a smidge better which is depressing on all counts.
    The response from Vince Gastgeb is interesting. I wonder what to make of him playing some sort of “my disabled child” card to actually defend himself for denying protected class status. The lack of empathy on his part is staggering. So, his child deserves protections from discrimination (from the feds) but the parent of a gay child doesn't get the same piece of mind? Bullshit. Ironically, the bad guys are saying homosexuality is a disability aka curable disease so maybe we actually do get protections! Ha ha! I'm not queer, I'm a straight person with special needs. He's an idiot and a piss-poor father to make his son part of his homophobic defense arsenal.
    This was an interesting way to cover the hearing and get people talking. Good job to Adam and Sue.

  • I don't run my life according to any principles whatsoever, Anonymous, I'm just relaying what was said. FYI, K. Rujumba is the P-G's go-to reporter on county news — and now that I take a second read, yes, that was a rather facile and borderline skewed treatment of that hearing. Remember though it dragged on past 8:30, so maybe there wasn't an opportunity to properly evaluate claims that were made by speakers — just to report them being made.

  • A reporter who is a “go to” on county issues should have been prepared. I doubt a single gay person in that room was surprised by the claims. Advance preparation would have given K. Rujumba (male or female?) plenty of time to contextualize those claims. Plus, there has been no follow up article so I think the claim that this was lazy journalism has some merit.
    A member of the community called in earlier and discovered 80 people were signed up to speak. Reporter could have done the same and then hit the Internet for some research.
    I certainly expected more from the PG.

  • Thanks. I'll poke around the archives to see if this was a momentary aberration in typical good coverage of County issues or what. I'm looking forward to better things from Melissa.
    The McKeesport Daily News did a better job on this story. tsk tsk

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