Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh, Fox News

I admit it. I check Fox News' web site every day. It's instructive, to say the least. It's interesting to see which stories every other national news organization is covering but they are not. Or how their headlines differ. It's also important to check their stories against other organizations stories, even when it's a wire feed story, to see what parts Fox has left out. I remember once catching them excluding a paragraph that was pretty key to an understanding of the entire story. Without that paragraph, things looked much different and not nearly as favorable for the side that Fox clearly preferred.

It's also interesting to see what stories they cover that no one else does. In my experience, most of these stories provide "evidence" for what Fox News promotes as the "war on religion.*" The one that caught my eye today was this:

Proposed Law Would Force Churches to Host Gay Weddings!

Ok, so the headline didn't include the exclamation point, but it was clearly implied. Because this is outrageous! This is intolerable! This is one very short step away from evil government forcing Grandma and sweet, innocent children to watch those dirty, dirty gays pleasure each other at the altar on Sunday mornings! Until you actually read the story and realize this is...

...nothing more than a garden variety proposed city ordinance that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the classes of people who cannot be discriminated against in public accommodations. So restaurants can't refuse to serve gays or transgender folks. Apartments can't refuse to rent. Hotels can't refuse rooms. And places that rent out rooms to the public can't discriminate. So churches that open up their parish halls or other buildings to the public as rental spaces couldn't refuse to rent that publicly-offered space to gays. Oh noes! The horror!

These public accommodation laws are nothing new. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, anyone? It's hardly all that radical or new a notion to add sexual orientation and gender identity to these laws. This proposed law is in Hutchinson, Kansas and there isn't even a story about it on that local paper's website that I can find. And, of course, any church in Hutch that can't abide the thought of their parish hall hosting a gay wedding reception or some other icky event by those icky Sodomites has a really simple solution: stop offering your space as a rental to the public. If you restrict rental just to congregants, problem solved. But if you're going to be part of the commercial marketplace, separate and apart from your religious mission, we as a society get to say you can't discriminate. Seriously, you don't think there was a church somewhere who tried to argue that racial desegregation being forced on them was a violation of separation of church and state? That argument didn't fly, neither should this one.

But Fox News just has to put forward every example it can find to support its claim of a war on religion (all while steadfastly denying anything like a "war on women"). Even though no church will ever be "forced" to host a gay wedding. It just sounds better to say it that way. I can't help but wonder what their coverage would have looked like if they'd been around to report on Brown v. BoE, Little Rock in 1957, and the Civil Rights Act.

*religion means Christianity and only Christianity. The outpouring of opposition to Muslim mosques and community centers cannot in any way, shape, or form be construed as part of some "war on religion." That would just be crazy talk.

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