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Jim Daly: Failure to subscribe to our talking points = media bias

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Focus on the Family president Jim Daly is among the voices trying to drum up outrage over the New Mexico photographer who, according to her state Supreme Court, must serve LGBT customers in a way that doesn't fly in the face of her state's nondiscrimination laws.  To bouy his claims, Daly is relying on a popular place of attack for folks who operate from his point of view: the mainstream media.  

The Focus president writes:

[I]f you only watch the evening news, you probably weren’t aware of this very real threat to religious freedom.
 
That’s because the reporters themselves don’t know that when homosexual “rights” and religious liberty are at an impasse, it’s people of faith who often end up losing out.
 
Last year I met with various national-level secular reporters during a trip to New York. In one instance, we talked about same-sex marriage, and I referred to this threat to religious liberty. My comment was met with incredulousness.
 
“How are your religious liberties threatened by gay marriage?” they asked me.
 
No wonder the mainstream media isn’t covering this. And let me make this clear – I’m not even suggesting this is a cover-up. They simply don’t know. Even venerated journalists like CBS’ Bob Schieffer are in the dark about what’s going on. [SOURCE]

Daly links that final part about Bob Schieffer to a recent appearance in which which vehement anti-LGBT voice Tony Perkins attempted to convince the venerable anchor that the trumped up cases in which certain vendors (bakers, florists, photographers, etc.) wanted to flout nondiscrimination laws and not serve LGBT customers.  Schieffer was "in the dark" because Tony Perkins was fabricating the truth.  On the other side, they accept the idea that nondiscrimination policies are a "very real threat to religious freedom" because a vast network of commentators, organizations, radio and cable news programs, and special interests are working together, always on message, to shape public opinion.  Schieffer presumably employs more well-rounded newsgathering techniques, which is why, even if he's likely heard of these kinds of cases, Tony Perkins' versions of events still sounds like fiction.  

Which brings us back to Daly's overarching theme: the idea that the mainstream media is working against him, coupled with the tangential notion that a failure to accept the anti-LGBT crowd's stated beliefs is tantamout to "media bias."  As I said, this idea of a "liberal mainstream media" is a very popular and convenient attack line for social conservatives who want to convince supporters that there is some sort of conspiracy working against them.  But in addition to this sense of victimization, which they use to drum up funds and action, commentators like Daly use these lines as a way to pull onus off of their goals.  The thought, from their perspective, is that if they can convince you there's a media culture that's deliberately shaping people's minds to believe that anti-LGBT views are discriminatory, then they can make the entire push from our side seem contrived and media-crafted while making their own goals seem unfairly maligned.  "We're not really discriminating against LGBT people," they say. "Those folks in Hollywood and New York just sold out to the homosexual agenda."

But a few things about this.

  1. In cases like this New Mexico photography case, we're not just talking about media.  In this instance, we're talking about a state, its human rights commission, its policies, and its court system.  The high court of New Mexico determined that the NM Human Rights Act does, in fact, prevent a business owner from pointedly discriminating against a person on the base of a number of factors, with sexual orientation being one among a long list.  The media didn't just invent this idea in order to upset Jim Daly.  The state implemented a policy in order to help the good order of its communities, and learned judges upheld the policy becayse they have been trained to weigh such matters.
  2. Folks like Daly can't force us to subscribe to their narratives.  Daly tells of a reporter who supposedly met him with incredulousness when the Focus prez tried to raise a point about marriage equality "threatening" religious liberty to which he has personally subscribed.  But in truth, any number of people would meet this idea with scrutiny because we choose to get our news from sources other than the usual places that push and rehash these same socially conservative memes.  But it's not some sort of "agenda" in the way that Mr. Daly and the like describe it.  Those of us who have gotten to know (or are) LGBT people, who have studied this issue from an objective place, who have genuinely entertained and engaged both sides of the conversation, and who have considered how civil law is made and upheld in this church/state-separated nation of ours have come to our places of understanding in an organic way.  

Yes, many people who are in the information business will raise an eyebrow when the head of one of America's best known religious right groups—one that has funded many campaigns against marriage equality, we must note— tries to convince them that Bob & Joe's committed union threatens religious freedom.  So do many judges.  And academic leaders.  And civil rights icons.  And Presidents of the United States.  And public figures of every stripe and from all political parties.  We didn't all get to where we are because of some invite-only secret meeting in the early part of the 21st century wherein we formulated some sort of dastardly plan to ruin Jim Daly's day.  We got to where we are because, unlike the average socially conservative commentator, we chose to keep and open mind and committed ourselves to a well-rounded study.  That's not an agenda—it's just good sense.

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