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FIRST-PERSON: Deciding what and what not to cover


ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–An obscure pastor of a tiny congregation announces plans to burn copies of the Quran and garners more media attention than the president of the United States. In contrast, a crowd numbering several hundred thousand will gather in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. However, unless you live in the Bay Area it is likely you will not even know the event occurred.

The Folsom Street Fair is a homosexual/sadomasochist themed festival that takes place annually in San Francisco. Public nudity and public sex are common occurrences. However, local law enforcement and national media both turn a blind eye to the lewd antics that take place during the fair.

Media outlets routinely choose to ignore the Folsom Street Fair; an event that sponsors indicate on their website drew an estimated 400,000 people last year. However, Terry Jones, the previously unknown pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has received almost non-stop coverage.

For the record, I think the pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Quran is foolish and wrongheaded. Jones — who now is saying the event is cancelled, although it is not clear for how long — previously said he wants to send a message to “radical Muslims that we will not tolerate their behavior.” In reality, all he will do is provoke their ire.

While I disagree with the pastor’s plan to burn copies of the Quran, I do have to ask a question: Why do media outlets give the pastor of a church, with only 50 members, worldwide attention for a foolish stunt, while at the same time they ignore an event that draws hundreds of thousands and was once described by a British newspaper as a “public orgy?”

The media ignores scores of homosexuals publicly flaunting their sexuality, but gives an unknown pastor with a meager following the spotlight. Why?


It is well-documented that the majority of those who make up the media are philosophically liberal. Thus, most accept homosexuality as natural and normal. I believe the Folsom Street Fair is ignored by national media outlets because they simply refuse to show homosexuals behaving badly.

Informing regular folks about the lewd antics that take place at the Folsom Street Fair and other “pride” events would tarnish the idea of “wholesome, normal” homosexuality. As a result, the civil rights agenda of homosexual activists would suffer.

The sympathy left-leaning members of the media have for homosexuals is not extended to Christians. According to many media members, any pastor or group with radical views is worthy of media attention. It only takes a handful of wacky so-called Christians spouting hateful, off-the-wall rhetoric to attract a media crowd.

No matter how many established, respected Christian leaders denounce the troublemakers, the media keeps the spotlight on the rabblerousing few. By default, I believe, the media hopes to discredit responsible Christians by focusing on a fanatical fringe.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that I am wrong about why members of the media ignore the Folsom Street Fair.

Perhaps national news organizations believe those prancing around nude and partaking in public sex at the fair represent the fringes of homosexuality. In order not to indict all homosexuals because of the bad behavior of a few, they simply decide to ignore the perverted fringe.

If that is true, then why not use the same standards when making decisions about covering the religious fringe? Why indict the whole of Christianity by highlighting the bad behavior of a few?

There can only be two possible explanations: Left-leaning media actually believe the radical few represent the majority of Christians or, as previous stated, they hope to discredit responsible followers of Christ by magnifying the behavior of a few crazies.

In either case, the coverage of fringe elements of Christianity is anything but consistent with the way media outlets approach homosexual events like the Folsom Street Fair.

Some media outlets have said they will not cover the Quran burning event if it indeed takes place. Fox News said it wouldn’t cover it while the Associated Press said it wouldn’t distribute photos.

While media outlets that refuse to cover the burning are to be applauded, it does not absolve them from having provided undue publicity to a fanatical fringe group by reporting on the Quran burning in the first place.

About the only party acting responsibly in reference to the whole fiasco is the company that hosts the web site of the Dove World Outreach Center. Citing violations of its terms of use agreement, Rackspace has deactivated the website of the Florida church. The decision by Rackspace significantly weakens any effort by the church to promote itself.

What if media outlets had ignored Jones’ controversial plans to incinerate Qurans? What if they had refused to report on it? What would have happened? The same thing that happens every year when thousands gather for the Folsom Street Fair — no one except those in the immediate area would have even known that it was taking place.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.