Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Don't Do It

A reader made a comment below about use of the word "fag" in a newsroom. Folks, I know newsrooms are full of good-humored, sometimes-obscene fun. That's cool.

But we can't let homophobia infect them. If newspapers are to be open, valuable forums for news and opinion in this next century, we must make it clear that all views and speakers are respected.

This goes for inside the newsroom too. There is no excuse for a paper to abide a hateful atmosphere toward gay people, in offhand comments or anything else. If you take the mission of a newspaper seriously, you will not put up with such things. In yourself or in others.

Yes, freedom of speech is indescribably important. But there is a difference between an individual's right to print up little "burn the gay people" tracts at home and that same individual's right to bring that attitude into a place that tries to encourage civic engagement and discussion.

Some words to the straight newspaper folk out there: You probably already know a gay person. You will probably attend a gay wedding someday. You will someday probably do all this inside and outside the work environment.
You may have done all this decades ago.

How you -- and we as a business -- deal with such a world says a lot about us. Your political beliefs have nothing to do with it. The gay people are here now. As the old pride march saying goes, get used to it.