Is Challenging Anti-LGBT Messages Censorship?

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Posted on July 1, 2009 - 11:13am by Anonymous.

Over the last several days, Equality Florida has received a few emails suggesting that our recent efforts - condemning Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA's screening of a homophobic infomercial - amount to censorship.

We could not disagree more.

Equality Florida would vigorously defend the American Family Association's (AFA) RIGHT to say what they want. Only government can take rights away, and we would strongly oppose, let alone advocate for government limiting AFA's ability to speak.

The First Amendment does not, however, require a television station to air absolutely anything if someone is willing to pay for it. Every broadcast company in the nation has standards for content and they vet that content all the time.

If an advertiser pulls their funding from a show because of the content, are they censoring that show and denying someone their freedom of speech? Of course not. They are simply making a business decision to not associate with the content of that show. Likewise, WFLA, a business, constantly makes decisions about what content it will and wont allow on its network.

As the St. Petersburg Times recently editorialized, in part:

"...The film criticizes efforts to allow gay people to serve in the military, to teach school children that homosexuality is acceptable and to pass laws preventing employers from discriminating against gay people.

If you were to substitute the words black or Hispanic for the word gay in the film, it's a safe bet that someone at WFLA would have raised a red flag, to use Pumo's words.

Could anyone, for example, imagine WFLA airing a documentary decrying "propaganda techniques to manipulate people into accepting the interracial lifestyle?" (replace the word "interracial" with "homosexual" and you have an actual line from Silencing Christians)."

We believe WFLA made a terrible decision that did real harm to the Tampa Bay community and they should apologize. They aired a one-sided show that was factually inaccurate and advocated for dangerous "reparative therapy" as a "treatment" for gay people.

Let's be clear. This show does harm to communities. The dehumanizing rhetoric used throughout the 60 minute broadcast is exactly the type a catalyst for increased anti-gay hate violence, especially perpetrated by impressionable young men.

When Ryan Skipper, a young gay Polk County man, was killed in 2007, his killers drove around and bragged to friends that they had killed a "fag." They were shocked that they weren't embraced as heroes. At the time, we asked ourselves "In what world did these young men live that it was okay to harm, even kill someone because of who they are?" It is shows like the one WFLA broadcast - at 7PM on a Saturday - that create a world in which anti-gay violence is at least perceived to be acceptable within a community.

That's our position. What do you think?

Comments

efenz (not verified) says:

July 7, 2009 - 4:43pm

After watching this program and sending it to others to watch, part of me is comforted by the absurdity of the message. Yes, they are probably propping up their already existing base with it but on the other hand, for anyone with any sense of fairness at all, they have further alienated those who were on the fence. There does need to be a response but not necessarily in the form of outright protest. Let's play their game and air our own "propoganda".



Anonymous (not verified) says:

July 2, 2009 - 6:10pm

WFLA should be required to broadcast each and every show, from cable, satellite, and every video source available, each and every show that has shown, without a shadow of a doubt, that homosexuality in rampant in the animal world, that the families of the martyrs of the gay "agenda" are real, healthy families that happen to be in pain because of what they've done, and that there will be future ramifications of their short sighted programing. Each and every one of the managers, CEO's, and Chief of whatever kind of title they have, should all be subjected to training that would teach them the true meaning of christianity, not the hate filled, Nazi-esque propaganda they are broadcasting!

And why am I not seeing coverage of this on any of the other major stations here in Tampa? The lack of coverage amounts to nothing more that a statement of support for WFLA. This should be a national issue. Katy Couric, anyone?



Anonymous (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 11:20pm

Thank you all for all you do!! For everyone standing up around the country and demanding to be treated with equal rights and respect under the law... I THANK YOU..HEADS UP HEARTS STRONG THIS FIGHT ISNT OVER YET



Humiliated WFLA Employee (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 7:15pm

Mike Pumo, WFLA’s general manager obviously isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. His failure to recognize the dangers of this type of hate programming is appalling. Even more frightening is the silence of his bosses. Does their silence indicate approval of hate programming? An apology would be nice but if they are really “on our side” as their slogan indicates they should air a program a bit more balanced such as “For The Bible Tells Me So”, or they could change their slogan to 8 On Your Side If You Are Heterosexual.



Anonymous (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 5:59pm

I agree - amazing that this effort is labeled by anyone as "censorship."



Anonymous (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 5:29pm

We have a duty to do everything in our power to prevent the type of NAZI propaganda that spews from the American Family Association, and others who are nothing more than Hate Groups hiding behind the name of Christianity.

After The Hillsborough County BOCC under the leadership of Ronda Storms passes its resolution not to support gay events and forced the removal the of a book display of gay authors, my home was vandalized and a bullet put through my living room window. I personally know what the result can be from hate speech.

We can not standby and do nothing. If we do not voice our opposition and take action against the purveyors of hate, we may find ourselves in concentration camps wearing pink triangles on our shirts. History does repeat itself.

I commend Equality Florida for taking its stand, and urge all in the LGBT community to make their voices heard loudly!



firebearfl (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 5:20pm

We have a duty to do everything in our power to prevent the type of NAZI propaganda that spews from the American Family Association, and others who are nothing more than Hate Groups hiding behind the name of Christianity.

After The Hillsborough County BOCC under the leadership of Ronda Storms passes its resolution not to support gay events and forced the removal the of a book display of gay authors, my home was vandalized and a bullet put through my living room window. I personally know what the result can be from hate speech.

We can not standby and do nothing. If we do not voice our opposition and take action against the purveyors of hate, we may find ourselves in concentration camps wearing pink triangles on our shirts. History does repeat itself.

I commend Equality Florida for taking its stand, and urge all in the LGBT community to make their voices heard loudly!

John W.
Tampa



Anonymous (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 3:05pm

I completely agree. If a white supremecist group tried to air a similar ad warning against african americans you bet their would be an uproar! (as their should) Why is this any different?



Cindy (not verified) says:

July 1, 2009 - 12:11pm

Absolutely agree with you & St. Pete Times editorial.



Anonymous (not verified) says:

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