Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feedback

In addition to low pay, weird hours and a propensity toward cynicism, journalists like me suffer from a probability-induced occupational hazard: Once your number of readers passes a certain point, you have 1:1 odds at least one will be categorically insane.

Case in point: last week Judy (mother of Matthew) Shepard spoke at a local university. I attended her talk and wrote about it. Any reporter, except perhaps a hyperconservative at a gay-hating publication, would’ve written the same basic story I did: Here’s who she is, here’s what she talked about, quotes from people in the audience, the end.

The story ran Saturday. I came in Monday and found a four-and-a-half-minute (I timed it) voicemail rant from a woman who declined to leave her name or any contact info, but told me I was a horrible journalist and listed various reasons why:
THINGS MENTIONED IN THE STORY: A video before the speech showed images of bigotry, including a Klan rally and a Nazi concentration camp.

COMMENTARY BY THE CRITIC: The Klan and the Nazis were bad, but why didn’t you say anything about the Roman Catholic priests murdered in Guadalajara in the early 1900s? What about the genocide in Sudan, huh? And the people who live in poverty and can’t get out of it? Speech impediments! Why didn’t you say anything about the problems faced by people with speech impediments? (This is all paraphrased and condensed for space, but I’m not making any of it up.)

THINGS MENTIONED IN THE STORY: Judy Shepard does not like California’s Proposition 8, and spoke of this at length.

COMMENTARY BY THE CRITIC: Proposition 8 is a political matter. Politics do not belong in a story. Not unless you tell the other side. Telling only one side of the story is very irresponsible of you. Why didn't you report the other side?

THINGS MENTIONED IN THE STORY: Judy Shepard reminisced about her son, before and after the attack.

COMMENTARY BY THE CRITIC: Gays are only one percent of the population, and it was wrong for people to make fun of (exact quote) Matthew Shepard, but gays are only one percent of the population and there are a lot of other oppressed people in the world and you should’ve mentioned them. A good journalist brings balance to a story. You don’t have any balance.

THINGS MENTIONED IN THE STORY: Nothing – not a single solitary freakin’ word – about abortion or divorce.

COMMENTARY BY THE CRITIC: And many religions think marriage is holy and divorce is a sin, especially when there are children. It can put a real strain on a marriage when there’s children from a previous one, and abortion isn’t an option for everybody because many people have strong religious objections to abortion, and divorce, and why didn’t you say anything about that? There are valid religious reasons to oppose divorce, abortion and Proposition 8, and you should have said something about them and all the people suffering with speech impediments. I have a background in journalism and you are a very bad, irresponsible and unbalanced journalist.
I offered to forward this communiqué to my boss. He told – nay, ordered – me not to.

20 Comments:

Anonymous smartass sob said...

A good journalist brings balance to a story. You don’t have any balance....

I have a background in journalism and you are a very bad, irresponsible and unbalanced journalist.


Speaking of being unbalanced - does the phrase psychological projection come to anyone's mind here as it does to mine? If there is anyone who is unbalanced in that situation, I would venture to say that it is not a certain redheaded journalist we all know. ;-)

I guess hate mail just comes with the territory. How did the "critic" get your phone number - or is it a published office number?

9:29 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Oh, I see now - there is a phone number at which you may be contacted or left messages at the bottom of your newspaper column's comment section. An e-mail address, too. Bet that's a plentiful source of dinner conversation topics! ;-)

12:04 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Anyone who doubts my thesis is invited to read the previous comment for confirmation.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous a moose said...

by homosexuals like you

Wow. First, Jennifer hasn't molested any children nor burned any churches that I'm aware of. Have you been holding out on us, J? Second, I don't believe she is either gay or even remotely trending towards bisexual, at least in life. However, I must qualify that that in the adolescent fantasies of many young men and women that may be the case.

Do you really believe that her comment that someone is bats is an endorsement of any particular issue? I do not think so. No place in her post does she espouse any particular position, only document that the caller went rather nuts, obviously didn't actually pay attention to what was said, and instead of dealing with another person in a respectful manner took another course, similar to your rant here.

I would respectfully suggest that you devote some more attention to what you read. A whole lot more in regards to the "old" vs "new" testament, and live in the way you see fit without harassing others.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Cross posted from blog of MR Spitz (you get no respect of "Rev" from me till you show yourself to be deserving, thus far your actions indicate otherwise). Let's see if your moderator lets this through, shall we? If not, I'll post it here so you can be sure not to miss it, subject to Jennifer's acquiescence in allowing it to remain.

Please tell me, does your pro life stance apply to homosexual male and female human beings?

If not, you need to keep your mouth shut, as you are at least as much the hypocrite you accuse Planned Parenthood of being. They are, to be sure, born of a eugenics movement, and highly skewed towards eliminating those who are poor or of nonwhite skin. That is undeniable, as is your hypocrisy in making an idiotic rant about Matthew Shepherd, while based on your stated beliefs, you should spend at least a thousand times more electronic space berating his killers.

I suggest you start now. Make a post explaining how his killers are far more damned than he. Please, to be consistent. I don't recall one of the ten commandments to be "Thou shalt not be homosexual", but I do recall "Thou shall not kill." Therefore whatever venom you spit for Mr Shepherd should be far more strongly put to his killers.

What say you? Are you man, or disgusting hypocrite? It shall be interesting to find out.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Hell's bells, Jennifer! Next time you turn over a rock use a long stick - you never know what might be under it.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

And just for record purposes, what the hell did you do, Jennifer, to give him the impression you were gay?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

what the hell did you do, Jennifer, to give him the impression you were gay?

*sigh* The same thing I did to give that other woman the impression I go out of my way to neglect people with speech impediments, I suppose.

12:00 PM  
Blogger J sub D said...

The Rev. Donald Spitz appears to have serious sexual identity issues that should be discussed with a qualified therapist.

He should shouid also avoid eating rabbits (Lev 11:5), hares (Lev. 11:6), pork (Lev 11:7), and shellfish (Lev 11:10), so as not to piss off the big guy.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

He should shouid also avoid eating ....

Should have stopped there ;)

12:25 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I did a quick online search; he posted pretty much the same comment on several blogs in the past few days. Apparently whenever the word "Matthew Shepard" appears, he visits the blog to cut and paste his comment.

So I doubt he'll come back. Zzzz.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

By the way, I deleted his original comment because the link to his Web page was running bad code. But I cut-and-pasted his insanity here, code-free, for anyone interested:

The Rev. Donald Spitz-Not-Swallows wrote:

Matthew Shepard? How many straight children have been molested and murdered by homosexuals like you? A lot. How many Christians have been assaulted by homosexuals like you because you didn't like the way they voted? A lot. How many Christian churches have been burned down by homosexuals like you because you disagree with the Holy Bible? A lot. Matthew Shepard is in eternal hell fire now and will never get out.
Whatever you think, you will not be able to change God's Word and will one day have to pay the price for not believing what God has written.
Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Romans 1:22-27

V22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, V23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

V24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

V25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen.

V26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

V27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Of course, now my comment about "reading the previous comment" makes people think I'm gunning for Smartass rather than Rev. Spitz-not-Swallows. Oopsie. Well, posterity should be able to figure out where I deleted the original comment from.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

makes people think I'm gunning for Smartass

Oh, I think I'll survive somehow. I read the "Reverend's" comment before you deleted the original, and it made reference to a website of The Army of God. I had thought their problem was mostly with abortion rather than homosexuality.

The "Reverend" asks:

Matthew Shepard? How many straight children have been molested and murdered by homosexuals like you? A lot. How many Christians have been assaulted by homosexuals like you because you didn't like the way they voted? A lot. How many Christian churches have been burned down by homosexuals like you because you disagree with the Holy Bible?

I'd like to ask how many children have been murdered and/or molested by "straight" people? By so-called "Christian" people? For that matter, how many have been molested by Christian "men-of-the-cloth"? How many barely pubescent little girls got tapped by David Koresh at the Branch Davidian compound? How many were "married" off to some old fart in those jack mormon cults out west? And how many kids were molested by all those good Roman Catholic priests over the years?

Christians "assaulted by homosexuals" because of the way they voted? Really? How many Jews, atheists and non-believers, as well as homosexuals, "witches", and other people deemed "heretics" have been harrassed, assaulted - even burned at the stake or otherwise murdered over the centuries by all you "good Christians?" Bunch of Goddamned psalm-singing hypocrites!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Bunch of Goddamned psalm-singing hypocrites!

Tell us what you really think, SASOB, don't hold back ;>

4:43 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Tell us what you really think, SASOB, don't hold back ;>

Preachers like Spitz make my blood boil. I think he has some nerve to exaggerate transgressions by homosexuals - and he is clearly exaggerating - when straight, "Christians" (I use the term advisedly) are even guiltier of the same or even greater wrongs. I have no use for the Christian religion or any other, but ministers like him twist and pervert the Christian message and use it to justify their own hatred and persecution of others.

But don't misunderstand me - while I don't accept the teachings of any of the world's "great religions," at the same time I'm not going to defend homosexuality either. At worse I think it is a perversion and at best an affliction. No, I don't think anyone "chooses" to be gay, but neither do I believe anyone is born that way either. But even though I may find homosexuality repugnant, as long as they aren't using force on anyone they have a perfect right to engage in whatever behavior they wish. Or at least, I have no right to use force to stop them. I think I and the rest of society should have to tolerate them, and I think it would be really swell if everyone could exercise a bit of human decency and refrain from harrassing them. However, I do not think gays should be able to use governmental force in an attempt to gain acceptance of their lifestyle as "morally" legitimate. I don't think government has any bussiness enforcing moral standards other than those that uphold sanctions against fraud, theft, murder, etc.

And just for the record, yes, gays should be able to marry. Marriage is a religious institution; if they can find a minister willing to marry them, then fine. But as a civil institution? Marriage, gay or straight, should receive the same treatment by the state as any other civil union.

And now, Moose, if you'd be so kind as to point me in the direction of that steel blast door used as refuge in the past... ;-)

9:20 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

No, I don't think anyone "chooses" to be gay, but neither do I believe anyone is born that way either.

Curiously, what is "Door #3"? If one is not born that way nor chooses that path, I'm lost as to how one can arrive at the destination.

The whole discussion is actually rather timely, as I just got back yesterday from burying my gay uncle (yes, while it is a running joke, I actually had the gay uncle). He served honorably in the military, as he did in the American Legion after his retirement. Growing up, I knew he had a roommate, but I was too young to understand what was going on with all that. It's just interesting as my aunt, his sister, still is upset that he's gay, or was, and we're like 65 yrs after she figured it out.

I made the mistake of saying "You know, I was looking at _____'s picture when they were younger, and not that I understand it but I guess he was a handsome man so he did pretty well there." The blank was my uncle's partner. My aunt then half tripped offline, but her anger was more oriented towards him not having children than anything else.

This guy Spitz is a whole different type of character. On the one hand, he condemns individuals, yet he espouses murder as a mechanism to enforce his belief system (never mind his system bans murder too). It would be an interesting argument for a homosexual or abortionist to make if they applied a bullet to him, to claim self defense. Probably wouldn't fly, but I believe the majority of people would be looking for some way to make it work.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Curiously, what is "Door #3"? If one is not born that way nor chooses that path, I'm lost as to how one can arrive at the destination.

I would venture to say that it is as the result of a psychological process of association - a kind of passive learning, if you will, of which one is not usually aware. It's probably not any one single instance of association either, but rather a number of them that begin at the moment of birth and continue throughout childhood. Even if one had the mental ability at such a young age to be aware of what was going on in one's mind, one probably wouldn't notice it. If one did, it would probably be forgotten by adulthood - and that might be the case even if it were a trauma of some kind.

So many of one's personal values, one's preferences - even what one believes - are just uncritically absorbed and/or accepted from life's experiences. And of course, there is what one is taught - both deliberately and indeliberately. Little kids are like sponges - they pick up everything and pick up on everything. They quickly learn what brings approval and disapproval. Like other primates they are also very imitative of behavior, and some behavior gets re-inforced and some gets discouraged, either intentionally or unintentionally.

None of this is what I would call choice - it isn't a process of deliberately or actively deciding to prefer one thing or another, or to feel one way or another, or to believe one way or another. One just either does or doesn't and notes the fact to oneself - and maybe also notes a few reasons why. One can't will oneself to feel a particular emotion - not directly anyway.

Alternatively the above isn't an instance of "hardwiring" either. It's the old question of nature versus nurture I suppose, but nurture doesn't have to mean "choice" - in fact, it probably seldom does.

I think very little of what humans are is due to nature or hardwiring - only the most basic of our mental processes and drives. Sure, everyone (or nearly everyone) is born with the hardwiring to feel sexual desire and the ability to respond sexually at some future stage in their development after the hormones have kicked in. But when is it determined whether one will desire a male or a female and respond to same? I say that happens way before puberty and most likely long before one has any concept of such a thing as sexual activity. (I, myself, can remember having crushes on little girls from the time I was five, and I cared what they looked like, too, even as far as whether they had nice legs. But I didn't find out about sex until after I was eight years old - I had thought genitalia were just for urination.)

Even if the determination isn't set in stone at an early time, the odds are probably and usually stacked in favor of one or the other. But does it happen before birth - meaning, is it geneticly determined? I seriously doubt it. Why? Because some people are attracted to either or both sexes. Not only that, but there are those who are attracted to children (of either sex) and to animals even. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if some were sexually attracted to inanimate objects. The odd thing is that these very same people will usually be married or mated and usually to someone of the opposite sex!

The human psyche is a very large, and complicated subject - I could spend hours and hours thinking about and discussing it. Unfortunately there isn't enough room here, and I certainly don't have enough free hours. In fact, I've run out...for now.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

BTW, lest anyone misunderstand, I don't mean to imply that we are all clay tabulae raza passively waiting to be written upon by Life's experiences and fired hard in it's kiln. We are constantly becoming who we are and we are able to consciously exercise some control over that process if we choose. Granted the earlier some things become ingrained in us, the less likely they will be changed. Certainly such are more difficult to change.

3:08 AM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

a kind of passive learning

With no relation, of course, to whether you prefer pitching or catching.

I don't know, personally. I can't see it being "learned" without some form of example, which would lean towards "Born that way". However, biologically, it doesn't make much sense (accepting, which I do, the premise that sex feels good on many levels as it furthers the species so that part is hard wired, and biologically without medical intervention a homosexual union cannot create life), so that would tend to be an argument against being wired that way. I guess I'm a well settled agnostic on the issue, and put it under the "I don't understand, but let people be" tab and go onward.

Just for feedback, if I were a cynical person, I'd read "Ok, not a choice, not born that way, but programmed" as you're likening it to some kind of mental aberration, perhaps mental illness. That's why I was curious what door #3, no pun intended, was. My reading of what you're saying is that you're in the "choice" realm, but subdivided into an "unconscious choice." Notwithstanding that the statement "Unconscious choice" is a contradiction to a certain extent, the fundamental underlying principle is that you can learn to be heterosexual if you're inclined to be homosexual, if I'm reading what you're saying correctly. The "choice" aspect allows one to change, the "born that way" does not.

5:03 AM  

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