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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lazy narratives to push.

Did you hear the one about the Koran being burned as a protest of Islamic doctrine?

No no no no no--not by the Pentacostal microchurch led by Terry Jones.

Because, you know--they didn't actually burn any Korans.

No, I'm talking about Charles Merrill, the wealthy gay artist-of-some-sort. He actually destroyed an artistically-significant Koran gifted by King Hussein of Jordan (and valued by some at $60,000) back in July 2007. He did it to protest Islamic gay-bashing. Even sent out a press release and invited people to his website.

Media reaction? The sound of crickets. Crickets after a lungful of sarin. The closest thing to actual media coverage? A squib in the gay newspaper The Advocate.

That's odd.

But but but, you say--nobody's ever heard of Charles Merrill. He's a carnival-barking nobody busking for attention.

Fair enough. After all, the guy can't even get a mention in Wikipedia, of all places.

But. So is--was--Jones.

Why the discrepancy in coverage?

Might I humbly suggest that it's because Jones is the perfect demon-figure for lazy journalists marinating in Elmer Gantry and Inherit the Wind stereotypes about Christianity. Lord, the man's straight from Central Casting:

MSM: "It's a slow news month, and we're interested in Needlessly-Provocative Ignorant Backwoods Reverends to Caricature."

CC: "Wellll...let's see. Swaggart's pretty well clapped out, and Oral Roberts seems to, dead. Hey--how would you like a guy who looks like the underfed love child of Paul Teutul and is threatening to burn the Koran?"


Gay quasi-artist who points out Islamic violence against homosexuals--not so much. "Deer in the headlights" doesn't quite capture the flavor of a reporter being detailed to cover Merrill's stunt. He might even have to ask some difficult questions, and ruin the narrative by pointing out how Muslims are--you know, at least on occasion, once in a blue moon--victimizers and not just victims. There's no clear backlash angle, either. Best to just pretend it never happened.

But Jones, with his congregation of upwards of 20? The reporters rappelled down from News Copters 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10-13 inclusive for a Two-Minutes Tut-Tutting and Worried Frowning About The Rising Tide of Intolerance.

As the President would say: Let me be clear--I'm not a proponent of desecrating other people's holy objects or symbols as a general rule (argue about them--sure. Destroy--no). Not remotely. Which is why I can't cheer Artiste' Chagoya's gay Mohammed "tapestry." Do unto others...

But I am a major proponent of a vigorous free press that reports the facts, no matter how discomfiting it may be to groups it wants to coddle. And not a snooze bar media that pulls out comfortable templates to guide its air-cover reporting.

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