Thursday, June 24, 2010

Joining your Opponent in the Gutter

That's pretty much whata "reporter" from Lavender magazine did when he inflitrated a support group for people struggling with same sex attractions and then broke the confidentiality rules to out one of the attendees - a Pastor Tom Brock who likes to blame gay people for tornadoes and such.

Now yea there's that sinful part of me that smirked and said "I KNEW IT" when I first read about this over at Pretty Good Lutherans.    ANOTHER anit-gay person who is actually gay himself.  Then I realized how the information was come by and that is unacceptable.    The reporter should be fired.  Except that I fear that was his assignment.

So what that he's gay and doesn't want to be?  Does that change anything he has done?  No.  I thought he was a ridiculous man before and now I think he's a pathetic ridiculous man.  I'm sorry he's gay and doesn't want to be.  We all have to be things we don't want to be.  Do you think I want to be a widow?  He's just pathetic and deserves prayers and yes, a little sympathy.  Knowing he was at a confidential support group doesn't really change or help anything.  I suspect most anti-gay people of being gay anyways - you don't need to be invading the privacy of unhappy, struggling people to know that's mostly true.

Shame on Lavender magazine and it's reporter.  Journalism should be better than that.  Is this what we are coming to?  God help us all


  1. I was pretty outraged with the magazine.

    Sure, Brock is a piece of work -- blaming bad weather on gay people is the famous example -- but that's almost beside the point. Violating the trust of people in a confidential support group is beyond tacky; it undermines the entire enterprise.

    Anybody who has ever had a friend or relation (or deacon or pastor) in AA or NA knows how important these groups are. And even if you don't think a gays-anonymous group has much inherent value, once a magazine starts to violate the confidentiality of group, they all start to lose their critical element, anonymity.


  2. To me the ethics of the "infiltration" depend on the reason for going there. If the initial purpose was to do an article on the nature of this sort of secretive and highly problematic group, then I don't have a problem even with the deceipt used to gain access. That would have been valuable reporting, with the identities of the participants shielded from the public eye. Nor would I have any objection to outing Tom Brock, per se, given his history of over-the-top attacks on gay and lesbian people (and the ELCA). But if, on the other hand, the reason was to get Tom Brock, then I think it was indeed a very low thing to do. It's not clear from the article what the purpose of going was. The article shows hints of the more general story, but it clearly turned out to be about outing Pr. Brock. Yet, the possibility that was the initial purpose cannot be easily dismissed, either.

    Just because the group makes use of a 12-step and anonymous model does not, to me, necessarily mean that it must be accepted by all. The problem is that this story has the potential of working much harm in the lives of the men who attended. But these groups also cause harm in their own way. Even if it's not seeking to convert these men into straight men, but a more benign matter of helping to refrain from "temptation," it is still a group that works against a healthy sexuality and psychology.

  3. I understand the criticisms of this particular group...but once we cross a line and say journalists can decide which groups are "legit" and which ones are not- then someone from another publication can decide alcholism isn't really a disease and these are all just a bunch of dangerous drunks and we need to know who they are because they might be driving....

    And honestly I really don't see any other purpose other than "gotcha!" to "outing" Brock. If what he does and says is wrong - it's wrong and bad and destructive, whatever his personal struggles.

  4. Outing a hypocritical anti-gay public figure (be it a politician, or conservative religious figures like Haggard or Brock) serves to impeach them as a credible source, and shows who they are to be at great odds with what they say. I wouldn't support outing someone who wasn't a public figure or wasn't busy blasting gay and lesbian people with their public platform. But I think there is a line crossed when they fit into that particular situation.

    The problem with simply saying that any support group is simply supposed to be off limits to journalism, is that it means that all sorts of stuff can be hidden there. Which of them is legit and which of them use legitimate methods is an appropriate thing for public scrutiny. While most 12-step and self-help groups are perfectly legit and appropriate, to regard all such groups as simply and always sacrosanct can mean much that is not good or appropriate can also pass under the radar of the wider society. They need accountability as well as recognition of the importance of confidentiality. Balance is needed, not an all or nothing approach.