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The Silent Discrimination

By DranoK 420 in Op-Ed
Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 08:25:20 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

I almost felt better in High School when I knew who the enemy was. When I knew how the enemy would act and when the discrimination queers were subjected to seemed blatant and obvious. Fred Phelps keeps this tradition alive with his gospel of "God Hates Fags", but mainstream religion and media would never be so bold to express similar views. The time of Anita Bryant is gone. For the most part the people I interact with don't believe in the so-called "homosexual agenda" or that queers will molest/recruit children. Sometimes it almost seems the gay movement is making significant progress, that the end to discrimination is near -- and when I hear people refer to the gay-rights movement as a historical event I wish I could believe it. Then I look around and realize anti-gay discrimination hasn't vanished, it has merely evolved.

Today on CNN.com I read an AP article about the famous dog mauling which happened last year. Whipple, the woman who is now dead because of Knoller's pet dogs, was a lacrosse coach who lived in San Francisco. Whipple's mother, Penny, is angry with the Knoller couple for showing no remorse over her daughter's death. All this was gleamed from the AP article. However, not even a single mention of Diane Whipple's lover of seven years, Sharon Smith, is included in the article.

Media loves to print the quotes of loved ones in news articles. A recent AP article recognizes King's wife. It also recognizes Bush's wife even though the paragraph was unnecessary. Another article about Hillary Clinton includes the almost-mandatory reference to her husband. Finally this article mentions Bush's wife when the reference is completely unnecessary to the topic of the story.

When the subject of a news article has no spouse the media likes to include the closest living relative, generally the subject's parents. This can be seen here in the Walker case, and here in the recent case of the missing school-bus. It's obvious that AP and CNN believe the family to be important and go to great extents to include mentions of a person's family in their articles. Why, then, is Sharon Smith mysteriously left out of the AP dog-mauling article when Whipple's mother is included?

Furthermore this article mentions Whipple's mother's wrongful death civil suit but not Sharon Smith's wrongful death suit which set a landmark precedent! Nothing about this article even gives a hint that Whipple was gay. It's as though AP and CNN feel this fact is completely unimportant.

Whipple isn't the only one who's sexuality is conveniently left in the closet. This article about Yves Saint Laurent makes no mention of his long-time lover Pierre Berge. All of these examples are from January of 2002. Even more could be found if I extended my search to include 2001 as well. I think the point is made, however.

It seems the US has donned a ubiquitous set of "don't-ask-don't-tell" blinders; the media discriminates against queers not by referring to them as deviants or mental patients, but by simply ignoring them as if they never existed. History is written without mention of Sharon Smith or Pierre Berge and a part of Whipple's life is surgically removed by the mass media, quietly swept under the rug as irrelevant controversy.


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The Silent Discrimination | 66 comments (53 topical, 13 editorial, 1 hidden)
You don't know jack about discrimination (1.21 / 23) (#3)
by Reginald Johnson on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:34:33 PM EST

When you are walking down the street people don't look at you and grab their purse. When you go out for coffee at three in the morning the police don't stop and ask you wnat you are doing. It is wrong for you to try and jump on the bandwagon of discrimination by pretending that you suffer the same thing I do. What makes me different is visible. People see a black man. With you they just see a white man. Gay people go out of their way to let people know they are gay. You don't need a gay pride parade. I wouldn't be allowed to have a parade for men that like pussy. The reason everyone is against gay people is because a lot of you act like freaks. When I think of a gay person I think of either a man that dresses like a woman or that man in the B-52's. The vocal people in the homosexual community are causing you people to be feared. You can't have respect when you don't work for it. I think you need to get over yourself and not be a crybaby. African-Americans still do not have all the respect and rights we deserve but we don't cry about it if someone is killed and they don't put the husband or wife in the news. If you can't get through the small stuff like this without being a drama queen then you ain't going to make progress any other way.
----Give me my forty acres and a mule.----
Why? (4.20 / 10) (#4)
by dannygene on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:41:12 PM EST

> Nothing about this article even gives a hint
> that Whipple was gay. It's as though AP and CNN
> feel this fact is completely unimportant.

Why should they mention it? Do they mention it everytime someone is straight? I see your point about quoting loved ones and such, but why should it be announced that she was gay? By not mentioning it, I'd say they were treating her more fairly than going out of their way to point that fact out. You can't have it both ways; being treated as equal and not any different as everyone else, or pointing out when someone is different and hailing that as a special attribute. This could be argued for more than just homosexuals, but that's a whole other rant.

Life is too serious to be taken too seriously.

Yes, but no... (4.60 / 5) (#10)
by RareHeintz on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:11:00 PM EST

You're right, no article would ever include the phrase, "...Whipple, who happens to be heterosexual..." Most anyone would find it absurd.

OTOH, I think the poster was making the point that the corporate media would be more likely to publish remarks from her boyfriend than her (gasp!) girlfriend. It's subtle, and I'm sure it usually doesn't take the form of "We don't publish no quotes from no dykes!" - but I bet a lot of people along the line think, "My grandmother reads this newspaper. No need to include that."

Just my $2e-02.

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Not their sexual orientation... (5.00 / 3) (#28)
by R343L on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:40:20 PM EST

The point isn't that they didn't mention the significant other's (SO) sex. The point is that they didn't mention the existence of such. If the SO had been a man, boyfriend or husband, they almost certainly have mentioned that the person existed (i.e. a quote if they had one or a fluff sentence if they didn't). That they went to the trouble of mentioning the mother but not the person with whom she (presumably) had chosen to spend her life is significant to me.

Other CNN stories about the case (here and here) do not mention the SO either. Granted they are more about the arraignment of the accused but the given article is more about jury selection.

"Like cheese spread over too much cantelope, the people I spoke with liked their shoes." Ctrl-Alt-Del
[ Parent ]

More on the self-censored media (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by Trencher on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 03:56:07 PM EST

In order to make money, by attracting an audience, the media has to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Some people do not approve of homosexuality and, while they may not put much effort into eliminating the rights of openly homosexual people, they may indeed stop using a media source if it in some way implies an acceptance of our gay population. This would be bad for the media, so they go out of their way to avoid those implications.
Although I can't say I approve of such actions, as they ultimately decrease the quality of the news we receive, I don't thing it qualifies as discrimination. This sort of thing will continue happening until a large majority of the population accepts homosexuality as part of life (additional genders, as Vonnegut put it?), and the stigma generated by organized religion and society has been eliminated.

"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
I see it almost the same. (none / 0) (#13)
by theboz on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:17:56 PM EST

I think that the media would leave it out because her being a lesbian will create controversy. Don't you think she would rather be known as "a human being mauled by dogs" than, "one of 'those' people." If they had put anything about her being a lesbian in there, I think that most people would not have felt as much sympathy, and maybe the Westboro Baptist Church would have caught wind of the funeral and protested it.

[ Parent ]

More genders... (none / 0) (#21)
by notafurry on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:45:48 PM EST

Interesting thought. I'm not remembering the particular Vonnegut reference, which really doesn't matter in this case, but how many did he define? I can think of eight...

  • male
  • bisexual male
  • homosexual male
  • neuter male
  • neuter female
  • homosexual female
  • bisexual female
  • female
But now we have discrimination again. Hmm. Ideal would probably be

male or female, preference unknown

but, of course, that has practical problems - how do you identify potential partners? If I'm male, say, how do I find a willing female or bisexual female? So, ok, let's find names for each gender which is "fair" - maybe, say,

  • hetero
  • ambio
  • homo
  • neutro
  • neutra
  • homa
  • ambia
  • hetera
Hmm... unfortunate coincidence on the third one there, but it's a thought. Any other fair systems that get the job done?

[ Parent ]
On the contrary (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by jabber on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:06:36 PM EST

I think the popular media loves to expose people's sexuality, if it is other than vanilla and straight, because it's a 'taboo', and the consumers eat it up..

Your point on discrimination is valid, but your example, IMO, is a poor one.

The fact that this woman was gay has nothing to do with her having been mauled, does it? Were the dogs let loose on her because she was gay? If so, and the lover was not mentioned, that is a major omission.. As it is, if a straight person was killed by dogs, their spouse would be mentioned, but their 'partner' would likely not be. Whom a mauling victim dates is irrelevant to the event, unless it is relevant. Right?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

But they'd quote a fiance... (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by rantweasel on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:53:26 PM EST

If it was her fiance Bob instead of her parter Sharon, they'd quote Bob. He'd at least get the chance to talk about how tragic her death was, etc. I'm guessing that if these two women could have legally been married, they would have been. If nothing else, they'd been common law spouses after 7 years (in most states, anyway). I think the example is quite good, in fact.


[ Parent ]
bitch bitch bitch (2.78 / 14) (#12)
by dr k on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:12:38 PM EST

I don't care who sleeps with whom. Go fight for health care for domestic partners. Hell, go fight for health care for everybody. I don't care about your genitals.

If you're going to fight against media distortion, fight against the U.S. government censorship of the war. Fight against bullshit propaganda for smarter weapons and dumber enemies. Fight against press release news that makes you want to shop at the Gap or eat a McDonalds burger because the help some poor bastard crippled children. Fight against the Victorian values that encourage us to be obsessed with women's breasts but refuses to put a bare nipple on a magazine cover. Fight against the branding of Peter Jennings and his new line of casual workwear.

Fight for compassion for everybody.

Destroy all trusted users!

There are more important issues. (4.40 / 5) (#17)
by thedward on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:18:48 PM EST

Yes, there are more important issues, but if everyone only fought for the most important issue, then none of the others would get any attention whatsoever.

People choose their own battles. In my opinion, telling someone that their battle is not worthwhile and they should go pick a better one is not constructive. If they wanted to fight one of those other battles they would already be doing so (and perhaps they are).

[ Parent ]

Beating the wrong demons (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by karb on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:20:37 PM EST

I feel like the spouse-reference thing is entirely a gender-bias thing. As in, these political figures (and the media that write about them) are trying to be seen as gender-inclusive.

Writing about the same-sex partner of a victim or famous person doesn't really do that for you.

Just an idea. I'm a big fan of hanlon's razor.
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

Food for thought: (4.72 / 22) (#15)
by AmberEyes on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 04:46:11 PM EST

This is my opinion, but I think that different people read this differently:

"However, not even a single mention of Diane Whipple's lover of seven years, Sharon Smith, is included in the article."

When gay movement supporters -- strong gay movement supporters -- read that, they get up in arms. They pick it apart, scream of injustice, and protest. They feel that they are justified to do this -- that they should not be swept under the rug, and that they should not be pushed back into the proverbial closet. They are proud of who they are, they are proud of the advances they made, and they want recognition for being who they are.

When casual gay movement supporters (the ones who do what they can to help the movement and support gays and lesbians) read this -- and I will come out and say very plainly that I am one of these -- they see an injustice, but they also see a need for caution. They look at it, and while realizing that it isn't fair, they also can see that excessive complaining is only going to cause people to scrutinize and perhaps reject the gay movement and community. They realize that you and I cannot make someone change -- that the change must come from that person himself. And they realize that nit-picking stories -- suggesting a vast media conspiracy with haphazard evidence -- is a waste of time that can be better used towards a better goal, or a more universal method of teaching and temperance towards everyone's sexuality.

People who aren't too fond of gays, and maybe don't really care one way or another, read that article and they see it as complaining. They don't understand the issue because frankly, most of the experience they've had with gays has to do with them complaining about something or another -- rather, that complaining sticks out in their minds. They don't (and perhaps can't) understand what it is to be gay, or to be persecuted for their sexuality, and vocalizing about this injustice doesn't do much to them. These people need to be taught respect towards everyone, regardless of race, color, gender, sexuality, or age. Articles like this make them respond to it by wondering why everyone is complaining. Rather than preach of injustices that they can't quite fathom, preach temperance.

Gay haters, like the loathsome Phelps, see this as a cry of weakness. They see it as a sort of admittance by gays that they are not, were not, and never will be "equal". They see it humorously, laughing at the pain and angst that gay people go through trying to live their lives. This fuels them -- much like the trolls on K5 and Slashdot, this only serves to make them want to bother gays even more. Their justification is that if enough people are exposed to the reaction of the gay movement and community by things like this, it will show the gays for what they "truely are", whatever that may be to Phelps and his followers. And though this might not be true, it's enough to keep Phelps going.

I know people who fit into all these categories, and who think like this. As I said, I fit into a category myself. It's up to the gay community and the supporters of the gay community to decide the best way to show themselves to the community.

I have a gay friend named Ray. He's always said that two things about the gay community bother him: "flamers" and complainers. Flamers, he says, gives the wrong impression, and only gives ammo to people like Phelps. Complainers, he says, do nothing to help the solution. Complaining, looking for conspiracies, and trying to force equality always backfire, according to him. I tend to think he's right. He's shaped how I view gays and how I sympathize to the gay movement.

And I think he would disagree with this article.


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
To wit: (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by dennis on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 04:33:57 PM EST

This article at the Onion makes a somewhat related point:

Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance of Gays Back 50 Years

[ Parent ]

Quotes from SOs vs Spouses (3.75 / 4) (#16)
by Elkor on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:07:02 PM EST

All the examples you mention in your article are the spouses or recognized family of an individual.

To properly emphasize your point, can you provide examples of news articles where the boy/girlfriend of a heterosexual is quoted? Aside from local articles in my paper, I can't recall any examples off hand (but I have a terrible memory for names).

Unfair as it may be, with the exception of a few states, long term lovers do not have any legal status (unless the state has "Common Law Marriages") entitling them to benefits from the estate of their deceased lover.

Personally, I would like to see this changed. But I can understand the newspapers position on not quoting someone whose relationship is unclear (i.e. verifiable via birth/marriage certificate or other document).


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Couple of points (4.53 / 15) (#18)
by notafurry on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:23:27 PM EST

First, not all media are "ignoring" the issue. This morning, in fact, NBC had an interview with Sharon Smith and her lawyer. I wasn't paying much attention (the only good thing about the Today show is that the local NBC affiliate has a better weather forecast than the opposition) but I do recall seeing her on screen with her lawyer, and the text at the bottom was "Sharon Smith" with the subtitle of "Partner of Diane Whipple".

Second, I do agree there's still a substantial amount of discrimination against homosexuals. That's unfair, and it's unfortunate. But it's hardly the only or the worst problem.

Ever been a pagan in a small town? Or black in a white neighborhood? (Even in the "we aren't racist" northern towns - I know, I grew up in one.) Hey, how about being a trans-sexual damn near anywhere?

How would you like, a few years or decades in the future, to be a clone at a grade school?

Another example... There's a case near Seattle of a 13 year old boy who is a convicted sex offender. He's being treated various ways - therapy, and so on - and continuously guarded. He's in a foster home with trained foster parents, with alarms on all doors and windows, homeschooled, and constantly under surveillance.

The entire neighborhood of the town he's in has been picketing and protesting, demanding that he be removed. They don't care where - more than a few of the signs, some held by kids, simply demanded that he be "locked up". (Funny, I could have sworn he was locked up...)

The fact of the matter is, we all still hate the green monkey. OK, actual physical violence is much rarer than it once was, and it's somewhat more likely to be prosecuted now than in the past. But the problems are still there, and they aren't going to go away until we actually find the root of the problem.

Which is within us. Discrimination has a very simple purpose - it makes us feel better. It makes us feel safe, as is the case with the local boy above. It makes us feel superior - "they can't do this job". It makes us feel better about ourselves - "it's not my fault I'm out of work - it's those damned <insert race here> stealing our jobs".

Can we fix that? No, not really. Maybe someday, when everyone is equally wealthy, equally beautiful, equally capable, then it'll happen. Shortly after the NHL championships are held in Hell, and monkeys fly out of Dana Carvey's ass.

What we can do, is stop acting on those feelings. Individually. OK, your religion believes homosexuality is a sin. That's nice, dear. Mine says you're an agent of the Devil-God of Turnips, and as such I must destroy you. Would tomorrow be convenient?

Oh, now it's a problem. OK, gotcha. Tell you what. You stop paying attention to other peoples' bedrooms, and I won't slay you with a ritual fondue fork. That's all it takes. Before you vote to pass a law prohibiting behavior, or campaign to remove a book from a library, or try to prevent someone from having the same benefits you enjoy, just stop and ask why you care. In other words, before trying to stamp out homosexuality, ask the question - "are they trying to sleep with me? Or force me to only sleep with other men/women? Or steal my children?" The answer to all of those is no. So why do you care?

And if you don't, I still have the fondue fork...

Strange (none / 0) (#57)
by brunes69 on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 05:07:26 PM EST

I was under the impression that monkeys fly out of Dana Carvey's ass all the time.

---There is no Spoon---
[ Parent ]
I don't know him well enough to be certain... (none / 0) (#59)
by notafurry on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 07:01:33 PM EST

But I remember the old SNL sketches having him say it sarcastically - "Yeah. And monkeys will fly out of my butt!" - but it's been a while. I could - possibly - be mistaken. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Whipple's partner well known in San Francisco (4.55 / 18) (#19)
by ucblockhead on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 05:23:55 PM EST

This "hidden" fact has been very well reported in the SF media, and has actually been a story in itself as Whipple's lover wanted to sue for wrongful death. Here's on story on that. There were many, many stories like that in the SF media.

A search of the SF Chronicle for the year of 2001 gives 52 hits that mention Whipple's lover Sharon smith out of 220.

What is interesting is that the SF Chronicle printed that particular AP article exactly as is, which makes me wonder if you are extrapolating too much from one piece of evidence. You need to base it not on one or two articles, but on all the articles written on the case.

I briefly checked the LA Times, and it seems as if about 20% mentioned Smith (7 out of 35). For Yahoo news, it was about 25% (8 out of 25).

It seems to me that you need to do a lot more research before you make the claim you are making.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Coupla things (4.00 / 7) (#26)
by regeya on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:33:02 PM EST

Doubt this story'll get to a section, since it's obvious flaimbait, but I've got to comment as I feel there's a coupla points to be made here, and an observation that could yield a possible editorial on someone's part. If you want to use it, feel free. :-)

Today on CNN.com I read an AP article about the famous dog mauling which happened last year. Whipple, the woman who is now dead because of Knoller's pet dogs, was a lacrosse coach who lived in San Francisco. Whipple's mother, Penny, is angry with the Knoller couple for showing no remorse over her daughter's death. (emphasis mine)

As if showing remorse changes the facts of the case. It's one of the few areas I actually agree with Rush Limbaugh. Remorse != absence of guilt. Remorse is hard to judge, as well, because emotions are easily faked. Remorse, to me, is such an empty measure of responsibility. People should receive equal treatment for equal guilt, not a lessening of blame due to a show of crocodile tears. It worries me that so many of my fellow Americans seem to think with their emotions rather than with, well, logical thought.

Also, I see you failed to note the victims cultural heritage. What? Her family was white? That's such a cop-out. Everyone should be aware of their heritage, and if her family were, say, Welsh and were ignored due to that, it's a clear, obvious case of prejudice against the Welsh. I, for one, have strong Scottish roots. And, no, Rusty, being part-Scotch is not the reason I've not subscribed to Kuro5hin.org, you bigot.


[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Absolute vs. Care-based ethics (none / 0) (#62)
by Skwirl on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 05:24:20 AM EST

The system of punishment you're advocating is an absolutist one and it's not more, or less, valid than the alternative. Care-based ethics is the system of ethics that takes into account interpersonal relationships and human emotions (it's favored by women in our society, incidentally). In my opinion, it helps to add the human element into these kinds of logical equations. Of course remorse is hard to judge. So is guilt. Neither can be determined with 100% accuracy. That's why we ask for a "reasonable expectation of guilt" in a trial, because we can't be totally sure we know the correct story.

Besides, I don't think anyone's advocating that murderers should go free as soon as they feel bad about it. However, logically, authentic remorse is a useful gauge of a number of relevant questions. Remorse requires empathy and a person with empathy can understand the "do unto others as you would have done unto you" golden rule that most of civilized law is based on. It's reasonable to assume that a remorseful person will probably not repeat their misdeed. Remorse may give clues as to whether or not an act was premeditated.

In this case, I think the lack of remorse is very telling. First of all, it shows that the dog's owners are anti-social and stupid, since their lack of remorse is hurting the victim's family and alienating their jurors. By not trying to comfort the victim's family, they're adding to the horribleness of the accident. If I were a juror, I could sympathize with a defendant who accidentally hurt someone and then tried to make amends. That could be me. However, I can not sympathize with someone who feels nothing after being responsible for the circumstances that led to another person's death. I would have felt something. Someone who doesn't feel a tinge of guilt after contributing to another person's death obviously has no notion of the sanctity of human life. If that was the case, then the only thing that kept the dogs at bay in the first place was the owner's fear of punishment.

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]
Who happens to be (4.57 / 7) (#27)
by Woundweavr on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:37:19 PM EST

First of all, I'm not sure that boyfriend/girlfriends are often quoted in brief stories on a case, but I concede the point.

However, and this sounds harsh, I don't care. I don't care if she is gay or straight. I don't care if she's white or black or asian or whatever. If it doesn't have relevance in the story, then I don't care if those charectoristics are left out.

Now as far as her lovers wrongful death suit is concerned, then it becomes relevant. However, lots of other sources include her so it becomes irrelevant anyway.

In the end, the way to get equality for a gender/race/sexuality/religion etc, is from inside the system. Nitpicking and demanding perfect equality right this second doesn't work nearly as well as internal reform. Coming at the problem from the outside just causes a confrontational enviroment. Causing a fuss over something as minor as this just creates more us vs them paradigms.

What the? (3.92 / 13) (#29)
by DeadBaby on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 08:58:18 PM EST

Nothing about this article even gives a hint that Whipple was gay. It's as though AP and CNN feel this fact is completely unimportant

Um well maybe because it isn't? I swear, sometimes the people who are discriminated against are the ones who are to blame. If you're queer, fine... that's great... I just don't care... if you try to make me care I'm going to start feeling freaked out by gays.

If that's what you want... go for it. I don't care you're gay, I don't care that this person was gay... I don't even care if the dog who mauled her to death was gay.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Without voicing any opinion (none / 0) (#34)
by Robert S Gormley on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 12:10:31 AM EST

Advertising campaign on billboards here: "Hey, hetero! Only 0.05% of sexuality related bashings are against straights."

[ Parent ]
What? (2.11 / 9) (#32)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:44:04 PM EST

Maybe I missed the point, but who really gives a flying frag?

I meant about her homosexuality (n/t) (none / 0) (#58)
by Neuromancer on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 06:39:44 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Good topic. Bad example. (4.56 / 16) (#33)
by vambo rool on Thu Jan 24, 2002 at 11:48:45 PM EST

You've got a great topic here, if you had just picked a different example. Whipple's sexual orientation doesn't have anything to do with the mauling. If you wanted to frame the story to what happens to her estate, that's another question.

I think a better illustration might be Mark Bingham. His story is a perfect illustration of what I think your story is trying to say. Seemingly every story of every victim of Sept. 11 mentions the spouse, friend, relative, whatever of a victim except his. Andrew Sullivan is convinced, with good reason, that Bingham was one of those who brought down the plane in Pennsylvania. President Bush had the wife of another victim in his post-Sept 11 speech to congress yet, to this day, has made no mention of Bingham. Even Sen. John McCain gave the eulogy. No mention in the mainstream press. Also not mentioned in the mainstream press was Father Mychal Judge, the gay Catholic FDNY Chaplain who was one of the first onto the scene that morning.

There are so many things to examine. The impact of all this misguided DOMA legislation. "Full faith and credit" clause of the constitution as it relates to Vermont and Hawaii. All kinds of things.

I just think this is the wrong, well maybe not wrong, but... weak .. this is a weak example to pick.

It sounds.. (none / 0) (#35)
by Weezul on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 12:26:46 AM EST

..like you know more and you should consider writing a good article if this one gets voted down. The "don't ask don't tell" culture of the Bush administration is a very good starting point.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Probably unnecessary "I agree" post... (none / 0) (#38)
by Skwirl on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 03:20:32 AM EST

I was so frustrated when I first saw the network news profile the heroes of Flight 93, because every one of the featured profiles was white, male, and athletic. I thought that diminished the sacrifice that everyone on that flight made. I saw a later report that mentioned more people, including a stewardess who was boiling water to attack the terrorists with.

"Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself." -- Herman Hesse
[ Parent ]
Another mainstream media example: TIME Magazine (4.66 / 3) (#52)
by Netsnipe on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 12:24:41 PM EST

I remembered that about a year or two ago, TIME Magazine published their 75th anniversary issue which highlighted excerpts from the magazine of reports made during the time of many civil movements during those 75 years. It was in the letters section a few weeks later that someone pointed out that TIME magazine had altogether left out any mention of the Gay Rights Movement int hat issue. At least they chose one gay activist in their 100 most influential people of the century.

Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW
[ Parent ]
Quilt (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by vambo rool on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 02:35:22 PM EST

TIME has a long history of this.

They also never mentioned the AIDS Memorial Quilt when it was on the Capitol mall. If you consider it "art," (as I do) it was the largest installed artwork in the world, rivaling anything Christo has done. And they never mentioned the first March on Washington in, I think, 1986 which, at the time, was the third largest march on Washington ever (after MLK's march in the '60s and the Anti-war march in the '70s).

[ Parent ]
the art of missing the subject (2.42 / 7) (#36)
by fhotg on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 12:35:57 AM EST

Comments like

"She's gay, so what, I don't care, it doesn't contribute to the story and there is no reason to report it"

are right, but IMHO miss the point.

The fact?, that in the media there is no reference to gay partners when for heteros there were one doesn't discriminate gays. "Discrimination" in the title is unfortunate wording.

a) It's a sign that whoever writes these storys has a concious or unconcious reluctance to refer to gays. You cannot really blame a reporter who has a problem with his small penis, but it's an indicator for the mindset of society in general.

b) It makes gays less visible and therefore less "normal". If everybody had a real perception of how many gays are around, there would be less homophobia, because only small minorities can serve as object of hate for people with small penisses.
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

Hey, me too! (3.69 / 13) (#39)
by premier on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 03:24:24 AM EST

I was named in an article in my local newspaper for running in a charity marathon. At first I was excited. Then I realized the article made NOT ONE SINGLE MENTION of the fact that I was a straight male. I mean, hell, it's as if they thought it was unimportant. I guess they figure that if they ignore the fact that Im straight, it's like I dont exist. It seems my local paper has donned a set of "dont-ask-don't-tell" blinders. The fact that I prefer women was conveniently swept under the rug.

This is such discrimination.

Now do you see how dumb your argument sounds? First homosexuals want to be treated like everyone else. Now, if the fact they are gay is not mentioned, it's because we think it's digusting and want to sweep it under the rug.

Maybe we should demand that all publications of names inlude (g) or (s) after all persons names to identify their sexual preference, especially when it has no bearing on anything in the article.


Again, missing the point (4.50 / 4) (#40)
by driptray on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 05:36:34 AM EST

The point of the story was that the media would typically include the partner of the victim as part of their story, but in this case didn't.

IOW, if the sexuality of the victim wasn't an issue (as you seem to agree it shouldn't be), the media would have weepy, sympathetic interviews with the victim's partner. The fact that they didn't indicates that the victim's sexuality was an issue for the media, and that is what is being complained about here.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Not really (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by premier on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 07:10:15 AM EST

There are a million things that it could 'indicate'..

That the partner was not available for comment
That the partner declined to comment
That the partner requested that their comments not be made public

etc, etc..

Whats the point of debating this triviality when we have no facts?

[ Parent ]
we must fight the heterosexual agenda (1.75 / 4) (#51)
by turmeric on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 11:07:36 AM EST

I don't think you realize how much this sort of thing goes on. Why just last week, I was writing the weekly 'nwesletter' for the local christian professor bible study group. One of our members, Joan, had recently had some heart surgery. Now Joan has always referred to her 'partner' as her 'fuck puppet'. I wanted to print that in the paper, but they said it was too 'intimate'. My editor, Bob, said that it was just like using the phrase 'her pumkin bum' or 'his sweet honey pie'. I argued that this was blatant discrimination against fuck puppets but he wouldn't have any of it, continuing to bring up these irrelevant heterofascist examples that had no bearing on reality. Eventually I left the bible study group and became Jewish, but that is another story.

[ Parent ]
Heh, heh, discrimination (1.50 / 6) (#41)
by alge on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 06:20:52 AM EST

Well, at least I got sit in the front seat of the car when going anywhere with me «friends», so none of them had to sit next to me, and .. when I came out I got one hug from a girl and two elbows to the head from some guy and they stole my beer.. Oh Poor Twisted me (:
Probably why right now I'm living the life of the Faggot Blackmetallovin' CS-studying Religionhating Linuxzealot of Heck, I think that's a nifty twist to things.

More on topic: The Norwegian minister of Finance is a married gay man, everybody knows it, and nobody gives a flying shit.

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

Urm, sorry (none / 0) (#63)
by alge on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 12:58:14 PM EST

Something went terribly wrong[tm], this was posted twice. My bad, probably.

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

[ Parent ]
Discrimination ??? (3.75 / 4) (#43)
by Betcour on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 08:04:45 AM EST

There's no mention of YSL homosexuality because when you write an article about Bush or Einstein, you don't feel the need to talk about their heterosexuality either. Not picking homosexuality as a special trait of someone is the surest sign that this sexuality is accepted and considered "normal". Actually in the fashion designer world, it is being heterosexual which can be considered "outside of the norm". Also I don't think going around shooting 'look at me, I'm gay ! I'm gay !' is a good way of fighting discrimination. If you want something to be considered normal, stop trying to attract attention to it over and over again (see this humorous article of the Onion).

Important theme (4.60 / 5) (#45)
by wiredog on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 08:36:12 AM EST

Bad example. Like some of the other posters, I think that AP and CNN didn't mention Ms Whipple's sexuality because, well, they didn't think it was important. And I don't think anti-gay discrimination is a major problem in San Francisco. I don't think the "twinkie defense" would work today.

Utah, now. Utah is a place with discrimination problems. When I lived there I hung out at a coffee bar, in St. George, that was owned by a gay couple. One night it was firebombed. It burned for a couple of hours, and no one noticed. It was right on Main Street, across from the fire station. No one noticed it was on fire. Admittedly, it wasn't much of a fire, the arsonist was highly incompetent, but there was a lot of smoke. The alarm, according to the insurance company, did go off. But no one noticed. The local police were even more than usually incompetent in investigating it, and the FBI hate crimes unit eventually made the arrest. I don't recall how much jail time the arsonist got, just that he got some.

The day after the fire several of the regular customers were there helping with the clean up. The local paper never mentioned that it was a possible hate crime.

Claude and his boyfriend moved to Henderson Nevada, I think the book store they run is the "Agave". Maybe Driph could swing by and see if they are still there?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

It is important (4.00 / 2) (#49)
by morkeleb on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 09:55:00 AM EST

Like some of the other posters, I think that AP and CNN didn't mention Ms Whipple's sexuality because, well, they didn't think it was important.

How can it not be? The neutral words the media uses to describe their relationship: "roommate", "partner", "companion", do not convey or explain the depth of emotion Smith is feeling. If they were a straight couple and Smith was the wife, then it would be different. "Man killed by rabid pit-bull, wife grief-stricken," and people would be able to empathize with her loss in some way, by placing themselves in the mind of the grieving widow.

But if she is described as being just a roommate? A companion? A friend? Then how can she be so grief-stricken? The media in this case seems to be passing over her grief without comment, as if it is some sort of strange aberration. Personally I think it's incredibly cruel. And I think that was the point of the original post.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
Hey I noticed that too! (4.00 / 5) (#46)
by morkeleb on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 09:35:37 AM EST

Paul Moyer (news anchor in the LA area), called her "Whipple's companion". I have also heard her referred to as "roommate", "co-habitant", and "partner". But the media (mainstream at least), seems to be avoiding touching on the victim's sexuality with a 10-foot pole. It's pretty sad, because in the newscasts I've seen of Smith she appears to be completely devastated by the whole thing. But in the coverage the press has given, it's as though her grief isn't as valid or like it's some sort of freakish anomaly.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
Companion isn't good enough? (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by Kalani on Sat Jan 26, 2002 at 12:00:12 AM EST

What do you want her to be called? I'm just curious, because I've heard news outlets use all sorts of names for straight couples.

Personally, I think that "companion" and "partner" are pretty clear (where "roommate" and "co-habitant" aren't). "Girlfriend" could actually be more vague than "companion," since it's common for women to call each other by that moniker. I bet that it'd be really clear if they called her "the woman who licked Whipple's vagina on a regular basis" then there wouldn't be much room for doubt. :)

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
hmmmm......maybe we need a new word (none / 0) (#65)
by morkeleb on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 10:25:21 AM EST

I guess I can live with "companion" and "partner". The problem I have is they don't really convey the same sense of attachment and intimacy that the words husband/wife do. But maybe the real problem is we need a new word in English that does that.

Your suggestion isn't bad...but I think it needs to be abbreviated. Also, we don't know if there was extensive vagina licking taking place. And we certainly would not want to exclude those couples that are not at that level of intimacy yet. Perhaps "vagina caretaker", "vagina attendant", or "vagina specialist"? ;)

I don't know....I'm open to suggestions.
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Emily Dickinson
[ Parent ]
those are great! (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Kalani on Sun Jan 27, 2002 at 04:47:54 PM EST

Still, I think that they should be allowed to marry just like anyone else. Back in Kauai, where I used to live, most people agreed (and it was legal). You mainlanders are all screwed up. :)

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Heh, heh, discrimination (1.00 / 4) (#48)
by alge on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 09:53:40 AM EST

Well, at least I got sit in the front seat of the car when going anywhere with me «friends», so none of them had to sit next to me, and .. when I came out I got one hug from a girl and two elbows to the head from some guy and they stole my beer.. Poor, twisted me (:
Probably why right now I'm living the life of the Gay Blackmetallovin' CS-studying Religionhating Linuxzealot of Heck, I think that's a nifty twist to things.

More on topic: The Norwegian minister of Finance is a married gay man, and nobody gives a flying shit.

vi er ikke lenger elsket her

the other discrimination (3.80 / 5) (#50)
by turmeric on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 11:00:55 AM EST

The same thing happens to polyamorous mormons. I mean, its like, when a mormon dies, the media only interviews the first wife, not the other 7 or 8. But every time some catholic or buddhist dies they ask the mom, dad, wife, kids, etc. Im fed up with all this pro-buddhist pro-catholic fascism fascism and if something doesn't improve I am going to move to Amsterdam.

NBC's Today show (4.33 / 6) (#53)
by K5er 16877 on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 01:45:30 PM EST

Yesterday morning the Today show on NBC had an interview with both Sharon Smith and her lawyer over the civil suit. Today's interviews are normally short and superficial, but Ms. Smith's interview was actually quite in depth. I actively paid attention to it. The Today show clearly identified Ms. Smith as Ms. Whipple's partner.

I can see where you are going with this, but there are national examples that contradict your point.

Why use hints? (4.25 / 8) (#54)
by JonesBoy on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 02:26:05 PM EST

Well, if you are advocating that every news article have a reference to the persons significant other for sexuality identification purposes, why not just blurt it out?

Lets try it out on the linked article:

Diane Whipple(homosexual), a 33-year-old college lacrosse coach, was attacked Jan. 26, 2001, as she carried groceries to her Pacific Heights apartment. Knoller (heterosexual), who was walking the dogs(1 bisexual, 1 undecided/experimenting), said she was dragged down a hall by one animal (bisexual). Whipple's (homosexual) larynx was crushed and her neck ripped open.

Ahhh, feel the whooshing acceptance of diversity!

Did it ever dawn on you that there is not a 100% acceptance of homosexuality, and they may have been trying to preserve some sense of public objectivity here? What if the headlines were "Lesbian mauled by dog, owners indifferent"? People may believe the attack was due to her homosexuality, and hate groups may see the Noels as heros. Kinda makes the whole thing a mess, right?
I mean, when you see the headline "Cop shoots robber" and "White cop shoots black robber" the added detail serves as evidence in a hidden motive. I don't see how the added detail that she prefers to munch rug than give head offers any more insight into the real problem - should certain dog breeds be muzzled/kept as pets.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
Here's what CNN actually put on TV (none / 0) (#60)
by Kalani on Fri Jan 25, 2002 at 11:47:24 PM EST


"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
The Silent Discrimination | 66 comments (53 topical, 13 editorial, 1 hidden)
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