OpEd: Don’t Blame Times Dispatch For Their Hateful OpEd
A clip from a TD Oped that ran the day after SCOTUS ruled on Loving V. Virginia
The day after the Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional the Times Dispatch ran a provocative op-ed piece penned by the senior pastor of Richmond, Rick McDaniel.
McDaniel provides the reader with a clichéd argument against same-sex marriage. The article focuses on ungrounded fears of gay parents being unable to properly raise children and the typical yawn-inducing Christian rhetoric to the likes of: “As a Christ follower, I want to show love to all people as Jesus taught me to. I also want to be faithful to the teachings of the Bible. They provide boundaries that define my life. I cannot allow those boundaries to be violated. This is just healthy living, not hateful living.”
Local media consultant, Bill Oglesby, said that this stance doesn’t showcase the opinion of the Times Dispatch as a whole. “They did an editorial last year- and I don’t remember the exact date- but they ran a full-page editorial on gay marriage where they came out, very unequivocally, in favor of gay marriage. They weren’t just talking about civil unions, but in favor of gay marriage. So they were actually a little ahead of the curve on that.”
Sometimes it can be easy to take the message of an op-ed and allow that to shape your opinion of an entire media outlet. “You’ve got to careful about distinguishing what the paper runs under it’s own name and what they allow to run in it,” Oglesby warns. “The whole idea of the op-ed page is you have articles that are written by contributors who don’t work for the paper and they invite opposite viewpoints from that which the editorial page takes.
The Times Dispatch has a reputation for being a more conservative publication, but, according to Oglesby, that has begun to change recently. “Their editorial stance has certainly moderated over the past few years. I would put them, as basically overall moderate conservative now, but at one time I would have said they are very conservative. “
With this conservative background one might think the editorials and op-ed articles published in 1967 after the Supreme Court’s decision on Loving vs. Virginia, which overturned banns on interracial marriage, would have a negative take on the decision. However, this was not the case. The Times Dispatch had some disagreeable statements concerning race in the mid-21th century, but, oddly enough, none involving Loving vs. Virginia.
“In the time of Loving vs. Virginia at that time the newspaper was pretty across the board consistently conservative on all matters- whether they were fiscal or social. They were known in the days of segregation for really supporting segregation,” said Oglesby.
Regardless of the stance of the newspaper, or their contributors, Oglesby says that we should not get too caught up in op-eds that we might disagree with. “The fact that they might carry occasional dissenting opinion I think is fine, we shouldn’t complain about that if at the time they take conservative positions if we aren’t going to complain about them inviting the occasional liberal dissenting opinion. Then we shouldn’t complain when they invite a separate conservative dissenting opinion.“
Rick McDaniel may have had a disagreeable stance on the subject of gay marriage and the Times Dispatch did make the decision to run it. But at the end of the day the Supreme Court repelled both Prop 8 and DOMA. McDaniel is in a shrinking minority in the country. No matter what adjectives you use to describe McDaniel’s stance he still deserves the ability to voice his opinion, and the Times Dispatch did nothing wrong by running it.
I am originally from a small town in North Carolina and have recently moved to Richmond. Meaning I am a novice to the ways of Richmond life, but from what I have seen it is a culturally rich environment that I look forward to diving into. My daily hustle consists of playing bass, reading, and hunting for new music. This summer I will be interning with RVA Magazine and GayRVA.com. In the fall I will be transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University where I will major in journalism.
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