Homophobia, White House Reporters Get Audience Buzz
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me as always. Hey, Lee, what's up?
LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, a segment at the top of the week about a brutal assault in the small California town got folks buzzing.
(Soundbite of NPR's Tell Me More, February 2, 2009)
Judge LADORIS CORDELL (Retired, California Family Court): Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, is homophobia. When the ministers get up in churches, and I talk specifically about - I'm speaking about black churches, and give sermons and talk about how we hate the sin but love the sinner when they're talking about gays and lesbians, they're all forms of homophobia and gay bashing.
HILL: Well, that's LaDoris Cordell, a retired family-court judge, and Michel, she was on the program this week to discuss hate crimes against gays and lesbians. It stemmed from a disturbing story out of Richmond, California, near San Francisco, where a woman was allegedly kidnapped off the street, repeatedly raped and beaten, all apparently because she had gay-pride emblem on her car.
MARTIN: But Lee, many people took issue with Judge Cordell's view of homophobia. Darren posted to our online forum. This is what he had to say.
DARREN (Listener): I do not feel that I am homophobic because my personal view of homosexuality is that it is a choice and therefore different from being born black or being born a woman. Yes, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual people have rights like everybody else. To call me that is a judgment that I feel like another human being has made who thinks their opinion means more for some reason.
MARTIN: Thank you, Darren. Also, an update, this week we learned of another assault in the area of Richmond, California, that authorities are also investigating as a hate crime. This time, race appears to have been a factor. A black man was badly beaten in City Park, allegedly by seven white teenagers who were shouting racial epithets. Arrests have also been made in this case. Lee?
HILL: Hard times in the Bay Area and hard economic times in many places throughout the country, as the financial crisis continues to loom. Now, Michel, we did some reporting this week about how many small and minority-owned businesses have it especially rough. Emily called us from her car after hearing our segment. Here's what she had to say.
EMILY (Listener): Everybody talks about people losing jobs, and they've got unemployment, they've got all kinds of (unintelligible). So, few people address the challenges that those of us who are small businesspeople have to deal with it every day with no safety net. For the last three or four days, that's all they've been talking about, is nobody talking about small business people.
MARTIN: Thank you, Emily, for that, and please drive safely. Moving on, many people posted to our online forum following a discussion on the White House Press Corps being overwhelmingly made up of white journalists. Writer Jill Nelson was on the program, and she was critical of news organizations that haven't diversified their lineup of reporters particularly now that they are covering the nation's first black president. Lee, there was a spirited debate online about whether ethnic diversity among White House correspondence is a big deal. Harry, who blogs from Atlanta, says that he thinks that it is.
HARRY (Listener): The fact that many White House reporters have been white is true. Diversity is needed in credible newsworthy journalism. An array of color cannot hurt what is black and white.
MARTIN: Thank you, Harry. Lee?
HILL: And before we go, Michel, Wednesday, we talked to legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt, who leads the University of Tennessee's Lady Volunteers. Now, when we spoke to her, she was prepping for a very big match, and we are happy to report that last night, Coach Summitt won her 1,000th game.
MARTIN: Would it be appropriate for me to say, you go, girl?
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MARTIN: And you go, too, Lee.
HILL: Thanks, Michel. I'm going now.
MARTIN: Remember, with Tell Me More, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number, again, is 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log on to our Web page, where you'll find even more feedback on our segments. Go to npr.org; click on Tell Me More and blog it out.
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MARTIN: Coming up, the Barbershop guys talk taxes; who's paying, and who isn't?
RUBEN NAVARRETTE: Timothy Geithner doesn't any get any more problematic than not paying your taxes...
JIMI IZRAEL: Hello!
NAVARRETTE: And then going off to head the IRS, you know?
IZRAEL: Mm, mm, mm.
NAVARRETTE: You're talking about your brothers on this line who live in fear of the IRS. We don't play those games.
MARTIN: That's next on Tell Me More from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.