Media Take Sides in OK Lawmaker's 'Homophobia' Flap

On April 2, more than 1,500 people turned out to support Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern after she was accused of making homophobic remarks during a speech. With the exception of one Associated Press article, the rally drew a collective yawn from the national media.

In contrast, the New York Times briefly covered 300 homosexual activists who gathered to demand an apology from Kern in March.   

Rep. Kern gave a speech in January at a Republican club meeting in which she addressed the well-organized, well-funded efforts by homosexual activists to defeat conservatives and elect pro-homosexual candidates to state and local governments. In this context, Kern stated homosexuality is “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so then terrorists or Islam.”

Homosexual activists secretly recorded Kern's comments and released an edited version on YouTube in March. The clip was also posted on The Huffington Post and the gossip site,  Critics immediately labeled Kern's lecture “hate speech,” but Kern's remarks in their original setting sound reasonable and not hateful at all.

Ironically, the people who accused Kern of “hate speech” generated more than 26,000 emails to Kern, many of which were extremely hateful.   

Taken out of context, some of Kern's remarks can certainly appear inflammatory.  However, on March 20, thirteen days after the recording appeared online, The Oklahoman printed fuller excerpts of Kern's speech that provided the context for her comments.

The YouTube clip quotes Kern saying “not everybody's lifestyle is equal.”  Kern's words sound very different in context: “Now, I don't know about you, but the book I base my life upon is God's Word.  And it says to love everybody and I try to love everybody but not everybody's lifestyle is equal.”

The YouTube clip quotes Kern saying, “the very fact that I'm talking to you like this, here today, puts me in jeopardy.” 

This statement sounds alarmist before it's put into context:

They quote [homosexual activist and billionaire] Tim Gill on another aspect of their political strategy.  Tim says “You have to turn down the volume of opponents 'anti' rhetoric.  They can't just say and do everything with license.  They have to know beforehand that it's going to cost them some votes and some serious money to play like that.  It certainly doesn't stop it, but it turns it way down and then when they do spew any 'anti' rhetoric they look extreme.  You have to create an environment of fear and respect,” said Tim Gill.  “The only way to do that is to get aggressive and go out and actually beat them up politically.  Sitting there crying and whining about being victims isn't going to get us equality.  What is going to get us equality is fighting for it.”

What they're trying to do is send a message of intimidation to those people who are taking a stand for traditional marriage and against the homosexual lifestyle.  They want to silence us, is what they want to do.  And it's happening all over the state.  You know, the very fact that I'm talking to you like this, here today, puts me in jeopardy. 

The YouTube clip quotes Kern saying, “They want to get our young children into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them.  I've taught school for close to 20 years and we're not teaching facts and knowledge anymore, folks, we're teaching indoctrination.”

In the midst of a discussion about homosexuality, this quote makes Kern sound like she was accusing the public schools of ramming the homosexual agenda down the throats of grade schoolers, until you hear the rest of the paragraph:  

They want to get our young children into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them.  I've taught school for close to 20 years and we're not teaching facts and knowledge anymore, folks, we're teaching indoctrination.  We're turning out a citizenry who are learners, not thinkers.  By that I mean they take whatever is thrown at them.  They don't question it.  A thinker listens to what's given to them and then goes and researches and reasons about it and figures out is this right or wrong.  We aren't developing students like that today.  We're developing students who will do whatever the elites want.

All coverage, national and local, failed to note Kern's work in helping homosexuals.   First Stone Ministries, an organization devoted to aiding people overcome homosexuality and other sexual temptations, posted an article on its Web site that details Kern's support of the ministry and her love for all people.  In the very same “homophobic” speech Kern flatly stated about a homosexual colleague from her teaching years, “he has the right to practice that lifestyle if he chooses but he does not have the right to indoctrinate his classes.”  Would a true homophobe even acknowledge his “right” to live how he wants?   

Local coverage of the controversy was mixed.  The Tulsa World printed seven articles, with four leaning in favor of pro-homosexual arguments.  The Oklahoman printed 15 articles and five could be considered biased against Kern while the other 10 were balanced.

Kern's family has been attacked as well. Bloggers claimed that Kern's son Jesse is a homosexual, a charge he denied in a March 14 Tulsa World article.   The Oklahoman reported on March 20 that a homosexual activist attended Rev. Steve Kern's Baptist church to take notes of his sermon. 

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.