Tuesday, June 10, 2008

St. Joseph: Polarized and/or Indifferent?

It's been a week and a half since my letter to the editor was published in the St. Joseph News-Press. The letter is essentially what I wrote a few weeks earlier in my church's newsletter and posted here on my blog--a criticism of the imagery used in Sam Graves' first attack ad against Kay Barnes. I consider the imagery to be racist and homophobic. Although I believe Graves had a right to attack Barnes on whatever issues he deems appropriate, I do not believe imagery that demeans minorities is ever appropriate.

What I continue to ponder is the reaction or lack thereof I received to the letter. I got a couple phone calls from people who totally agreed with my point, but mainly seemed to be glad I was critical of Graves--even though I tried to limit my critique to the imagery in the ad rather than making a general critique of Graves.

I received one nasty bit of mail from someone who objected to me daring to say anything nasty against Graves, especially when Kay Barnes is so obviously a spawn of Hell--okay, the writer didn't say "spawn of hell" but came pretty close. I thought that I kept my focus upon Graves' ad and really didn't say much about Barnes at all, but I guess if you're not pro-Graves you must be pro-Barnes.

The responses I received that really mattered to me came from folks I know who have children who are gay or lesbian. Their responses were ones of gratitude born out of pain--pain from watching their children painted with a broad and terrible brush, just like the ones used in that ad. I was trying to speak for people who are GLBT and for people who love them, so I guess it is this third category of response that matters to me most.

There was one more response--indifference. I'm not sure if most people don't seem to be bothered by the imagery in the political ad, because they believe it doesn't affect them or if they simply ignore the awful partisan rhetoric strewn by both sides of the spectrum (Democrat and Republican) or if they really don't have a problem with it. I don't know what to make of the indifference to it--perhaps it had something to do with the ad's really lousy production values.

Nonetheless, the ad demeans people that already feel misunderstood and judged. Trading on imagery that is racist and anti-gay has all too real consequences for the minorities in question. So, I will set aside the responses from the partisans of the left and right, and I will hope that what I wrote in whatever small degree actually speaks not for one party or another, but for people who ignored by those in power--powerful people of the right and the left.

Grace and Peace,


1 comment:

Hannah Zimmerman said...

The Pitch newspaper out of KC just did a story on Kay Barnes. Check it out at The Pitch.