Wednesday, December 6, 2023

SELLERS: Headline USA to Attempt an ‘LGBT’-Free July

If the long-sought smoking-gun evidence finally reveals that Michelle Obama is 'Big Mike,' then yes, we are covering it...

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Few conservative news editors can say they have witnessed firsthand a San Francisco “Pride” parade or celebrated a friend’s 30th birthday at a gay nightclub in Prague.

This one has.

I came of age in Charlottesville, Va., which was then—as it is now—a bastion of liberalism. Back then, of course, tolerance was something to be celebrated, and differences of opinion were embraced more often than not.

In short, I never felt a great deal of discomfort with LGBT individuals—nor even the community in aggregate, provided they were respectful of the boundaries of common decency, as would be expected of any culture or identity group.

Indeed, I’ve written on several occasions about the importance for conservatives to welcome sensible members of the LGBT community into their ranks, as there already exist many prominent examples where the two groups overlap.

I would argue that, for most, it is not one’s choice of a romantic partner nor private extracurricular activities that are at issue in the ongoing cultural war surrounding the LGBT agenda, but rather the encroachment of inappropriate and morally repugnant conduct into public spaces where it has no business manifesting, be it the bathroom, the classroom or the White House.

A culture that revolves exclusively around one’s sexual proclivities and vices is a culture that others ought not be subjected to involuntarily.

Unlike identities based on inherently immutable characteristics, like ethnicity, LGBT identity is fundamentally a lifestyle—and a fluid one at that, built around the caprices of its adherents.

While peaceful coexistence may be one thing, forcible embrace of it is a line many refuse to cross.

That became clear with this June’s “Pride” month, when the growing outrage over corporate displays of LGBT solidarity led to unprecedented backlash, bringing down several longstanding, once venerated American institutions, including Garth Brooks and Budweiser, all for getting caught peripherally in the LGBT orbit.

Meanwhile, the Right’s indignation only reinforced the efforts of a coalition whose main source of validation may be the negative attention it garners.

Assistant Health Secretary Rachel (né “Dick”) Levine goaded critics, for example, by suggesting that “Pride” month be extended to the entire summer.

But one can hardly fault LGBT individuals themselves for relishing the attention when we are the enablers in a sort of perverse symbiosis.

There is no denying that stories falling somewhere on the LGBT spectrum generate a tremendous amount of content for the media—and conservative media in particular.

In the month of June alone, Headline USA’s tag for the term “LGBT” produced 43 items as of Thursday (not counting this column), while the tag for “transgender” yielded 45 items.

That means we averaged slightly more than 1.5 transgender stories per day for a demographic that comprises roughly 0.5% of the total U.S. population. By comparison, seven stories for June included the tag “Christians.”

Our editorial staff can’t help but notice that many of these stories bear similarities that make them difficult to distinguish from one another, generally involving the same sort of lurid affronts, which then get amplified by our recognition of them.

Perhaps it is, in some cases, necessary to expose the pernicious elements trying to take down our civilization subversively via TikTok videos. In most cases, however, it is simply feeding our own salacious impulses, triggering a sort of revulsion response that, on some level, we delight in, if only for the humor.

Yet, with “Pride” month having reached its dazzling finale, it is past time for a respite. That is why we’re pledging to attempt an ‘LGBT’-free July.

The emphasis, of course, is on the word attempt since we still have a website to run—and even Trump stories can only go but so far.

We’re carving out a few up-front exceptions and guidelines:

  • We will continue to cover any stories of such newsworthiness and national significance that they are impossible to ignore.

If the Biden administration, for instance, announced a plan to provide reparations for all LGBT people, it would be hard to avoid covering something that big.

  • The same goes for any story where the lives and well-being of innocent victims may be at stake by our refusal to run or provide the full context of a story. 

Sadly, with a growing rash of transgender-related terror attacks, there may be some events where the impact is too great.

  • We will continue to cover stories that may include some LGBT element if it is not the driving or dominant element of the story.

If Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg skips out on a train derailment because he’s spending time on a gay cruise, his sexuality is immaterial to the underlying issue but may still bear mentioning in the context of the broader story.

  • We will not shy away if we come across something truly original that would be a disservice not to share with readers.

If the long-sought smoking-gun evidence finally reveals that Michelle Obama is “Big Mike,” then yes, we are covering it.

What we will not be covering is stories that rely on some LGBT scandal as their main justification.

Understandably, there are watchdogs out there—public-service journalists like the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh—whose duty and commitment to covering these issues is too great to permit a monthlong lapse.

We respect their mission, and we don’t expect for the same issues and conflicts that have plagued the headlines in June to suddenly vanish over the course of the next 31 days.

Still, given the level of fatigue that many are experiencing, our hope is that other conservative-media consumers will follow suit in simply looking away for a little while, and instead finding something new and uplifting to take pride in.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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