Tuesday, November 07, 2006


There's a reason why political interest groups develop talking points and catch phrases. Because, every once in a while, the mainstream media will adopt their terms -- terms that put a distinct slant on an issue.

I was disappointed to see an example of this in The Economist when I was thumbing through its Oct. 14 issue. Check out the first color-coded map in this issue, which indicates which states have same-sex marriage bans and which states will be voted on such bans this election year.

Then read the color codes below the map. The first color code reads as follows:
States where opposite-sex marriage is protected in the state constitution.
This is not a neutral message.

The notion that banning same-sex marriage somehow "protects" heterosexual marriages and makes them stronger is a classic assertion of social conservatives. A better explanation would have been:
States where same-sex marriage is prohibited by the state constitution.
Even if you neglect to mention the ban, a more neutral explanation would have been something like this:
States where the state constitution only permits opposite-sex marriage.
But using the words "is protected" borrows the lingo of the social conservatives and was an example of lazy journalism.

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