The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News published this story claiming that the Egyptian blogger and anti-Mubarak protester, Sandmonkey, was gay and protesting as a representative of the gay rights movement. If you know anything about his writings you would think that as funny as if they claimed he was from the lost continent of Atlantis. But then, when you remember that Egypt is in revolt, that Sandmonkey has already been beaten up for his high-profile criticism of the Mubarak regime, that Egypt is a nation in the Islamic world – not exactly known for wide-spread tolerance of homosexuality – it quickly becomes less funny. What would normally be another minor example of modern journalism having no interest in facts becomes a different sort of transgression.
Either they published a story which was completely mistaken about one of its primary pieces of content; an item which would have been incredibly easy to check and self-evidently in need of verification, or they usurped his efforts to make their audience feel noble about themselves while putting one extra target on Sandmonkey’s back and giving the opponents of the protests material to portray the movement as having a narrow political base. Many minorities and people from the majority are participating in the movement and that’s great but make sure the people you are using to represent a group, who will need to assume all the moral standing and risk of that representation, is actually a member of that group.
I would like to put this down to laziness by a “journalist” who heard a rumor and ran with it – which in these circumstances is disturbing enough. But the cynic in me says that they wanted to write about a gay activist being beaten up and couldn’t find one that fit the narrative so they stole a case of a secular critic of the regime and plastered the label of “gay” on him with no regard to the repercussions.
The only two questions are: which was it, laziness or dishonesty? And will they correct the article in a timely manner or leave it for a while then change the article or scrub it all together so know one knows what they did?