I can’t say that I often read the Daily Interlake, given the excellent coverage that the Flathead Beacon provides and because I don’t have much need for blatantly dishonest and xenophobic editorials, but yesterday my attention was drawn to a hateful guest column the Interlake felt was worthy of publication in its Sunday edition.
It’s unadulterated hate speech, arguing that homosexuality is responsible for suicide, drug addiction, physical abuse, Satanic worship and a litany of imagined harms. The writer, who surely has never considered the fairly obvious idea that much of the self-harm suffered by LGBTQ+ kids is driven by the hatred people like him promote, goes on to condemn the teachers, psychologists, and pastors who counsel these kids before suggesting that the answer is horrific therapy to “convert” them back to “a moral life.”
There was simply no justification for publishing this piece, which contained even less evidence than compassion. I’d like to believe that the Interlake wouldn’t publish a piece about the sinfulness of people based on their skin color or condemning Christianity, but either would be the moral equivalent of publishing this piece.
The most charitable interpretation for why the Interlake would choose to publish such a hateful screed isn’t very charitable: they did it for the clicks. The less charitable interpretation, and one that does not seem unlikely at all given the ideological bent of the newspaper, is that the editors decided it was a legitimate idea worthy of public debate.
Perhaps the Interlake’s editor would claim that they are merely exposing a set of horrific ideas to the sunshine of public discourse, but not all ideas deserve to be made widely available and the role of an editorial page, at some level, has to be to act as a gatekeeper. The author of the piece, Tim Adams, has every right to publish his own newsletter or stand on a street corner bleating his nonsense, but a newspaper should express enough editorial judgment to recognize it is, at some level, giving sanction to views that will do real harm to kids.
Of late, conservatives have become very confused about the idea of censorship and the First Amendment, somehow seeming to believe that platforms like Facebook need to give a space for the hate preached by the Alex Joneses of the world and that papers like the Interlake need to provide a forum for hate speech.
Newspapers absolutely play a vital role in promoting contentious discourse from all points of view, but it’s hard to understand what discourse is generated by a piece that argues those who work with LGBTQ+ kids are helping to “isolate and groom for the homosexual lifestyle,” not to mention “demon possession.”
Do better, Interlake. After publication of this piece, it won’t be hard to do.