The WaPo Responds

It was Len Downie who kept the sexual orientation of a fallen American military hero quiet, despite many in the WaPo newsroom who opposed the well-meant if still homophobic decision. Why homophobic? Because it perpetuates the notion that there is something shameful about being gay. There is no privacy concern here because a dead person cannot have his privacy invaded any more than he can be "libeled." But the very context of the analogy to libel reveals the mindset behind Downie's sadly retrograde "sensitivity". Yes,
Ombudsman Deborah Howell rightly noted:

The Post story would have made any soldier proud. It quoted his commanding officer: "As God would have it . . . he shielded two men who probably would have been killed if Alan had not been there." Rogers was "an exceptional, brilliant person -- just well-spoken and instantly could relate to anyone."

More critical evidence of the insanity and bigotry of the military's policy, a policy that Rogers was an activist in overturning. His relatives' views are immaterial - many relatives of gay people want to keep their loved ones closeted. But the job of a newspaper is not to perpetuate a family's closet. Howell ultimately agreed:

The Post was right to be cautious, but there was enough evidence -- particularly of Rogers's feelings about "don't ask, don't tell" -- to warrant quoting his friends and adding that dimension to the story of his life. The story would have been richer for it.

And it would have been true, rather than a lie. How many dead heterosexuals have their oprientation concealed to protect their "privacy"? Please. Good for Howell.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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