Bad Writing Turned Pacquiao into Gay Rights Enemy No. 1

This article is from the archive of our partner .

In a nutshell, here's what happened: A reporter ran a misleading quote in an interview with a boxer, making him sound like a homophobic monster. The boxer got banned from an L.A. mall, and the journalists all blamed each other. This story about Manny Pacquiao's position on gay marriage (he still says he's against it, but not that gay people should be killed -- we'll get to that) got twisted up and transformed by writers who didn't quite understand what other writers were writing. The aftermath is one big mess, with Pacquiao still banned from The Grove, where he was supposed to appear on TV. Fortunately for Pacquiao, he still gets to do his interview with Extra, but at a different location. Everyone else is reeling like they just got their bell rung, so let's trace back what happened.

The L.A. Weekly's timeline of the misquote is a good first look in terms of understanding what happened. Even though the Weekly has a stake in all this, the timeline gives the key developments in the media SNAFU. The offending (and extremely clumsy) paragraph from "Conservative Examiner" Granville Ampong, which Pacquiao disavowed Wednesday after the piece came out over the weekend, reads as follows:

Pacquiao's directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not to promote sin, inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation, notwithstanding what Leviticus 20:13 has been pointing all along: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

The poorly written paragraph doesn't actually quote Pacquiao as citing the Bible verse -- though it sure makes it sound like Leviticus is where the boxer and Filipino politician is coming from. The Pacquiao backlash started with a USA Today story by Tom Weir on Monday, which said Pacquiao "invoked Old Testament and recited Leviticus." Then the Village Voice's James King got involved, tut-tutting Pacquiao, as did L.A. Weekly's Dennis Romero. When The Grove said Pacquiao wasn't welcome, the Weekly's Simone Wilson reported that development along with some tut-tutting of her own: "Because... uh... "put to death"? You just don't say that kind of thing in 21st century America."

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The problem all along was that Pacquiao's denial that he said gay people should be "put to death" came very, very late. Wilson, who wrote the timeline, cites Ampong himself (via the New Civil Rights movement) on Wednesday clarifying that Pacquiao didn't offer up the Leviticus quote. Even Pacquiao's own website, as of Tuesday, had a post distancing the site's writer from the boxer. Pacquiao's site was only updated on Wednesday with his official denial of the quote. Most of the stories covering this whole flap -- including ours, but oddly, not USA Today's -- have corrections on them. All of these writers should have been clearer in both reading and writing. But Pacquiao, quick as he is in the ring, could also have been a lot faster at setting the record straight.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.