Republican Sectarianism and the Radio Broadcaster

It’s nice to hear from honest people speaking honestly.  For example, the owner of Reno, Nevada’s KKFT-FM radio who pulled the plug on a broadcaster because a discussion of LGBT issues didn’t fit the “conservative” station format. [RGJ]  No surprise that the station is a Fox affiliate.  What is surprising is the knee jerk reaction to any discussion of LGBT issues as intrinsically “liberal.”

The owner and manager of the station must not be aware of, or is antithetical to, the efforts of LGBT conservatives, who are CPAC members,  host internet sites for information and talking point distribution, and political networking.  See GayConservative.Org.  Additionally, he must have missed the advertising purchased during the Tampa convention in which Log Cabin Republicans and YCFM offered a defense of marriage as a primary social institution. [Advocate]

The second aspect of the reaction which is disturbing is that the station manager’s action only serves to further constrict entrance into the Republican tent.  Eliminating a program because a topic is controversial in some quarters informs other quarters that not only must the message be acceptable but the messenger also.   Discussions of gay marriage do not have to be  diametrically opposed diatribes between Focus on the Family and the proponents of gay marriage.   They don’t have to be, unless it’s predetermined that there is “no other side,” and divergent opinions are heretical and must be suppressed.

Major religions define heresy as the adoption of illegitimate or inauthentic beliefs and practices deviating from the standards or tenets of the faith.  Repression of inauthentic views (as defined by the institution) goes beyond disagreement. A sect which adopts some (but not all) of the illegitimate tenets may still be identified with the larger institution.  However, step too far beyond the bounds, as did the Beguines, the Cathars, the Hussites, or the Lollards, and the group finds itself outlawed.

Removing a program from a conservative broadcasting affiliate is an action more analogous to the dissolution of the Beguines than the accommodations of the Anglican Church after the Restoration.   At some point the institution, often in the case of religious organizations, becomes exclusionary or  “confessional” in nature rather than inclusive in structure.   The vision of a political party becoming a confessional entity is systemically narrowed.  The function of a political party is to win elections.  However, a political party winnowed down to a confessional faith artificially and unnecessarily diminishes its effectiveness in the service of ideological purity.  Ideological purity is vital in some religious realms to achieve salvation.  It does not augment the ability to win elections.

Finally, the action taken by the station manager simply adds yet another example of hypocrisy to the scales by which we measure ‘fair and balanced.’ Being fair doesn’t always require being balanced.  Only in the most radical corners of alternative universes is the Earth flat, is the female reproductive system capable of differentiating between friendly and hostile sperm, and should rain forests be bulldozed to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Balance doesn’t always require fairness.  A balanced discourse is one in which divergent views are recognized as legitimate — they do not have to be acknowledged as accurate.  I may, for example, argue employment numbers are a lagging economic indicator, and as such may lend credence to the proposition that they usually should not be combined with more short term variables like stock market prices to create a picture of economic decline, stagnation, or growth at any given moment.  However, I have to acknowledge the proposition that whether they are immediate or lagging, they are what they are — and the U6 numbers should be incorporated into any meaningful discussion.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but the station manager’s action was neither fair, nor balanced.

It’s acceptable to categorize arguments in almost any facet of American politics as ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible.  That more than a few proposals are ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible doesn’t mean  there aren’t people who legitimately believe in them.   It’s when institutions de-legitimize beliefs which don’t align with their confessions of faith that the process of ‘burning heretics’ begins.  A person need not be singed or burned in order to be drummed from the corps of believers — drum out too many and the institution is in danger of devolving into a sect.

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