Teaching ABC News a Lesson in Tolerance

At least when they staged an event at the gay bar, they acknowledged the tolerance of the patrons there. "In the course of our two-day ethical dilemma, we saw a diverse suburban community stand up for a gay couple who was being verbally harassed." What reporter Anneke Foster calls an ethical dilemma involves not the network's choice whether or not to stage news, but the conflict, the network claims, bar patrons "can't avoid."

Actually, most bar patrons did choose to avoid it. They would rather have enjoyed themselves with friends than pay attention to what two gay men were doing or what a loudmouth was saying. To be sure, there were those who stood up to silence the loudmouth, both out of irritation at his obnoxious behavior and out of disgust at his intolerance.

If ABC were truly interested in what people would do (this segment was part of the series What Would You Do?) in certain staged situations, they might want to handle prejudices the mainstream media has ignored for all too long. At Townhall, Greg Henger suggests they have a gay man harass a couple of Christians carrying Bibles and praying at a gay bar.

Or why not dispatch Republicans displaying their partisan affiliation on a T-shirt or ball cap as they enter a tony coffee shop in Manhattan's Upper West Side or in San Francisco? Better yet, have a gay Republican wear a Sarah Palin T-shirt as he walks along Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood.

In these locales, I doubt you'd need to hire an actor to bash the Republicans. It would just happen without any media-generated provocation, as this video clip of McCain supporters marching though Manhattan's Upper West Side last fall shows. Those greeting the Republican marchers with their middle fingers extended were not hired by ABC News to perform this gesture.

So we do have an example of how denizens of these liberal neighborhoods react to one of their fellows harassing a Republican. Don't know if ABC News covered this spontaneous demonstration.

But outside such liberal enclaves, "tolerance," as a woman in the ABC segment observed, "has become an American value." That is true at least toward gay people, even among Republican and conservative circles, as my experience has shown. And that is a good thing to see.

Yet there are prejudices which need exploring and which the media has been busy ignoring. We find them among the mainstream media and their social peers. Many hold conservatives and socially conservative Christians (and others of faith) in contempt. And these narrow-minded folks don't need media prompting to say as much, even to the faces of those professing conservative politics or Christian beliefs.