I get a kick out of people who say they want to “celebrate diversity”
but actually mean they want everyone to think alike and conform to their
own rigid cultural standards.
The latest example is illustrated in my own industry — the press.
One of the top stories in the leading newspaper industry trade
journal, Editor & Publisher, over the
past several weeks has been a handful of resignations at a small
California chain of weeklies owned by a newcomer to the industry,
winemaker-developer David Weyrich.
The trouble began when Weyrich decided to set some editorial
standards for his newspapers, which circulate throughout San Luis Obispo
County. Having noticed a calendar listing in his papers promoting a
meeting of a group called “Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and
Gays,” or PFLAG, Weyrich ordered future announcements removed.
Weyrich explained that his papers were founded with the mission of
standing up for the traditional family. His target audience includes
folks who are sick and tired of being told day after day about other
people’s sexual habits.
As his wife, Mary, explains, “The heart of our papers has been to be
family reading, what you could read to your grandmother or to your
The Weyrichs further explained that, while their newspapers would
cover news and newsmakers of all kinds, they would not promote the
activities of pro-homosexual organizations or pro-abortion groups.
In a letter to readers in February, David Weyrich wrote, “Call us
old-fashioned, but it hasn’t been too many years since our professed
beliefs were the accepted norm in America. Society has changed to the
detriment, we believe, of us all as a people. … Believing in the
family does not mean we are against homosexuals as individuals, or that
we will utilize the newspapers to disseminate information against them.
We simply believe that lifestyle is an unnatural choice that we will not
promote nor encourage. Abortion, on the other hand, is not about choice,
but a child’s life.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the Weyrichs, that seems like a
very reasonable and defensible — even commendable — position for a
publisher to take. After all, where is it written that all newspaper
owners must think alike, print the same kinds of material and have the
same editorial standards and practices?
I’ll tell you where it is written: That is the strange position of
the very people who insist they “celebrate diversity.” Go figure.
The March 13 issue of Editor & Publisher reports as many as 15
staffers at Weyrich’s newspapers have resigned over this policy, though
the owners say the number is more like eight.
The San Luis Obispo City Council voted 4-1 to suspend all advertising
in the newspapers until the owners knuckle under. About 75 protesters
gathered at the courthouse steps to protest the papers’ policy. And now
the newspaper industry’s trade journal is adding fuel to the fire,
helping to create a tempest in a teapot over a local publisher’s
prerogative to set his own standards.
What’s wrong with this picture? Do you see the hypocrisy of people —
in fact, our entire cultural elite — claiming to be on the side of
diversity, yet practicing the politics of exclusion, intimidation and
extortion toward anyone who bucks the tide? They don’t want differences
of opinion. They don’t want variety. They don’t want diversity. They insist
on sameness — at least when it comes to the way people think.
And, after all, that is the only kind of diversity that really means
anything. It doesn’t matter to me how people look, what color they are,
whether they are married or single, even what they do in the privacy of
their own bedroom. What matters to me — and what should matter to all
of us, in terms of diversity — is how people think. That’s what really
makes life interesting.
Shouldn’t we as a society encourage more voices? Wasn’t America
better off when it had competing newspapers promoting different
viewpoints and values? Is there really any point in having the press
speaking in monotone?