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06/24/2008

'30 Days' gives pass to Foe o' Gays; GLAAD UNHAAPY

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images 200803031640-1The Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg is an anti-gay activist whose truth-stretches we've challenged on here a number of times (like when he suggested we should "export homosexuals from the United States"). But while we recognize that nothing Mr. Sprigg says about our lives and loves should be presented as fact, on tonight's episode of the FX series "30 Days," Sprigg will reportedly be permitted to present his faith-based notions of gay life without any real push back. This according to GLAAD, who says via press release:

During the June 24 episode [of "30 Days"], entitled "Same Sex Parenting," Kati, a woman who opposes gay and lesbian parents and their families, lives for 30 days with gay parents Dennis and Thomas and their four adopted sons. The episode includes the personal stories of kids raised by lesbian and gay parents.

Regrettably, the episode also features a defamatory statement by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay activist organization, who claims: "Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, and those are all reasons for us to be concerned about placing children into that kind of setting." While there is no credible scientific research that backs Sprigg’s claim - and much that disputes it - the episode presents his assertion as if it were fact and offers no credible social science experts or child health authorities to challenge Sprigg’s assertion. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, and many other child health and social services authorities who support parenting by qualified lesbian and gay parents dispute Sprigg’s claim.

Wow, that's disheartening. Making matters even worse, GLAAD claims that FX Networks has "refused to remove the defamatory content or, at minimum, address it during the course of the episode." And of course for those viewers who aren't familiar with the "pro-family"-enacted "culture war (which is presumably around 98% of the viewing population), they will very likely assume that this "family values" guy is a credible speaker, not part of an organization that dedicates its every day to demonizing gays and their rights. Unreal.

One of the things we find most annoying about this ongoing "gay vs. anti-gay" kerfuffle is how willing some are to present the situation as a two-sided debate in which both sides hold equal merit, rather than what it truly is: A scenario where one side is trying to live their lives, and the other is trying to prevent others' well-beings by passing off faith-based opinions as fact. We will not get past this needless debate until folks see our opposition's views not as casual opinion towards which we can and should "agree to disagree," but rather as bald discrimination that decent society should view with unapologetic disdain. FX: We sincerely hope you'll reconsider your decision to embolden baseless bias.

GLAAD Condemns FX Networks’ Refusal to Correct Defamatory Misrepresentation by Anti-Gay Activist on 30 Days [GLAAD]

**UPDATE: More on the 'Days' of our gay lives [G-A-Y]

**UPDATE, 6/24: You can now watch the contentious clip [G-A-Y]

**Lest anyone forget Sprigg's past statements:


*SOURCE: Gays seek immigration reform [Medill Reports]

**GLAAD is urging folks to take action on this. If you'd like to send a few emails or place a few calls, email addys and phone numbers of various Fox/FX execs are listed after the jump.

FX Networks:
Nick Grad
Executive Vice President of Original Programming
(310) 369-0949
ngrad@fxnetworks.com

Chuck Saftler
Executive Vice President of Programming
(310) 369-0949
csaftler@fxnetworks.com

Scott Seomin
Vice President of Public Relations
(310) 369-0938
scott.seomin@fxnetwork.com

**Here are some clips from the episode (but not the Sprigg clip). It's really a shame that anything has had to mar this airing, as it looks really good and "teachable":


space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

I haven't seen this show in a while. Is Morgan Spurlock still behind it? I would have expected better of him, based on his past efforts. I wonder if he lost a battle here or didn't fight one (?).

Posted by: Robin Reardon | Jun 24, 2008 12:10:21 PM

Robin: Yes, he's still behind it. It's actually been very good this season, which makes me even sadder to think I could possibly have to abandon it.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 24, 2008 12:24:05 PM

GLAAD and the people commenting on this message board are missing a huge point. THE WHOLE SHOW IS ABOUT HOW AN ANTI-GAY WOMAN GOES TO LIVE WITH A GAY COUPLE WHO HAVE ADOPTED FOUR AMAZING CHILDREN. DOESN'T THE FACT THAT THIS WOMAN CHANGES HER POINT OF VIEW AND IS IMPRESSED WITH THE GAY PARENTS SPEAK LOUDER AGAINST MR. SPRIGG'S RIDICULOUS AND BASELESS COMMENTS THAN ANY PROFESSIONAL? ISN'T THE WHOLE SHOW DEDICATED TO SHOWING MR. SPRIGG'S IS WRONG.

GLAAD IS MISSING THE POINT.

Posted by: David | Jun 24, 2008 1:43:56 PM

David: Easy on the caps.

How do you know that the anti-gay woman does come around? This has not been revealed anywhere I've seen?

But even if she does (and let's hope she does), it doesn't negate the irresponsible presentation of Mr. Sprigg's views. He has no credible backing to say, "Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse"

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 24, 2008 1:54:00 PM

If you've seen the show before, you would realize that the concept is to take an "unenlighted person" and expose them to an enlightened environment in the hopes that the unenlightened person sees the error in their ways. While I haven't seen this episode yet, it's not the format of the show to have experts debate, but rather for the person to learn from the people she comes in context of. I would guess that the point of persenting this anti-gay viewpoint early on is to contrast it with the reality of the couple being filmed.

The fact is that if the filmmaker was trying to promote that viewpoint, he would have placed the cameras in front of a far more unsympathetic gay couple. While I fully agree that the FOX networks (mostly FOX News) are capable of gay-bashing, this show is one of the good guys, and I truly believe that if you wait for the show to air before coming to a judgement, you will find the resulting show to be very supportive of gay rights and equality.

Posted by: Scott | Jun 24, 2008 2:37:59 PM

Actually what I heard is that beforehand the 2 fathers thought that she would come around after spending all that time with them but when she left she still said it was wrong, no matter how impressed she was by them as people and their fathering skills, she still felt the kids would be better off with no parents than with same sex parents. To that end, i'm not really sure what Mr. Spriggs is doing there anyway. is this like a PSA that airs at the end of the episode? If thats the case then they should at least let someone from an adoption agency or gay rights group to counter his "argument"

Posted by: Ron | Jun 24, 2008 2:38:10 PM

Scott: GLAAD is very familiar with the show, having honored it in the past with a Media Award for positive portrayal. And they have screened the episode, and have passed on the context of the quote to us. We are also very familiar, fans of the show.

You are right in the contrast being presented, and how such is the basis of every episode. The danger is in (a) presenting Mr. Sprigg ans some sort of an expert, and (b) letting his unscientific, uncredible comments go by as if they are factual. What that does is make it seem as if the gay couple featured on the show has simply managed to triumph over the "burden" of being gay. The "teachable moment" then becomes that some gay people are anomalies who break free of the model that Mr Sprigg has been allowed to present as a norm.

It's one thing if he was presenting an opinion, the same way the anti-gay mother and some surrounding her will surely present their opinions. But that's not the nature of the Sprigg appearance. Mr. Sprigg is presented as an informed member of the gay opposition. And the contentious point is that his labeling of gays is inaccurate, deeply offensive, and thoroughly non-expert. Such a narrow-minded characterization of any other group would not be allowed in the same way.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 24, 2008 2:48:29 PM

Come on GLAAD, really? It's INCREDIBLY important that these attitudes and opinions be included. It saddens me that an org like GLAAD is missing the point. To edit what really happened would be defeating the purpose of the show/experiment. Lighten up.

Posted by: Derek | Jun 24, 2008 6:03:18 PM

Derek: I think you're misunderstanding. The Peter Sprigg comment doesn't happen during the course of the social experiment (the anti-gay woman living with a gay family). It is a separate interview that is used to highlight the anti-gay point of view. So it's not that anyone wants the actuality of the reality experiment edited in any way. It's the seaparate Sprigg interview that deserves some sort of direct challenge, or someone highlighting that his comments are not "expert" or based in scientific fact.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 24, 2008 6:13:58 PM

I've been reading blog posts on the web about this and I feel like there's an argument that's still missing. For me, the issue isn't whether or not Sprigg's assertion that: "Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse," is TRUE, but rather, that even if it WERE true, the direction of the relationship is most likely not the one implied by the statement he makes. By that I mean that to the extent that it could ever be possible to observe higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STI's, substance abuse, etc. etc. among the LGBTQ population, this is most likely a function of our long-standing discrimination and oppression, rather than the reason to continue that oppression.

The reason I think this is the important argument to make is because it not only counters Sprigg's assertion, it undermines and destroys it. It's comments like his that contribute to a homophobic culture where the suicide and self-injury rates among queer youth are consistently above that of their straight peers. That's the counterpoint I'd like to have seen incorporated into the show.

Posted by: Amanda | Jun 28, 2008 6:21:03 PM

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