On bogeymen

bogeymanFrank Lockwood -- the Bible Belt Blogger -- caught something interesting in an Associated Press story by political reporter Bob Lewis:

Democrat Jim Webb and Republican George Allen both pocketed developments Wednesday important in motivating their core voters in Virginia's close U.S. Senate race.

. . . Allen, however, may have found in a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex unions the bogeyman he needed to energize social and religious conservatives dispirited by recent Republican scandals to vote in the Nov. 7 election.

Lockwood, who is the faith and values reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, said the word "bogeyman" caught his eye. The word means "a frightening imaginary being, one often used as a threat in disciplining children."

The use of the word strikes me as fairly loaded -- even in a "news analysis" piece. The word "bogeyman" suggests that gay marriage is an "imaginary" problem -- not a real one. I'll leave it to Bible Belt Blogger readers to debate whether gay marriage is good or bad. My point is simply that Americans are divided on the topic and the word "bogeyman" belongs on the editorial page -- not in the news section.

Furthermore, the word "bogeyman" insults people who care about this issue, suggesting they are gullible or childlike if this issue motivates them to vote. Again, this isn't news -- it's opinion.

Lockwood looks into the tendency of reporters to label Christian conservatives as gullible. He wonders whether the term might be better applied, at times, to mainstream reporters themselves.

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