Lesson to Graham Young: Don’t be surprised when your pro-gay advertisers object to your homophobic opinion.
Who would have thought that gay activists could have sucked dry Graham Young’s rivers of advertising gold:
While On Line Opinion may have contributed to some small softening of political debate, that would be impossible to detect compared to what social media has licenced.
In 2010 we were the subject of an advertising boycott, organised by gay activists, which destroyed the business model of the site. (Read the full details here.) Our sin was that we published this article by Bill Muehlenberg as part of a feature containing 25 articles on gay marriage, 75% of which were in favour of it.
But to activists 75% is not enough. It has to be 100%, so in a technique, since used by organisations like the Australian Conservation Foundation, and Sleeping Giants, our advertisers were targeted to pressure us to stop publishing anyone who disagreed with the activists. $17,000 income from advertising in the month of November 2010 went to virtually nothing in January 2011.
The same thing is being done to Rugby Australia over Folau, but instead of protecting his human rights, RA is caving in.http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20260&page=0
He gives a lot of credit to these gay activists for their actions. But stop for a minute and think about what he’s saying.
These activists approached his advertisers with a simple request not to advertise on his site, and they made an informed decision not to place their brand amongst the content he chose to publish.
Short of taking credit for the distasteful content his advertisers chose to avoid, be blames homosexual people for daring to take exception to homophobic content he published.
If there ever were the monthly thousands pouring into the On Line Opinion coffers that Graham Young claims, the fault lies at his feet for not having done the necessary risk analysis to cater for the day he might not have the loyalty of his most profitable advertisers. After all, they’re only trying to protect their brand from being tarnished by the toxic content he was publishing.
And that’s exactly what Qantas is doing by not wanting to have their brand tarnished by the homophobia emanating from Rugby Australia’s midst.
Hark Graham: Don’t be surprised when your pro-gay advertisers object to your homophobic opinion.
After I published this article Chrys Stevenson contacted me and brought to my attention the following extract from her 12-Feb-2011 blog MY FREE SPEECH FIASCO, which paints a different reality to that which Grahan Young believes occurred:
So, when I heard that Graham was being persecuted for publishing an anti-gay marriage article by Catholic conservative, Bill Muehlenberg, I was outraged. I disagree with everything Muehlenberg said in the article, but, in the cause of free speech, I supported his right to put his point of view, and Graham’s right to publish it. Muehlenberg’s article is highly selective, makes some ridiculously broad assumptions and is clearly biased. On the other hand, it is reasonably well written and, while being critical of what he sees as homosexuals’ proclivity for infidelity, he doesn’t (in my view) directly vilify GLBTI people, either as individuals or as a group.
The story I heard, initially, was that someone had taken offence at the article, complained to some of the advertisers on the site (specifically IBM and ANZ) and that these companies had removed their ads – at significant financial cost to Online Opinion.
Impulsively, I contacted Graham and offered my support. I also did a quick survey of articles about same-sex marriage on Online Opinion and found that pro-gay articles far outnumbered anti-gay articles. There was no question of anti-gay bias.
Graham then made me aware of an article about the incident on the gay online journal, SX. The story suggested the problem was not so much Muehlenberg’s article, as Graham’s failure to remove an offensive comment, by ‘Shintaro’ on another article which suggested that gays should either stay in the closet or be murdered. Graham protested that he hadn’t removed the comment because it had been taken out of context. He provided me with the link and I satisfied myself that the person who posted it was not advocating violence at all; he was pro-gay and anti-violence and the comment was intended to show where the anti-gay rhetoric in the discussion could lead.
Now, in high dudgeon at the injustice of it all, I posted a comment on SX defending Graham and Online Opinion and I wrote an email to a number of influential bloggers and columnists suggesting that they join me by writing in Graham’s defence.
Graham emailed back saying, in effect, “Nice email, but the facts are wrong.”
It seems that in my rush to play the part of Crusader Rabbit, I hadn’t done my homework on the issue thoroughly enough, and Graham had (quite rightly) assumed that I had. The advertising, it seems, wasn’t lost because of the comment mentioned on SX, it was withdrawn because of another comment altogether. This comment read:
“It’s interesting that so many people are offended by the truth. The fact is that homosexual activity is anything but healthy and natural. Certain lgbt’s want their perversion to be called “normal” and “healthy” and they’ve decided the best way to do this is have their “marriages” formally recognised. But even if the law is changed, these “marriages” are anything but healthy and natural. It is, in fact, impossible for these people to be married, despite what any state or federal law may say.”
Posted by MrAnderson, Thursday, 25 November 2010 10:09:39 AM
A gay reader brought the comment to Graham’s attention and asked for the reference to the ‘perversion’ of LGBT people to be removed. Although Graham did not agree with the remark, he felt that it was a view which was commonly expressed among a minority of Australians, which did not incite violence, and which would have been acceptable (if widely condemned) in a parliamentary debate. Given his commitment to free speech, Graham refused to delete it.
Having been rebuffed by Graham, the reader then decided to complain to the site’s advertisers. Someone within IBM (it is not clear whether it was the same person) also complained to their management. As a result, IBM and the ANZ decided to withdraw their advertising from Online Opinion and a number of other advertisers followed. Sadly, as Online Opinion is part of an advertising co-operative, this meant that other bloggers also lost a substantial amount of their income, despite having nothing to do with Graham’s editorial decisions.
Now I was in a quandary. In fact, I felt like I’d been hit with a ton of bricks. All day I’d been sending supportive emails to Graham and shouting loudly from my ‘freedom of speech’ soap-box. He thought I was an ally. I thought I was an ally! Now I realized I’d gone off half-cocked and, with this new information to hand, I felt I couldn’t defend Graham’s actions. I felt sick, conflicted and embarrassed. OK, I felt stupid. I’d emailed all these people and said ‘stand up for freedom of speech!’ Now, if I was to be true to my own moral compass, I was going to have to write back to them and say, “Given new information to hand, I’m no longer standing up for free speech.” I wished that a large black hole would just open up and consume me right then and there.
When I told Graham that I could no longer speak out publicly in his defence, he said I didn’t understand what free speech means. Perhaps he was right. I support free speech within limits, but not untrammeled free speech. Perhaps that’s a terrible cop-out. Perhaps it is ideologically unsound. All I know is that every ethical atom of my being was screaming at me that I couldn’t defend the right of anyone to call a gay person perverted. Nor could I support the decision not to delete a comment which was not only highly offensive, but, given the weight of expert medical and sociological opinion, patently untrue.