On bogeymen

bogeymanFrank Lockwood — the Bible Belt Bloggercaught 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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  • Dennis Colby

    “Bogeyman” was ill-chosen. “Wedge issue” might have been better, or maybe just “issue.” But I wouldn’t take this as an indication that all “mainstream reporters” think “Christian conservatives” are gullible.

  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw Raphael

    I think in election strategy the fear-mongering of both the left and the right is worthy of the term bogeyman. Both sides pander to their more-gulible base – and bogeyman is good because neither side usually intends to do much about the issue they are waving around like a red cape in a bull fight. Still, “Wedge issue” may be, as Dennis notes, a better term.

    A more interesting question would be does the newspaper use the same term to describe what the Democrats do – or to say they have not yet found their bogeyman.

  • Harris

    To judge by Michigan ads, I would say that the President fills the role of bogeyman quite nicely. Of course, that’s only when Dick Cheney is not around with his always joyful grin.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Then there was the Times header proclaiming that TheRepublicans were out to “reignite” the issue– puzzling to those of us who did not think it had ever gone away.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I–like many others–can’t believe that highly educated reporters who use words like “bogeyman” or “wedge” in what are supposed to be news stories don’t know EXACTLY what they are doing–using what is supposed to be NEWS to editorialize and advance their liberal agenda. But with the advent of talk radio and the internet –more and more people are catching onto their game (which is really a corruption as bad as any politicians)
    I know our local liberal newspaper leviathan–the Boston Globe (puppet of the NYTimes) blames the internet for “drawing away” readers. Hogwash! Everyone of the many I know who dropped the Globe did it out of final disgust at the paper being a propaganda sheet for the left.After 1,000 articles canonizing everything Gay, with no balance of any kind, one is ready to puke rather than give them another cent. The Globe has driven away over 1-200,000 readers and is now -rightfully–drowning in red ink. Even myself, who now enjoys and relies on the internet, did not discover it until a year after I permanently dropped the Morrissey Blvd.Rag.

  • http://religiousliberal.blogspot.com/ Dwight

    I don’t think it gives indication of gullibility but I’d say one would have had to have lost any sense of moral bearings if NJ’s supreme court call for equal legal protections can bring folks out to vote but the issue of torture cannot.

  • c.tower

    “Boogeyman” is well chosen in the sense that that’s exactly how the issue will be used by Republicans- there will NOT be any attempt made to actually DISCUSS the subject and it’s complexities; it will be the usual “vote for US or THE EVIL OPPOSITION will DESTROY AMERICA!” ( Heaven forbid anyone consider a rational look at ANY issue this close to an election…)

  • Dennis Colby

    Deacon John M. Bresnahan:

    What’s wrong with “wedge issue”? It’s an accurate term, as in today’s headline at Salon about stem cell research: “With a movie star’s help, Democrats discover a wedge issue.”


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