Every now and then, I receive private emails, or emails sent through our contact link, that sound something like this: So why aren’t you guys writing about this story? You afraid to or are you just too prejudiced or only interested in stories that allegedly attack conservative Christians.
Then the email will include a link to a news story — almost all of them perfectly valid — that talks about an event or a subject in which a minority religious group (in the American context, in most cases) is being attacked or treated badly.
In other words a story rather like the following Associated Press report, which ran at the ABC News site under this headline: “ACLU Accuses La. School of Religious Harassment.” More on that in a minute.
Now the problem is that many of these stories are actually rather ordinary. They get the job done and there isn’t really much to comment on — negative or positive — in terms of the nuts-and-bolts of journalism. Here’s the bottom line: Most of the time, what these correspondents want to do is argue about THE ISSUE at the heart of the story, not a journalism issue in the new coverage.
Consider the AP story mentioned earlier. The events described in this story are so crazy — the church-state violations attributed to these educators so ridiculous — that it almost reads like something from The Onion.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a school board in Louisiana, alleging officials at one of its schools harassed a sixth-grader because of his Buddhist faith and that the district routinely pushes Christian beliefs.
The lawsuit was filed against the Sabine Parish School Board … in U.S. District Court in Shreveport on behalf of Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children. According to the complaint from the ACLU and its Louisiana chapter, the Lanes enrolled their son — a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent — in Negreet High School and he quickly became the target of harassment by the school’s staff.
So what is alleged to have happened in this case, at the hands of Superintendent Sara Ebarb, Negreet High Principal Gene Wright and science teacher Rita Roark? If half of this is true the ACLU lawsuit is a slam dunk: