Let’s focus on what really matters

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by Shannon Williams

Our society has so many pertinent issues to deal with, that I question some of the topics of discussion that seem to become top stories with various media outlets throughout the country. One such topic is homosexuality.

Recently, the federal government has taken steps to ensure homosexuals are treated fairly with initiatives such as repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and leaving the legalities of gay marriage up for individual states to decide. In spite of this, homosexuality is a topic that remains ultra-sensitive to many and is still a bit difficult to discuss. Quite simply, it’s tricky.

Some people think it’s morally wrong, some feel it’s a lifestyle choice and others believe people are born homosexual.

As the presidential campaign nears its final stretch, the subject of homosexuality is also a hot topic for the candidates. President Obama announced earlier this year that he supports gay marriage and his counterpart has held firm in opposition. Each candidate’s stance on the hot-button issue is sure to result in a loss of votes.

Whether I support homosexuality or not really isn’t the point. The point is, however, the outrageous need to focus so much attention on what goes on behind others’ closed doors.

As I watch the news or search the Internet, I constantly see coverage of celebrity homosexuals, this person admitting to being gay, or even “reports” of people who the media think are gay, yet the individuals haven’t come out of the closet yet.

I know one thing for certain, this isn’t the type of subject my journalism professors deemed newsworthy. Nor is it something that was the hot news item a decade ago.

Why is there so much focus on whether someone is a homosexual or not?

Who a person sleeps with at their own discretion has absolutely nothing to do with how you and I live our individual lives. It doesn’t matter if that person is sleeping with someone of the same or opposite sex—their actions have no bearing on my life. It’s their business. Much of the homosexual ado is severely overblown.

There’s one thing that we were always taught to avoid in journalism school: sensationalizing. Merriam-Webster describes the word as “a quick, intense, and usually superficial interest, curiosity, or emotional reaction (i.e. tabloid news).”

As someone who holds true to the teachings I learned in school, it’s disturbing to see how far removed from real news my industry has become. Not only does it illustrate the depths we’d go to increase ratings or circulation, but it also says a lot about today’s society.

If people didn’t gravitate to such topics (I simply can’t call it news), media wouldn’t publicize it as much. Many in this society have become complacent with settling for gossip as real news.

This is incredibly disturbing given the fact that this country is in a severe economic downturn, HIV/AIDS among other diseases continue to disproportionately affect African-Americans, millions are without adequate health care (still), crime is increasing, and our children aren’t performing to standards.

It would do us all well to regroup and obtain a better understanding of relevancy.

(Email comments to Shannon Williams at shannonw@indyrecorder.com.)

(Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder)

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