Criticism from both sides
A few days ago, I wrote about the Erie school district's decision to ban "The Family Book" from its classrooms. It had one sentence deemed objectionable: "Some families have two moms or two dads."
Some considered that a reference to same-sex marriage and, as such, unacceptable for elementary school children.
After my stories about the issue appeared, I received criticism from both sides – supporters and opponents of the Erie school board's 5-2 decision.
One Erie woman left a message saying that she would cancel her subscription to the Daily Gazette if I wrote another negative story about Erie. She referred to our earlier coverage of the accusations of hazing in the district's wrestling program.
Another man left a message to say he canceled his subscription because of the story on the book ban.
"I'm disappointed on how poor of a reporter you are," he said.
He said our front-page story on the issue contained "false information." He didn't specify.
Another person accused me of being used by the "homosexual agenda." I asked him what that agenda was. It includes the teaching of homosexuality to children, he said.
He contended 99 percent of the community backed the board's decision, but he didn't provide evidence of that near-unanimous support. It's hard to get 99 percent of people to agree on anything.
Besides, we already know about Erie residents who take a different view. A district-formed committee voted to use "The Family Book," and so did two school board members. A resident was interviewed on TV expressing her outrage over the district's book ban.
Maybe everyone in this man's circle told him they supported the decision. But that doesn't mean 99 percent of the community agrees.
On the other side of the issue, activists have gone online to denounce Erie's decision.
Scott Rose, who writes for the New Civil Rights Movement website, went so far as to claim in a headline that Erie's village president, Marcia Smith, suggested that children of same-sex couples weren't welcome in Erie.
But she never made that statement. Even Rose doesn't deny that. She hung up on Rose a couple of times after he asked her whether the kids of same-sex parents were welcome. He took that to mean she doesn't want such children around.
That's a leap – whatever way you cut it.
I wrote about how Rose's story didn't back his headline. That angered him, and he took his case to my bosses.
He could have argued that Smith ducked the issue. Instead, he put words in her mouth.
To defend himself, he wrote a letter to the New Civil Rights Movement site's editor, copying it to me.
He told his editor, "Giuliani is local to Smith, could be related to her, have some sort of business connection to her, want continued access to her that she will deny if he doesn't get my headline taken down, whatever."
He leveled a similar charge on Sauk Valley Media's Facebook page.
For the record, I've never met Smith. I don't have any connection to her.
A day later, he wrote a followup story. He interviewed Smith again and found that she welcomes the children of same-sex parents.
He made it right.
Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.
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