Friday, October 16, 2009

Mixed Marriage 'Ban' - BBC go tabloid

A while ago, when Editorial Bear was still typing away, I used to have a section in which I'd nail the BBC for their biased reporting.

That was before I moved to America - where Fox News made me appreciate the BBC, biased even as it was!

But today saw them publish a news story that's just a blatant manipulation of the facts.
Anger at US mixed marriage 'ban'

A white US justice of the peace has been criticised for refusing to issue marriage licences to mixed-race couples. Full story here.
The true story behind this BBC report is sad and disgusting: When young couple Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay, a white woman and an African-American man, applied for a marriage license from US justice of the peace Keith Bardwell, they were utterly astonished to find their application denied.

"In my experience, most interracial marriages do not last very long," Bardwell attempted to explain his inexplicable decision. "And there is a problem with both white and black groups accepting a child from a mixed marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

He also revealed that he'd refused other interracial marriages in the past years.

It was shocking. Ever since the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving vs. Virginia, it's been a legal precedent that no government authority can deny two people a marriage license based on the grounds of race. Bardwell was clearly breaking the law and perpetuating a bigoted, racist attitude that indicates he's absolutely unfit to hold his position.


The BBC headline to this story - using the word 'ban' - is totally misleading.

There is no 'ban' on interracial marriage - not in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana or any part of the United States. Even Keith Bardwell admitted that Humphrey and McKay could apply for a marriage license in the same parish with a different justice of the peace - and have it approved.

It wasn't a 'ban' - it was one racist, bigoted idiot's personal decision affecting one couple.

That personal decision is shocking, but it's his alone. It's not a parish-wide, county-wide or even state-wide 'ban' on mixed marriages.

By using the inflammatory headline 'Anger at US Mixed Marriage Ban' the BBC are trying to create a controversy that doesn't exist. They're trying to stir up old stereotypes and use the United State's uncomfortable civil rights history to suggest that there's been an official 'ban' on interracial marriages when in fact, it's just one old man being an idiot.

And, of course, we Europeans lap this stuff up. A few years ago, when I was still in the UK, I'd probably have been shaking my head with everybody else - sighing at those 'backwards' Americans and the disgusting racism that was still institutionalized in the southern states.

But the problem is - it's not true. The ban part, at least. I think there's plenty of argument to suggest that racism is still a problem.

But there is still no ban. The government, in theory at least, is color-blind, even in the south. In fact, more interracial marriages occur in the 'backwards' southern states than the 'civilized' northern ones.

The BBC are manipulating the facts with the same, shameless intemperance as the British tabloids do. There seems to be an inherent streak within the British Broadcasting Corporation that revels in sneering at their less-civilized cousins across the Atlantic.

And while America isn't perfect - we have plenty of problems, especially regarding race - this is one instance in which the accusations don't match the facts.

I'm not defending the disgusting attitude of Keith Bardwell in any way. Denying that couple a marriage license was racist, bigoted and disgusting. However, in this instance the BBC blew the story totally out of proportion to insinuate that this was a widespread problem, instead of an isolated incident. It just wasn't true.

America has a sad history when it comes to race relations, but we're making progress every single day. Perhaps not fast enough, but faster than some Europeans might realise (after all, Britain has yet to have a black, brown or anything but white Prime Minister.)

In this instance, the BBC's biased report is just pathetic journalism. They should be utterly ashamed with themselves.


Susanne said...

You share some interesting things. I live in the South and have at least 2 cousins who have married black men. They live in SC and FL. Yes, there are racists here, but as you said, not all of us are. :)

Joanna Cake said...

Wow! It's great to have my suspicions confirmed that the BBC are just as bad as the rest of the tabloids when it comes to sensationalist journalism. I have to admit that I have despaired recently when, on the radio, celeb news seems to be more important than the economy or any other issues. And, with their tall poppy attitude, reporters seem to delight in building them up and knocking them down just to make stories.

However, saying all of that, I didn't realise that, having been refused a licence, you could apply to a different authority and be successful. That it was all down to the personal opinions of that particular person, rather than a state-wide veto. Is this the same with same-sex marriages?