Thursday, February 03, 2011

BAR: What Gay Uganda Rally Tonight?
SF Paper's Censorship 

I don't have to be an Egyptian citizen to experience news censorship because today in San Francisco I can show you proof of an influential news institution blacking out information it doesn't like.

Many of you know that for the past I have been collaborating with a wide spectrum of activists - the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Gays Without Borders/SF, Trans Thrive, et al - to put on a solidarity rally for murdered gay Ugandan David Kato tonight at 6 pm at Harvey Milk Plaza. Dozens of local activists have spread the word about the rally, and are preparing posters, anti-violence packets, and drafting speeches.

Yet, there is not a single word about the rally or effort going into it in the Bay Area Reporter today. The editor, Cynthia Laird, who lives in the East Bay and may not always be up on San Francisco grassroots actions, wrote a compelling editorial about Kato's brutal killing and the dire situation for the Ugandan gay community.

At the end, Laird mentions unnamed grassroots activists are staging a vigil for Kato on Sunday at City Hall. She provides no info on who to contact for more details, and the vigil is certainly news to everyone working on tonight's rally. Might have cost too much in ink and newsprint costs to mention both actions.

In addition, the BAR prints a lengthy Rex Wockner story about gay Uganda, with much old info about President Obama and Secretary Clinton making statements. I guess if folks without access to the web in the past week had not heard about Kato's killing, this piece would be very informative. But I wonder why Laird couldn't add a brief bit info about our rally this evening.

What was some of the local news in the BAR today? The Edge bar has reopened, and voting is open in a readers poll, got space in the paper.

The BAR's web-only content contains a medium-length piece about how Laird's wife, Alameda county judge and trans advocate Victoria Kolakowski will be honored at Equality California upcoming $350 a ticket gala in a few weeks. More web-only news is about a member of the Equality California board trekking to Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for EQCA and gay youths.

Since EQCA and its director Geoff Kors knocked themselves out on behalf of the editor's wife's race for a judgeship, I'm not surprised there has been no critical anything against that organization for months. Oh, and given that the Edge bar has recently placed ads in the paper, and likely to do so in the future, I can understand why the reopening gets ink.

What reason did Laird have for keeping out any details about our rally? Her associate editor Matthew Bajko gets my alerts. Lots of activists are sharing info about the importance of getting into Milk Plaza for gay Ugandans. And Laird herself is making a lot of demands on the Ugandan government and American evangelicals. But her editorial rings quite hallow by her omission of the work activists are performing to publicly address these matters.

The rally at 6 pm tonight could have used some pre-event publicity from the BAR, just like the protesters in Liberation Square could benefit with encouraging pro-democracy words from Obama.

Shame on Laird and the BAR for their silence today about the rally.

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