Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; ABC Online Staffer's Reply out of Line

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FACT CHECK; ABC Online Staffer's Reply out of Line

Article excerpt

Byline: Carole Fader

Times-Union readers want to know:

I received an email that is shocking. A coach from Arkansas wrote an email to the ABC network complaining about an episode of the TV program "The Practice" in which a mother of one of the lawyers decides that she is gay and she wants her son to help her get a marriage license so she can marry her partner. The coach wrote that he would no longer watch such programs because "ABC is obsessed with the subject of homosexuality." ABC sent an unbelievable insulting response that questioned the coach's faith. Is this true?

Yes, it is true, but ABC apologized quickly.

The email exchange occurred in April 1999. Jim Neugent of Mena, Ark., decided to complain to ABC about the April 4 episode of "The Practice":

" 'The Practice' can be a fairly good show, but last night's program was so typical of your agenda. You picked the 'dufus' of the office to be the one who was against the idea of his mother being gay, and made him look like a whiner because he had convictions. ... Read the first chapter of Romans (that's in the Bible); and see what the apostle Paul had to say about it. ..."

An email response from ABC came quickly:

"How about getting your nose out of the Bible (which is ONLY a book of stories compiled by MANY different writers hundreds of years ago) and read the declaration of independence (what our nation is built on), where it says 'All Men are Created equal,' and try treating them that way for a change!

"Or better yet, try thinking for yourself and stop using an archaic book of stories as your lame crutch for your existence. You are in the minority in this country, and your boycott will not affect us at ABC or our freedom of statement."

Neugent was outraged and passed along the message to the Arkansas Daily Democrat newspaper and various other outlets, where it was carried around the world, according to several fact-finding organizations. …

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