Bad judge or biased media?
Posted by aogSaturday, 02 August 2003 at 21:22 TrackBack Ping URL

There’s been some heat at Little Green Footballs about a recent ruling in San Diego that abrogated a lease by the Boy Scouts on some land in a local park. It looks to me more like bad journalism.

The headline reads “Judge says use violates separation of church and state”, yet there isn’t much support for that. Here’s the key paragraph on that point:
Jones ruled that the city failed to follow its usual procedures in leasing property and instead engaged in “private, exclusive negotiations culminating in another long-term lease of the Balboa Park property.”
This would seem to make the establishment problem the fact that the city council gave preferential treatment to the Boy Scouts, not that the use itself was problematic. This is reenforced by another point,
judge upheld another city lease to the Boy Scouts of an aquatics center on city-owned property on Fiesta Island, ruling there was no evidence that the city showed bias toward the Scouts in awarding that lease.
Hmmm, the judge doesn’t seem to think that the use in this lease violates “seperation of church and state”. Could it be that the judge is actually holding for true neutrality and objecting only to the way in which a particular lease was let? That wouldn’t make a good headline, though. Here’s a funny set of quotes from the article:
The decision is a victory for those trying to get the Scouts to liberalize their policies toward agnostics and homosexuals.

“Now it’s up to the Boy Scouts to respond and stop discriminating,” said City Councilwoman Toni Atkins, herself a lesbian.

The 36-page decision released by Jones contained very little discussion of sexual preference, however.

I’m not sure how forbidding the city council from engaging in exclusive, private negotiations with specific renters is a victory for the busy-bodies trying to get the Boy Scouts to “liberalize”. It looks like this was too much even for the author of the article, though - that’s a nice shot at the end.

In the end, this looks like a judge make a not unreasonable decision which the paper (not necessarily the author, as he didn’t pick the headline) is trying to spin as a victory for its policitcal view. But I guess that’s just how the objective, unbiased media works.