The First Amendment protects freedom of expression. This is the central premise of the show Counterpoint on WVUM every Tuesday night from 9 to 10 p.m. The show examines opposing viewpoints on controversial public policy issues on a variety of topics. Past Counterpoint shows have focused on timely issues facing the country, including women’s rights, minority rights and the war in Iraq. Last week the topic was gay rights.
The topic was selected because of National Coming Out Week, which took place from Oct. 10 to 17. Within the week’s activities is National Coming Out Day, a day to initiate discussion within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community about making a decision to “come out” to their friends and family. The overarching goals of the event are to increase awareness and empowerment within the LGBT community, to seek equality in society and respect in interpersonal interactions. Nevertheless, due to the nature of the debate, controversy and opposition are likely to arise.
WVUM was notified by several members of SpectrUM that the show broadcast on National Coming Out Day was offensive. This was certainly not the station’s intent. Rather, our intent was to encourage intelligent debate and discussion of gay rights issues.
For the past several weeks, WVUM has been running PSAs promoting the event and explaining how it is a day for the LGBT community to give a familiar face to the gay rights movement and create a positive atmosphere for “closet” members of the community to “come out.”
Our mistake was failing to realize that offense might be taken by having a debate on this topic on a day of celebration. WVUM completely empathizes with the myriad of problems facing those in the LGBT community. We understand how they may have taken offense to the timing of the show and a hateful utterance made by a caller who slipped through our screening and briefly made it onto the air. For this we apologize.
Broadcasting dissenting points of view on a day of unity was not the intention of WVUM. In the spirit of fostering a robust and wide-open marketplace of ideas, WVUM welcomes, encourages and invites any members of SpectrUM, or other responsible members of the University community, to take part in our on-air discussions of controversial issues, especially those issues of critical importance to the LGBT community.
General Manager, WVUM