Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Calling It In

We were intrigued by the headline Some Houstonians 'calling in gay' on page B4 of Wednesday's Houston Chronicle and thus were moved to wade into the story beneath it, which reported that "gay men and women in Houston and across the country" would be taking part in a "Day Without a Gay" economic boycott in protest of California voters' recent rejection of gay marriage.

We began to peruse the story with a detached, clinical interest in finding out just how many "some Houstonians" might be, and we learned right off that Jerry Simoneaux, a lawyer, "is taking off today"* along with the 10 other people at his law firm (not all of whom, we presume, are gay). So Mr. Simoneaux himself technically was not "calling in gay," nor were the 10 employees who most certainly were encouraged by their boss to take the day off.

The story then moved on to Eric Weitzel, who was "already scheduled to be off from his retail job, but ... plans to call in anyway. "** So neither was Mr. Weitzel really "calling in gay." (There's no better way to demonstrate the courage of your convictions than by not showing up at your workplace on your day off.)

We were well down in the story and so far the Houston Chronicle had not found one living, breathing soul who planned to chomp down on the bullet and "call in gay." But we kept reading (we're that way).

Up next was Kris Banks, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, who proclaimed that California voters had "spit in the face" of gays but was not quoted as to whether he would be participating in the boycott by calling in ... etc.

At this point, the running total of "some Houstonians" was holding steady at ZERO.

There was a glimmer on the horizon, though: the Chronicle related that there was a "Day Without a Gay" Facebook site with nearly 200 members in Houston, about 80 of whom were saying "they might participate in today's boycott," but nothing confirmed, y'know (emphasis added).

Next up was "local activist" Meghan Baker. Our pulse quickened as we thought, "Perhaps Ms. Baker is the one who'll call in gay." But, no, Ms. Baker "isn't scheduled to work tomorrow," the Chronicle reported (with a straight face, which at this point would be very hard for a reader to keep) and like Messers. Simnoneaux and Weitzel planned to do some volunteer work in lieu of punching the clock. But this was a highly suspicious formulation: "Tomorrow" as used in the story meant Thursday, but according to the rest of the story the boycott was "today," meaning Wednesday and, uh ... whatever the case, we can safely assume that Ms. Baker did not call in gay.

Only five paragraphs remaining, and still no actual confirmation/corroboration of some Houstonians---or any Houstonian---calling in gay. But here came non-gay Peyton Davis, "proud daughter of a gay man" ... "who wants to call in today but can't."

Oh. See, she's an "hourly employee at a local real estate firm and can't afford to lose the income."

Story over. Grand total of Houstonians who planned to call in gay (planned to, never mind their actual doing it): zero, zilch, nada. Perhaps this story would have been more accurately headlined "Gay boycott fizzles in Houston" or, even more accurately if somewhat prosaically: "Gays all over Houston to show up for work Wednesday."

For the record we'll note that we do not oppose gay marriage, not at all ("No skin off my nose," as our daddy used to say), although this appears to be a minority opinion at this time in the United States. What we are against is this contorted, hackneyed, bending-of-reality brand of press-release journalism.

(So long, daily newspapers! Nice knowin' ya!)

*It strikes as as a good idea for all lawyers, gay or not, to close up shop for one, three or maybe five days each week.

*We imagine the following dialog between Mr. Weitzel and his employer:
Mr. Weitzel: "Hello, this is Eric---I'm gay."
Boss: "We know, Eric---enjoy your day off!"

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