Every Utahn who appreciates honest and civil debate can also appreciate The Salt Lake Tribune's explanation of why it feels so strongly justified in reporting the stand of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on homosexuality. Certainly, Latter-day Saints are interested in this subject doctrinally as well as culturally. Persons who have embraced homosexual behavior are interested psychologically as well as politically.
Public approbation for homosexuality is a large part of a modern culture war that began earnestly in the early 1970s. That The Tribune would report on this controversial debate is expected. The paper also is allowed its biases. It has an editorial board that takes editorial positions. It has an opinion about all facets of homosexuality.
Nevertheless, The Tribune remains a newspaper that adheres to the highest journalistic standards as Utahns should expect and unapologetically so. At least that's what readers would think. Which is why Assistant Managing Editor Lisa Carricaburu's defense of the paper's reporting of Apostle Boyd K. Packer's remarks in General Conference is surprising. ("Tribune reports LDS remarks on gays so you can decide," Oct. 10.)
For those of us readers who appreciate a two-newspaper town, let me assure The Tribune that it need not apologize for its reporting. We are well aware of its biases. We are well aware that when it comes to things LDS, The Tribune is much less patient in tone and substance with the corporate church than with its individual members treating the corporate church with suspicion much like it would view any big corporation.
Regarding homosexuality specifically, we know that The Tribune views it as (1) an innate, or inborn, human characteristic; (2) no different from a person's skin color; (3) immutable; (4) a human right; (5) a right of privacy; (6) a point of human dignity; and (7), as Ms. Carricaburu reminds us once again, "the civil rights movement of our time."
We know, too, that many Utahns, including me, disagree with the newspaper's assessments of homosexuality. That's life in America, and The Tribune understands this diversity of opinion.
All of that aside, Carricaburu's characterization of the noble and unbiased journalists at The Tribune simply serving a greater good is a bit off track. For instance, in its pages, Utahns won't read the central medical and scientific truth about homosexuality. Not only is there zero proof that any human being is "born that way," they regularly change their sexual behaviors, moving from hetero to homo to elsewhere and back again sometimes at will, sometimes with great difficulty and personal struggle. These are facts, and yet The Tribune will always downplay them, if not completely ignore them, because of its biases to which it is certainly entitled.
Likewise, Peggy Fletcher Stack's reporting of President Packer's remarks carries the same biases. To credentialize her reporting on the LDS Church simply because she has done so for 20 years belies her personal biases. She also edited Sunstone magazine for years and, by any reasonable assessment of her work, she carries over the same longtime biases to her efforts at The Tribune.
It is OK for the paper to state matter-of-factly that Stack enjoys writing about (sometimes creating) controversies within the church. Why should The Tribune apologize for it? It doesn't feel the need to do so about every Paul Rolly column.
Utahns expect The Tribune to stand generally for liberal, secular, anti-Mormon interests. That's what makes Salt Lake City a two-newspaper town. Why not wear that badge proudly? Carricaburu's strange attempt to justify The Tribune's reporting is not a proud moment.
Paul T. Mero is president of Sutherland Institute, a conservative public policy think tank based in Salt Lake City.