Tarry for the Nonce

November 22, 2005

Not Ok in Oklahoma

Filed under: Entertainment — lmwalker @ 2:54 pm

I suppose I could express the viewpoint that those who agree to participate in reality television should expect that the ratings-hungry producers are going to throw them a curve ball, but I am finding it difficult to figure out Disney’s motivation in assigning Jeffrey D. Bedford of Haileyville a homosexual male as a “swap” for his wife.

The suit filed Oct. 11 claims . . .

  • Defendants threatened if Bedford did not film the show that they would not tell him his wife’s location and would not pay for her to be sent home.
  • Bedford conducted a Bible study for the Haileyville Baptist Church, wherein the gay swap participant invited a gay coalition into Bedford’s home for the study.
  • Defendants repeatedly told him his wife was leaving him. He claims he became emotionally distraught over his and his family’s situation to the point of becoming physically and mentally ill. His wife was not informed of his illness.
  • Bedford was not allowed to speak to his wife during the filming of the episode and not allowed to continue his college work during the filming. Subsequently, he was dropped from one class.

If these points are true, then I think that ABC has been rather revolting. It reminds me of an incident in the life of Shirley Temple where a director tried to evoke a more intense emotional reaction out of the youngster by telling her that her mother had been kidnapped by a monster. It’s really very cruel (and unnecessary) to tell a husband that his wife has left him and refuse to let him speak to her.

Oh, and it’s also extremely disrespectful to pair a Baptist with a member of a gay coalition, even under the auspices of “challeng[ing] a family’s norms.” I can only suppose Mr. Bedford was chosen because he was a Baptist and the producers determined that his (presumed) views on the subject would be the basis for a good firestorm.

Of course, I am also of the opinion that the ever-suffering Mr. Bedford should have refused to continue the show at the time of objection, rather than suing the producers after the fact. But that doesn’t change my equally strong repulsion to the Disney publicity stunt.

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15 Comments

  1. Now that ABC has established itself at being so willing to “challenge” a Christian family’s norms, I’m sure they’ll go further.

    Any time now, I expect to see a miniskirt-wearing pork eater placed with a religious Muslim family.

    Aaaany time now…

    Comment by Toly — November 22, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  2. Oh, and it’s also extremely disrespectful to pair a Baptist with a member of a gay coalition, even under the auspices of “challeng[ing] a family’s norms.” I can only suppose Mr. Bedford was chosen because he was a Baptist and the producers determined that his (presumed) views on the subject would be the basis for a good firestorm.

    I find this “disrespectful” in the sense that I would find it “disrespectful” to, say, pair a religion-based white supremacist and a black woman. Which is to say, I think some people sometimes try to protect stances that are unworthy of respect by hiding them behind the shield of religious belief. (The stance being that he could or should be able to get through life without ever having to interact with gay people. Sorry buddy, pluralist society, basic human rights, blah blah blah.)

    That said, it was awful mean-spirited of ABC to begin with, and if he didn’t want to play their game, they should’ve eaten the cost of letting him and his wife go. And in fact, I think he should look at criminal charges. He may actually have a case for kidnapping if they spirited his wife away somewhere and refused to tell him where she was.

    Comment by Chrispy — November 22, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

  3. Now that ABC has established itself at being so willing to “challenge” a Christian family’s norms, I’m sure they’ll go further.

    Any time now, I expect to see a miniskirt-wearing pork eater placed with a religious Muslim family.

    I didn’t know that disdain for gays is a cornerstone of what christianity represents.

    Comment by Howard — November 22, 2005 @ 6:51 pm

  4. Me neither. Nor was I aware that Islam was centered on fear of swine meat and women’s legs.

    Comment by Toly — November 22, 2005 @ 11:27 pm

  5. Jews keep kosher. Stricter Jewish sects (among others) also promote “modesty.”

    Sorry, I still have to concur with Crispy as far people using their belief in the supernatural as the basis for their hatred of gays.

    Comment by Howard R — November 23, 2005 @ 11:46 am

  6. What’s your point, Howard? It’s not news that Jews and Muslims have some dietary guidelines in their holy texts. The admonition to “modesty” is more of a societal norm in both cases, at least as far as I know. Neither is a “cornerstone” of Islam or Judaism — certainly no more than the infamous verse in Leviticus that explicitly calls homosexuality an “abomination” is a cornerstone of Christianity.

    Of course, it’s always a bit odd to argue over what forms the central core of someone else’s beliefs.

    So I ask once again: when will we see a miniskirt-wearing babe with a taste for ham placed with a religious Muslim family? The ratings would be through the roof. Come to think of it, the same gay man placed with a religious Muslim family would also be interesting, although on a strictly personal note, I’d rather watch the woman.

    Comment by Toly — November 24, 2005 @ 11:04 am

  7. I think it’d be interesting to pair a university educated woman with a strictly patriarchal family.

    You know, I just don’t think families that practice modesty look on those who don’t with the same feelings that some “religious” people look upon homosexuals.

    Comment by Howard R — November 25, 2005 @ 10:26 am

  8. I just don’t think families that practice modesty look on those who don’t with the same feelings that some “religious” people look upon homosexuals.

    Is this based on evidence/experience, or just a sense of how things are?

    Comment by laura — November 25, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  9. I don’t see protests against equal rights for people who wear miniskirts vs those who don’t.

    I don’t see people speaking up about books trying to “indoctrinate” others into the cleavage-displaying lifestyle.

    Lastly, I don’t recall people boycotting dolls because their manufacturer donates money to groups that haven’t come out against semi-sheer evening dresses with strappy high heels.

    But that’s just what I’ve observed and I could be wrong.

    Comment by Howard R — November 25, 2005 @ 1:59 pm

  10. Lastly, I don’t recall people boycotting dolls because their manufacturer donates money to groups that haven’t come out against semi-sheer evening dresses with strappy high heels.

    Are you equating the moral turpitude of homosexuality and abortion? Dude! I’m Catholic and I would never do that.

    Comment by laura — November 26, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  11. I’m sorry: no one told me that this is a discussion of things Howard perceives in his extremely limited universe. Really, my mistake.

    You don’t see protests against equal rights for immodestly dressed women? Where have you been looking, exactly? No, there aren’t any in the U.S., where such attitudes are in the extreme minority. (Although…) On the other hand, check out Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan sometime. No, no protests there, either. Just a whacking (if the woman is “lucky”), or an “honor” killing.

    Want a milder version closer to home? Spiffy article here, from Time magazine. Truly insightful stuff, including the part where being in love can destroy a teenage girl’s reputation. Music is “against religion.” No, no protests needed. The repression is quite complete as it is, thank you.

    Then there are the multiple rapes in Arab neighborhoods in western Europe (France, Holland), with the explanation given that the victim was “provocatively dressed,” and the boys just couldn’t help themselves. But hey, you’re right, other than that, it’s not really a big deal.

    You don’t see complaints about books and indoctrination? All over the Middle East, clerics and Islamic conservatives are bitching about exactly that: Western culture seducing their young people and indoctrinating them with all its “immoral” ways.

    So one more time: I’d like to see someone bursting with these “immoral Western influences” placed with a conservative Muslim family. She’ll dress immodestly, eat ham sandwiches, talk back to the man of the house, and have occasional parties with beer. You know, just to challenge the family’s norms.

    Comment by Toly — November 26, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  12. First to Laura: While you may be boycotting A.G. for abortion issues, the group leading the protest also has a complaint about Girls Inc. “endorsing” or “promoting” lesbianism.

    Now to Toly: I thought we were discussing areas where a reality TV show such as “wife swap” would be seen. Of course, if you expand it out to entire world, you find people doing all sorts of things in the name of religion (which is why I’m such a fan of the supernatural, BTW). Beating people for holding hands in public, cliltorial multilation, blowing up liquor stores, and much more are done in the name of religion.

    Would your premise make for fun watching? More than likely. My question is if you think having a gay person in the household of someone religious is equivilant to someone wearing non-tradional garb in a observant muslim household?

    Comment by Howard R — November 26, 2005 @ 5:30 pm

  13. FYI Laura, I brought this up at my niece’s birthday party, and from what I was told, the American Girl products are only giving money to the organization vis-a-vis a bracelet program. One of my brother’s friend’s wives wrote them a letter asking them to clarify what portion was going to ‘Girls Inc.’ or whatever that other organization is called. From what the letter they receieved back indicated, only the proceeds from the bracelet sales were going to the girls/women’s rights organization. Thought you might find this interesting.

    Comment by Andrew P. — November 28, 2005 @ 10:07 am

  14. FWIW, I just made a $30 donation to Girls Inc.

    Comment by Howard R — November 28, 2005 @ 11:35 am

  15. Laura, Jeff actually tried to quit the show at the beginning of filming and send the film crew packing. RDF/ABC threatened him with a 5 million dollar lawsuit if he quit.

    The gay swap participant did not call the gay advocate group. RDF/ABC called them and set up the whole “Bible Study”. Jeff had called off the study that week due to the show.

    RDF/ABC called Jeff’s family to his house under the pretense of a birthday party for his sister. Then they called Jeff’s Bible study group to his house at the same time, telling them that the Bible Study was back on for the week. Based upon what I have been able to find, my guess is that they called the gay advocacy group (PFLAG) much earlier before the episode was to be filmed.

    This was why they couldn’t allow Jeff to call off the Bible study. It would have ruined their planned “Jerry Springer” moment. Luckily, all of Jeff’s friends and family saw what was happening and refused to argue with PFLAG’s 2 representatives. The producers were doing their best to try and get an argument going.

    Yes indeed, the show is entirely scripted, directed, and heavily edited.

    Comment by Agent Smith — November 29, 2005 @ 10:50 pm


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