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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Was This A Hate Crime?

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Palin church burning - 'hate crime' virtually ignored?
Jim Brown - OneNewsNow - 12/19/2008

Hate CrimeA religion columnist and journalism professor says the mainstream media's
coverage of the fire that gutted Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's home
church has been thin, but it's hard to say exactly why it's been

Investigators say the fire that destroyed Wasilla Bible Church in Alaska on December 12 was likely the work of an arsonist, but the mainstream news media, with the exception of The Associated Press, has largely ignored the story.

Terry Mattingly is the editor of the website GetReligion.org, a Scripps Howard columnist, and director of the Washington Journalism Center. He says because the fire occurred in a remote area, major networks may not want to fly reporters in from Los Angeles, Washington,
or New York. Mattingly believes a regional bias could be at play, but adds that he Terry Mattinglyhas
no doubt that if a fire occurred at the church of a socially accepted victim group, the coverage would have been more extensive.

"To give you an example: right now in a parallel case down in California, we have demonstrations and some vandalism and stuff at Mormon churches....We're beginning to see some coverage of that," he points out. "Yet I think that if you had some sort of corresponding mirror image situation, say, conservative crowds that were doing vandalism and picketing, say, a congregation in the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church, you'd be seeing that on page one of the Los Angeles Times."

Mattingly contends news outlets need to probe whether the fire at Palin's church was a hate crime, considering an Alaska statute "criminalizes destruction of real or personal property belonging to religious or charitable organizations."

AP's report says an accelerant -- possible gasoline -- was poured around the exterior of the church and the fire was set near the entrance. A small group of people, including two children, was inside. No one was injured in the blaze.