Yellow journalism at the Bee?

I’m wondering what other people think about the Bee’s stirring article yesterday on “wounds that have festered for some time between Sacramento’s gay community and members of the Slavic evangelical community,” brought to clearer light by the beating death on July 1 of Satender Singh at Lake Natoma.

But I think it’s irresponsible for the Bee to make the jump that the attackers are part of that church. The tragedy of Satender Singh’s death is a reality. The danger represented by the tensions between the gay community and anti-gay Slavic Christians is a reality. But the lone thread connecting those two stories is that the attackers spoke Russian.

One need only read the comments on the Bee’s article to see how quickly readers picked up on the Bee’s assumption that these attackers were motivated in any way by their church. Some commenters go so far as to advocate closing the nation’s borders to prevent entry by “these people.” The only reason such commenters think this has anything to do with Christians is because the Bee made that assumption.

I feel like this might only inflame those tensions by putting it in the minds of readers that all Russian-speaking Sacramentans are necessarily bigots. If it’s true that those bastards, when they are caught, were influenced by the church’s rhetoric, then we have a problem. But until that is known, isn’t it irresponsible to cast the net as wide as the Bee has done?

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

14 thoughts on “Yellow journalism at the Bee?”

  1. I believe the article said, “community,” not “church.”

    I’ve seen the protesters from this “community” and heard their hate-filled rants. I won’t paint the entire “community” the problem, but something is going on in the those families and in that church if such a large group of people is perpetually using violence and aggression to keep another segment of society from enjoying their own civil liberties. Someone is telling them that it is acceptable behavior. I feel no differently about other “communities” like the white supremacists who teach their children, based on their beliefs, that hating people of color is okay and acting on it is just fine.


  2. “I feel like this might only inflame those tensions by putting it in the minds of readers that all Russian-speaking Sacramentans are necessarily bigots.”

    This is always a problem with ANY article that discusses what MAY have happened or attempts to explore any of the MOTIVATIONS behind acts. In other words, any story that doesn’t stick strictly to the Who, What, When, Where and How.

    I think the story was correct to explore the connection between the raging homophobic rhetoric of the Slavic Christians and the violence against gays in this community.

    The Slavic Christians have been very vocal and upfront about their opposition to gay rights. While other conservative evangelicals have long opposed gay rights, the Slavic community has gone out of its way to encourage actions against efforts to end bigotry against homosexuals.

    No respectable paper can ignore this if it is going to try to do more than just reprint the police department press releases.


  3. from the news reports i saw on the day Singh was attacked witnesses said the Russian men threw anti-Gay and anti-Hindu (which they believed he was and i don’t know if indeed that is the case) language at Singh and his friends. So i guess they made the inference from that…or the like. And i wonder if this new-to-the-media anti-gay movement is going to be the new kkk. fundamentalist right wing christians spredding hate and fear through violent rhetoric and, if the news is right, actions.


  4. Of course, that’s the role of the press –to make connections where justified. Don’t be so defensive.


  5. no no no linda. the role of the press is not to make connections. it’s not to guess or make inferences. the role of the press is to ask questions and report on facts. they should even go so far as to correct bad information. it’s the role of law enforcement to make connections where justified. you should not be so willing to be lead by the collar.


  6. I see what you’re getting at John, I do. But the problem is that the story does not in fact “explore the connection between the raging homophobic rhetoric of the Slavic Christians and the violence against gays in this community.” No rhetoric is repeated, so we have no way of knowing whether it is ragingly homophobic or not, much less whether it advocates murder. There is a general statement that some Slavic Christians oppose gay rights and hold demonstrations for the purpose of expressing their opposition. I have no idea what they say at those demonstrations because the story doesn’t tell me. And I have no idea whether the murder reported in the story was motivated by the rhetoric of those Slavic Christians because investigators have yet to determine that. So in reading this story I get less of an “exploration” and more of a set of generalized assumptions: that Slavic Christians who oppose gay rights are out there advocating murder and some people in this case took them up on the idea. There’s really no factual basis for any of that in the story, it’s just the author’s speculation. Could it be true? Yes, just as easily as it could be false. The problem is that the story really reports nothing that would help reach a conclusion either way. The danger of such negligent characterization in this case is that, if general tensions exist as the author suggests, they have now been inflamed by the maybe true, maybe false suggestion that the rhetoric of Slavic Christians is responsible for this crime. It’s pretty shoddy reporting and on top of that somewhat irresponsible.


  7. In my video “The Night of Noise (2007)”, which you can find on iFilm (just go to Google and search for it), you can clearly see protestors from the Slavic community. From that same day, if you go to and check the video library, way back when the principal of a school suspended students wearing anti-gay shirts, you can see MANY of those SAME people being interviewed by the KOVR reporter.

    If you can’t find the video, go to my website at, click on Blog, click on Links, then click on Videos.


  8. What’s strange to me is the last paragraph:

    “We see danger that comes from the gay community, in Sacramento especially,”

    …Which seems to slant the piece or infer that the Slavic community (read: attackers) considered Singh a threat.

    It’s still OK to punch someone in the face in Russia/Ukraine, et all; people don’t call the police or file assault charges — in this case it appears to be a case of “selective” tolerance, much to the detriment of Singh.

    It blows me away when I read about things like this, a reverse pogrom in any other name.



  9. what can we do as a community to stop or at least disuade this kind of reporting. from KFBK radio to KCRA…all of it. do we just sit here and take it? go about our business getting the news elsewhere? i feel while that goes on people in this community still get their “information” from these tainted sources.


  10. So, Meg, if I’m understanding you correctly, unless read the words, you can’t rely on the reporting? I have an invitation for you to join me next year at the Gay Pride event at the park. You can hear the words yourself. I don’t think publishing the words would keep the level of rhetoric down on either side and doesn’t add to the reporting.

    Put it like this: If it was 1947 and the KKK spewed vitriol while lynching a black man who had just been hanging out at the park, but the reporter chose not to discuss the words used, but only that the event occurred, would that also be yellow journalism? Just curious.


  11. I think you might be understanding me correctly Lori. I prefer to hear at least minimum specificity about what statements were made rather than rely on a vague implication from the reporter. That way I can decide for myself whether I believe the statements advocate murder and whether they are “ragingly homophobic.” If they did and were, I’m appalled. And if that happened I am sorry that you and others had to hear it at gay pride or anywhere else. I don’t agree with that kind of rhetoric. I’m simply saying I’d rather hear some specific facts and think for myself. The reporter is implying that Slavic Christians are out there as a group stirring up people to murder homosexuals. I think making that horrible of an implication demands some quotes or at least good paraphrasing of the rhetoric involved. Not to mention the fact that there’s as yet no proof of causation.


  12. You’re shocked that the bee uses appeals to emotion to express bias in the content of articles?

    How long have you lived in Sacramento?

    Read a few Bee articles and pay attention to the tone and use of language. There are frequent articles that do not REPORT, they’re op-ed pieces acting as news articles.

    The Bee is where SN&R journalists go when they grow up.


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