Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Good for the Media

Some weeks ago, an official from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) made a particularly dumb move. SAMHSA was providing substantial funding for a suicide prevention conference in Oregon. One of the panels was to be titled "Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals". A SAMHSA official looking over the conference schedule contacted the organizers and threatened to withdraw funding if the words "Gay", "Lesbian", "Bisexual" and "Transgender" weren't removed from the panel name. The panel could be given -- but it dcouldn't be advertised as what it was. The organizers intended to comply, changing the name to something that would obscure the reason for offering the panel.

I could rant at length on how offensive and repellent the SAMHSA official's move was, but I don't think anyone in my readership needs help on this, so I'll skip it.*

The media got wind of the story, and soon a series of articles deriding this decision were popping up all over the place. The agency was deluged with protest emails. Congress members got involved.

In response to the outcry, the SAMHSA administrator issued a "clarification" in which he effectively recanted and reversed the lower-level decision that the name needed to be changed.

It would've been nice if it had taken less prodding, and come with an apology, too, but I guess that's too much to expect of a government agency.

* Yes, as a Libertarian, I could argue whether or not the government ought to be paying for conferences in the first place, and the fact that the money gives the gov't the leverage to pull these kinds of stunts is Exhibit A on "Why Government Funding Is Bad". But if my tax dollars are going to pay for this sort of thing, they sure shouldn't be paying for the doublespeak version thereof. Bah.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.