The writer who helped created a storm of controversy when he wrote that Manny Pacquiao is at odds with President Obama's personal stance on same-sex marriage has gone on the offensive against other press-persons who reported on the flak.
Filipino-American Granville Ampong, who lives in LA and writes for the Conservative Examiner, published a piece on May 14 in which quotes from Pacquiao were interspersed with paraphrases. This tactic promoted some confusion among readers of the column, and reporters who picked up the story, and interpreted it.
Ampong, in a follow-up column published on May 16, went into heavy-duty denial mode. The headline to this new column, "Biased writers grossly twisted Pacquiao's view on same-sex marriage," seeks to absolve him of even a hint of culpability in the continuing saga which has boiled down in the minds of some to, Is Manny Pacquiao biased against homosexuals to the point where he supports Biblical passages which call for gays to be killed?
I myself wasn't totally clear on several passages, and I went into some of that yesterday. This one, for instance, had me reading and re-reading: "Pacquiao's directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not to promote sin,inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation, notwithstanding what Leviticus 20:13 has been pointing all along: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
First off, the use of the word "directive" threw me off. I wasn't sure if Pacquiao told Ampong merely that he disagreed with Obama, when the President on May 9 said to ABC News that he is personally pro same-sex marriage...or, if as the use of the word "directive" (ie an official or authoritative instruction) strongly implies, that Pacquiao communicated to Ampong that he wants Obama to reverse his stance, so as not to "promote sin."
The introduction of the verse from Leviticus, which is used as a justification by fundamentalists who opine that their God and the Bible explicitly oppose homosexuality, further muddied the piece. Some might think that the presence of quotation marks meant that Pacquiao quoted aloud the highly-charged passage. (And, since Manny has of late been stating that we all should use the Bible as a "manual" for living, some might even interpret that Pacquiao thinks that passage from Leviticus should be strictly adhered to ie he is a proponent of gays being put to death. Um, I think I can safely say Pacquiao's "conservative" views don't go that far...though I wish Ampong had made damned sure in his piece to tell us EXACTLY what Pacquiao's beliefs are in this sphere.)
Ampong tried to clarify the Leviticus reference in the May 16 column when he wrote, "Pacquiao never said nor recited,nor invoked and nor did he ever refer to such context." Perhaps it was Ampong's use of the word "notwithstanding" (ie in spite of) which threw some of us off. Again, I read and re-read the confusing portion. Was Ampong saying that Pacquiao is calling for Obama to ask societies to "fear God and not promote sin" in spite of the Bible's call to kill gays? Was Ampong strongly implying that Pacquiao actually totally embraces the Leviticus stance? At the very least, the writer's wording needed to be made much more clear, to remove any hint of confusion on what the Congressman/boxer thinks. And fault lies with Ampong, not a reporter for USA Today or LA Weekly, who he calls out in his defensive follow-up column, for not communicating clearly.
One could take issue with Ampong's phrasing used in the original column when referring to the "sweeping campaign of Obama favoring the gays and lesbians to legally marry is nothing more than a direct attack on the moral society and against the creative power and will of God." Sweeping campaign?The President has been too silent for too long in the minds of proponents for full rights for gay people who want to be able to marry the same way heteros do. They would say they'd like a much more "sweeping campaign." But that is a minor quibble, really.
We can assume, I guess, that Pacquiao actually did say, on the record: "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other. It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old." Which is his right, of course, though I am of the belief that no government should be in the business of legislating based off the Christian, or any Bible, which many atheists and even many religious folk believe is a compilation of stories written by many different authors, and contains too many egregious relics from the dark ages, like calling for the killing of gay people, to be embraced as any sort of manual for living in a modern, presumably enlightened era.
Ampong then wrote, in his original column: "Pacquiao believes same-sex marriage is an abomination and its advancement should be stopped starting from the high offices of the U.S. to block possible legalization." I would like to know if Pacquiao used the word "abomination," and why Ampong didn't make that clear with the use of quotation marks.
In his May 16 column, Ampong said that he didn't intend to have Pacquiao's views presented as his own. "As my style of literary writing suggests in almost all of my columns, the critical thoughts I tied up in the structure of thoughts I wanted to convey pertinent to this issue at hand do not translate Pacquiao's point of view, however conservative I am in my exposition," he wrote. But it seemed clear to me, correct me if I am wrong, that Ampong is in virtual lock-step with Pacquiao on the issue of same-sex marriage, and I find it ludicrous that he denies this. Especially when right after he issues that disclaimer, he wrote: "I strongly commend Pacquiao's standing relative to same-sex marriage issue as only that has bearing to the morality side."
From start to finish, Ampong's original column lacks clarity. To close, he wrote: "Meanwhile, Pacquiao has not expressed, as well, support for Obama's presidential candidacy for this coming November elections, nor did he ever mention of possibly declining endorsement which might be sought by the Obama campaign strategists." It isn't clear to me if Ampong asked Pacquiao if he would support Obama's 2012 candidacy, or if the politician-boxer even so much as hinted that he might decline to endorse the President. Pacquiao, you might recall, seemed pro Obama back in 2008, when he said that he used the campaign battle-cry "Yes we can!" as a mantra of inspiration ahead of his Dec. 6, 2008 clash with Oscar De La Hoya.
Ampong gets points for chuztpah, if not an "A" grade in the sphere of syntax, when he demands "biased" writers say sorry to Pacquiao. "I hereby demand both Weir and Romero to apologize to Pacquiao. They, being writers for USA Today and LA Weekly respectively, should have a better reading comprehension than I do, rhetorically," he thundered.
I think Ampong would be better off demanding more from himself, and looking in the mirror on this one. He delved into some seriously hot-button territory, and owed it to himself, and the readers, and Pacquiao, to be as clear as humanly possible. He came up short, and would be advised to engage in some cleanup duty that doesn't consist of finger-pointing.
Follow Woods on Twitter here.