Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Puerto Rico: False homophobic statements attributed to popular singer

[H/T: El Blog de PJ] A profile of Puerto Rican singer Melina León (left) - as first posted online yesterday afternoon in El Nuevo Dia's website and set to be published today in their print edition - began with the following:

"On the eve of launching her new record 'You will pay,' singer Melina León acknowledged today the loneliness in which the average Puerto Rican woman lies submerged due to the crisis in masculinity [confronting] society. Part of the crisis is the tendency, each day more visible, towards mistreatment [and], in addition, to a masculine profile that is drifting towards homosexuality, alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment and gambling addiction."

Pedro Julio Serrano (below), who we recently quoted on comments made by presidential hopeful Bill Richardson, noticed that the statements were not direct quotes from the singer and decided to call the reporter in the article's byline, Jaime Torres, to ask what Melina had said specifically on the issue of homosexuality.

Torres directed Pedro Julio back to the web portal article ("Melina stands up for women"), which he said had been re-edited to include a direct quote from Melina:

"There are times when you see beautiful men and they have other sexual preferences and people say: Oh! All of them are leaving us, either they're married or they're in prison."

Gone was any direct reference to alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling as a cause of women's loneliness and an attribution to what other people may say about gays but not necessarily a direct blame.

Today's print version of El Nuevo Dia under the title of "Freed partnerships," also by Jaime Torres, is a whole different affair. It abandons the lonely women angle and focuses on Melina's views on gays and lesbians and her support of civil unions for same-sex couples.

"Many of those people live like I do with my husband. They buy houses and if they leave each other they can't claim them. The church is against [it] but I respect [them] because I have relatives and friend who are gay. I would throw a big stone at those who oppose it because there are some heterosexuals that are sick [people], hypocrites, who kill and rape."

But wait! There's more! The article also makes it clear that, while Melina might be in favor of civil unions for same sex partners she believes that marriage should specifically be only between a man and a woman. And yet...

Pedro Julio is now wondering if Melina actually came out in full support of same-sex marriage rights. He points out that there is an audio link to an interview excerpt on the issue of partnerships. Here's the complete translated quote from the audio file:

Jaime Torres: "Are you in favor of gay marriage, since you already mentioned that - also - this is part of the masculine crisis that the country is undergoing, no? The increase in this group of human beings and our brothers... Are you in favor..?

Melina León: "I haven't even gotten involved in that: I believe that persons when they want to be together have to be together no matter who says what, eh, if a person like us heterosexuals that we want to marry the person that we love, because we want to have that blessing from God, we want to get married, I don't understand... I mean, I am not against two persons who want to stay together and want to unite their relationship before God, and many of those couples have lives similar to that of myself and my husband and buy houses and, obviously, if they're not married how can they demand each other if they leave each other. See? Because they're a marriage, an union. Eh, I think what happens is that there is the church against it, eh, they're... I don't like to get involved the same as I don't like to be involved in political issues, but - yes - I have respect. I have family who are gay, I have best friends who are, and I obviously back it and back it 100%."

Jaime Torres: "So you would not pick up a big stone to throw it [Melina: NEVER!] at homosexuals [Melina: NEVER!] and lesbians that decide to get married, for example."

Melina León: "No, I would throw a big stone to anyone who tried to do it because that is a lack of respect. I think that you have to respect everyone equally and that there are many heterosexual persons who are sick people and hypocrites who are bad and who kill and rape but..."

As Pedro Julio notes, at not time when discussing same sex partnerships does she mention a stand against marriage rights. Actually, she believes that gays should be able to celebrate their unions before God and I'm pretty sure that is not the definition of a civil union. In fact, Torres is the one who seems to deduce in his opening question that Melina blames gays for the loneliness of women, that he sees gays as a growing threat and the first to imply that stones should be thrown at gays in his leading questions.

Over on his blog, Pedro Julio salutes Melina's statements in favor of same-sex marriage and states: "As readers it is our responsibility to oversee that the news is reported as and how they happened, without allowing a reporter to interject his thoughts into his writing."

I say: Great job PJ!

UPDATE: Turns out Jaime Torres is no stranger to blaming the ills of society on homosexuality, among other things. Just by looking for additional comments by Mr. Torres in El Nuevo Dia I found out that Torres is the co-author of a blog also published at the El Nuevo Dia portal called "Good News."

And, pray tell what is the "Good News" blog about? Well, it's mostly about how Puerto Rico's society is going down the drain unless people take God back in their hearts and repent.

Take the August 3rd post called "Devils:" It's not necessarily clear whether it was authored by Mr. Torres or the other co-blogger but it certainly carries his name and consent. Still, there are some common themes to the ones raised in the interview with Melina.

It starts by stating that human life is an eternal struggle between good and evil. It lists a litany of ways in which evil can take over which includes unfaithful husbands, a father leaving his son an orphan by having a heart attack after trying drugs, a man who loses his dignity when he becomes a gambling addict, a woman that crashed her car because she was speeding after getting drunk and high on drugs. Then he blames it on free will and how humans tend towards excess if given free will thanks to Satan. You probably get the rest.

"Satan and his legion of devils go around to the bars where there is lots of liquor, sex, drugs, etcetera [...] When [those who fall in his claws] discover his torture, how tormented they are, a lot of times it's already too late. They are the demons of adultery, fornication, lesbianism, homosexuality, drug addiction, alcoholism, the worship of money, gluttony, lying, jealousy and many others."

Hm, sounds suspiciously familiar to some of the things that Malina supposedly told Mr. Torres in the first drafts of his interview and looks particularly egregious now that we know she said no such things. I guess 'lying,' Mr. Torres, is one of the lesser evils?

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