Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recent research on public opinion toward same-sex marriage

I published two research articles on public opinion toward same-sex marriage this week. The two solo-authored research articles extend my previous research on attitudes toward this controversial issue.

The first piece, What’s marriage (and family) got to do with it? Support for same-sex marriage, legal unions, and gay and lesbian couples raising children was published by Social Science Quarterly. The article examines the impact of marital and family status and views on the purpose of marriage on support for gay marriage, legal unions, and gay and lesbian couples raising children. The bottom line: while ideological and religious values still matter most when it comes to predicting opinions on gay civil rights issues, it's also important to look at the role that marriage, family, and views on the purpose of marriage have in shaping the debate.

The second piece, Determinants of public support for same-sex marriage: Generational cohorts, social contact, and shifting attitudes was published in The International Journal of Public Opinion Research. The article examines the influence of generational affiliation and rates of social contact on support for same-sex marriage. The bottom line:  Age, or generational affiliation, is inversely related to issue support in that Millennials have the highest rates of social contact with gays and lesbians, the most liberal attitudes toward same-sex parent families, and show the broadest support for same-sex marriage. At the same time, rates of social contact are an important predictor of support for same-sex marriage irrespective of generational cohort membership. More specifically, the regression model suggests that social contact is a positive predictor of support for same-sex marriage even after controlling for demographics and religious and ideological value predispositions.

The same-sex marriage debate has been an important focus in my home state of Maryland and in various other locations across the country. Check out these recent articles for more information on the shifting opinion climate toward gay civil rights issues.

Jon Stewart & Will Ferrell Wear a Helmet

Jon Stewart offered his own commentary on the latest Rush Limbaugh incident on Tuesday's broadcast.

In the clip, Stewart mentions that Limbaugh is criticizing a private citizen but doesn't capitalize on this distinction. Instead he focuses on how the Right responded to Limbaugh's comments. Their answer: criticize Bill Maher, a liberal comedian with his own show on HBO, for calling Sarah Palin the "c" and "t" word. Do note that Sarah Palin is a very, very public person but Sandra Fluke is simply a Georgetown University law student.

The clip continues by discussing Fox News' targeting of comedians. Did you know that comedians wear helmets according to Fox? By the end of the clip, Stewart tells the network to "Shut the F@#k Up!"

Regardless of the helmet fiasco (mocked nicely during the Will Ferrell interview later in the broadcast -- see below), it is interesting to watch Jon Stewart -- first and foremost a comedian -- talk about comedy and the consequences of being a public commentator. It seems like we should hold both Stewart and Limbaugh to the same standard -- the same goes for Comedy Central and Clear Channel.

Doesn't Will Ferrell look much better in the helmet than Stewart?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Words of Warcraft: The Daily Show and the Iran Debate

We've been hearing a lot more about Iran these days -- whether it's during the Republican presidential debates, in the wide range of reporting on the speeches of Barack Obama and the 2012 GOP hopefuls at this year's AIPAC conference, or the coverage of Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Barack Obama.

Even The Daily Show weighed in this past Tuesday with a carefully constructed, graphically pleasing, and incredibly poignant discussion of the current controversy and the influence that the 2012 election season has had on the rhetoric surrounding the debate over what to do about Iran.

I used to write a column for The Baltimore Sun pointing out the best political comedy clips each month. I can honestly say that this clip would have made my list for March and perhaps for the entire winter season. Check it out for yourself:

Stewart's cautionary tone and his message is intended to be both humorous and thought-provoking. In fact, Stewart echoes the sentiments expressed by Thomas Friedman in a widely shared column in this week's New York Times.

While Friedman gets to the heart of the matter, it may be that we need Jon Stewart and The Daily Show's version of the Iran story to convince us that this is a global matter, not just a concern for Israel and in turn the United States. To date, almost a quarter of a million viewers have watched the segment from Tuesday's broadcast of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central web site. While it's not nearly as popular as the the Kony 2012 video currently circulating on YouTube, Stewart is bringing added attention to the issue, especially for a younger demographic. Watch for The Daily Show to continue placing emphasis on Iran and Israel as the rhetoric escalates ...