Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

July 6, 2013

Should you take poly onto conservative talk radio?

After the Supreme Court's gay-marriage decisions on June 26th, poly activist Anita Wagner Illig found lots of media quoting stuff that she had recently said, and seeking her out. U.S. News & World Report had quoted her at length in an article about what a favorable court ruling might mean for people in multi-relationships. So after the decisions, other media came calling.

Conservative media in particular. She agonized over whether she could explain poly relationships as being reasonable and deserving of respect without just feeding the beast. When the Glenn Beck radio show invited her on as a guest, she asked other members of the Polyamory Leadership Network for advice.

Most of us recommended that she leave that one alone, and that's what she decided — partly because she felt that Beck (a right-winger so bizarre that he got kicked out of Fox News) might trigger her to the point of tripping up and not representing the poly world well.

A few others, however, said they thought they could handle Beck just fine. One was Michael Rios, a lifelong poly activist known for his organizing work in the Network for a New Culture. He contacted Beck's producers, but by then they were done with the topic.

Michael did, however, get himself a guest spot elsewhere on conservative talk radio: the Mike McConnell Show, based in Chicago. He handled it perfectly, with ease, for 13 minutes. Listen here. His part starts about 55% of the way through. (Aired July 2nd.)

McConnell, though, was an easy host. He did fish a bit for a statement that would prove polys want a slippery slope to group marriage. But, says Michael, "Hearing [the recording] as a listener now, I’m more convinced that McConnell had done his homework, and was at the very least neutral about polyamory. He asked good questions, and gave me time for complex answers when needed."

The skill that Michael displays in this clip is in being forthright while not being drawn into concept framings you didn't choose. To do this you need not just quick wits, but also an attitude that keeps you from being triggered: being genuinely curious and interested in your opponent's worldview. Not becoming reactive enables you to use your own framings to speak in ways that the host and his listeners will hear.

I think Michael's one of the best we've got. My opinion of the stuff he does only went up after I started going to the Network for a New Culture's Summer Camp East, which he, Sarah Taub, and others put on in the West Virginia mountains every July. I'm heading off there in a week. The location has very little internet, so if I don't post much then, that's why.


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Anonymous Brooks said...

The fact that there are conservative talk radio hosts who will do interviews with that style -- researching their topics and providing non-conservative guests with time to make thoughtful answers -- is an encouraging note about the world. It's easy to think that all talk radio, and especially that on the "other side", is about attacking people and steamrolling them to "prove" a point.

July 07, 2013 1:16 PM  

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