Monday, June 9, 2008

Pioneer Football goes on minus former coach convicted of pornography

Last week, Lindsey "Dick" Dickinson, best known as a coach for the Pioneer Football Leagues ( in Orland Park, was sentenced to six years imprisonment for harboring a collection of child pornography. The issue of his religion came up in a very subtle way, but religion of the "wrong-doers" is a major issue these days, isn't it?

Southtown Story:,060568coach.article

Chicagoist Story:

While most reporters focused on the story, a writer at the Chicago Sun-Times (who happens to be Muslim) emphasized the fact (headline and story) that he also played "Santa Claus" at Christmas events -- if this had been reversed some how and he were Muslim and leading prayers at a Mosque, I wonder how high his religious affiliations would have been played in the story?

Anyway, as a member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), I passed along the thought to the Media Watch Committee, where I also participate as a volunteer, and the consensus is it is pertinent to the story.

The larger issue, though, was his huge role in the local football league, which would seem like the better choice for the story lead and headline.

Tribune Story:,CST-NWS-kidporn05.article

Religion plays a subtle role in media coverage, as does race. Why? Because the public is fascinated more by a Santa who collects pornography more than a community football league coach.

For example, even in the Lane Bryant Murder case from Feb. 2, 2008 in Tinley Park, many readers have emailed me (and I am sure other reporters and columnists) wondering why no one has picked up on the fact that the suspect was wearing a "skull cap" on his head. The skull cap would suggest that the suspect might be a Muslim.

The suspect is believed to be African American. But Muslim? That shouldn't be surprising. There are 7 million Muslims in the United States and only 22 percent are Arab, many live on the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago. But the largest group of Muslims in America are actually Black Muslims.

That I haven't made much of the issue has prompted scorn from some readers. But then, no one has made much of that. Is it an issue?

Ray Hanania

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