The Internet came alive this week as stories began to circulate about Manny Pacquiao saying gay men should be "put to death". The news was all over Twitter as fans and detractors of the Pacman voiced their disgust at the Filipino boxer's outrageous views.
It all started with a story about Pacquiao on Examiner.com, which quoted the boxer as saying things like, "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other." But it was this curious paragraph that delivered what many thought would be the knockout blow to Pacquiao's public image:
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.”
The passage was in quote marks and slap bang in the middle of the story. It looked like Pacquiao had quoted a passage from the Bible to support his views and USA Today was quick to tie up its gloves and come out swinging:
Pacquiao… invoked Old Testament, and recited Leviticus 20:13, saying: "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."
Then yesterday, Dennis Romero from LA Weekly had a pop in a blog post:
Manny Pacquiao, who lives and trains in Los Angeles, is probably in deep shit in this liberal city of brotherly love.
That's because the boxing champion said that gay men "must be put to death."
Today, the author of the Examiner article, Granville Ampong, clarified what Pacquiao said, or didn't say, as the case turned out to be:
In his article, Weir (USA Today) said "Pacquiao also invoked Old Testament, and recited Leviticus 20:13… That, Pacquiao never said nor recited, nor invoked and nor did he ever refer to such context.
Global Post journo Patrick Winn summed up the fallout:
Given that Pacquiao is an elected Philippine official, as well as a lieutenant colonel in the US-allied Philippine Army, his convictions merit more scrutiny than most wayward statements spilling out of athletes' mouths.
Also deserving of scrutiny? Overeager journalists and online echo chambers.
If Ampong's writing was sloppy. Weir's and Romero's was shambolic.