As far as protest bits go, the one thought up by the University of Texas at Austin's anti-campus carry contingent was a pretty good one. Wednesday, in order to combat what many students and staff viewed as the unnecessary hyper-masculinity of carrying a gun around a college campus, protesters armed themselves with (mostly large) dildos, strapped to backpacks, holstered to hips and, in it at least one case, juggled in front of a crowd.
It was a middle finger pointed directly at gun-rights advocates. The problem with the middle finger — and dildos — is that they aren't exactly welcome in more traditional media. The story was perfect bait for broadcast news, but station's standards departments had to be very careful about what they let penetrate their airwaves. Let's take a look at how the local news stations handled the dildos.
KTVT- CBS 11: Channel 11 got lucky with the dildos. Intrepid politics reporter Jack Fink was already in Austin for Donald Trump's rally on Tuesday, and was able to stick around the capitol for the protest. Fink begins his story talking about the "different" way students are protesting, before the video cuts to showing a group of people holding blurred out objects that are, presumably, dildos. Fink never says the word, continuously referring to the dildos as "sex toys." He also doesn't utter the protests' motto, "cocks not Glocks."
KXAS- NBC 5: KXAS also had a reporter on the ground for the Trump rally. Julie Fine sticks to the same formula to which Fink adhered. Dildos are "sex toys," part of "an unusual way to highlight the effort" to keep guns off campus. Of course, the dildos aren't shown, but NBC does get credit for relying on creative framing more often than the blurred oval favored by CBS.
WFAA- ABC 8: WFAA managed to get out of the whole deal with its dignity largely intact. The station chose not to run any video of the protest. Instead, Channel 8 reran a story from the Texas Tribune , it's media partner, about the event. WFAA replaced "dildo" with "sex toy" in the story's headline, but did leave both "dildo" and "cocks not glocks" in the story itself. Too bad they didn't run the photo the Trib used with its story. It would've been the second time we'd seen a penis, real or otherwise, on the WFAA website in the last couple of years.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
KDFW- FOX 4: KDFW made the decision to repost a report from their sister station in Austin, and it's just great. "We can't really show you what this rally was like, because a lot of it we can't show on television" reporter Casey Claiborne says. "Sex toys were everywhere." Claiborne goes on to lament that he can't say "cocks not glocks" on television, all the while managing to sound very serious.
The Dallas Morning News: The Morning News decided to split the dildo. They stuck with "sex toy" in the headline of Brittany Martin and Tom Benning's story, but went with the far more colorful "box full of skin-colored phalluses" when later describing a box of dildos. Later the paper even took a walk on the wilder side, allowing the following quote from Open Carry Texas President CJ Grisham to run without an edit:
"It's not about the dildos, it really isn't," he said, explaining why he was protesting the protest. "It's about ... the right to defend oneself on a college campus."