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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bashing Gays with a Republican Internet Predator

On the right, the Mark Foley page scandal has been a message problem. Ask one pundit about it and it's the Democrats' fault. Ask another and it's already been taken care of -- please move along, nothing to see here. The most ridiculous spin so far has been from Matt Drudge, who confidently 'reported' that the whole thing was just a prank.

One group who've been narrowing their message down to one unified point is the religious right. Gays are all child molesters, they say, what did you expect? By peddling this myth they hope to shift the blame from the GOP and onto the gay rights movement.

This message (and the dishonesty used to push it) is well displayed in an article titled The truth about 'gay' pedophilia in the rightwing WorldNetDaily. In it, writer Olivia St. John writes:

"Foley admits that he is a homosexual. Dare the question be asked whether homosexuals commit higher rates of molestation than heterosexuals do? Or are the thought police hard at work silencing the possible implications?"

Stop looking at the Foley page scandal, stop looking at the inaction by the House Leadership as an internet predator played his little cybersex games with the pages. The real story is that gays are evil and the mainstream media (for reasons left unexplained) are covering up a huge conspiracy.

Like most rightwingers writing for a evangelical rightwing audience, St. John assumes a certain level of ignorance in the reader -- an assumption that, far too often, that turns out to be a safe bet. Worse, she counts on a complete lack of critical thinking. Consider this passage:

English professor Karla Jay, Ph.D., and well-educated journalist Allen Young, both homosexual activists, conducted the first major survey on homosexuality in America in 1979. Their work is still cited in academic studies and involved over 5,000 homosexuals from all walks of life. Titled "The Gay Report," the study published data on underage sex, disease, gross promiscuity, suicidal tendencies and more.

One cannot help but applaud the honesty of these two homosexuals in publishing the results of their study, which documented that "23 percent of respondents admitted to having had sex with youths aged 13-15, while 19 percent felt positive about sexual activity within this age group." Tragically, 50 percent of the males in their survey experienced their first sexual encounter at age 15 or less.

Eek, people having sex with underage kids! In fact, it's a lot of people having sex with underage kids. But here's the thing, I've had sex with girls aged 13-15, I had sex before I was sixteen, and I felt positive about those experiences -- more positive then than now, but positive nonetheless. You see where I'm going with this, right?

It's called 'coming of age in the '70s'; I slept with girls my own age.

And notice that the first group is genderless, while the second singles out the males. By comparing the 50% of apples with the 23% of apple and orange medley, St. John hopes to leave the impression that a smaller group of adults is 'converting' kids to gaydom by sexually abusing them. In fact, she backs up this by asking, "is it any surprise that Mark Foley admitted he himself was molested as a teenager by a clergyman?"

Then things get really fun. Having pretty much run out of legitimate sources of negative data about gays and teens, she turns to the crazies in her own movement. She cites 'Yale and Harvard-connected psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover' to inform us that 'careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals.'

My first question is what the hell does 'Yale and Harvard-connected' even mean? Second, how reliable is Satinover?

Not very, it turns out. Satinover's from The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). NARTH claims that homosexuality is a mental disease and can be 'cured' through something called 'reparitive therapy'.

"Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation," the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote in 1993. Recipients of this quackery are in danger of depression and even suicide, since the 'therapy' inevitably fails and the 'patients' tend to blame themselves for their failure. Satinover isn't just a quack, he's a dangerous quack.

There's a reason that St. John chose to turn to Satinover -- you don't know who he is. She would've quoted James Dobson who'd say pretty much the same thing, but that would've been too obvious. So she went with a lesser known fraud. To give you an idea of the lack of any critical thinking from this camp, Satinover also believes sexual orientation is 'a fiction'. If this is true, why is he now comparing gays and straights? His claims are in logical disagreement with each other.

St. John makes other spurious claims, such as, "The truth is that the majority of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage and the insertion of homosexual dogma into schools, while most Democrats support it." Personally, I think most Democrats should support it, but the truth is that most don't. It's a lot easier to attack an opponent's position when you've made it up for them -- that's the value of the straw man.

That's were we are right now. It's a point I've made before, but it bears repeating -- many people on the evangelical right believe everyone else is working on behalf of Satan; gays, liberals, feminists, scientists, people of other religions, atheists, agnostics, even other christians. And, as such, they have no qualms about using slander and lies to 'fight the devil'. This is why they spend so much time demonizing their opponents -- they believe we're demonic or, at least, demonically inspired. So nothing is going too far. When your opponent represents the greatest evil in the universe, why would you let ethics or morality or even law constrain you?

So using a entirely Republican scandal that only happens to involve a gay man (are we supposed to believe that a man doing this with teenage girls would've been OK?) is just par for the course. They get to weasel out of any responsibility that rests with the GOP, while smearing gays as a bonus.

In their mind, it's a win-win.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a well written, non-hysterical piece highlighting what most people won't even have noticed.

I'm almost as uncomfortable with the Left's glee at the Foley scandal (though I obviously can understand it). Glad you stayed calm and insightful, well done, good article.