The Wayne Besen Show is live weekdays from 2-5 PM on WCPT-AM 820, Chicago’s Progressive Talk. It is also streamed live on WCPT820.com.
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The Wayne Besen Show is live weekdays from 2-5 PM on WCPT-AM 820, Chicago’s Progressive Talk. It is also streamed live on WCPT820.com.
Read More »
Excerpts from Wayne Besen’s speech to One Iowa on April 1, 2016
As this week’s fiasco in North Carolina and narrow victory in Georgia point out – our battle is far from over. When I started as a young activist at University of Florida, I used to naively believe there was a finish line. You fight. You win. You go home. If I’ve learned one lesson, it’s that there is no finish line in the quest for justice. The forces of oppression and regression never go away – they simply regroup. I think it is clear that marriage equality was a mere stepping-stone, not the summit of our struggle as some had hoped.
The extremists did not quit after the 1973 Roe. v. Wade decision. They simply morphed, shifted tactics, and adopted new strategies, such as bogus calls to protect religious freedom and creating the transgender boogieman that stalks bathrooms. As we have before, we must educate, and let no lie go unchallenged. We must speak up, and come out, and never give up. And match the grit and gumption of our committed foes.
I’m here tonight to discuss a critically important issue: the destructive “ex-gay” industry.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. A fringe group of dissenters emerged to challenge the APA. They had no evidence that homosexuals could be cured – but they were hardcore ideologues that were impervious to facts. Eventually, these embittered malcontents founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.
This week, my organization, Truth Wins Out, revealed that NARTH co-founder, psychiatrist Benjamin Kaufman, had his medical license revoked in California in October 2015 for “gross negligence” and “unprofessional conduct.”
We consistently find that those who practice ‘ex-gay’ therapy are unethical and unscrupulous. They are perpetrators of fraud and malpractice, who harm their clients in the name of helping them. Given this reality, we aren’t the least bit surprised to find that Benjamin Kaufman is a charlatan who had his license revoked for “gross negligence” and “unprofessional conduct.” The state of California said that Kaufman’s incompetence led to a client falling into a coma. Kaufman was also sued in 2015 for confining a gay client with “a large dog under compelled coercion.”
This summer, another “ex-gay” group, Jews Offering Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) lost a court case filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. JONAH was guilty of consumer fraud for lying to its clients about the efficacy of its therapy. They also were guilty of practicing abusive and bizarre techniques, such as naked therapy with clients.
Because of such unprofessional and outrageous conduct, it is imperative that we protect LGBT children from these quacks and charlatans. Currently, there are four states that ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy for minors. They are California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Oregon. The District of Colombia and Cincinnati also prohibits this toxic form of child abuse.
Reparative therapy fails because you cannot fix people who are not broken and you cannot cure people who aren’t sick. What we need to cure is the pathology of homophobia that has shattered families, broken lives, and led to drug abuse, depression and suicides.
Last week, The World Psychiatric Association, an organization of national psychiatric societies consisting of 138 member societies across 118 different countries, released a position statement denouncing any attempts to turn LGBT people heterosexual.
“There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful,” the statement says.
We owe it to our children to eradicate the scourge of “ex-gay” or reparative therapy. It’s beyond simply damaging – it’s a complete demolition of one’s humanity. It is a form of eliminationism. It tells young people that they are broken – mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is designed to impart that their emotions and experiences are not real. It a glib form of cynical manipulation, that says that LGBT people don’t really exist – they are just sinful or sick heterosexuals in need of reform.
In terms of public policy, the Religious Right uses the idea that one can “pray away the gay” in nefarious ways. Their underlying message is that since gays aren’t born, they are made. And, since homosexuality isn’t a natural or normal sexual orientation — LGBT people must recruit to replenish their ranks. This false message fuels much bigotry, leads to unnecessary fear, and in some cases hate crimes. Make no mistake: the “protect children” meme is a deliberate form of blood libel – from organizations that disdainfully claim to love us. Ex-gay programs are designed to perpetuate this ugly message and portray LGBT people as “the other” and a danger to society.
This is why we must do everything in our power to ensure our community is protected from this scourge and ensure that reparative therapy is a relic that is consigned to the dusty pages of history.Read More »
Actress Susan Sarandon hit a raw nerve, even among some Bernie Sanders supporters, when she appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. Acting as a Bernie Sanders surrogate, she blasted Hillary Clinton and said that she might not vote for Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination.
A few weeks ago, I proudly cast my vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders. I think he is what this country needs to correct itself after decades of ceding ground to corporate interests at the expense of the middle class.
However, when I cast my vote I did not cast aside my sanity. If my first choice, Sanders, does not win, for the good of the nation, I will campaign and vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. In this instance I will be proudly pragmatic because the alternatives are catastrophic: Sen. Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. The former thinks he was anointed by God to lead the world, and the latter’s ego is so large he looks in the mirror and thinks he is God. Both men are dangerous extremists who could do irreparable harm to this nation.
Yet, Susan Sarandon believes that it may be necessary to place the nation in peril and jeopardize our future. She apparently believes that we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and that we may need to take our country to the brink of ruin before we can usher in a golden age of renewal.
As someone who loves Bernie Sanders, I want to offer some cheerful advice to my fellow travelers. Those of you who say Bernie or bust are doing a real disservice to the campaign. The Vermont Senator can only win the nomination if he woos Clinton supporters. There are many would-be Clinton voters who actually prefer Bernie, but are leaning towards voting for the former Secretary of State because they believe she has the best chance to win the general election. The way to court this large voting block is to talk about Sanders’ momentum and viability.
Instead, these overzealous Sanders supporters are offering contradictory messages. On one hand, they are correctly highlighting polls showing that Sanders outperforms Clinton in general election matchups. But then they undercut their point by proclaiming that winning the White House is not their first priority. Such incoherence, targeted at people who desperately want to win for the sake of controlling the Supreme Court, is a huge turnoff and is unpersuasive to the very people Sanders needed to get the nomination. They are essentially saying that Sanders is a winner, but they are okay with losing. People like me are not okay with losing, given the dire consequences.
Another issue is that these spirited Sanders fans are undermining a candidate who has fought to be taken seriously. By saying they will not vote for Clinton, they appear unsophisticated, ridged and doctrinaire. If you are going to act like you are a member of a cult, don’t be surprised if people treat your candidate like he’s a cult of personality. A mere cause célèbre, who is running to make a point – not to actually occupy the White House.
Furthermore, supporters like Susan Sarandon unwittingly propagate unfair stereotypes of the Sanders campaign. Right wing extremists like Rush Limbaugh refer to Sanders as “Crazy Bernie” and dismiss his voters as hopelessly naïve. So, what do some of his most ardent fans do? They play right into the hands of Bernie-bashers by acting irrational and loopy. It is time they get out of the Bernie Bubble and into the real world where decisions have ramifications that can last generations.
If you think I’m wrong, let’s not forget when self-righteous Democrats told us that there was no difference between the “corporate” Al Gore and George W. Bush. Tell that lie today to the families who lost loved ones in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To elect a Republican is to vote for endless war and more body bags. Not to mention the lives of immigrant families that would be cruelly targeted and torn asunder as they come under sustained attack from a Republican president.
There is a certain solipsism and arrogance to those who would not vote for the eventual Democratic nominee. I fought for more than 20 years for marriage equality and finally won. There are many people who have fought for decades to ensure women have the right to choose. African Americans and their allies are fighting to stop police abuse and racial profiling. Environmentalists are desperately trying to save the earth before the GOP destroys it though inaction on climate change. All of the hard-fought gains we have made on these issues, and so many others, are in serious jeopardy if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But apparently, some of these privileged Sanders supporters don’t give a damn about the fate of their gay or black friends. They are willing to let Roe v. Wade vanish and harm women. Personally, I’m offended by this attitude and it will likely cost Sanders votes, because these Bernie Bots don’t have the back of people who depend on a progressive Supreme Court.
Finally, electing Trump or Cruz will not bring the revolution. Instead the trauma caused to our citizens will have the opposite effect. It will likely make voters risk averse. The people will be hungry for a calm existence, which would usher in a period of staid politicians who promise serenity, security, and stability.
As the actual candidate, Bernie Sanders, has stated, the revolution is not about one man. If Bernie wins in Wisconsin, New York, and California he may yet be the nominee. But if he comes up short, his fervent followers should, ironically, follow the lead of televangelist Pat Robertson. He lost his bid for the presidency in 1988. He took his campaign mailing list and formed the Christian Coalition – a true revolution that, sadly, turned the Religious Right into a perennial powerhouse.
If Sanders supporters really want to make a difference, it won’t be in 2016. The more important year is 2018 – when the midterm elections come. Here’s why:
Columnist Jonathan Capehart explained in The Washington Post, between the election of 2008 and 2010, Democrats saw a plummet of 26 million voters, from 65 million people to 39 million people. Meanwhile, Republicans saw a drop-off of just 7 million voters, from 52 million to 45 million. The GOP took over the House.
Six million fewer Republicans voted for Senate candidates in 2014 than in 2008. But 14 million fewer Democrats went to the polls. That 42 percent drop in turnout allowed the GOP to take over the Senate. The 2014 election also saw the Republican majority increase in the House to its largest since World War II.
These are the elections that matter and determine if the Sanders campaign is a revolution or a trendy fad.
GO Bernie! But if he does not win, then GO vote for Hillary Clinton.Read More »
Unspeakable attacks by Islamic extremists are so frequent that they are losing their shock value while maintaining their horror. It’s convenient to invoke the sterile word “terrorism” to describe this phenomenon – but it’s more accurately described as “asymmetrical strategic ideological warfare.” The terror is carried out by those with very specific beliefs who share the aim of using violence to coerce societies into adopting their political ideas and austere way of life.
It’s worked in the Middle East, so why not Europe, they reason? Indeed, the most prominent organization that is promoting Jihad in Brussels is Sharia4Belgium, a salafist Muslim entity listed as a terrorist group by a Belgian judge in February 2015. According to The Financial Times, the country has “a poor record on integrating Muslim communities — the rundown district of Molenbeek, which has dispatched dozens of foreign fighters to the Middle East, has an unemployment rate of 30 percent, triple the national average.”
Jihadists have also exploited a unique cultural loophole in Belgium. The small nation is comprised of two ethnic groups, the Dutch-speaking Flemish population, which represents 59% of the country, and the French-speaking Walloons, which comprise 41% of the people. The result is 19 different police districts in Brussels, and language barriers, which can inhibit the sharing of intelligence.
Today, we try to wrap our minds around this mind-numbing madness that has occurred at the bloody hands if ISIL – which has claimed responsibility for the massacre, in retaliation for the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, the sole survivor of the Paris attacks on Nov 13 that slaughtered 130 people. There were two explosions at the Belgium airport, one of which was set off by a suicide bomber – and another blast at a centrally located subway station. At least 34 people were killed — 14 at the airport and 20 at the subway station — and many more were wounded, including 92 at the airport and 106 at the subway station. These are heinous attacks on our civilization and way of life. They are treacherous butchers who murdered innocent civilians and epitomize cowardliness. This latest massacre of unarmed men, women, and children is terrible and tragic, and must be stopped. The question is –how?
First, we must not panic and overreact. That is exactly what these barbarians want us to do. Even as smoke fills the Belgian airport and subway system – we can’t let it cloud our vision. We saw the disastrous results of oversimplification and overreaction after 9-11. The result was temporary national insanity that led us into a catastrophic bout of foreign adventurism that cost us dearly in blood and treasure.
Second, we can’t demonize all Muslims, who are actually the biggest victims of pseudo-Islamic tyranny. If we turn this into a war of civilizations narrative, we play into the hands of the extremists. Furthermore, we encourage hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived as Muslims, such as Sikhs. We must be mindful of our friends and neighbors who are Muslim, and protect them from the overheated passions of ignorant people inflamed by self-serving politicians.
Third, we must not allow demagogues like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to scare people into voting for them. Trump wasted no time exploiting the mass murder in Belgium.
“I’ve been talking about this for a long time. Brussels was a beautiful place,” Trump said to Fox’s Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade. “Zero crime, and now it’s a disaster city. It’s a total disaster and we have to be very careful… as to who we allow into this country.”
All Trump’s rhetoric is going to do is marginalize American Muslims and have the opposite affect intended by Republicans. Instead of cooperating with law enforcement to arrest radicals – as many now do – a beleaguered Muslim community unfairly targeted as “the other” will be more likely to hunker down and disengage.
Fourth, while we can’t single out all Muslims, we also can’t be naïve. The suicide bombers are shouting “Allahu Akbar” when they blow themselves up. We must directly confront with specificity those sects within Islam, which offer vile teachings, and evil interpretations of the Koran. In the early 20th Century, Saudi Arabia cut a deal with its religious radicals. In this bargain, the Saudi royal family could rule, as long as the harsh Wahabbi faction controlled the state’s cultural affairs.
This has worked out wonderfully – so far – for the House of Saud, which became fabulously wealthy. It has not worked out so well for the rest of us. Wahabbi clerics are responsible for pumping out hate speech and funding brainwashing centers that radicalize Muslims worldwide.
This hideous Saudi deal with the Devil must end. When we teach people to hate and kill – we should not be surprised when they blow themselves up in train stations and airports.
Fifth, we must adjust our foreign policy to leave as small of a footprint in the Middle East as possible. And, finally, we have to work with our allies — particularly Muslim nations — to militarily pound ISIS into oblivion. They must never be allowed to rest and operate in the open. It’s difficult to establish a functioning state when you have to live in a bunker.
This is a long term fight and there are no easy solutions. But we must be smart and strategic — not bombastic and capricious — if we are truly serious about defeating this formidable foe.Read More »