Monday, February 26, 2007
by Wayne Besen
I have finally developed a grudging respect for Focus on the Family. The ease in which they lie is so remarkably breathtaking, all one can do is applaud in wondrous awe. Not even Condi Rice or Dick Cheney can compete with this motley crew when it comes to fibbing with a straight face.
What amazes me is that Focus on the Family raises approximately $200 million a year but produces virtually nothing. It's the empire built on bunk and a monstrous Machiavellian monstrosity that manipulates and vituperates but doesn't generate. Indeed, the organization's "scientific" apparatus consists of a few fundamentalist flunkies who couldn't tell a research trial from the Anna Nicole Smith trial.
For example, 365Gay.com
reported on an obscure new study that found 16% of same sex relationships in China suffer from domestic abuse, while only 9% of opposite sex couples do. The study, reportedly conducted by GLBT civil rights groups, found that the most common form of abuse followed threats of outing a partner to employers or family members. In other words, the blackmail situations the closet creates, leads to an increase in domestic violence. Without the closet factor, such violence would likely decrease.
This would be common sense to any reasonably intelligent person analyzing such a study. It is even more obvious to anyone remotely familiar with conservative Asian culture and the consequences one faces if outed. Of course, the "geniuses" at Focus on the Family had their own "brilliant" take
on the situation.
"Rather than use the research to point out a basic flaw with homosexuality, activists are attacking social service agencies in China with not being equipped to deal with gay violence issues," wrote Josh Montez in Family News in Focus.
His article went on to quote a few wing nuts that drew some interesting assumptions.
"It reinforces the fact that same-sex relationships do not work and that you cannot substitute the love and interaction that you need from same-sex parents and peers by getting involved in a same-sex relationship," said Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays.
"I think these are folks with issues that are unresolved and part of that is going to come out in anger and it's going to be directed at the people closest to you," said Linda Harvey with Mission America. (Because, of course, there are no angry heterosexuals - like Osama or Mike Tyson)
"Often times, especially in the male community, drugs and alcohol play a factor because there are high rates of depression among homosexual men and women," said Matt Barber with Concerned Women for America.
It is incomprehensible that these luminaries extrapolated such conclusions from a shaky study reportedly conducted by activists. This was hardly the kind of research where one can draw such sweeping, broad deductions about an entire class of people.
Even if the statistics are completely accurate, it still means that 84% of gay couples, vs. 91% of heterosexual couples do not engage in domestic violence - an overwhelming majority in both communities. (Did these 84% of gay people have their needs met and issues resolved? Maybe Griggs' gay son can answer that question?)
More surreal is that Matt Barber gratuitously throws drugs into the mix while commenting on the Chinese study. Perhaps he is aware of ecstasy-fueled gay raves in Beijing that the rest of us in the GLBT community are not privy to. Or, maybe he has just added the "Year of the Ass" to the Chinese animal zodiac chart. It is abundantly clear that his comments were a cheap smear. Kind of like the gay community saying the NASA chick in the diapers represents heterosexuality.
This diabolical discourse is not surprising. What is a bit shocking, however, is that the "Focus on the Fallacies" article came out on a day when the gay rights organizations Truth Wins Out and SoulForce held a joint-media conference
to highlight right wing distortions of legitimate research.
Yet, even as we set the record straight on old studies, Focus on the Family twisted and mangled new ones. Batting down lies against this group is like swatting flies in a manure field. To fight back, Truth Wins Out unveiled its new website www.RespectMyResearch.org
The site offers scientists a place to report right wing misrepresentations of their work. Hopefully, we can embarrass the truth challenged and make a powerful case to the so-called liberal media to stop liberally quoting serial shredders of the truth.
Still, it remains to be seen if the media is willing to kick its habit of providing a Volkswagen for the very entertaining right wing clowns who boost their cable television ratings. Or, is it possible to shame a group as astonishingly shameless as Focus on the Family? 0 Comments
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
by Wayne Besen
Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington called a co-star a faggot and ended up in rehab, while former basketball star Tim Haraway said he hated homosexuals and now his career as an ex-jock pitchman is on a cold slab. This will be remembered as the year the F-word became the new N-word and homophobic comments were no longer considered acceptable in polite company. To be sure, America has not endorsed homosexuality, but the new rules do mean celebrities will lose endorsements if they gratuitously bash homosexuals.
Of course, careers have crashed before as a result of anti-gay antagonism. After Anita Bryant crusaded against a 1977 gay rights measure in Miami, a boycott was launched and the orange juice queen fell off her throne. More recently, Dr. Laura's rampant homophobia, which included referring to homosexuality as a biological error, cost her a television show after a successful web campaign (www.StopDr.Laura.com) was launched targeting advertisers.
Unlike Anita Bryant, before angry GLBT advocates could spell boy...oh, boy was Hardaway tossed aside by the National Basketball Association. David Stern, the NBA's commissioner, immediately banished Hardaway from participation in the All-Star weekend activities. "We removed him from representing us because we didn't think his comments were consistent with having anything to do with us," Stern said. BaldGuyz, a company that makes grooming products for bald men, also scalped Hardaway by killing his endorsement deal.
Likewise, the Grey's Anatomy actor was on a shrink's couch examining the anatomy of his prejudice. Whereas gay people were once considered mentally ill, the world has been turned upside down and homophobes are seeking help to deal with their neurosis.
As we have learned with racial and religious minorities, the new public climate will not eliminate the cold private chill of discrimination. There will be winks, nods, glass ceilings and new code words to decipher. However, moving hateful words behind closed doors opens the closet door even further, greatly benefiting the GLBT movement. As adolescents hear less overt anti-gay rhetoric, it lessens the consequences of coming out, both emboldening and empowering the next generation. Ultimately, this translates into more out homosexuals, the number one defense against anti-gay bigotry.
If you think about it, fundamentalists vastly outnumber the GLBT community and our opponents have infinitely more financial resources. Yet, we are winning this culture war because coming out has unique transformational power that changes attitudes and minds. Most people will not reject their family members and friends who come out and are often willing to rethink their most basic assumptions and core beliefs.
As painful as the Hardaway incident was, his comments in response to former basketball player John Amaechi's coming out helped start a much-needed dialogue. Even more important than Hardaway's rebuke was the show of support Amaechi received from NBA mega-stars.
"If he was on my team, I guess I would have to protect him from the outsiders," said Shaquille O'Neal, center for the Miami Heat. "I'm not homophobic or anything...I'm not the type who judges people. I wish him (Amaech) well."
"When you have any teammate, you have to accept them for who they are," Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said. "If they're trying to win a championship, that's all that should matter."
"Maybe 10 years ago (people might be intolerant of a gay player)," Phoenix Suns star and league MVP Steve Nash said. "But in our locker room [now]? I think guys are over it. Guys are like, 'I don't care what you do.'"
There are still no "out" active male athletes on a major team sport. The show of support by some NBA superstars will make it easier for a brave player to take the big leap. This is one final barrier that is now one step closer to crashing down.
On a final note, it is pretty amusing how anti-gay offenders depend on gay people to resuscitate their careers. In the case of Washington, gay rights groups counseled him. For Hardaway, openly gay North Miami mayor Kevin Burns has invited him to meet his family. It is sort of queer eye for the homophobic guy. We take in some wretch and fix him up so he can be presentable to society.
While it will be difficult to believe Hardaway is sincere, I guess if Rev. Ted Haggard can be cured of homosexuality in three weeks, maybe Hardaway can be cured of homophobia in two.