Peter LaBarbera: Despicable Coward

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2007

Peter LaBarbera is upset that Dr. James Holsinger’s nomination for Surgeon General hasn’t gone the way he had hoped. In his latest shrieking screed, parts of which are directed toward me, LaBarbera withdraws his support for Holsinger’s nomination, and blames Holsinger’s shortcomings on “homosexual activists (who) threw everything but the kitchen sink at the doctor’s 1991 paper,” singling out yours truly by name.

But instead of trying to rebut my findings that Dr. Holsinger’s “scientific paper” is not scientific, LaBarbera uses his disappointment with Dr. Holsinger to do something that Dr. Holsinger himself would never do. He cynically exploits this young man’s untimely death in his lead:

Russell Groff, 1978-2004

Russell died at age 26 of HIV/AIDS after living in a homosexual relationship. How many future men will die young if the politically correct silence on homosexual health risks is not broken? Groff’s mother wants to use his life to warn other parents and children about the perils of embracing a “gay” lifestyle.

Further down in the post, LaBarbera picks up on Russell’s story this way:

Statistics are easier to dismiss than the human victims of homosexuality: just ask Carolyn Groff, whose son Russell died at age 26 from AIDS after getting involved in a homosexual “relationship.” (I suppose “gay” apologists like Burroway would ascribe Russell’s premature death to “unsafe sex” — anything to avoid implicating homosexual behavior as especially risky.)

LaBarbera is wrong about me. I do not ascribe Russell’s premature death to “unsafe sex.” I ascribe it to a staph infection following gall bladder surgery. Whether his HIV status had anything to do with it one way or the other, I have no idea. Nor does it matter. Unlike LaBarbera’s characterization of me, I don’t speculate about any aspects of anyone else’s life, not even LaBarbera’s. I go only by the facts as they are reported. I’ll leave the speculations to those who have nothing else to offer.

But this really isn’t about me. Instead, what I want you to do is go to that link that LaBarbera so helpfully provided in the previous quote. Do you see what I see? As of Sunday morning (July 15th), it said this:

I have deleted content from my web page because I learned that someone was using it to further a cause I DO NOT believe in. I will not allow my love and compassion to be twisted into anything else. I will no longer add anything to this site for fear of its misuse. Thank you.

Just last night, that page had an obituary posted as a loving tribute to Russell Groff by a friend of his. It was certainly not provided by his mother, as LaBarbera says in his lead.

Russell Groff’s parents have been virulently anti-gay. They participated in what’s describe as a “Fred Phelps-like protest” during Knoxville, Tennessee’s LGBT “Come Out Knoxville” celebration, where their Baptist Church carried signs saying that gays are destined to hell. Russell’s mother never accepted his relationship with his partner, Kevin-Douglas Olive. She was estranged from her son during his adult life.

Russell died November 23, 2004. Kevin was with him throughout his illness, emptying Russell’s bed pan and attending to his needs. Now Russell’s parents are engaged in a legal battle with Kevin to overturn Russell’s legally-written last will and testament, in which he expressed his wish to be buried in a Quaker cemetery outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. His parents want him dug up — two years after his death — and moved to a family cemetery against Russell’s expressed wishes.

Russell’s brother, Walter Groff, joins Kevin in defending Russell’s last wishes. But the expensive legal battles have sapped Kevin’s finances. He’s had to put his car up for sale and raise funds to ward off his continuing legal battles. His legal fees are currently running $22,000, of which he has raised only $5,000. I would encourage you to contribute to the cause:

Kevin Olive Defense Fund
c/o Homewood Friends Meeting
3107 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

LaBarbera says, “We live in a cowardly and confusing age,” but he engages in a very cowardly act by not telling the full story. He expresses great wailing and gnashing of teeth because Dr. Holsinger didn’t turn out to be the great anti-gay standard bearer he had hoped for. He’s angry that I demonstrated that Dr. Holsinger’s 1991 “scientific paper” is not scientific. But since he can’t address the arguments I put forth on its merits, he cynically demeans the memory of Russell Groff and hides behind a dead man.

Coward. Despicable coward.

Hat tip: Alvin McEwen and Scott H.

Update: Jeremy, at Good As You, knew Russell personally back in his Knoxville days, and posted a beautiful remembrance.


July 15th, 2007

Um hello?

I mentioned that like a day ago in the comments to the backing down post.

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2007

Indeed you did, Scott. Sorry about the omission.

Lynn David

July 15th, 2007

Kevin Olive Defense Fund
c/o Homewood Friends Meeting
3107 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

That one thing is worth mentioning again, the one good thing that came of all of LaBarbera’s prevarications.


July 16th, 2007




July 16th, 2007

How shocking to click on a random link and come to an article about my friend Russell. I was tangentally involved in this hideous situation, in only that I had some contact with Russell before he died and testified at the original trial against Mrs. Groff (which she lost and is now appealing). I can tell you that, in person, that woman is a self-contained universe of hatred and pain. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’m just adding to the plea for people to help Kevin out if they can. He’s been through so much just standing up for Russell’s last wishes . . . adding the aspect of legal status for married same-sex couples is more than anyone who has lost a husband should have to bear. He’s a strong person who always unselfishly helps others and now needs our help.

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