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LaBarbera Award: John Gibson

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2008

The LaBarbera AwardWhenever misfortune befalls anyone in the gay community, there is a small band of anti-gay extremists we can count on to exploit that news to make cheap political points. When tragic news comes around, we know we will be hearing from these demagogues in very short order. It’s not a matter of if, but when. They’ve shown themselves to be pretty reliable that way. No “Oh gee, we’re sorry” or “How can I help?” but a parade of press releases and media appearances saying “A-ha!” while friends and families grieve.

As Timothy Kincaid observed in a recent comment, it’s hard to imagine a better definition of evil than finding joy in other people’s suffering. And on seeing the behavior of some people over the years, it’s hard to believe that deep in their hearts that they did’t experience a moment of abject glee upon hearing the news.

If there is a smidgen of a silver lining, it’s that most of these demagogues remain on the fringe and their yawps are often nothing more than pathetic attempts to draw attention to themselves. But not yesterday. Yesterday, we heard a major media figure, John Gibson, whose programs appear on radio and television coast-to-coast, find glee in the death of a young actor and devoted father.

John GibsonOn Tuesday, Fox News host John Gibson opened his radio show with funeral music, followed by callous jokes about the death of actor Heath Ledger, who played the role of Ennis Del Mar in the landmark 2005 movie Brokeback Mountain. Gibson played an audio clip of Ledger’s famous line from a pivotal scene, “I wish I knew how to quit you,” and replied, “Well, we found out how to quit you.” He laughed then played another clip of Ledger saying “We’re dead,” followed by his own mocking “We’re dead,” followed by Ledger’s clip again. (Think Progress has the audio.)

What fun he must have had making fun of dead gays — no, not dead gays, but dead straight actors who portray gay characters. You see, the level of discourse in this country has plummeted so badly that you don’t even have to be gay to be targeted. The sad fact is that LGBT’s can be treated this way and too often the outrage doesn’t go much beyond the LGBT community. But today, you don’t even have to be gay to be singled out for abuse.

We all should be outraged when someone mocks another person’s suffering, no matter who’s suffering. But if our greater society cannot find a way to be outraged over the abuse heaped upon the grieving family, friends and the young daughter of a straight man, then we’re far worse off than anybody has wanted to admit publicly so far.

You can register your outrage at Fox News. Let’s hope they listen.

Update: John Gibson continued to heap more insults on yesterday’s radio broadcast. But today, his tune has changed considerably for the better. “I’m sorry that some took my comments as anti-gay and insensitive. … Once again, to anyone offended by my comments, I’m sorry. But I’m also sorry that Heath Ledger is no longer alive and with us.”



January 24th, 2008 | LINK

For what it’s worth, I sent Fox an email expressing my disgust at Gibson’s reprehensible comments.

January 24th, 2008 | LINK

Yeah, me too … I let ’em have it. Wow. How very sad.

Ben in Oakland
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

‘You see, the level of discourse in this country has plummeted so badly that you don’t even have to be gay to be targeted.’

Maybe i’m just being pessimistic in my old age, but I think that is exactly the place our country has gotten to, and is a reason for our obvious decline in the world and our own estimation.

The things that are said about gay people on a daily basis–things that are devoid of any basis, whether factual, logical, religous, observational, or just plain COMMON SENSE– are bad enough. That these lies, distortions, and half-truths not only hurt innocent gay people, but innocent straight people as well (Telephone call for Mrs. Haggard!!!), is far worse.

The thing that is perhaps saddest of all is the moral and political silence of our so many of our so-called leaders, who cannot be counted upon to stand up and say “THIS IS WRONG.”–let alone: “THIS IS WRONG. IT IS A LIE. IT IS BASED ON HATRED.”


We have had no one, as of old, who is willing to stand up for us without equivocation. Al Gore I admire, but he is not in office. Barack Obama is at least talking the talk; we’ll see how he walks. John Edwards is progressing. Ms. Clinton is no better than her husband, unfortunately. Mr. Kucinich I also admire.

And the Republicans: I could grant them the courage of their ocnvictions– if they had any convictions.

John Holm
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

That’s disgusting. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Jim. Now I have one MORE reason for loathing Fox “news.”

I, too, have just emailed Fox. I hope it makes a difference.

Timothy Kincaid
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

Maybe i’m just being pessimistic in my old age, but I think that is exactly the place our country has gotten to, and is a reason for our obvious decline in the world and our own estimation.

Ben, you make a good point.

If one is able to look beyond the facts, the studies, the evidence about gay lives and make a conscious choice to believe lies about gay people, it is just one step on the way to believing lies about anything. How can we have effective domestic policie if we choose to believe that abstinance eduction is working – in the face of all evidence to the contrary. How can we have the most effective military if we choose to believe that gay arabic linguists have to go if they are gay.

But these gay issues or social issues are only the ones most obvious to us. How many other decisions are made based on what is chosed to be believed rather than what is true?

Is it any wonder that we are embroiled in a war with no end in sight? Is it any wonder our economy is in a precarious state? Is it any wonder that breaking technology is coming from Asia and not the silicon valley.

Our leaders, President and Congress, Republicans and Democrats, are all choosing to close their eyes to the evidence before them and deciding to believe what is convenient.

Ben in Oakland
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

TK, thanks for clarifying my point– my very sad point.

Ambrose Bierce in the devil’s dictionary:

Moral– that which is convenient

Immoral: that which is Inconvenient.

a. mcewen
January 24th, 2008 | LINK

i just wish someone would dare try to push this as a free speech or anti-pc issue.

It’s about respect and taste. If some sort of action isn’t taken by Gibson’s employers then they are sending an ugly message.

July 12th, 2008 | LINK

John Gibson is A human being of very low quality, no goal mas that money and spectators like that do is, since it(he,she) did it burlarce of the death of heath ledger, it upsets me for his(her,your) insensibility

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