LaBarbera Award: Bryan Fischer
June 11th, 2010
Some of England’s leading newspapers – The Sun, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail – all had feature stories yesterday about the latest Taliban terror tactic: burying dirty needles with their bombs in an effort to infect troops with HIV. They are planting hypodermic syringes below the surface with the points facing upward in hopes that bomb squad experts will prick themselves and become contaminated with hepatitis and HIV.
If the bomb goes off, then the needles become deadly flying shrapnel.
Said a member of Parliament, “Are there no depths to which these people will stoop? This is the definition of a dirty war.”
If we connect the dots here, the inescapable conclusion is that gay sex is a form of domestic terrorism.
…Now if gays are allowed into the military, they will be inevitably be put in battlefield situations where donated blood from soldiers may be necessary to save the lives of wounded comrades. An HIV-infected American soldier whose blood is used in those circumstances may very well condemn his fellow soldier to death rather than save his life.
If open homosexuals are allowed into the United States military, the Taliban won’t need to plant dirty needles to infect our soldiers with HIV. Our own soldiers will take care of that for them.
All members of the military, gay or straight, are tested for HIV before they enter. Once in the army, everyone, again gay or straight, is tested every two years. Only those who are HIV-negative are sent into war zones. Other services have similar policies. A simple Google search can uncover this information in just 0.32 seconds. Fischer’s vision of hoards of AIDS-infected soldiers posing as a terrorist threat is purely a figment of his imagination. And it’s that creative spark that we look for whenever we award someone the LaBarbera Award.
Matt Barber adds names to Hate Group list
March 24th, 2010
As we told you, Peter Labarbera’s amusingly misnamed website, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, has been named a hate website by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And while I see this as a reasonable classification for a man whose “religious objection to homosexuality” always seems to be expressed in the vilest terms of contempt for gay individuals, fellow anti-gay activist Matt Barber (who sits on AFTAH’s board) has leapt to the Peter’s defense.
Writing in third person, he declares that this addition to the hate list entirely discredits the SPLC. And besides, AFTAH is no different from a number of other groups.
“It’s a ‘hate group,’ mudslinging good time!” joked Barber. ” Let’s try it on for size. In exercise of the SPLC’s trademark ‘I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I’ criteria for determining ‘hate group’ status, I hereby declare the Southern Pov Law Center an officeal ‘anti-Christian, anti-conservative hate group.’ Try it, it’s fun.
“But seriously,” continued Barber, “If AFTAH is a ‘hate group,’ then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church.”
Well now, Matt, those are interesting nominations. You’ve given us something to think about.
Don Wildmon Steps Down From AFA
March 3rd, 2010
According to a press release from the American Family Association, Donald Wildmon, the AFA’s chairman has resigned due to an illness. From August to November of last year, Wildmon battled St. Louis encephalitis from a mosquito bite. He also underwent surgery for cancer on his left eye. His son, Tim Wildmon, is expected to take over as head of the AFA.
The elder Wildmon will continue to work at AFA, but according to the press release he “will not have a leadership role.” His son has had a prominent role at the AFA for quite some time, and with his father’s presence still around, I wouldn’t expect too many changes.
AFA Radio Calls for Criminalizing LGBT People
February 1st, 2010
Uganda’s Parliament will return after its long winter recess tomorrow, and it is expected that its first order of business will be to take up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill for its second reading. The anonymous blogger GayUganda says that police round-ups are continuing under the current law even as we speak. Does anyone doubt that there are those who would like to see the same thing here? Anti-Gay Inc., in the form of the American Family Association, thinks it’s a dandy idea. Here’s Bryan Fischer, host of the AFA’s Focus Point radio program:
It might be worth noting that what I actually suggested is that we impose the same sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior as we do on those who engage in intravenous drug abuse, since both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I’d be curious to know what you think should be done with IV drug abusers, because whatever it is, I think the same response should be made to those who engage in homosexual behavior.
I don’t know that Fischer has taken a position on Uganda’s proposal for the death penalty against HIV-positive or “serial offender” gay people, nor their proposal for life imprisonment for everyone else, nor their proposal to lock up anyone — health care professionals, caregivers, landlords — who has any knowledge or contact with gay people. But it doesn’t really matter. The impulse is the same. To paraphrase an old joke about sex and prostitution, we’re just haggling over the price.
[Hat tip: Warren Throckmorton]
AFA’s Bryan Fischer Proposes Sectarian Cleansing of US Military
November 10th, 2009
This is shocking even by usual American Family Association “standards.” Here’s what the AFA’s Bryan Fischer is saying:
It it is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security. Devout Muslims, who accept the teachings of the Prophet as divinely inspired, believe it is their duty to kill infidels. Yesterday’s massacre is living proof. And yesterday’s incident is not the first fragging incident involving a Muslim taking out his fellow U.S. soldiers.
Of course, most U.S. Muslims don’t shoot up their fellow soldiers. Fine. As soon as Muslims give us a foolproof way to identify their jihadis from their moderates, we’ll go back to allowing them to serve. You tell us who the ones are that we have to worry about, prove you’re right, and Muslims can once again serve. Until that day comes, we simply cannot afford the risk. You invent a jihadi-detector that works every time it’s used, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms.
We knew that some among them [Japanese Americans] were potentially dangerous but no one knew what would happen among this concentrated population if Japanese forces should try and invade our shores. Military authorities therefore determined that all of them, citizens and aliens alike would have to move.
Near the end of the film:
[This current story of Japanese internment] will be fully told only when circumstances permit the loyal American citizens once again to enjoy the freedom we in this country cherish and when the disloyal, we hope, have left this country for good. In the mean time we are setting a standard for the rest of the world in the treatment for people who may have loyalties to an enemy nation, we are protecting ourselves without violating the principals of Christian decency. We won’t change this fundamental decency no matter what our enemies do.
“Disney Elevates Homosexual”
October 13th, 2009
That’s the headline the American Family Association plastered above their post about Disney’s naming Rich Ross as studio chief. Ross was awarded his position after having revived the Disney Channel. I guess he’s gay and doesn’t want to live in the closet, which is an unforgivable affront to these people. And not hiding in the closet is what makes him an “activist” according to Peter LaBarbera:
“The sad reality is that whenever you see a homosexual activist at the top, nine times out of ten they end up pushing that gay agenda using their influence to push it wherever they can,” states LaBarbera.
“It’s the way the homosexual movement ends up influencing the country far beyond its tiny numbers,” he explains. “They get in key positions of power, and then they use that power to advance their agenda.”
A man does his job well and is rewarded for it, but anti-gay activists see it as “pushing that gay agenda.” I smell a boycott. Imagine the outcry if he had been named to a post in the Department of Education or something.
AFA Launces Boycott Against Pepsi; Call Pepsi And Tell Them “Thank You”
March 25th, 2009
The American Family Association has teamed up with PFOX to launch a boycott of all Pepsi products. They are upset over Pepsi’s support for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), which the AFA claims promotes “intolerance of the ex-gay community.” Which seems very strange to me. If there is such a thing as an “ex-gay community,” it has to be among the most invisible communities in the world. Sort of like the “leprechaun community” or the “pixie community.” Besides I thought the “ex-gay community” was supposed to be the “straight community.”
Anyway, the AFA’s latest action alert, which is ironically titled, “Pepsi refuses to be neutral in the culture war,” says:
By issuing national press releases against PFOX, by organizing protests at ex-gay conferences, by publishing anti-ex-gay literature, and by opposing ex-gays equal access to public venues, Pepsi-supported Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) contributes to the intolerance of the ex-gay community, stereotypes former homosexuals, and continually misrepresents PFOX’s mission.
PFLAG is a vocal and activist homosexual group that calls those who oppose homosexual marriage “the forces of prejudice and discrimination.” PFLAG not only cheered the California Supreme Court’s ruling on May 15 which legalized same-sex marriage, it was also vociferous in its opposition to Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which restored traditional marriage in California on Election Day.
By funding PFLAG, PepsiCo and its shareholders help promote fear and hostility against the ex-gay community and other heterosexuals. PepsiCo is the leading corporate sponsor of PFLAG.
The AFA wants its members to call Pepsi’s corporate office to complain, and they want their members to call their nearest Pepsi bottling company. From what we hear, Pepsi is being bombarded with nasty phone calls.
So let’s all call Pepsi (914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652) and tell them we appreciate their support and their refusal to bow to anti-gay extremists. The boycott also extends to other PepsiCo products, like Frito-Lay (800-352-4477), Quaker Oats (800-367-6287), Tropicana (800-237-7799) and Gatorade (800-884-2867).
And while you’re at it, call your local Pepsi bottler and distributor.
Michigan TV Station Declines To Air Anti-Gay Propaganda
February 11th, 2009
The American Family Association has been flogging a paid program to television programs called “Speechless: Silencing Christians” Already one television station had agreed to air the special before backing down from a national outcry.
WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan originally scheduled the program to air right before President Barack Obama’s Monday news conference. Program director Craig Cole decided to move it to Wednesday, saying “We didn’t feel it was an appropriate place, leading into the presidential event.” After receiving hundreds of emails, the station’s general manager acknowledged that the show “slipped through our filters,” and offered the AFA a Saturday afternoon time slot. Now we learn that the offer to air the infomercial has been taken off the table:
“We made a gesture of the 2-3 p.m. Saturday time period. It’s been 24 hours and we had no response,” Kniowski said. “Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight. Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter.”
“Speechless” is a veritable tour-de-force of false accusations that the “homosexual agenda” seeks to destroy Christianity. It begins by citing Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen’s book “After the Ball” as the very agenda itself. The book, published in 1989, simply offers gay activists a set of more professional public relations techniques — the very same public relation techniques that anti-gay activists have been using for decades.
The offense that Kirk and Madsen committed, of course, is in denying anti-gay activists a monopoly on those techniques. And boy are they outraged. This latest television program is a perfect example of the AFA’s following Kirk and Madsen’s formula to a tee — with the added mix of false accusations, one-sided reporting of events, and the time-honored fear-mongering slander that gay activists pose a sinister threat to children.
All of this effort is directed towards convincing Americans that Christians are under assault by “homosexualists”, and that if we’re not all careful everyone will be “forced” to accept LGBT people as citizens deserving of civil rights, freedom from bullying, assault and murder, or even the simple right to visit dying partners in hospitals.
Of all the nerve!
“Speechless” is the latest attempt among anti-gay activists to portray Christians as a persecuted minority, even though they make up more than three-quarters of the population — and a rather religious population at that. According to the American Religious Identification Survey taken in 2001 (PDF: 452KB/47 pages), only 16% of Americans described themselves as secular or somewhat secular, while 75% regarded themselves as religious or somewhat religious.
And if there’s any question as to who’s being persecuted, all we need to do is revisit the latest hate crime statistics. According to the FBI, hate crimes against gays and lesbians continued to increase in 2007, contradicting the overall trend of fewer hate crimes since 2006. Crimes based on sexual orientation very nearly tied those based on religion for second place:
|Hate Crime Offenses, 2006||Hate Crime Offenses, 2007|
|Totals don’t add up due to additional
multi-category hate crime offenses.
Percentages don’t add to 100%
due to rounding errors.
Of the religion category for 2007, anti-Jewish offenses 1,010 of the total. Anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant combined make up only 124 offenses for an anti-Christian total. And of those, only 23 were attacks against persons. The rest were crimes against property.
In fact, we noted earlier that hate crimes based on sexual orientation continue to be the most violent type of hate crime by far. Attacks based on sexual orientation are much more likely to be physically violent than in any other category:
|Total Hate Crime Offenses, 2007||Violent Crimes, percentage of total|
|Violent crimes include:
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape, aggravated assault
and simple assault.
While we are still disturbed that WOOD-TV continued to offer to air the AFA’s hate-filled propaganda, we nevertheless congratulate them for listening to the outcry raised in this debacle. Let’s hope other station managers around the country don’t fall into the same mistake.
AFA Boycotts Pepsi
January 8th, 2009
AFA Steamed Over Campbell Soup Ad
December 26th, 2008
The Campbell Soup Company is running an ad in the Advocate featuring a child with two mommies. The ads for Swanson’s broth ran in the December 2008 and January 2009 issues. This has the American Family Association boiling:
Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.
They appear particularly upset that the ads featured a homosexual family:
“Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money,” writes AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon in an email alert, “but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support.”
They are a family. What other term would Wildmon propose we use to describe two parents and a son? A pack maybe?
Wildmon is calling on his followers to call Campbell soup to complain. This is typically the first step to one of his boycotts. Campbell appears to be pretty resolute though:
A spokesperson for Campbell’s, however, explained that the advertisements are simply an attempt to reach a wide audience. “Campbell’s has been in business since 1869,” spokesperson Anthony Sanzio told WND. “For more than century people from all walks of life have enjoyed our products. We will continue to try to appeal to all people in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them.”
Newsweek Essay Draws Howls of Protest
December 9th, 2008
Anti-gay activists are pulling their hair out over Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek, in which she lays out a religious case for same-sex marriage. She opens her essay by saying, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”
As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with one particular segment of Christianity. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Focus on the Family Board of Directors, wrote:
Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda [of allowing same-sex marriage] is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.”
That was one of the calmer reactions. Tony Perkins of the Family “Research” Council denounced it as “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.” The Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association called it “one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by any major news organization.” Not surprisingly, he also is calling on his followers to inundate Newsweek with emails.
And Peter LaBarbera, not one to be outdone, called the essay a “scandalous hit piece” and an “embarrassing attempt to make a Biblical case for sodomy-based ‘marriage.’” (See why we have an award named in his honor?) And Peter’s pal, Matt Barber responded, “You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel.”
Part of the outrage stems from the fact that anti-gay activists have tried for years to couch their opposition to same-sex marriage on sociological research to make their point — research that, as we have pointed out many times, they have distorted with amazing consistency. But by calling on science instead of the Bible, they seek to inoculate themselves from charges of trying to impose their religious views on others. “See? We’re not religious zealots. Science supports us,” they like to say. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, repeated this line in saying, “The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage.” And Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, claimed, “We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”
But when they are talking among themselves, religious arguments are firmly at the fore, whether it’s LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking of the “central doctrine of eternal marriage” or Richard Land himself explaining with an apparently straight face that what he calls the global warning “hoax” is simply due to “cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos.” Neither of these positions sound very scientific to me.
But the religious face is not the public face that these religiously-motivated leaders want to present. And by having to respond to Lisa Miller’s essay, they are forced to publicly defend the religious basis for their beliefs, which annoys a few of them to no end. Watch how Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse pivots when asked about the Newsweek essay:
“Beyond the Scriptural distortion, the article distorts the pro-marriage and pro-family movement that is solidly grounded on sociological research about family structures that contribute to the well-being of women and children.”
She then goes on to mischaracterize what “experts agree.”
But the other part of the outrage also seems clearly aimed at someone who really did intrude onto their home turf. After all, in the same-sex marriage debates, only one small group of Christians are presumed to be allowed to use the Bible — when they think nobody else is looking. Anti-gay activists behave as though the Bible is solely their possession and no one else’s — including other Christians who read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It’s okay for anti-gay opponents to turn outside their own sphere of authority — science — to make their point. But now that Lisa Miller has taken them on in their own home turf, they’ve let loose with their persecution complex and complained that they– and by extension all of Christianity, since they presume to speak for all Christians – have been “attacked.”
Which reminds me of a great and appropriate graphic making its way around the Internet:
Nothing Says “Christmas” Like A Blazing Cross In Your Front Yard
November 15th, 2008
Mississippi-based American Family Association wants you to light up your front yard for Christ this Christmas.
Light up your front yard, porch, patio, driveway, business, organization or church this holiday season with a stunning Christmas cross.
There was a time when people lit candles on their Christmas trees and placed burning candles in their windows at Christmastime. But that proved to be too much of a fire hazard, so they’ve all been replaced by their modern-day electrified cousins.
But the blazing cross remained a problem. Not anymore. Because unlike the flaming crosses of yore, this one is not only perfectly safe, but “weather-proof” — thanks to the modern miracle of electricity.
Not available in stores. I wonder why?
[Hat tip: reader Gabriel]
AFA Gearing Up For Another Boycott?
November 13th, 2008
Why can’t they boycott cool stuff?
Certified Cameronite: Kathleen Gilbert, OneNewsNow and LifeSite
September 24th, 2008
As we reported today, Kathleen Gilbert has reached into the depths of “agenda-driven, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook” by a Nazi apologist to fuel her anti-gay propaganda on the web sites LifeSite News and OneNewsNow.
And so today we have triple-header: three Certified Cameronite Awards go to Gilbert, LifeSite and OneNewsNow. And to add to that, we have a full denunciation from a UK researcher whose study she misrepresented. That’s a home run! Congratulations.
Researcher: LifeSite and OneNewsNow Misrepresent Our Review
September 24th, 2008
A British researcher has denounced two North American anti-gay web sites for distorting his research. University College London professor Michael King, in a statement to Box Turtle Bulletin, clarified the findings of his research on depression and suicide among LGB people, and emphasized the importance that “all sectors of society welcome them as equal and valuable citizens.”
Professor King spoke out in response to an article that appeared last Wednesday in LifeSite, an unofficial Catholic web site, which claimed that the “homosexual lifestyle [is] strongly linked to depression [and] suicide.” The same article by Kathleen Gilbert appeared again Saturday on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow. It began:
A new study in the United Kingdom has revealed that homosexuals are about 50% more likely to suffer from depression and engage in substance abuse than the rest of the population, reports Health24.com.
After analyzing 25 earlier studies on sexual orientation and mental health, researchers, in a study published in the medical journal BMC Psychiatry, also found that the risk of suicide jumped over 200% if an individual had engaged in a homosexual lifestyle.
The LifeSite/OneNewsNow article claims that the study proves lesbians, gays and bisexuals experience this risk not because of stigma or discrimination, but because homosexuality itself is a mental disorder:
Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist and member of the Catholic Medical Association, says there is evidence that homosexuality is itself a manifestation of a psychological disorder accompanied by a host of mental health problems, including “major depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, conduct disorder, low self-esteem in males and sexual promiscuity with an inability to maintain committed relationships.”
The BMC Psychiatry article by professor Michael King and colleagues is available online for free. This means that you don’t have to take anyone’s word for anything; you can read it yourself. And as you do, you’ll notice that the study bears little resemblance to Gilbert’s description of it.
First, the authors make it clear that participating in a “homosexual lifestyle” — and by that I presume Gilbert means sexual activity — is not a necessary risk factor. The studies that the authors analyzed defined homosexuality and bisexuality by many different standards, including sexual attractions and identity apart from behavior.
The authors also make it clear that while lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people appear to be at greater risk than heterosexual people of mental disorders and suicidal behavior:
LGB people are subject to institutionalised prejudice, social stress, social exclusion (even within families) and anti-homosexual hatred and violence and often internalise a sense of shame about their sexuality.
Although our evidence does not specify the nature of such mechanisms, there is no evidence to suggest that homosexuality is itself a disorder that is thereby subject to a higher co-morbidity than is found in heterosexuals.
In fact, even if Gilbert hadn’t seen the study itself — even though it is available online — her “report” doesn’t even bear much resemblance to the Health24.com article that she claims to cite but doesn’t link.
We asked Professor King for his reaction to the LifeSite/OneNewsNow article. This was his reply:
LifeSite News and OneNewsNow have misinterpreted our review. Evidence from around the world identifies the main stressors leading to mental distress in gay and lesbian people as discrimination, prejudice, bullying in schools and colleges, and the consequent need for many LGB people to keep their homosexual identity secret, even from their families.
Our review did not examine links between mental disorder and homosexual “behaviour” or “lifestyle”. Our work reviewed studies of the mental health of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and sadly, those studies showed that it is people (not behaviour) that are discriminated against, and not least by religious groups and organisations.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is even more devastating than other forms of discrimination such as racism, as it reaches right into families and leaves no refuge for its victims.
We suggest in our review that the availability of alcohol and drugs at gay social venues may be a factor in the greater risk of drug and alcohol misuse in LGB people. Reducing this problem is something for which LGB people must take greater responsibility. However, the fact that discrimination still exists in our societies means that many are forced to use such venues to meet each other rather than through more common ways available to heterosexuals, such as at work, during the pursuit of hobbies and past-times, or at church.
There is now abundant evidence that homosexuality is not itself a mental disorder and that it is compatible with a healthy lifestyle. We shall only begin to see a reduction in mental distress and deliberate self harm in LGB people when all sectors of society welcome them as equal and valuable citizens.
To throw more confusion into the mix, Gilbert tossed in a discredited 2007 study by Nazi-apologist Paul Cameron which supposedly demonstrated that “that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 24 years shorter than that of a heterosexual.” She also used Cameron’s study to claim that discrimination hat nothing to do with it, saying that, “Homosexuals in the United States and Denmark – the latter of which is acknowledged to be highly tolerant of homosexuality – both die on average in their early 50′s, or in their 40′s if AIDS is the cause of death.”
We have already examined glaring flaws in Cameron’s study, as has Danish epidemiologist Morton Frisch who described his study as “humorous example of agenda-driven, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook.” Cameron’s false claims of presenting this “study” before the Eastern Psychological Association earned him an official condenmnation from EPA president Phile Hineline in April 2007.
Gilbert’s brief article in LifeSite and OneNewsNow combines the worst misrepresentations of legitimate science coupled with the worst example of phony pseudoscience — all in six short paragraphs. That’s quite a remarkable if dubious achievement. What Gilbert lacks in veracity, she certainly makes up for in ingenuity — and audacity. Maybe someday she’ll decide the truth ought to play a role as well. Somehow I doubt it.
[Thanks to regular reader Stefano A. for his help in gathering material for this post.]
Folsom Street Fair Organizers Make Questionable Claim Against Americans For Truth
September 22nd, 2008
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth and I may disagree on pretty much everything related to sexuality but something we both share is the fact we’re activists who rely on “fair-use” to expose and analyze things in the world we find objectionable.
In a recent analysis of Folsom, LaBarbera posted a digital copy of a congratulatory letter from Mayor Newsom to Folsom organizers as a one page excerpt from Folsom’s 2008 Program Guide which he found particularly offensive and illustrated the focus of his analysis.
Folsom organizers took issue with this apparently as their attorney sent LaBarbera a cease and desist letter claiming intellectual property infringement. LaBarbera, aided by the American Family Association’s General Counsel fired back calling their bluff, citing the “fair-use” clause of copyright law.
In this case I agree with Pete. Folsom’s lawyers are full of shit.
Specifically, the letter from Mayor Newsom is not Folsom’s property, it was written by someone at the Mayor’s office and is a matter of public record in the public domain. According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act misrepresenting ownership of intellectual property puts the person making the false-claim at risk. Per Wikipedia:
anyone who makes a false claim of infringement or false counter-notification is liable for the damages suffered by the other parties
It appears the only thing Folsom organizers have succeeded in is giving the appearance of legitimizing Mr. LaBarbera’s attacks on them by allowing him to paint himself as the victim.
I contacted Folsom organizers to see if their side of the story differed from Pete’s — our email exchange is below:
I’m a pro-gay activist and write for a website called BoxTurtleBulletin.com which tracks and monitors the religious right. Recently it came to my attention that the anti-gay group Americans For Truth is claiming your lawyers sent them a cease and desist letter relating to their use of Folsom St. Fair promotional materials. The full article is online here:
Based solely on Peter LaBarbera’s account it appears he is well within the realm of fair-use and your lawyer’s claims have no ground are designed only to intimidate him.
Before blogging on this I would appreciate your side of the story.
Thanks for your email. While AFTAH claims fair use, that doesn’t mean it is fair use. There are specific legal criteria by which fair use is gauged. And, there are actually pretty severe limits placed on the amount of a work that can be reproduced under the fair use rule. We state clearly in our Guide: “Reproduction in whole or in part without permission…is prohibited.” That said, we apparently disagree on the issue which is why we are pursuing it. There is no intimidation involved here.
AFA’s Misquoting of the CDC
August 1st, 2008
We commented earlier on an article in AFA’s OneNewsNow in which Regina Griggs displayed astonishing ignorance about the HIV infection rates of gay youth. Now the editors at AFA have amended the article
Over 70 percent of young kids 13- to 24-years-old, men having sex with men, are now HIV-positive,” Griggs notes. (see editor’s note)
and the editor’s note reads
In June of 2007 the Centers for Disease Control stated that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of all HIV infections.
Well now that’s an interesting statistic (though entirely irrelevant to Grigg’s claim). But what do they mean?
Is AFA saying that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of recent infections? The CDC Report (pdf) states:
MSM (49%) and persons exposed through high-risk heterosexual contact (32%) accounted for 81% of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2005. [the most recent year reported ; emphasis added]
Is AFA saying that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of total persons living with HIV/AIDS?
By sex, 73% of adults and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS were male.
Of the estimated 341,524 male adults and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, 61% had been exposed through male-to-male sexual contact, 18% had been exposed through injection drug use, 13% had been exposed through high risk heterosexual contact, and 7% had been exposed through both male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use. [In other words, half: (61% + 7%) * 73% = 50% ; emphasis added]
Although the report provides information by ethnicity, location, age at transmission, cumulative deaths, and much more, I was unable to find any statistic that could be interpreted to state that “homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of all HIV infections”.
(hat tip to reader Neil H)
PFOX’s Griggs Goes Off the Deep End
July 30th, 2008
PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays) claims to be a support group of parents and others that support and work for the interests of their ex-gay children and friends. However, a closer look at their activism reveals that they are comprised mostly of a handful of ex-gays, a few parents that wish their children were not gay, and some others who just want to “fight the homosexual agenda”.
And while there may be a place for an organization that fights for civil inclusion for those who identify as ex-gay, this group does not fulfill that function.
Ex-gays face discrimination and hostility in society – most of it based on perceptions and stereotypes. It is not unknown for ex-gay men to appear less masculine or ex-gay women to appear more so than social norms may expect. And while they may have religious objections to homosexuality, many of the employment, housing, and other protections that gay people seek would also benefit those ex-gays who may appear to be gender atypical. So any organization seeking to better the lives of ex-gays could find common cause with the LGBT community on a number of issues.
But PFOX has no interest in common cause. Or even in the civil protections of ex-gays.
PFOX pays but nominal attention to ex-gays and instead expends its efforts in seeking to restrict services and information for gay people, primarily youth. And they have a long history of showing little regard for truth, decency, or integrity in their efforts.
They have distorted the work of reputable scientists, made wild accusations against various schools and youth programs, manufactured “attacks” by gay activists, hurled vile insults against those who disagree with them, and, most recently mangled research to exploit suicide statistics for political positioning.
But now Regina Griggs, and PFOX, have bested themselves. They now have made a claim so phenomenally ridiculous, so homophobic (in the traditional sense of the word), that even anti-gays should be driven to mocking them.
As reported by the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, Griggs opposes Gay-Straight Alliances and other safe spaces for gay teens:
Research shows that individuals often go through periods of gender and sexual confusion as they grow from children to teenagers to adults. Griggs wonders why, then, would schools opt to send children along a dangerous path. “Why are we allowing people to tell them, ‘Try it — you might like it?’ Over 70 percent of young kids 13- to 24-years-old, men having sex with men, are now HIV-positive,” Griggs notes.
That claim is phenomenally stupid, even by anti-gay standards.
As Ed Brayton at ScienceBlogs.com notes:
According to the 2000 census figures, there are roughly 50 million people between the age of 13 and 24. Slightly more than half would be female, so let’s say conservatively that there are 22 million men between those ages. If 2% of them are MSM, that’s 440,000. The percentage of HIV positive MSM between 13 and 24 is more like 3.1%, a far cry from 70%. Okay, it’s probably a bit higher than that because there will be some men in that age group who were diagnosed before 2001, but at the absolute outside we’re talking 5%, not 70%.
I might calculate using different variables, but Brayton is right. HIV infection in gay youth, or even in sexually active gay youth, is FAR from 70%.
Griggs is either a wanton liar or a raging loon. Perhaps both.
I calculate around 0.7% of all gay youth aged 13 to 24 are now HIV-positive.
AFA Approved Comments: Knoxville Church Doing “Satan’s Work”
July 28th, 2008
Not anyone can log in and leave a comment on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow site. Once you submit a comment, it has to be approved by a moderator before it goes public. And what kind of comments earn the AFA’s stamp of approval on their re-post of the AP’s story on the Knoxville church shooting? How about this one:
While this is a tragedy, the article may mislead those who are not familiar with the Unitatian [sic] “non-religion”. Unitarians are not Christians, and like all non-Christians they are doing Satan’s work.” Only a non-Christian would say something like that at a time like this. Thanks for muddying the waters.”
And again, another one, probably by the same author (note the repeated misspelling):
While this is a tragedy, the article may mislead those who are not familiar with the Unitatian [sic] “non-religion”. Unitarians are not Christians, and like all non-Christians they are doing Satan’s work.”
They liked the comment so much they approved it twice.
We’ve lamented the resounding silence on the part of anti-gay religious activists concerning Larry King’s murder. It looks like some quarters have decided not to be so quite this time, now that a gay-friendly church was the target.
Disgusting. Is it any wonder Christians have such a bad name?
Update: As readers point out, it does appear that the first comment reposted above may be a rebuke to the second comment. It takes a very close reading to catch it; OneNewsNow’s formatting makes it all very unclear. OneNewsNow has removed the second comment that we reproduced above, but there’s still another one remaining:
The truth is never hateful or an insult and those who mock the truth are Satan’s stooges. Unitarians are not Christians and anyone who is not of Christ is of Satan. That is truth, not hate or insult.”
Another comment, (the most recent one?) states the obvious:
At a tragic time like this we should be praying for these people, not attacking them. I don’t agree with their beliefs, but to insult them during this time does nothing to further the gospel of Christ. It only serves to give those who hate Christianity a reason to call us hateful.
Well, if it talks like a duck…
Knoxville Gays On Edge; Local MCC Church Wants To See Letter
Relief Fund Set Up for Knoxville Churches
Thoughts and Prayers for Knoxville Shooting Victims
Knoxville Shooting Witness’s First-Hand Account
Knoxville Shooter Hated “Blacks, Gays, Anyone Different”
AFA Approved Comments: Knoxville Church Doing “Satan’s Work”
Knoxville Shooter Hated “Liberals,” Gays
Just Concluded: Knoxville Press Conference
Knoxville Shooter’s Manifesto Found
Gunman Opens Fire On Gay-Friendly Church, Two Killed
Most Pathetic Protest Ever
July 17th, 2008
The AFA’s McDonalds boycott has started off with a resounding thud. Have you ever seen anything more sad?