Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for December, 2008

Seamus Hasson’s Amazing Mathematics

Timothy Kincaid

December 10th, 2008

Seamus Hasson, new recipient of our LaBarbera Award for his comparison of Prop 8 protesters to El Qaeda, made some amazing claims on KPFK yesterday:

…there have been at least ten churches painted with swastikas, threats to close down or else. There’s been six churches with small-bore rifle fire through their windows. By my count, there have been at least six instances of burning Books of Mormon on the church steps. These aren’t isolated occurrences here and there; this is an uprising of some sort.

I checked up on Hasson’s claims by reviewing newspaper reports of vandalism following the passage of Proposition 8. While I may have missed some reports (if so, please advise), my numbers are substantially different from those of Hasson.

Instances of swastika vandalism:

Other use of swastika:

  • Days following vote – Roman Catholic Church in Riverside, CA. Yes on 8 signs arranged in the form of a swastika on the lawn – no spray painting. (from SL Tribune’s compilation of Prop 8 response)
  • 11/9/08 – Saddleback Church in Orange Co., CA. A protest sign was carried saying – “Will your rights be next?” – with a Nazi swastika drawn in place of the “x” – no spray painting.

I do know of at least one instance of spray painting on a church. In the days following the vote, a Mormon Church in Utah was tagged with “Nobody is born a bigot”. This was likely related to Proposition 8, but no swastikas were used.

So as for “churches painted with swastikas” by protesters over Proposition 8: Hasson’s count: ten; my count: zero.

Burning Books of Mormon:

So as for “instances of burning Books of Mormon on the church steps” by protesters over Proposition 8: Hasson’s count: six; my count: one.

I found no instances of churches being threatened to “close down or else”. None. And by “small-bore rifle fire”, Hasson means a bb gun (as in “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid“).

Which leaves me with the following conclusion: Either

  • There are an abundance of painted swastikas on churches and burning Books of Mormon that did not make it into the news;
  • Hasson can’t count to ten; or
  • Hasson is deliberately lying about vandalism that he claims is coming from the supporters of Proposition 8.

I’ll let you decide.

LaBarbera Award: Seamus Hasson

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2008

Yesterday we gave the LaBarbera Award to Pat Boone for comparing the peaceful protests against Prop 8 to Mumbai terrorists who killed 163 people in what is now being referred to as India’s 9/11. That was the day after the Becket Fund placed a full-page ad in the New York Times falsely characterizing these same peaceful protests — protected by the First Amendment’s peaceful assembly clause — as “mob violence.” Now we have a new LaBarbera Award winner in Seamus Hasson, the founder and chairman for the Becket Fund itself.

On yesterday’s “The Morning Show” on KPFA, host Aimee Allison spoke with Hasson about the New York Times ad, and asked him about the broad brush characterization of the movement as violent:

Aimee Allison: So, Rev. Russell was commenting, there may be a few individuals, but not a movement. Seamus Hasson, your response to that: if there are individuals, why are anti-Prop 8 movement folks being painted with that broad brush?

Seamus Hasson: Well, whether it’s an organized movement like Al Qaeda or whether it’s the Al Qaeda-like, um, inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be concerned about, um, radical Islamist violence –

First it was Mumbai terrorists, now we’re Al Qaeda-like. You know, the people who flew planes into buildings and killed more than three thousand people. That Holocaust analogy is just around the corner…

[Hat tip: GLAAD Blog]

Homosexual Mob Violence?

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2008

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty published a full page ad in the New York Times today decrying the “violence and intimidation being directed against the LDS or ‘Mormon’ church” by opponents of Propostion 8. Those signing the missive included:

  • Kevin “Seamus” Hasson – the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
  • Nathan Diament – Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America
  • Rick Cizik – National Association of Evangelicals.
  • Ronald J. Sider – Evangelicals for Social Action
  • Chuck Colson – Prison Fellowship
  • Chris Seiple – Institute for Global Engagement
  • Dr. Alveda King – civil rights activist
  • William J. Donohue – Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
  • Robert Seiple – Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
  • Douglas Laycock – University of Michigan Law School
  • Marvin Olasky – The King’s College, New York City
  • Roger Scruton – writer and philosopher
  • Armando Valladares – former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission

Although the signatories claim to “differ about a great many important things” including “the wisdom and justice of California’s Proposition 8”, I find little evidence of this assertion.

The chief signatory, Kevin “Seamus” Hasson is, on the surface, neutral. However he has on several occasions stated his opinion (and that of his organization) that marriage equality is “very expensive in terms of religious liberty”, has an impact that is “severe and pervasive”, and that he opposed the court’s actions legalizing same-sex marriage.

Some others on the list, including Alveda King, Chuck Colson, Roger Scruton, and William Donohue, represent the extreme of anti-gay activists – those who not only oppose marriage equality but any rights or freedoms granted to gay persons. Armando Valladares and Nathan Diament, while not outright haters, are on record in opposition to gay marriage as well as other rights and freedoms.

Others are lesser known and some are liberal on environmental or economic issues. Douglas Laycock advocates for the separation of religious and civil recognition. And Marvin Olasky advocates that “same-sex marriage be opposed only in ways that treat gays as still possessing human dignity”. Rick Civik supports some civil unions recognition.

But I was unable to find a single instance of anyone signing onto this list that was either directly effected by Proposition 8 or opposed to its passage. The range within the signatories is from “I oppose gay marriage” to “I really, really, really oppose gay marriage and anything else that would benefit gay people in any way.”

Now let’s examine this “mob violence and intimidation” against Mormon Churches and their members and see if it merits a full page of condemnation.

Becket and Pals listed a grand total of one objectionable event, so we’ll look at it first:

  • “Thugs sent white powder” to two Mormon churches.

It has never been determined just who sent the powder or why. That, of course, doesn’t deter those who think that gay people should quietly accept a second class status from making the baseless accusation.

The other incidences of “violence” (if you really stretch the word) through November 24th have been itemized by the Salt Lake Tribune. They consist of:

  • Disruption. A group called Bash Back! disrupted services at an Evangelical church in Lansing, Michigan.
  • Vandalism: There have been windows shot out with a bb gun, walls spray-painted, and glue poured into the locks of LDS churches. A Pentecostal church was peppered with eggs and toilet paper.
  • Minor Arson: A Book of Mormon was set on fire on a LDS church doorstep and a plastic plant lit on fire at a University. Someone tried to burn a Yes on 8 yard sign.

In addition to the items listed by the Tribune, I also know of:

Incidents of physical violence seem to have been limited to two, one on each side, and both before the election:

  • A man was hit why trying to protect Yes on 8 signs outside a church in Modesto.
  • An opponent to the proposition was attacked by a supporter and hit with a Yes on 8 sign in Torrance.

But from the language of Becket and Pals, you’d think that buildings were aflame and hospitals full from the victims of rampaging homosexual mobs terrorizing the nation:

Regrettably, some public voices have even sought to excuse the threats and disruptions simply as “demonstrations” that got out of hand. Perhaps that’s true in some cases. Far too many, however, seem never to have been demonstrations in the first place, but more nearly mobs, seeking not to persuade but to intimidate. When thugs send white powder to terrorize any place of worship, especially those of a religious minority, responsible voices need to speak clearly: Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous. Those who fail to condemn or seem to condone that intimidation are at fault as well. Consciously or not, they are numbing the public conscience, which endangers us all.

I condemn the behavior that is listed above. I do not, by any means, seek to justify or excuse vandalism. It is not appropriate to break someone’s protest cross even if she is seeking to insult and offend. It is absolutely not acceptable to trespass onto a church property in order to disrupt services.

But the sole instance that could even remotely be considered “nearly a mob” was the instance in the Castro. And while one incident may be “far too many”, this language is intended of obfuscate rather than clarify.

I have to conclude that this ad had nothing to do with violence against Mormons. Rather it is a way of demonizing gays and using insinuation to portray a community as violent and aggressive.

UPDATE:

Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out lists some examples of the religious bigotry spouted by some of these very signatories.