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.


December 10th, 2008

Word to Seamus Hasson:

Closed fist receives nothing.


December 10th, 2008

Methinks Hasson is lying through his teeth. Not only does he not have any facts on his side, but people of his ilk are prone to fabrication so….


December 10th, 2008

It’s still speculative about the ONE incident of the Book of Mormon burning in Littleton, Colorado.

Unless someone in Littleton, Colorado can provide some morsel of information I would say there is little to support the burning of the Book of Mormon on some stoop at a Mormon Church is related to the Proposition 8 in California controversy.

I could just as easily blame it on a disgruntled person(s), a break-off sect (Polygamists) or on a crazed Evangelical zealot who had a beef with the Mormons.

But nothing, so far, links the vandalism to Proposition 8.

Suricou Raven

December 10th, 2008

I’ve seen something like this on Digg – lots of commentest posting stories about the terrible atrocities the ‘Gay Agenda’ has committed following the passing of Prop 8. Recurring accusations include all of the above (Except for the rifle fire, havn’t seen that elsewhere), plus repeated claims of assaults, several claimed arsons, broken windows and death threats. One very popular rumor says that gay protestors beat up and hospitalised an old woman. Of course, very very of these claims come with a *source* to check, and those that do almost always link to a far-right blog of very dubious reliability which only links to other far right blogs of dubious reliability ad infinitum.

I’m not sure how much of this is deliberate rumor-spreading and how much is confirmation bias. If someone *wants* to believe that gays are violent, hateful, anti-christian bigots then they can be expected to believe any story that supports this view and repeat it without criticism.

Suricou Raven

December 10th, 2008

Reading my own comment, I note that posting at two-twenty on the wrong side of midnight is not a good idea.


December 11th, 2008

The person who left burned copies of the book of Mormon is guilty of nothing more than the crime of litter.

This is not a hate crime. There is no evidence of intimidation against any particular person. No Church property was attacked or stolen. No-one has been stopped from expressing their faith or worshipping. In desecrating his / her copy of the book, (s)he is perfectly within his rights, since the 1st Amendment is designed to protect the right to express criticism of religion.

Another thing: the perpetrator of this act went no further than the front door. Meanwhile the Church sees fit to interfere and ruin the most precious, intimate affairs of people who otherwise mean no ill-will to anyone.

And as long as these kind of things happens in the name of their religion, the Church must expect that others can also be offended, and that they are going to let them know about it in direct, disrespectful, yet non-violent terms.

It’s only a book, and it does not deserve to be treated with respect.


December 11th, 2008

Actually, if cross-burning can be treated as a action (punishable by law) and not an expression, I don’t see why book-burning should not be.


December 11th, 2008

It’s interesting that these people NEVER mention the gay supportive churches that have been repeatedly vandalized and whose pastors and congregants have been viciously harassed and threatened.

UCC churches across the country, including my own in Tampa, have REPEATEDLY been the target of vandalism (even arson) hateful grafiti and threatening letters, emails and phone messages. MCC and UU churches have endured the same including the gay supportive UU church in Tennessee where an anti-gay gunman broke into a Sunday service and shot worshipers dead.

I haven’t seen Hasson or any of the people in the NY Times ad who have PLEDGED to “commit ourselves to opposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry, against any faith, on any side of the cause, for any reason” make comments, do press releases or take out full page ads to condemn these cowardly acts against PROGRESSIVE churches. It’s pretty clear that their statement is, as is so often the case, a lie.

I’ll be contacting them to see if they are REALLY going to stand by their pledge.

Somehow I sincerely doubt it.


December 11th, 2008

@ Duncan

Context is important. Cross burning by the Klan was often associated with lynching or other acts of extreme violence. There is no such context associated with this isolated incident involving the burning of a Mormon book.


From the above link, you should take note that Cross burning is apparently protected under the First Amendment of your Constitution:

“In Virginia v. Black (2003), the United States Supreme Court ruled that burning a cross at a Klan rally is protected by the First Amendment, but also held that a statute could constitutionally proscribe cross burning carried out with the intent to intimidate the target of the speech.”

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