The Daily Caller mocked a rainbow flag-themed Christmas light display in Rome as "so gay." Rome's government opted to hang the lights on the city's main shopping street to combat homophobia after the recent high-profile suicide of a bullied gay teen in the city.
In a December 9 article, Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens reported on the display, calling it a departure from the "unexciting and noncontroversial monochrome white" lights hung along Via del Corso last year. Owens explained that this year's display was a response to the "alleged bullying" of a 14-year-old gay teen who committed suicide:
The traditional lights hanging along Rome's main shopping street are rainbow flag-themed this Christmas season.
The municipal government in Italy's capital city chose the multicolored motif for the mile-longish stretch of Via del Corso to convey its stance against homophobia, reports the Daily News.
The message is pertinent in Rome because a 14-year-old gay teenager committed suicide a few months ago in response to alleged bullying and his belief that his family would not accept his sexuality.
Last year, the famous lights over Via del Corso were an unexciting and noncontroversial monochrome white. In 2011, designers used the colors green, white and red to mark 150 years of Italian unification.
Owens - whose derisive reporting on LGBT teens has itself contributed to the problem of anti-LGBT cyberbullying - omitted evidence indicating that the late teen's bullying was more than just "alleged." Roman police officials found homophobic text messages on the teen's phone after he left a suicide note lamenting, "I am a homosexual, no one understands my drama and I do not know how to make it acceptable to my family."
The August suicide came mere months after another widely publicized suicide by an openly gay Roman teenager who encountered vicious homophobic bullying. For Owens, though, the Via del Corso display isn't so much an opportunity to highlight the widespread problem of anti-LGBT harassment and violence as it is another chance to snark about LGBT people and their allies.
It's unclear whether, in describing the lights as "so gay," Owens was expressing his aesthetic distaste for the display. He has, after all, written that "foolish" and "stupid" are perfectly legitimate definitions for the word "gay."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson lashed out at gay rights activists for fighting against anti-LGBT business discrimination, suggesting that they are "evil" and that their effort to ensure equal treatment for LGBT customers is an intolerant campaign to "silence good."
In a December 9 post for his RedState.com blog, Erickson responded to a Colorado judge's recent ruling that a Denver baker violated the state's anti-discrimination law when he refused to serve a same-sex couple. Erickson endorsed anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious views, writing that the ruling further imperils religious liberty and provides yet another example of how "your sexual preference instead of your faith" matters more in modern society (emphasis added):
Surely there are plenty of bakers who would bake a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the gay men who wanted the cake. But they went to Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, CO. When Phillips declined because of his religious beliefs, Mullins and Craig went to the ACLU, which in turn complained to the state that Phillips was discriminating.
There will be no accommodation between gay rights activists and those seeking religious freedom to opt out of the gay rights movement. Gay rights activists demand tolerance for their lifestyle, but will not tolerate those who choose to adhere to their religious beliefs.
Increasingly, courts around the country are siding with the gay rights movement against those relying on the first freedoms of the country. While many would prefer to sit this out, they will be made to care.
Evil preaches tolerance until it is dominate and then it seeks to silence good. We are more and more rapidly arriving at a point in this country where Christians are being forced from the public square unless they abandon the tenets of their faith. In our secular society, Christianity is something you do on a Sunday and who you sleep with defines you.
For Christians defined by their faith, this paradigm of being defined by your sexual preference instead of your faith is deeply troublesome and will see more and more of these stories crop up.
Legal experts have already debunked Erickson's claim that anti-discrimination laws pose a threat to private religious views. As University of Pennsylvania law professor Tobias B. Wolff and Slate's Mark Joseph Stern have noted, there's a clear difference between holding anti-gay views personally and operating a business in the public marketplace that discriminates against people because of who they are.
Erickson professes his dislike for the notion that "who you sleep with defines you," but it's Erickson himself who's obsessed with denying people rights simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. Would Erickson feel as comfortable telling an interracial couple that "there are plenty of bakers who would bake a cake for them," but that racist bakers should have the right not to provide them one?
That Erickson sees nothing wrong with subjecting same-sex couples to the whims of business owners' personal views underscores the right-wing media's apparent belief that "who you sleep with" is perfectly legitimate grounds for public discrimination.
For Erickson to cloak his defense of anti-gay discrimination in a purported concern for "tolerance" is particularly rich, given his willingness to solicit donations for the extremist Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization working internationally to criminalize homosexuality.
Far-right website WND teased an article on the possibility that gay men will soon be allowed to donate blood with a banner asking, "Does Obama Want You Infected With This?"
From WND's home page:
WND's December 3 article noted that a federal advisory panel is considering lifting the blanket ban on donations by gay men, in effect since 1985. The website hyped one researcher's support for the ban, citing statistics showing that men who have sex with men constitute the majority of HIV infections to justify prohibiting all gay men from donating blood, regardless of whether they practice safe sex or are monogamous:
Should homosexual men - a group with the highest HIV-infection rates in the nation - be allowed to donate blood?
That's the question the federal government is considering this week as it re-evaluates whether it should lift the 30-year ban on homosexual blood donation.
On Thursday, members of the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability will revisit the issue.
But a leading pathologist is warning that the move would heighten the risk of spreading HIV to other Americans.
Dr. Jay Brooks, an expert in blood banking and transfusion at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, told WND the problem with "donations from men who've had sex with men is that they have a much higher prevalence of HIV than the heterosexual community."
"They have a much higher prevalence," he emphasized.
Conveniently, WND omitted the fact that the American Medical Association (AMA) opposes the ban, calling it "discriminatory" and "not based on sound science." Under current policy, a heterosexual woman who has had intercourse with an AIDS- or HIV-infected partner can give blood after a one-year waiting period. Any gay man who has had sex since 1977, however, can never donate. According to the AMA, a case-by-case approach makes far more sense than a sweeping ban.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Japan, and South Africa have already lifted bans on gay blood donations.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a Scottsdale, AZ-based legal group committed to rolling back the rights of women and LGBT people on the grounds of "religious liberty." The organization has played a leading role in combatting marriage equality and non-discrimination policies in the U.S. while working internationally to criminalize homosexuality. Despite its rabid anti-LGBT extremism, ADF receives reliably friendly treatment from Fox News.
Established as the Alliance Defense Fund in 1994, ADF's founders include such religious right leaders as Focus on the Family's James C. Dobson and Campus Crusade for Christ's Bill Bright. According to ADF's website, the organization changed its name to Alliance Defending Freedom in 2012 to highlight its "enduring mission to gain justice for those whose faith has been unconstitutionally denied in the areas of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family."
Headed by President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears, staffed by more than 40 attorneys, and boasting an annual budget in excess of $30 million, ADF bills itself as "a servant ministry building an alliance to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system." As part of its effort to remake the American legal system along quasi-theocratic lines, ADF has:
ADF's relentless legal campaign against LGBT equality led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to describe the organization as "virulently anti-gay." SPLC proved instrumental in exposing an aspect of ADF's work that the organization chooses not to tout on its website - its international work to criminalize homosexuality.
Both CNN and MSNBC devoted significant coverage to the Obama administration's commemoration of World AIDS Day on December 2. Fox News, on the other hand, spent less than 20 seconds acknowledging President Obama's speech outlining significant new efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Syndicated columnist and radio host Dennis Prager uncritically recited Stephen Jimenez's shoddily-reported claims that Matthew Shepard's 1998 murder wasn't an anti-gay hate crime, using the claims put forth in Jimenez's discredited book to assail the "lies" allegedly used to advance progressive goals.
In a December 3 column for National Review Online, Prager joined the chorus of right-wing praise for The Book of Matt -- a book which attempts to prove that Matthew Shepard's murder wasn't motivated by anti-gay bias. In the book, Jimenez claims that Aaron McKinney and Aaron Henderson attacked Shepard as part of a meth deal gone wrong, not because Shepard was gay. Filled with wild conjecture, questionable or anonymous sources, and cavalier dismissals of strong evidence of McKinney's homophobia, the book has nevertheless served as a rallying cry for right-wing media figures determined to undermine the LGBT movement galvanized by Shepard's death.
Prager's column continues in that same vein, indicating a stronger interest in using the book as a cudgel against progressives than actually getting to the bottom of Shepard's murder (emphasis added):
It turns out that Matthew Shepard's murder had nothing to do with his being gay.
As early as 2004, the ABC News program 20/20 broadcast (to its credit) a denial by both murderers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, that the murder had anything to do with Shepard's being gay. It was, they both claimed, a robbery gone bad.
"It was not because me and Aaron had anything against gays," Henderson told ABC.
As a result, ABC News was widely attacked by all those who had a vested interest not in truth but in maintaining the homophobia story: the liberal media, the gay-rights movement, and the lawyers for the victim's mother.
Now a book has been published, written by Stephen Jimenez, himself a gay man, that confirms the accuracy of the 2004 ABC News report. Matthew Shepard was involved in the hyperactive Wyoming meth drug culture; he was murdered over a drug deal; and his primary murderer was a bisexual who had probably slept with Shepard.
[I]t shows how powerful the left-wing media are, how they are dedicated to agendas rather than to truth, and how much of what Americans believe is shaped accordingly.
It would indeed be convenient for Jimenez's cheerleaders if only those with "a vested interest" were disputing his account of Shepard's murder. In reality, however, The Book of Matt has been condemned by Tim Newcomb, Henderson's appellate attorney, former Laramie police commander David O'Malley, and Detective Rob Debree, who said that investigators thoroughly probed the drug issue before concluding that Shepard's murder wasn't a "meth crime."
Meanwhile, despite changing his story on multiple other aspects of the case, McKinney -- a self-proclaimed "homofobick [sic]" individual -- has consistently denied knowing Shepard prior to the attack.
Given his determination to call out allegedly biased or unreliable critics, you'd think Prager would apply the same scrupulous standards of objectivity and reliability to Jimenez's sources. They include confessed meth addicts, a disbarred attorney who agreed to talk to Jimenez on the condition that he disputed the conventional understanding of Shepard's death, and one purported former lover of Shepard's - whom Newcomb revealed had apparently attempted to extract money in exchange for information on the case. But Prager simply transcribes Jimenez's arguments as the gospel truth, apparently uninterested in the sources behind them.
National Review Online writer Charles C. W. Cooke urged fellow conservatives not to criticize the use of anti-gay slurs, writing that such "political correctness" would stifle public debate.
In a December 2 column, Cooke weighed in on the controversy surrounding actor and former MSNBC host Alec Baldwin's apparent use of anti-gay speech during a confrontation with a photographer. Video captured by TMZ appeared to show Baldwin calling the photographer a "cocksucking fag." After announcing that it would suspend Baldwin's program for two weeks, MSNBC decided to end his Friday night show Up Late entirely.
Cooke wrote that it wasn't surprising that Baldwin - a public supporter of LGBT equality and other progressive causes - would generate a backlash for his outburst, asserting that "[t]hose who live by the sword must watch out lest they die by it, too." Despite his political disagreements with Baldwin, however, Cooke argued that "passes" should be distributed to all users of anti-gay slurs "equally" (emphasis added):
As sequels go, this was the last-ditch effort that even the most generous of critics couldn't excuse. Among the notable public figures who felt compelled finally to leave his side were the American-British writer Andrew Sullivan and GLAAD's own Rich Ferraro. Sullivan, who has evidently decided that Baldwin "cannot be defended any longer," contended that Baldwin's instincts under pressure "reveal who he actually is" and that what he "actually is" is a "raging, violent bigot." Ferraro simply lamented that Baldwin had declined to turn his shouting into a learning opportunity. As a reward for their troubles, Sullivan and Ferraro were termed by Baldwin as part of "the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy" and accused of "killing" his show.
The latter part of this is possibly true: Baldwin has certainly lost his act, and the signals that Sullivan and Ferraro sent presumably had no small part in opening the floodgates to the condemnation that poured down on Baldwin. But the claim that Baldwin was undone by extremists? No, he wasn't. In truth, he was undone by a movement of which he is a fully paid-up member. I agree wholeheartedly with The Partially Examined Life's Wes Alwan, who resisted the hive mind last week and postulated that judging individuals by their outbursts is unwise. But I am not sure that this is the most important point here, which is instead this: Those who live by the sword must watch out lest they die by it, too. [added space]Alec Baldwin is an outspoken progressive who as recently as last week was referring derisively to "libertarian trash" and who flies off the handle at the slightest misrepresentation of his private life. He himself has promised to end countless careers. To expect to be treated differently than he treats others is naïve and entitled.
Nevertheless, we can all react to these things, and how we react matters. However tempting it might be for the Right to celebrate when one of their antagonists is canned, it should take a deep breath and resist. One does not beat the would-be arbiters of speech by joining them, nor does one persuade people that a reflex is wrong by indulging in it when the other side is on the hook. As a rule, the Right has long prided itself on its disinclination to call for scalps, on the eminently reasonable grounds that such a precedent merely opens the door for all sorts of witch-hunting and leaves anyone even remotely controversial at the mercy of rapidly changing fashions. As a rule, it has recently been conservatives who have led the fight against speech codes, against political correctness, and against trying to punish people for what they believe. Why stop now?
Andrew Sullivan is correct to observe that, because Baldwin is simpatico with the progressive agenda, doyens of the professional Left have long given him "a pass when they would never dream of doing so with anyone who was conservative or Republican." He is also correct to say that this represents "a glaring double standard" and one that "cannot stand any more." Still, there are two ways of ending a double standard. And, in a country that puts a premium on open discourse, it is infinitely preferable to insist that passes be handed out to everybody equally than to request that they be taken away from progressives -- the one political group that, however unfairly, still enjoys their protection.
Cooke doesn't explain how calling someone a "cocksucking fag" contributes meaningfully to an "open discourse," but a writer who defends the armed intimidation of political activists is bound to harbor bizarre views about what words and actions should be part of a healthy public dialogue.
Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus took Mary Cheney to task for challenging her sister Liz's opposition to marriage equality, arguing that - even though it's wrong to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry - Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe should have stayed silent instead of "[g]oing nuclear on Facebook."
In her November 20 column, Marcus echoed right-wing pundits who are casting Mary Cheney as the villain in the family feud, accusing Mary of unfairly jeopardizing Liz's chances of being elected to the U.S. Senate by deigning to say how she feels about having a sister who opposes her right to marry:
In the matter of the Cheney Family Feud: Something in me balks at leaping on the let's-all-bash-Liz bandwagon.
Sure, it would be fun. For one thing, she's wrong about same-sex marriage. As her sister, Mary, now famously posted on Facebook after her big sis re-proclaimed her opposition on "Fox News Sunday": "Liz -- this isn't just an issue on which we disagree -- you're just wrong -- and on the wrong side of history."
Then there is the unfortunate matter of waging this family war in public. It's easy to imagine how infuriating it felt for Mary and her wife, Heather Poe, to be sitting at home watching Liz spout off on Fox News. The urge to fight back obviously was irresistible.
But taking matters further public? Going nuclear on Facebook? Heather's post painted her sister-in-law as a political carpetbagger who shifted positions along with states:
"I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other," Heather wrote in a post Mary shared.
Look, I would have been tempted to post, too. I would have been tempted to tweet. Then I would have thought better of it -- or, more likely, my spouse would have told me to step away from the keyboard. That's what Heather should have done for Mary. Instead, Mary reposted Heather's incendiary message.
Like a number of right-wing pundits before her, Marcus argues Mary is to blame for the public Cheney family feud. Liz, who chose to run for public office and make her anti-equality position known, apparently bears no responsibility for putting her gay sister and her family in the spotlight.
The reality is that while gay and lesbian couples are able to marry in 15 states and the District of Columbia, they're second-class citizens in the rest of the country. Pointing out that Liz's position relegates millions of gays and lesbians to second-class status isn't "incendiary" - it's basic truth-telling.
To be fair, Marcus criticizes Liz Cheney's claim that she has always been "compassionate towards" Mary and her family, but she concludes by suggesting that Mary's family may have read too much into Liz's previous warmth. Perhaps, Marcus offered, Liz Cheney was just "being polite":
And [Heather Poe posted], "when Mary and I got married in 2012 -- she [Liz] didn't hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us. To have her now say she doesn't support our right to marry is offensive to say the least." But maybe Liz was merely being polite at the time. To say she's happy for the married couple is not the same as saying she embraces their marriage.
It's easy for Marcus - who's never had her right to marry put up to a referendum or become a political wedge issue - to call for restraint. But Mary and Liz aren't having a minor political disagreement. Liz's opposition to marriage equality has a direct impact on the livelihood and well-being of her gay sister. For gay and lesbian couples - whose freedom to marry isn't uniformly enjoyed and whose legal protections have come only after years of hard-fought struggle - keeping quiet just isn't that simple.
Senior Daily Caller contributor Matt Lewis condemned Mary Cheney for objecting to her sister Liz's opposition to marriage equality, writing that Mary Cheney's criticism epitomizes modern society's lack of "family loyalty" and shows "selfishness" on her part.
In a November 19 blog post, Lewis weighed in on the Cheney sisters' feud, which was sparked by remarks made by Liz Cheney, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, opposing marriage equality. Liz Cheney reiterated that position in a November 17 appearance on Fox News Sunday, stating that while she'd always tried to be "compassionate toward" Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe, "this is just an issue in which we disagree." Mary Cheney and her wife responded sharply, with Mary Cheney writing on her Facebook page, "Liz - this isn't just an issue on which we disagree you're just wrong - and on the wrong side of history."
Lewis argued that Liz Cheney was merely "pandering" in order to win the GOP nomination in Wyoming and that she will "probably 'evolve' on the issue" after she is elected. According to Lewis, by not putting up with a "short-term inconvenience," Mary Cheney is "messing that up" (emphasis added):
Let's begin with loyalty to one's blood relatives -- and the fact that Mary Cheney apparently has none. Let's all let Mary in on a little secret here: YOUR SISTER IS PANDERING. That's right, once safely ensconced in the U.S. Senate, Liz Cheney will probably "evolve" on the issue.
But Liz is also attempting to actually win a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming. And to make that happen, Mary, Liz may have to say some things you won't like. This is a short-term inconvenience. (When you run, Mary, maybe Liz will similarly bite her tongue?) But she needs you now. And you, Mary, are messing that up.
When people talk about the breakdown of the traditional family unit, I suppose this what they mean. It has nothing to do with gay marriage -- but everything to do about putting selfishness and individualism ahead of the collective good of the family name.
Putting personal political views ahead of blood relatives (I get that Mary is now married -- and this constitutes her new family) seems like a relatively new phenomenon. This is partly because of social media (all Mary Cheney had to do was get angry and sign on to Facebook), but, my guess is this has something to do with our new individualistic world -- and the fact that expectations of familial loyalty are diminished.
Lewis' post reflects what appears to be a right-wing media effort to portray Mary Cheney as the villain in this squabble. Radio talk show host Lars Larson appeared on Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson on November 18 to decry Mary Cheney's lack of "respect" for her sister's anti-marriage equality position, which Liz Cheney and her parents have asserted is her genuine and long-held view.
Since the Cheney family feud erupted into public view, Mary Cheney has written, "This isn't like a disagreement over grazing fees or what to do about Iran. There isn't a lot of gray here. Either you think all families should be treated equally or you don't. Liz's position is to treat my family as second class citizens. That's not a position I can be 'lovingly tolerant' towards."
National Review Online turned to a researcher with a history of dubious scholarship and inflammatory racial theories to defend the University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus' deeply flawed study attacking same-sex parenting. The researcher, Jason Richwine, resigned from the Heritage Foundation after it came to light that he had written that new Latino immigrants are likely to have "low-IQ children."
In a November 18 blog post for NRO, Richwine depicted Regnerus as the victim of a left-wing conspiracy, citing a recent court order to release records concerning the 2012 publication of Regnerus' study, which purported to find that children raised by same-sex parents fare worse than those raised by heterosexual parents. Experts strongly condemned the study, citing its methodological flaws. Regnerus didn't compare children of married same-sex parents to those of married straight parents, and he failed to establish a causal relationship between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes for children.
Most damning was the revelation that the rabidly anti-LGBT Witherspoon Institute funded and helped plan the study. Given that Regnerus' research has figured prominently in anti-equality debates around the world, the call for greater transparency on the study's funding and design is understandable. That's what spurred the recent court order.
Ignoring those concerns, Richwine argued that those holding Regnerus accountable have embarked on a "witch hunt" (emphasis added):
Modern-day America is civilized in that, while we conduct plenty of witch hunts, we do at least stop right before the burning-at-the-stake part. That's progress! But it's not much consolation for Mark Regnerus, whose scholarly research questioning same-sex parenting has drawn a seemingly unprecedented level of ire from left-wing activists and their academic allies.
Jennifer Marshall and I detail here the furious reaction that Regnerus sparked, but suffice to say that it involved hysterical condemnations in the press, a frivolous "scientific misconduct" investigation conducted at the behest of a blogger (!), emotion-laden joint statements, evidence-free accusations of corruption on the part of the journal, and more.
Now the journal's editor will have his e-mails scrutinized for the slightest inappropriate thought. The point of all of this, of course, is to scare away scholars from conducting research that the Left doesn't like. This isn't a free-speech issue in the strict sense that the government is threatening to throw Regnerus in jail (or burn him at the stake), but the effect is the same: the silencing of unpopular ideas.
It's telling that rather engage with the substantive issues raised by the blogger (!) who flagged Witherspoon's role in shaping Regnerus' study, Richwine simply asserted -- falsely -- that critics' arguments were "evidence-free."