From Fred Phelps to Tony Perkins to Bryan Fischer to Rick Santorum to Rick Perry, “God hates fags” — the concept — is at the very heart and soul of the Religious Right.
Say what you will about the Westboro Baptist Church, at least they are straight forward about their argument. Fred Phelps doesn’t go around hiding his hateful message in code phrases such as “protecting marriage” or waste time talking about how his organization is only trying to defend “family values.” They cut straight to the point. God hates fags. Simple. Concise. It takes people like Tony Perkins the entirety of his Hardball segment to put a well honed shine on precisely the same message.
This nuance is the mark of a quality hate group. While it is impossible to take the Westboro Baptist Church seriously, organizations like Focus on the Family maintain their popular legitimacy by being sneakier about their hate. They operate through slander, and construct elaborate narratives designed to paint the LGBT community as sinister and depraved. It is important they not be seen as the mean spirited thugs they truly are, but as heroes, fighting on behalf of the Lord in the war on moral decay. Only then can their own motivations escape scrutiny.
But the work of fantasy creation is hard and perpetual. In order to create the monsters their campaign requires, they must always be super imposing their version of reality on the world. This effort is much like trying to blow up an inner-tube with a hole in it; it will only stay inflated for as long as someone is breathing hot air into it. Every mild-mannered same-sex couple who wishes only to adopt must be somehow transformed into dire threats to society. Every gender non-conforming teenager must be marginalized and painted as maladjusted threats to community tranquillity. Every moment must be tinted and reprogrammed to reflect their basic assertions. This is the job of people like Tony Perkins. He constructs the argument.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Gays shouldn’t be allowed to do [whatever the topic of discussion happens to be] because they have never been allowed to historically. It will lead to acceptance of the “homosexual lifestyle.” This acceptance will cause the destruction of society.
Why will not being awful to gay people destroy society?
Because homosexual behavior is immoral, and doing anything other than throwing rocks these degenerates amounts to willing support of immorality.
And why is this behavior immoral, and not just, you know, none of anyone’s business?
Because God says so, and don’t argue, because if you do, it means that you are discriminating against Christians, and our right to deprive people of their civil rights in accordance with Jewish laws written thousands of years ago. We believe it, so you have to too.
In summary, God hates fags.
Shockingly, some people require more proof than the biblical interpretations of Fred Phelps and Rick Santorum. After all, there is a vast portfolio of things that piss off God. The Bible takes a decidedly hard line on adultery for example, yet somehow Newt Gingrich’s propensity for double-booking his penis isn’t so much of a problem.
“Bearing False Witness” is also kind of a no-no, yet that doesn’t stop Rick Santorum from lying his ass off whenever the moment suits him. How are those on the fence supposed to understand how dangerous homosexuality really is? Can someone produce a little evidence of this homosexuality provoked global carnage?
Friends, this is where things get ugly.
Meet Bryan Fischer. Mr Fischer hosts a radio show, and has long worked with the American Family Association (SPLC-certified hate group) as Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy. Mr. Fischer was a massive Rick Perry supporter, and as part of the AFA helped sponsor Rick Perry’s prayer rally held back in August. He is also an AIDS denialist.
That’s right. AIDS Denialism is a thing. In America, AIDS denialism is the notion that rather than AIDS being caused by HIV, AIDS is instead brought on either by the “unhealthy nature” of homosexuality, or as punishment from God, or most probably, both. I’ll let Mr. Fischer explain. From The Huffington Post:
“The reason HIV was invented as the cause of AIDS is it was a way to get research money,” [Bryan] Fischer, who serves as Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA), said on his “Focal Point” radio show. “If AIDS is caused by behavior…there’s no money in that because you just tell people, ‘Hey, stop doing the behavior.’ So that’s why they have to find some bug that they can blame it on.”
I know. Shocking, right? What the hell is he talking about? HIV dosen’t cause AIDS? Since when? How on earth would this horrifying person justify such absurd nonsense? Further explanation can be found in this post from the AFA blog, in a post authored by Mr. Fischer.
Gays around the world have been all atwitter over my reporting on Peter Duesberg’s theory that HIV does not cause AIDS. Duesberg, who is a molecular biologist at UC Berkeley and one of the leading virologists in the world, argues, persuasively in my view, that HIV is a harmless passenger virus. (His credentials are impeccable: he isolated the first cancer gene in 1970, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986.)
The breakdown in the immune system, which gives AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) its name, is caused, in Duesberg’s scientific opinion, by the cumulative damage done to the human body primarily through the use of alkyl nitrites, or “poppers,” in the homosexual subculture. Inhaling nitrites heightens the sexual experience and makes it possible to engage in multiple sexual episodes in a matter of hours.
See how that works? Conservatives require “proof” that being gay is immoral and will lead to the destruction of society. AIDS has served as that proof. It is used as the great gay boogyman by those unscrupulous and shameless enough to resort to using it. People like Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield, who last week said:
It is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.
In other words, only filthy gay people get AIDS. Read David Badash’s superb take down of Stacey Campfield right here.
So who is this Peter Duesberg, scholar of the AIDS Denialism movement, the man who represents the cornerstone upon which the premise of AIDS denialism is based? Bryan Fischer is right. He does have outstanding credentials. He was in fact elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1986, and was really was the first person to isolate a Cancer Gene. All true.
Keep in mind though, it wasn’t until 1987 that he started talking about this nutty AIDS denialsm stuff, and it wasn’t exactly well received in the scientific community. Steven Epstein goes into this in some detail his his excellent book Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge.
I’m going to edit this down, as the section is quite long, but I encourage any of you interested to read the entire thing. It really is worth it.
…PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] was unlikely to be receptive to Duesberg’s views. Yet by virtue of having been inducted into the academy a few years earlier, Duesberg enjoyed a privilege unique in the world of scientific research: NAS members generally could publish in the Proceedings without submitting themselves to the rigors of formal, anonymous peer review.
[Chairman of the editorial board Igor Dawid] eventually surrendered to the inevitable. “At this state of protracted discussion I shall not insist here—if you wish to make these unsupported, vague, and prejudicial statements in print, so be it. But I cannot see how this could be convincing to any scientifically trained reader.” In truth, what Dawid may have failed to see was that Duesberg could later use the very fact of having been published in the Proceedings as capital to advance his position.
Which is exactly what he did. But perhaps this is just an example of the scientific community expressing resistance to an unpopular or controversial idea. I turn to this investigation by Science Magzine to do the heavy lifting here:
This investigation reveals that although the Berkeley virologist raises provocative questions, few researchers find his basic contention that HIV is not the cause of AIDS persuasive. Mainstream AIDS researchers argue that Duesberg’s arguments are constructed by selective reading of the scientific literature, dismissing evidence that contradicts his theses, requiring impossibly definitive proof, and dismissing outright studies marked by inconsequential weaknesses.
The main conclusions of Science’s investigation are that:
- In hemophiliacs (the group Duesberg acknowledges provides the best test case for the HIV hypothesis) there is abundant evidence that HIV causes disease and death.
- According to some AIDS researchers, HIV now fulfills the classic postulates of disease causation established by Robert Koch.
- The AIDS epidemic in Thailand, which Duesberg has cited as confirmation of his theories, seems instead to confirm the role of HIV.
- AZT and illicit drugs, which Duesberg argues can cause AIDS, don’t cause the immune deficiency characteristic of that disease.
In short, Peter Deusberg is completely full of shit. Not that it matters. Bryan Fischer has no interest in what is or isn’t true. He is interested only in advancing his view that homosexuals have brought AIDS on themselves. Only in this way can institutional mistreatment of the LGBT community be justified to the American people, religious or otherwise.
AIDS Denialism is monstrously dangerous, and displays a pathological lack of humanity. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa used the work of Peter Duesberg to justify his policy banning access to critical antiretroviral drugs, leading to around 343,000 preventable deaths and contributing the the unrestrained spread of the disease throughout the world. Countless millions of lives will in the end be impacted by these choices, justified by Peter Deusberg’s “unsupported, vague, and prejudicial statements.”
The view that AIDS results in the righteous deaths of immoral heathens can be traced all the way back to the source from which all the most lasting conservatives values stem: Ronald Reagan. In 1987 when after years of pretending that AIDS didn’t exist, and siting idly by while thousands of Americans died simply because he didn’t like homosexuals that much, Reagan finally managed to cough up this little nugget, at the announcement of his way-too-late initiative to fight the spreading epidemic.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, AIDS information can not be what some call ‘value neutral.’ After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don’t medicine and morality teach the same lessons.
What lessons would those be exactly? That homosexuals get what’s coming to them? The religious right has always seen AIDS as fitting punishment for the “sin” of homosexuality, and they will always resist giving up that notion, even if they have to distort scientific fact to do it, because for them, at the heart of it, God hates fags.
Image, top, by boris.rasin
Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.
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