Doctor Keith Ablow has declared war on the international, Italy-based clothier Benetton, and demands you do so too. The 46-year old company just unveiled its latest advertising campaign, ensconced within the brilliant UnHate Foundation, and offered to the world six images of world leaders kissing. Photoshopped, of course. But Ablow, who has railed against other clothing companies, like J. Crew, before, does not see a message of love, peace, or tolerance in these beautiful and, yes, shocking images. Dr. Ablow sees an assault on Western culture and civilization itself, and actually sees not only a promotion of homosexuality, but in these images below, he sees “tongues and genitals.”
If ever there were a Rorschach test for homophobic, bigoted, small-minded psychiatrists, these Benetton ads would be published in every mental health textbook.
“The only psychological interpretation of such ads that makes sense to me as a psychiatrist is that the corporate leaders at Benetton literally believe that homosexual sex between world leaders — or at least homosexuality, as an orientation — would lead to world peace,” Dr. Ablow writes in an offensive, anti-gay, anti-intelligence opinion piece at Fox News titled, “In Benetton’s World, Gay Sex Solves Everything.”
“They have tipped their collective hands as a company and indicted marital fidelity, faith and heterosexuality, labeling them the real sources of hatred and suffering around the globe,” Ablow rails. “In the collective mind of Benetton, if religious leaders and political figures would just have sex with one another all would be well.”
One cannot help but conjure up an image of Dr. Freud in Vienna and Dr. Ablow on his couch. Pity the timing’s all wrong.
Is it possible that Dr. Ablow, 49, who has offices in New York City and Massachusetts, is a New York Times best-selling author, graduated from Brown, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins, has a world view that is so small?
Benetton has 6000 stores in 120 countries, and only 61 stores in the U.S. That’s right. One percent of their stores are in America. Does Ablow really believe Benetton, known for decades for their socially-progressive advertising, really made those ads for America?
America is one of the few countries where people actually don’t kiss when they say hello. Who hasn’t seen the photos of former president George W. Bush kissing Arab leaders? When Dr. Ablow’s employer, Fox News, published those images, did Ablow scream that a “new movement of homoerotic Utopians … are telling us, homosexual sex is what matters … and so much of it, in such unrestrained fashion as to unite men from democracies with men from dictatorships, Catholic and Muslim leaders, black men and white men”? Because that’s what he wrote about these Benetton ads.
Did Ablow — who has compared transgender people to heroin addicts and anorexics, who has likened pedophilia to sexual orientation — upon seeing his beloved President Bush kissing a Saudi Prince, scream, “Our connections must be made man-to-man, with our tongues and genitals. That is the only road forward”?
Seriously, look at these images — which, by the way, include Angela Merkel kissingÂ Nicolas Sarkozy — and tell me you see genitals. Please, show me how bad my eyes are.
And isn’t it amusing that Dr. Ablow “forgot” to mention the Angela Merkel image, one of the six, in his anti-gay hate-filled screed? Given the number of female world leaders, I’d say Benetton got the ratio just about right.
What’s not right is Ablow’s thinly veiled suggestion that a homosexual political leader would be “a declaration of psychological warfare on religious tradition and cultural mores and one that elevates narcissism and sexual gratification above intelligence and leadership.”
Ablow’s religionÂ preaches love, andÂ demands he “turn the other cheek.”
But Ablow demands — demands! — that you see the “genitals!”Â Ablow demands — demands! — that you see the “wet kisses!”Â Ablow demands — demands! — that you see the “homosexual sex!”Â Ablow demands — demands! — that you see these leaders “erotically kissing!”
And Ablow demands that you see his belief – just as he demanded you see his belief that if your children saw Chaz Bono they could become transgender –that you have been attacked.
“I have been asked, why are people so outraged by these images? What is the psychological reason? The reason is simply this: Human beings still know, thank God, when they have been attacked for who they are.”
Sometimes, Dr. Ablow, just as the quote mis-attributed to Freud says, a cigar is just a cigar — and a kiss is just a kiss.
Ablow leaves his readers with this, perhaps one of the greatest pieces of evidence of malpractice — journalistic, if not medical:
“If you are heterosexual, if you are a leader who believes your position demands decorum, if you are a person of substance who believes you should be valued for your mind, not just your sexuality, if you think that countries and religion deserve respect, not ridicule, you were attacked today by Benetton. You felt it. And you shouldn’t be talked out of your outrage.”
And no doubt, Dr. Ablow is willing to not talk you out of your outrage, for several hundred of dollars an hour, in one of his beautiful Manhattan or Massachusetts offices.
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On World AIDS Day, DOJ Says Tennessee Law Discriminates Against Those With HIV
The Department of Justice celebrated World AIDS Day by calling out a Tennessee law that discriminates against people with HIV.
The DOJ released a report Friday that the state’s aggravated prostitution law violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. A person arrested under the aggravated prostitution law is normally changed with a misdemeanor, and faces up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. However, if the person arrested has HIV, the crime becomes a felony, and if they’re convicted, they would face between three and 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law is outdated, has no basis in science, discourages testing and further marginalizes people living with HIV,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “People living with HIV should not be treated as violent sex offenders for the rest of their lives solely because of their HIV status. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination.”
The law was originally passed in 1991. It classifies HIV-positive sex workers as violent sex offenders, according to WKRN-TV. This means that in addition to the sentence, those convicted are put on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, usually for the rest of their lives.
The DOJ advised the state—and particularly, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which enforces the statute most frequently, the department says—to stop enforcing the law. It also calls on the state to repeal the law and remove anyone from the registry when aggravated prostitution is the only offense. If this doesn’t happen, Tennessee could face a lawsuit.
Tennessee isn’t the only state to have laws applying to only those living with HIV. In 1988, Michigan passed a law requiring those with HIV to disclose their status before sex, according to WLNS-TV. The law is still on the books, but was updated in 2019 to lift the requirement if the HIV-positive person has an undetectable viral load. The law now also requires proof that the person set out to transmit HIV.
Laws like these can work against public health efforts, according to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH says these types of laws can make people less likely to be tested for HIV, as people cannot be punished if they didn’t know their status. In addition, critics say, the laws can be used to further discriminate. A Canadian study found a disproportionate number of Black men had been charged under HIV exposure laws.
World AIDS Day was first launched in 1988 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations to highlight awareness of the then-relatively new disease. The theme of the 2023 World AIDS Day is “Let Communities Lead,” calling on community leaders to end the AIDS epidemic.
Featured image by UNIS Vienna/Flickr via Creative Commons License.
John Fetterman Says Bob Menendez ‘Senator for Egypt,’ Should Be Expelled Next
Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) called Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) a “senator for Egypt,” and said he needed to be expelled from Congress, much like the now-former Representative George Santos.
Fetterman appeared on The View on Friday. The live broadcast aired as Santos had been kicked out of the House. When host Joy Behar asked what he thought of the vote, Fetterman immediately replied, “I’m not surprised.”
“If you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate? And, you know, Santos’ kind of lies were almost, you know, funny,” Fetterman said. “Menendez, I think is really a senator for Egypt, you know, not New Jersey. So I really think he needs to go.”
Host Sunny Hostin then asked if Fetterman was uncomfortable with expelling Menendez, as, like with Santos, he had only been indicted, not convicted.
“He has the right for his day in court and all of it, but he doesn’t have the right to to have those kinds of votes and things. That’s not a right,” he said. “I think we need to make that kind of decision to send him out.”
This September, Menendez was indicted on corruption charges. He is accused of accepting bribes of cash, gold and a car, as well as giving “highly sensitive” information about U.S. Embassy staffers in Cairo to the Egyptian government, according to USA Today. Menendez was forced to step down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was replaced by Ben Cardin, Maryland’s Democratic senator.
Menendez denied wrongdoing, and has refused to resign, despite many calls to do so from both Democrats and Republicans.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” Menendez said in a statement following his indictment. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”
This is not Menendez’s first brush with the law. Menendez was indicted in 2015 on federal corruption charges. He was accused of helping Salomon Melgen, one of Menendez’s campaign contributors, by intervening in a dispute with federal regulators and helping Melgen get a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.
In 2017, Menendez’s trial ended with a hung jury, and the Department of Justice declined to retry the case, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Menendez denied all wrongdoing.
House Votes to Boot George Santos 311-114
Representative George Santos (R-NY) has been expelled from Congress following a 311-114 vote; two House members voted “present.”
The expulsion of Santos follows a debate on his fate on Thursday. The vote required a two-thirds majority, or 290 of the 435-seat chamber. This is Santos’ third vote of expulsion; last month, a vote failed with 31 Democrats voting against, according to The Hill.
While the vote was decisive, some notable Republicans voted to save Santos, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN).
“We’ve not whipped the vote and we wouldn’t,” Johnson told CNN Wednesday. “I trust that people will make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Santos himself had harsh words for the House following the vote. Leaving the capitol building, he briefly spoke with reporters.
“The House spoke that’s their vote. They just set new dangerous precedent for themselves,” he told CNN. “Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place.”
He then cut his time short, telling reporters, “You know what? As unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions.”
Santos also faces 23 federal charges, which include fraud, money laundering and misuse of campaign funds, according to CNN. He has pleaded not guilty. An Ethics Committee report found evidence that Santos used campaign funds for Botox and even an OnlyFans account.
On Thursday, Santos said he refused to resign because otherwise, “they win.”
“If I leave the bullies take place. This is bullying,” Santos said. “The reality of it is it’s all theater, theater for the cameras and theater for the microphones. Theater for the American people at the expense of the American people because no real work’s getting done.”
Santos also threatened to file a resolution to expel Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Bowman pulled a fire alarm in September. Bowman pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and said it was an accident. He said he thought the fire alarm would open a locked door as he rushed to a vote. Bowman paid a $1,000 fine.
There have only been six total expulsions from the House, including Santos. Santos is the only Republican to ever be expelled from the House.
The previous expulsion was in 2002, when Representative James Traficant (D-OH) was expelled after a 420-1 vote. Traficant had been convicted on 10 counts of corruption-related crimes.
Before Traficant, Representative Michael “Ozzie” Myers (D-PA) was the first representative of the modern era to be expelled. Myers got the boot following his conviction for accepting bribes. Myers couldn’t keep out of trouble; in 2022, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of election fraud.
Prior to Myers, the only expulsions from the House were in 1861, at the start of the Civil War. Henry Cornelius Burnett (D-KY), John William Reid (D-MO) and John Bullock Clark (Whig-MO) were all expelled for joining the Confederacy.
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