Thursday, July 09, 2009

Stance against hate crimes legislation reveals lack of honesty, integrity

According to my favorite phony publication, One News Now, religious right groups today urged their supporters to call, email, or write their Senators and urge them to vote against adding new categories to national hate crimes legislation:

The American Family Association, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and other conservative activist groups are urging their supporters to call, e-mail, fax, or visit their senators today to express their disapproval of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Senate Bill 909). The bill would authorize the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute certain bias-motivated crimes based on the victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., a member of the conservative coalition known as the Arlington Group, says the measure would have a chilling effect on the religious liberty of pastors.

"Back in 2006, [Democratic Representative] Artur Davis from Alabama, who will be running for governor by the way in that great state, made a statement to [Representative] Louie Gohmert [R-Texas] in a [House] subcommittee meeting that a pastor could be held liable or [as] a co-conspirator of sorts in a hate crime if we found out that his preaching and teaching incited -- according to their thinking -- someone to commit a violent act against someone that is gay," Jackson explains.

This entire push against adding sexual orientation (because that's what is getting the religious right up in arms) to existing hate crimes legislation reveals the abject dishonesty of religious right groups.

They have careened from one argument to another in their attempts to kill this bill. From inaccurately saying that it will protect nasty sexual behavior to claiming that it will keep pedophiles who molest children from going to jail, this entire controversy has been a window into the mindsets of some so-called Christians, revealing just how low they will stoop in the name of God.

While they claim that adding sexual orientation to hate crimes legislation will cause mere speech to be punished, not one of them from Harry Jackson to Tony Perkins to James Dobson has said a word about eliminating existing hate crimes legislation altogether; especially the statue that punishes crimes committed on the basis of religion.

And they refuse to acknowledge that heterosexuals are also protected under the sexual orientation addition.

But what's more interesting is that statement by Jackson:

"Back in 2006, [Democratic Representative] Artur Davis from Alabama, who will be running for governor by the way in that great state, made a statement to [Representative] Louie Gohmert [R-Texas] in a [House] subcommittee meeting that a pastor could be held liable or [as] a co-conspirator of sorts in a hate crime if we found out that his preaching and teaching incited -- according to their thinking -- someone to commit a violent act against someone that is gay,"

First of all to be exact, Jackson is inaccurate about the year in which the exchange took place. It was in 2007.

And what is wrong with a pastor being charged if his preaching and teaching incited someone to violence? The devil, as they say, is in the details.

Seems to me if a pastor actually tells someone to go out and harm an lgbt or anyone else via teaching or preaching, then the pastor should be charged with a crime.

And that pastor would be charged with a crime even if hate crimes legislation did not exist.

But a good question would be what if the pastor merely said that homosexuality is a sin and someone took that as a statement telling him to harm an lgbt?

That would be a problem except for an action committed by Rep. Davis during the hearing; an action that Jackson omitted bringing up. According to the webpage, Religious Tolerance:

Artur Davis (D-AL), a co-sponsor of the bill, offered a change that clarified that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech would not be affected by the bill. That is, pastors and other Christians who denigrate homosexuals (or women or the disabled, etc) need not fear being charged with conspiracy if a someone is motivated by the speech to commit a violent act. The amendment reads:

"Sec. 8: Rule of Construction:
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Which means the concern about a minister getting arrested for merely preaching that homosexuality is a sin is a smokescreen. It was a smokescreen in 2007 and it is one now.

Or in other words, a cynical lie thought up by a group determined to destroy a bill.

I never knew that Jesus told us to tell lies. Jackson and company must have a new translation of the Bible. I knew they would flip after they discovered that the King James version was offered by a gay man.

Other posts on hate crimes legislation:

Hate crimes legislation makes Doug Giles lose his mind

SC gay groups organizing response to DeMint letter

Tell Senator DeMint to stop lying about hate crimes legislation

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Snappy comebacks to stupid religious right talking points and Thursday midday news briefs

Just because I feel like it, I will now introduce an every-now-and-then new feature on this blog:

Snappy comebacks to stupid religious right talking points

Don't you just hate it when the religious right tries to condense the complexities of sexual orientation to stupid talking points that totally mischaracterize the entire argument?

For example:

Religious right talking point - "You can't compare being black to being gay because there are no ex-African-Americans but there are plenty of ex-gays."

Try this answer:

Answer - "Just as some blacks have tried to pass for white in the past due to their light skin tone, some gays try to pass for heterosexual. And history has shown us that neither attempt to hide who you are is, in the long run, successful."

Now on to news briefs:

"Madea" Actor/Singer Terrell Carter Outed by Ex-Boyfriend - Speaking of which . . .

Gay couple 'backed out of foster plans after negative media coverage' - On one hand, this isn't good because I'm sure they would have made a very good home for the child. But on the other, so much for the stupid notion of gays pursuing adoption for selfish reasons. They obviously thought of the child's needs first.

NARTH: Rubbish in the Guise of Research - More details about that fradulent NARTH study.

Video: If credibility began and ended at FOF's front door, then vids like this might help - Perfect example of the religious right echo chamber. NARTH creates a fradulent study and Focus on the Family pushes it as legitimate.

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Researchers complain about religious right distortion of their work

While we are grousing about marriage equality rights, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and hate crimes legislation, a story has been slipping through our fingers.

Well to be honest, it's not necessarily a story that has sprung up suddenly but rather quietly crept on us through the years.

There has been a steady number of complaints from researchers and medical professionals as to how their work is distorted by the religious right.

The lastest complaint comes via Truth Wins Out from three researchers who have complained as to how Focus on the Family misused their work to claim that there is a link between child sexual abuse and homosexuality:

In the article, “Childhood Sexual Abuse and Male Homosexuality”, (Focus on the Family's Jeff)Johnston wrote, “Many pro-gay researchers, activists and theorists deny that there could be a connection between child sexual abuse and adult homosexuality.” As proof of a supposed connection, he cited a 2008 book, “Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States”, edited by Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri.

When approached by Truth Wins Out, the researchers were surprised by the manipulation of their data and agreed to respond.

“We want to respond to a recent Focus on the Family characterization of scientific findings reported in our book, ‘Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States’ that misrepresented findings in the book to suggest that childhood sexual abuse causes male homosexuality,” Stall and Valdiseri wrote in their letter. “The Focus on the Family description of the findings reported in Unequal Opportunity is inaccurate and, in our opinion, a distortion of the scientific literature.”

According to Truth Wins Out, this complaint is the 10th one in two years. Others include:

Dr. Lisa Diamond - University of Utah, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Dr. Carol Gilligan - Professor of education and law at New York University and author of In a Different Voice

Angela Phillips - Professor, Goldsmiths College in London, and Author of “The Trouble With Boys”

Dr. Kyle Pruett - Professor of child psychiatry, the Yale University School of Medicine, and author of Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child.

Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc - Associate professor, school of nursing, University of British Columbia

Dr. Robert Spitzer - Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University

Dr. Judith Stacy - Professor of sociology, New York University

And it goes farther back than that:

A. Nicholas Groth - Groth complained twice (1984, 2002) about how his work was unfairly used by first Paul Cameron and then the Family Research Council to make a connection between pedophilia and homosexuality. (Editor's note - one of the links - the 2002 letter courtesy of HRC - isn't working. But I have a printed copy of the original webpage).

Robert Garofalo - The Massachusetts pediatrician who 1998 complained that Concerned Women for America and other religious right groups were distorting his work to claim that the lgbt orientation is indicative of unhealthy behaviors. (Boston doctor says ads distorted his work on gays, The Boston Globe, August 4, 1998).

Joanne Hall, Ph.D. - University of Tennessee’s College of Nursing Professor who complained how the religious right distorted a Nursing Research article she wrote to claim that all lesbians have a serious problem with drug abuse.

And last but least, my favorite (because I've referenced it so many times):

Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter - Six Canadian researchers behind a 1997 study consistently misused by the religious right to claim that "homosexual behavior takes 20 years off of your life."

In 2001 the researchers said that their work was being distorted and yet the 1997 study continues to consistently be misused.

So counting Truth Wins Out's 10 and the four I have dug up, that's 14 complaints of misusage of scientific research by the religious right.

How many more are needed before some serious snooping is done in this situation?

Maybe if Perez Hilton put it on his page, then perhaps The Advocate would devote a cover story to the subject.

Who knows?

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