There was a time when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was highly respected for its exposure of hate groups, such as those of the neo-Nazi and KKK brand. Today, however, it’s almost a badge of honor to get a place on the SPLC listing, be it as an official “hate” group or merely as an “anti-gay” group. After all, now that the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, the Family Research Council, Liberty Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Traditional Values Coalition qualify, it’s actually a little disconcerting to be left off the “anti-gay” list.
According to a recently released SPLC Intelligence Report (Winter 2010, Issue Number: 140), organizations are listed as hate (or, anti-gay) groups “based on their propagation of known falsehoods – claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities” and by their continuing “to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities.”
And what are these “known falsehoods . . . that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities”? According to an SPLC report entitled “10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked,” they include:
Same-sex parents harm children.
People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or there was a deficiency in sex-role modeling by their parents.
Hate crime laws will lead to the jailing of pastors who criticize homosexuality and the legalization of practices like bestiality and necrophilia.
Allowing homosexuals to serve openly would damage the armed forces.
(Some of the other “Anti-Gay Myths” are far more controversial, such as, “Homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped to orchestrate the Holocaust.”)
So, if you state that kids do best when raised by their mom and dad, you are propagating a known falsehood and are worthy of a place on the SPLC anti-gay list. If you agree with the many therapists and psychologists who argue that a child’s upbringing and early-life experiences play a major role in the development of his or her sexual orientation, you are propagating a known falsehood and are worthy of a place on the SPLC list.
The same is true if you claim that hate crime laws could lead to the arresting of pastors who criticize homosexuality (this has already happened in Sweden, England, Canada, and the United States), or if you argue that it would be detrimental to the military to have gays serving openly. Based on this “logic,” the SPLC would have to claim that many of the leaders of our Armed Forces, not to mention some of our most senior congressmen, are guilty of the “propagation of known falsehoods,” since they strongly oppose the repeal of DADT. Maybe the SPLC will next place the entire American military on their anti-gay list. Why not?
Another alleged myth that has been “thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities” is that “Homosexuals are more prone to be mentally ill and to abuse drugs and alcohol.” Yet the SPLC report actually acknowledges that “LGBT people suffer higher rates of anxiety, depression, and depression-related illnesses and behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse than the general population,” but blames it on homophobia. Of course!
Also singled out for disdain is the “known falsehood” that, “No one is born a homosexual,” yet in refuting this “myth,” the SPLC can only quote the American Psychological Association (APA) that “no evidence has emerged that would allow scientists to pinpoint the precise causes of sexual orientation.” In other words, we really don’t know exactly why people are gay. So much for science thoroughly discrediting the idea that no one is born homosexual!
The best that the SPLC could do to provide “the truth behind the propaganda” was quote the APA’s conclusion that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation,” which is a far cry from saying that someone is born homosexual. Perhaps lesbian journalist Camille Paglia should be added to the “anti-gay” list, since she famously wrote that, “No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous.”
The last alleged myth that is “debunked” in the SPLC article is that, “Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality,” yet there is substantial scientific evidence, not to mention abundant anecdotal evidence, that some people can and do leave homosexuality. It is positively chilling, however, to realize that those who make this claim are now guilty of “hate speech” and deemed to be spreading “demonizing propaganda.”
So then, rather than debunking anti-gay myths, the SPLC has debunked itself. Who can take them seriously anymore?
Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, “The Line of Fire,” and author of the forthcoming book A Queer Thing Happened to America
In response, New York Times columnist Frank Rich provided an editorial entitled “The Bigots’ Last Hoorah” declaring “the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.” Here’s a snippet:
Far from terrifying anyone, “Gathering Storm” has become, unsurprisingly, an Internet camp classic. On YouTube the original video must compete with countless homemade parodies it has inspired since first turning up some 10 days ago. None may top Stephen Colbert’s on Thursday night, in which lightning from “the homo storm” strikes an Arkansas teacher, turning him gay. A “New Jersey pastor” whose church has been “turned into an Abercrombie & Fitch” declares that he likes gay people, “but only as hilarious best friends in TV and movies.”
Yet easy to mock as “Gathering Storm” may be, it nonetheless bookmarks a historic turning point in the demise of America’s anti-gay movement.
What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead.
While it is hard to take Mr. Rich seriously when he describes a video such as Gathering Storm as “idiotic” (is childish name-calling now an acceptable form of journalism at the New York Times?), his declaration of the video’s “symbolic significance” bears consideration. Are we at a “historic turning point” in the fight over the redefinition of marriage? Are we who do not want to radically redefine marriage now “depopulated and isolated” (not to mention “brain-dead”)?
In some ways, it does seem that the tide is turning in favor of the gay activists, who it seems will not rest in their battle to gain societal sanctioning of their lifestyles. Even bans on same-sex marriage and gubernatorial vetoes are no longer enough to stop the redefinition of marriage in some states. Clearly, something more is needed, and the persistent pounding of the GLBT drum on this issue may in the end be enough to simply wear out the opposition’s drive to even care about the issue. As Kirk and Madsen put it in 1989’s After the Ball: “The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome.” Will the silent majority of Americans who do not want to redefine marriage, as well as those Rich so callously (and inaccurately) describes as “homophobic activis[ts]” in the “anti-gay movement,” be able to withstand this continued onslaught?
Good arguments and interesting videos, while needed, will be insufficient in this battle. The fight will continue on the legal and political fronts, as well it should, but the problems go deeper than law, and they transcend politics. In the end, we are in need of nothing less than divine visitation, resulting in changed hearts and lives. Rich may be overstating his case with his proclamations of the “anti-gay movement[‘s]” death, but his assessment of societal trends are not without merit. God is our only hope… He would not have it any other way.