Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Family Research Council, Hate & A Shooting

This morning, a fellow identified as Floyd Corkins entered the Washington D.C. offices of the Family Research Council with a gun and a lot of ill-intent. He fought with and wounded a security guard before being subdued. Early reports identify Corkins as a volunteer at the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and--fill in the usual caveats about jumping the gun here--it seems likely his actions were politically motivated, a terrorist strike against the organization.

On its "about" page, the Family Research Council (FRC) describes itself as "the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power." Sounds rather innocuous. Why would anyone want to strike at that?

Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that the FRC has spent decades portraying homosexuals as predatory pedophiles. Those at FRC say things like this:

"One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order."

That's a quote from an FRC pamphlet from 1999. Its title: "Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys." And there's things like this:

"Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement."

That's from 'Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia," a screed authored by Frank York (of Focus on the Family) and Robert Knight, FRC Director of Cultural Studies, and published by the FRC in 1999. Current FRC president Tony Perkins tells the same tale.[1] From 2010:

"While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two... It is a homosexual problem."

Knight, in his decade at FRC, wrote numerous anti-gay tracts for the organization and employed, as source-material, the work of Paul Cameron of the Family Research Institute. Cameron's "research" portrays homosexuals as subhuman disease-pits who enjoy pedophilia, eating and wallowing in shit, putting gerbils up their asses and who have hundreds and even thousands of sexual partners per year and die at a young age. Such "research" led to Cameron's expulsion from the American Psychological Association and his consistent misrepresentation of scientific data has acquired for him a long list of condemnations from various professional associations over the years. His work has absolutely no scientific validity but it has the one ingredient most important to the FRC.

To hear the FRC's Steven Schwalm tell it, gays stand opposed to everything good and decent in the world:

"Militant homosexuality is fundamentally opposed to religion, family, and anything that presupposes a natural moral order, a transcendent God, or something else higher than ourselves... They are totalitarians who accuse everyone that disagrees with them of 'hatred'... They mock our religious symbols, deride our beliefs, and even desecrate our churches and sacraments."

Indeed, the FRC has even compared gays--even gay Christians--to Satanists. In 1997, when President Clinton held an ecumenical breakfast at the White House, merely inviting one gay minister among the 120 religious leaders taking part in it made then-FRC president Gary Bauer go ballistic:

"We are witnessing the Administration's moral meltdown. What's next? A memorial to Church of Satan founder Anton LeVay?"

The FRC's Peter Sprigg, writing in 2010, asserted that "homosexual behavior is directly associated with higher rates of promiscuity, physical disease, mental illness, substance abuse, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence..."

The FRC has made it very clear that, in its view, American citizens who are homosexuals are to be allowed absolutely no part in public life. In 1999, when Bill Clinton nominated James Hormel, a homosexual, to be U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, Schwalm was, of course, furiously opposed:

"This is about the basic issue of civilization. We think his agenda represents a clear and present danger to our country."

His "agenda," of course, being merely that he is gay. When, a few years after Hormel, the new President, George Bush the junior, nominated a gay man to run the Office of National AIDS Policy,

"The Family Research Council's Richard Lessner called the nomination 'troubling and regrettable' and argues it is 'inconsistent with values that the president maintains he stands for.'"

And so on. The FRC has consistently opposed any appointment of homosexuals to any government posts and, of course, has a decades-long record of advocacy for throwing homosexuals out of the military.

After the AIDS office appointment, then-FRC president Ken Connor offered a look into the minds of those at the FRC when he sent to his minions an ugly message in which he trashes Bush as one whose actions "advance the homosexual agenda." How, you may ask, did the uber-conservative Bush do this terrible thing? In Connor's telling, he appointed three gay fellows to minor government posts, once met with a gay Republican group, once allowed a gay Republican congressman to speak at the Republican convention and appointed, as ambassador to Canada, a fellow who says he supports gay rights. As Connor, sees it, even just talking to homosexuals or listening to them is an offense and merely suggesting they shouldn't face legal persecution joins homosexuality itself as a sufficiently serious offense that those who commit it are to be blacklisted from government service.

Any place for gays in the private sector?

Businesses and organizations stand condemned by the FRC for anything other than the sternest opposition to homosexuality. In June, when the Republican National Committee hired a gay man to work on their finance committee, it drew a furious objection from the FRC. In the '90s, when American Airlines adopted a policy of non-discrimination against homosexuals, then-FRC president Gary Bauer condemned this as "open endorsement of sexual behavior that has been universally discouraged because it is immoral, unhealthy and destructive to individuals, families and societies." Target's support of a gay rights group put the company in the FRC's crosshairs; the same thing happened with McDonald's.

Does the FRC think homosexuals have any place in life at all?

The org has, for years, pimped the line that homosexuals are mentally deranged people who can be "cured" via "reparative therapy"--junk "science" that is psychologically harmful to its victims and to which the FRC clings despite the fact that it is soundly rejected by the professional scientific community. Like Cameron's "research" though, it has the one and only ingredient that matters to the FRC.[2]

The FRC also has a long record of advocacy for criminalizing homosexuality. In 2003, a case went before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Texas' anti-sodomy law. A man had been arrested and criminally sanctioned for having consensual sex with another man in the privacy of his own home. Those at FRC filed a brief on behalf of upholding the law, and were, of course, very publicly outraged when the court struck it down. In 2010, the FRC's Sprigg appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball" program and reaffirmed FRC support for criminalizing homosexuality. Sprigg has also suggested homosexuals be deported, and refused entry into the United States.[3] In June, the FRC issued a prayer target list that condemned the Obama administration for working to overturn anti-gay laws abroad, some of which send gays to prison for years upon conviction--the document asked FRC's followers to pray that their god restrains the Obama administration from these activities.

When, in 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student whose only "crime" was being gay, was accosted, tortured and murdered by anti-gay thugs in Laramie, Wyoming, it was suggested by those with some grasp of rudimentary logic that perhaps the virulent anti-gay sentiment emanating from elements of the far right may have helped create the atmosphere and attitudes that led to this sort of thing. The FRC's Heather Farish was having none of that:

"Farish vehemently rejects such allegations. 'Don't blame AA because a drunk was beat up,' she said."

In the face of a sudden spate of teen suicides linked to anti-gay bullying, Perkins, in 2010, hacked out an article in which he forthrightly rejected the notion that those who rail against homosexuality--people like himself--have any responsibility for teens hounded to an early grave by self-righteous bigots. Rather, he laid the blame for the suicides at the feet of gay rights organizations:

"Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal--yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are "born gay" and can never change. This--and not society's disapproval--may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide."[4]

In 2010, legislators in Uganda, spurred by far-right activists from the U.S., crafted a now-infamous bill that would have imposed the death penalty on homosexuals. If that wasn't extreme enough, it also provided that one can be sent to prison for up to 3 years merely for failing to report a homosexual act within 24 hours and any repeat of that crime of failure to report also subjects one to the death penalty. But when it comes to homosexuals, it seems nothing is too extreme for FRC chief Perkins, who, in June 2010, championed this bill on his weekly radio alert, grossly misrepresenting it in order to sell it. President Obama had just publicly condemned the bill, remarks Perkins characterized as demonstrating "his preoccupation with defending homosexuality." He continued:

"The President criticized Ugandan leaders for considering enhanced penalties for crimes related to homosexuality. The press has widely mischaracterized the law which calls for the death penalty, not for homosexual behavior which is already a crime, but for acts such as intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS, or preying upon vulnerable individuals such as children, which has been a problem in Uganda for years because the large number of orphans. The President said that 'We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are.' Mr. President as long as you characterize efforts to uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable, as attacking people, civility will continue to evade us."

The notion that the bill only offers "enhanced penalties" for "intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS" or for pedophiles is a lie offered by its stateside defenders such as Accuracy In Media (a pro-fascist organization).  When the U.S. Congress took up consideration of a resolution condemning the proposed Ugandan legislation, the FRC spent $25,000 lobbying congress to, in its words, "remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right."

That's the Family Research Council. For every item I've mentioned here, there are hundreds of others of the same character--the story has always been the same.[5] The org has spent decades purveying demonstrably false propaganda portraying homosexuals as subhuman degenerates, predatory pedophiles out to get your children, anti-family, anti-religious, disease-ridden junkie militants who live short, depressed lives, mentally deranged people who can be "cured," who, as homosexuals, have no place in society. People who should be made illegal, both at home and abroad, perhaps even killed. This is why the Southern Poverty Law Center has correctly labeled the FRC a "hate group".

This, on the other hand, is the characterization of the org offered by Kathleen Gilbert, writing over at the conservative LifeSiteNews today:

"The people at Family Research Council hate no one, and are the kindest people you will ever meet."

Her article is, I suspect, going to be typical of the right-wing response to today's shooting. A narrative will emerge that those at FRC don't hate anyone. They're just all about good, wholesome Christian values and their problem is that they've been victimized by those mean ol' queers and those mean ol' liberals who hate on them so much for no good reason and whose hatred finally drove one of their own to want to shoot up the good, inoffensive people of the FRC. The far right will try to use this narrative against the FRC's critics, as, indeed, that's the only reason it's being crafted in the first place. The worst of them will barely be able to contain their glee at this rarest of birds, a left-wing terrorist incident inside the U.S. There will be no self-evaluation, no suggestion that the FRC's own activities may have provoked the incident, no consideration that perhaps this sort of hate propaganda needs to be dialed back and there will be no pause--those activities will continue unabated.

As I write these words, it's already going on. While 27 LGBT orgs immediately condemned today's violence, the far right has rushed to play the victim, craft their narrative of persecution, and wallow in it, while demanding the FRC's critics shut up and go away.

I have a better idea. And you've just read it.



[1] Tony Perkins has a checkered history. As manager of Republican Woody Jenkins unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 1996, he ponied up nearly $100,000 to get access to the mailing list of former KKK leader David Duke, later filing false disclosure forms to conceal the source of the list. In 2001, he gave a speech to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a virulently racist group that, as the White Citizens Councils, had fought racial integration in the '60s.

[2] Following FRC tradition, Peter Sprigg, currently "Senior Fellow For Policy Studies" at the FRC, has quite a history of distorting and misrepresenting legitimate research to serve anti-gay ends. At FRC, honesty and accuracy consistently take a back seat to bigotry.

[3] "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."

[4] Sprigg has pimped this same line: "The most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a 'positive social environment' for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."

[5] And the FRC's targets are much more numerous than just homosexuals. Jerry Boykin, the FRC's current vice president, has said Islam is "a totalitarian way of life" that "should not be protected under the First Amendment," and has suggested Barack Obama may be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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