By Rebecca Juro
Originally published on Advocate.com June 06 2014 1:15 PM ET
Nancy Grace put her misunderstanding of history on display in a recent segment on CNN’s HLN channel, when she claimed that noted antigay activist Anita Bryant was just a sweet, mild-mannered gospel singer and orange juice pitchwoman, unfairly “stalked” by gay activist Thom Higgins, who famously threw a pie in Bryant's face.
In a May 29 report on Brad Pitt's stalker, Grace’s guest, psychologist Bethany Marshall, defined stalking as the behavior of someone seeking agency over the lives of celebrities. That prompted Grace (watch below) to use the pie attack on Bryant as an example of a similarly motivated attack. Grace’s reasoning completely ignored the political context of the pie attack in light of Bryant’s well-known antigay views.
“Do you remember Anita Bryant? Anita Bryant was a religious singer,” said Grace. “I think she represented the orange industry. She had a lot of conservative views, but she had this beautiful voice, and she was everywhere, singing all the time. A lot of times it was Christian inspirational music. I still remember when I was a little girl and somebody came up and did this to her in public. I mean, she was speaking on some issue dear to her heart. ... Why would you do this to a sweet lady — whether you agree with her politics or not?”
That issue, of course, was homosexuality. Bryant had been on a public crusade against homosexuality before the pie attack, launching the “Save Our Children” campaign in Miami-Dade County, Fla., and regularly making hateful and unsupported statements about homosexuality and gay people in the media. Bryant was on record claiming that “if gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail-biters.” As one of the first to popularize the false connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, Bryant also said, “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”
Reaction to Grace’s historical rewrite came swiftly from gay activists and commentators, including a scathing takedown by Huffington Post blogger Domenick Scudera that details the myriad of differences between the two attackers and the contexts in which the attacks took place.