Out in far-right media land, there's a whole lotta homophobia going on.
Yes, in the past week, there's been some gloating about the Republican victory in the Georgia special congressional election, some speculation about whether Democrats will get rid of Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader, and some joy being taken, especially by Breitbart, in CNN's retraction of a story implicating a friend of Donald Trump's in Russian meddling with the U.S. presidential election. (In our opinion, any inaccurate reporting by CNN pales in comparison with the lies that have been told by Trump, documented here by The New York Times.)
But what really stands out on extreme right-wing sites are several virulently anti-LGBT columns, some in response to court cases, and one taking notice of The Advocate's monitoring of these sites, which is something we do so you don't have to. Glad to know we're being read.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear an appeal from a baker who was found to have violated Colorado's antidiscrimination law by refusing to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., argues that his First Amendment rights to religious liberty and freedom of expression override the Colorado law. David Mullins, one member of the couple who brought the case against Phillips, told the Times it "has always been about more than a cake" and that "businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love."
Todd Starnes, who posts columns at his own site as well as Townhall and other outlets, wrote Monday that the issue is "Can the government coerce a person to create artistic expression that communicates a message with which he fundamentally disagrees?" Well, actually, it's more like "Can a business that is open to the public reject certain customers for an arbitrary and discriminatory reason?" But according to Starnes, Phillips is a Christian martyr.
"And there are many other Christians across the fruited plain who are suffering much like Jack Phillips has suffered -- simply for following the teachings of Jesus Christ," he wrote. While Bible scholars often parse what statements can accurately be attributed to Jesus, it's pretty widely acknowledged that he is not credited with saying anything about same-sex marriage, or about homosexuality in general. He is, however, quoted as saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Starnes closed with a variation on German clergyman Martin Niemoller's famous poem about the Holocaust, "First They Came." "First, the LGBT activists came for the flower shops and the photographers," Starnes wrote. "Then, they came for the bakers. And unless we draw a line in the sand, they may one day come for you and your business." Way to go over the top, Todd.
In light of last week's ruling in which a federal appeals court let Mississippi's "license to discriminate" law take effect,World Net Daily contributor Rita Dunaway defended such laws. "To hear opponents tell it, one would think that the law was some kind of attack on the LGBT population," she wrote. "But, in fact, it simply provides breathing room for people of faith who have been besieged by militant sexuality activists determined to ruin anyone who doesn't cater to their sexual ethics."
In addition to mentioning florists, bakers, and others who provide wedding-related services, she threw in an example that doesn't really apply. "Does anyone really want to live in a country where a church can be prosecuted for refusing to rent its building for a ceremony that violates the church's teachings?" she asked. But no one is forcing a church to allow anything that goes against its doctrine. Church leaders can pick and choose who can get married in their houses of worship -- the First Amendment to the Constitution takes care of that.
She also contended that a business turning away a same-sex couple is nothing like, say, a white-owned restaurant refusing to serve black customers -- something that happened a lot in the bad old days. "I know of no religious tenet that declares it wrong or immoral to be a particular race," she wrote. But in reality, not so long ago, some churches declared interracial marriages to be against God's plan for humanity. And the Mormon Church excluded blacks from its priesthood for over a century, while the Southern Baptist denomination was founded in support of slavery. So there's been much use of religion to justify racism (not to mention misogyny, as those two denominations still don't allow women clergy); faith-based homophobia is just another variation on this theme.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins also defended the Mississippi law, in a column posted at BarbWire. "Under H.B. 1523, no one is allowed to 'discriminate' -- not against same-sex couples and not against Christians," he wrote. "All the law does is ensure that the government can't punish someone for their natural views on marriage or sexuality. There's no fine print giving people the right to deny services, despite the Left's bogus propaganda."
The "no fine print" is the only part of that statement that's true -- the print is the same size as the rest of the legislation. The text of House Bill 1523, as signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant, says the state cannot take "discriminatory action" against anyone refusing to provide services if that refusal is based on "a sincerely held religious conviction or moral belief" that marriage is only between a man and a woman, that sexual relations are appropriate only in such a marriage, and that gender is fixed at birth. The same goes for refusals to employ certain people or rent to them. Pants on fire, Tony.
Speaking of BarbWire, one of its contributors has been reading this column. Julio Severo even played off the title of one of our recent entries; his column is headlined "Reading the Far Left and Its Attack on Breitbart and BarbWire: Gay Perversion, Veiled and Overt." The illustration was a rainbow flag with a hammer and sickle -- for you youngsters out there, the hammer and sickle were on the flag of the former Soviet Union. Nice touch, BarbWire!
Severo noted that we took issue with a Breitbart column that essentially said the LGBT movement used to be OK but has now gone too far left. We expressed a doubt that Breitbart writer Joel B. Pollak would ever actually have supported LGBT rights, but Severo contended that Breitbart cannot truly be conservative because it once employed Milo Yiannapoulos, a gay man.
"Genuine U.S. conservatism, especially evangelical conservatism (which is the most prevalent Christian conservatism in America), sees nothing conservative in homosexuality," Severo wrote. However, the reason Yiannopoulos found fans at Breitbart was most likely his willingness to at least appeal to racism, transphobia, and other prejudices that are rejected by both liberals and mainstream conservatives. He went too far by appearing to endorse relationships between men and teenage boys, though, leading to the loss of his job as Breitbart tech editor.
Severo went on to defend a BarbWire column The Advocate found objectionable because the author, Robert Oscar Lopez, claimed LGBT people are out to "recruit" children. "The homosexual movement is always preying on children," Severo asserted. He further defended anti-LGBT columns by himself and other BarbWire contributors, and said Christian churches that accept LGBT people are driven by Satan. Mr. Severo, you're free to believe that. We're also free to provide the service of telling LGBT people what they're up against.
And we have a problem with some of his outright untruths, such as repeating Scott Lively's canard that Adolf Hitler and his top lieutenants were gay (in actuality, they persecuted and killed gay people), and his conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia. Oh, and also for saying that The Advocate condemned conservative outlets for reporting that the man who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year was a Muslim who expressed sympathies for ISIS. No, we reported that too -- we even have extensively analyzed the shooter's motives. We do not hesitate to condemn any violence based in religious fanaticism. However, we do not condemn the religion itself, be it Islam, Christianity, or anything else. And we did note that some conservative sites were unwilling to address the role that easy availability of military-style weapons played in the shooting.
Meanwhile at Breitbart, which does sometimes avoid overt anti-LGBT sentiments, there was a column the other day taking Hans Klemm, the Obama-appointed and still-serving U.S. ambassador to Romania, to task for advocating marriage equality in the nation. "Klemm's overt advocacy of gay marriage has met with backlash in the conservative country, and the ambassador has been criticized for abusing his position to meddle in the internal affairs of the nation," Thomas D. Williams wrote. In Romania, he noted, "a proposed referendum would enshrine the traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the national constitution."
He went on to quote a prominent Romanian journalist who said Klemm "violated diplomatic norms" by his actions. Williams also found some sources willing to accuse Obama of "cultural imperialism" by promoting LGBT rights in African nations.
The latter argument rings rather hollow -- cultures can and do change. And we're no experts on diplomatic norms, but we can imagine LGBT Romanians are grateful for Klemm's support -- just as LGBT Africans likely appreciated Obama's.
Now, after all that anti-LGBT rhetoric, a palate cleanser to provide some laughs: Townhall carried a column by Rachel Alexander headlined "The Genius of Trump's Tweets."
"Trump's advisers continue to pressure him to stop tweeting," she wrote. "They are concerned that without a filter, he may tweet something reckless that could harm him. But so far he's tweeted several things that critics contend were terrible -- yet they bounced right off of him. ... Critics are exaggerating the negative aspects of his tweets. But the public has the ability to read his tweets unfiltered and can see through the spin. Additionally, it helps that Trump is funny. He's spent years in entertainment and knows how to drop clever one-liners. He keeps people engaged and coming back."
This is hilarious stuff -- even more so because recent audits of Trump's Twitter followers showed that half of them are fake or robotic accounts. We can't stop laughing.
That's it until next week, when we'll still be reading the far right so you don't have to.