The growth of the Internet has given a new meaning to the term "troll." It's a term for people who love to start fights, and it refers not to the mythical creatures said to live under bridges but instead "derives from a fishing technique -- say your stupid thing, watch the world bite," as the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper once put it. And trolls aren't just cruising for a bruising; they often believe what they say.
We at The Advocate often can't resist taking the bait, and we frequently point out the horrendously homophobic and transphobic statements of right-wing trolls. Herewith, a baker's dozen of antigay trolls who just love to bait us, on the Internet, on television, or in any other forum. There are many more we could list; feel free to share your candidates in the Comments section.
This young conservative columnist raised his troll profile recently by calling reporter Zoey Tur, a transgender woman, "sir" when they were discussing Caitlyn Jenner on an episode of Dr. Drew on Call. After Tur objected to Shapiro's claim that "every chromosome, every cell in Caitlyn Jenner's body is male," Shapiro asked her, "What are your genetics, sir?" She then placed a hand on the back of Shapiro's neck and said, "You cut that out now. Or you'll go home in an ambulance." The exchange led Shapiro to file a police report accusing Tur of battery. Shapiro has also said there was nothing brave about NBA player Jason Collins's coming-out and characterized TV shows such as Friends and Sesame Street as vehicles for gay "propaganda."
Erickson had possibly the most inflammatory public comment on Caitlyn Jenner's coming-out, blaming acceptance of transgender people for the Charleston, S.C., church shooting. "A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and 'a new normal' cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good," he wrote on his Red State blog in June. Other bits of wisdom from Erickson, also a radio talker and Fox News contributor who once had a gig on CNN, include assertions that homosexuality results from parental abuse, that gay people are comparable to terrorists, and that societies that recognize LGBT equality are "bent on suicide."
We can think of all kinds of puns to make on this commentator's name, but humor seems inappropriate when dealing with the depths of his hatred of gays. Leading up to the Boy Scouts of America's decision to lift the group's ban on gay adult employees and volunteers, he wrote in a column on his website, "This most dangerous move will only further enable these sodomites to rape and sexually molest young boys and male youths. ... You will have sodomite Scout leaders with young men, 15 or 16 years old, what do you think is going to be occurring in those sodomites' minds? Evil, filthy, unnatural lusts, lusts that will eventually be carried out, with the Scout leader sodomizing his innocent victims." He added, "here is only one solution to the homosexual agenda, and that is death."
This radio talk-show host, who also runs the Infowars website, reacted to Caitlyn Jenner's transition by saying it's part of a plot "to confuse society and break everything down and make the natural systems, the set default systems, basically anathema." He also compared gender-reassignment surgery to self-mutilation, noting, "People go and they chop fingers off, arms off, but also the big thing is they'll get molten lead, pour it on their backs to have big scarification." He also said hormones in food are causing people to be transgender, a variation on a claim he made five years ago that "estrogen-mimicking chemicals" in juice boxes are turning heterosexuals gay so as to reduce the U.S. birth rate. "The reason there's so many gay people now is because it's a chemical warfare operation!" he said in 2010. "I have the government documents where they said they're going to encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don't have children." Wow. Wonder what chemicals Jones has been consuming.
This psychiatrist, frequently featured as an "expert" commentator on the Fox News Channel, seems to specialize in spreading damaging misinformation about transgender people. Last month he equated trans people's experience with the situation of Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, who appears to have been misrepresenting herself as African-American. "I warned, right, I warned during the Caitlyn Jenner experience, during the Chaz Bono experience, that it would pave the way for people not only to assert the identity, the sexual identity or gender identity they felt they were, but also other kinds of identity, including racial identity," he said on Fox & Friends. (Trans activists have taken pains to point out the differences between gender identity and race.) He also has said that awareness of transgender identity and access to gender-confirmation procedures are a threat to children. Oh, and so was watching Chaz when he appeared on Dancing With the Stars.
The former Saturday Night Live star has turned into a right-wing troll who hates LGBT people, Muslims, and President Obama. She combined them all in a rant earlier this year on Newsmax TV's Steve Malzberg Showwhen she said Obama is obviously not a Christian because "he supports abortion, same-sex marriage, nothing that a Christian would" and is "an Islamic jihadist" who is "aiding and abetting" the terrorist group known as ISIS. She later realized it was nonsensical to tie Obama's pro-choice and LGBT-supportive views to the idea that he's a Muslim fundamentalist -- she said liberal news outlets had distorted her words -- but she did stick by all her claims. (For the record, many progressive Muslims support LGBT equality and women's reproductive rights, but fundamentalist ones, especially "Islamic jihadists," do not. And there's no evidence that Obama is a Muslim of any stripe, although if he were, it certainly would not disqualify him from being president.)
Pastor James David Manning
The pastor of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York City's Harlem neighborhood is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to antigay lunacy. The marquee outside his church isn't exactly cable TV, but it sure earns a lot of media. He may have reached his apotheosis last fall, though, with his claim that Starbucks flavors its lattes with "semen from sodomites" -- he had taken a satirical news article seriously -- but he's still making outrageous statements. Just last month, when a lesbian couple from the neighborhood confronted him about the homophobic sentiments that frequently appear on his church's signage, he told them they're demon-possessed and "are going to hell for your wicked, insidious lifestyles."
Attorney and columnist Barber is a former pro boxer who's now trying to deliver a knockout punch to the LGBT rights movement. His side is on the ropes, but he's still spewing vitriol such as this WND commentary on June's marriage equality ruling: "Satan is laughing himself silly right now. His demonic minions, both above and below, are popping the bubbly and clinking the champagne flutes. Evil has triumphed. ... Friday's ruling comes straight from the pit of Hell."
Fischer's homophobic rhetoric is so extreme that his employer, the antigay American Family Association, this year tried to distance itself by stripping him of the title of director of issues analysis and saying he doesn't speak for the group. But he still has an AFA-affiliated radio show and publishes columns on the AFA's website. On his June 26 show, he read his column denouncing that day's Supreme Court decision for marriage equality. "From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11," he said, "because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists. They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny. ... June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy." He also appropriated a classic rock lyric for his rant, saying, "I saw Satan dancing with delight." Among Fischer's other greatest hits: claims that Adolf Hitler's most savage enforcers were gay soldiers (ignoring the fact that Hitler's regime sent gays to concentration camps); that gays and Mormons may be plotting together to legalize polygamy; and that "flaming homosexuals" will storm Christian bookstores and demand jobs if antigay discrimination is banned nationwide.
This longtime bloviator of the right actually seems to have upped his anti-LGBT game lately. In June he called on conservatives to turn their backs on Caitlyn Jenner even though she's a self-described conservative Republican. "We should not be celebrating this, we should not be lionizing this, we should not be encouraging this," he said on his radio show. Transgender people, he added, "have a very serious problem, and they need treatment," and liberals are trying to "redefine normalcy." Then in July he claimed that a Humans of New York blog post featuring a gay child worried about his future was probably fraudulent, especially because the child received a note of encouragement from Hillary Clinton. "There are no coincidences with the Clintons," he said, suggesting she staged it all for political purposes. Limbaugh has also said acceptance of same-sex marriage leads to acceptance of incest and that the LGBT rights movement is winning legal battles only "by virtue of force."
Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is a favorite guest on Fox, but he also has been interviewed on liberal MSNBC and nonideological outlets like CNN and CBS's Face the Nation, which according to some progressive activists gives him a legitimacy he doesn't deserve. Indeed, wherever he goes, he's putting the hate out there. After the marriage equality ruling in June, he said it poses a danger to children: "I think we're at a point where parents have to seriously consider removing their children from government schools that are going to be teaching and indoctrinating their children into immoral sexuality and this redefinition of marriage," he said in an interview with fellow wingnut Gordon Klingenschmitt (more about him below). Among other goodies from Perkins: that laws against antigay discrimination will oppress Christians like the Nazis oppressed minority groups. "I'm beginning to think, are reeducation camps next?" he said on his Washington Watch radio show last year. "When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?"
It's hard to know where to start with Klingenschmitt. Well, how about that he believes gay people are possessed by demons, which he claims to have exorcised? Judges who uphold bans on "ex-gay" therapy for minors are "cooperating with the demonic spirit inside of the homosexual addict," he said on his online TV show in May. He has also said gays are going to hell and want everyone else to join them there, and, predictably, recently asserted that allowing openly gay adults to work with Boy Scout troops would lead to child molestation. The former Navy chaplain was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives last year and subsequently said he'd tone down his rhetoric now that he's in public office; that doesn't seem to have happened. Klingenschmitt has further political ambitions; he plans to run for the state Senate in 2016.
This antigay radio host and head of Mission America reacted to Laverne Cox's Time cover last year by saying the actress and the transgender rights movement in general are doing the work of the devil. "If Satan were to devise a strategy to confuse and undermine the moral base of America, he could not have chosen a better vehicle than pushing gender confusion, which is just the latest offshoot of the homosexual movement," she said on her radio show. More recently, she commented on Hillary Clinton's interaction with the Humans of New York boy by writing in a column, "In her world, it takes a village to raise a child -- and it's apparently critical that the 'village' be full of helpful drag queens and consultative child predators." She also said that the lifting of the Boy Scouts' ban on gay adult leaders means pedophiles "will be drawn like flies" to the organization.