The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

AFA’s Fischer Doubles Down on Anti-Gay Lies

By Robert Steinback on December 20, 2010 - 4:18 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Extremist Propaganda

Like a desperate gambler who simply can’t make himself fold an obvious losing hand and instead increases his bet, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association apparently has concluded that the best defense for being caught in lies is to further inflate them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center last month published “Ten Anti-Gay Myths Debunked,” reviewing 10 of the most common untruths put forth by anti-gay activists who operate under the banner of so-called “pro-family” organizations. Fischer on Nov. 26 responded to that article with an essay of his own, claiming that the 10 myths identified by SPLC were, in fact, 10 unequivocal truths.

The problem was, Fischer’s vaguely sourced rejoinder was packed with demonstrable fictions, including references to outdated research and research the authors themselves insist doesn’t say what Fischer and his ilk claim it says. I pointed out several of those in a response to Fischer. (During an interview with independent talk-show host David Pakman [here and here], who challenged Fischer with the evidence I presented, Fischer actually argued that the studies did come to the conclusions he stated – never mind what the studies’ own authors said.)

On Dec. 16, Fischer again reiterated that the SPLC’s 10 myths were, in fact, truths – using the exact same misrepresented research as in his first essay. (He even cites again Columbia University researcher Robert Spitzer, who declares in an online video that his research didn’t conclude what Fischer claims it does.) But this time, Fischer goes a step further: Now he is distorting what the SPLC wrote, evidently hoping – once again – that readers won’t check his “facts.”

Fischer also deploys a coy bit of transposition in his latest essay: We labeled several allegations of anti-gay activists as myths because there was no evidence or logic to support them. But Fischer recasts those myths as affirmative statements that we failed to prove – positions we have never taken.

For example: Regarding myth no. 4, Fischer writes, “The SPLC falsely claims that homosexuals live just as long as heterosexuals.” Not true: What we stated was that there is no research that proves, as the pro-family groups claim, that gays live substantially shorter lives than straights. It is virtually impossible to even do such a study, as there is no scientifically feasible way to know who, among all those who have died, was gay (since not all homosexuals self-identify as such). Furthermore, to the degree that HIV-AIDS has shortened the expected life spans of homosexuals overall – if it has – it is the disease that kills, not the fact of being gay. (The New York City public service ad to which Fischer refers urges condom use during sexual activity to reduce the chances of disease transmittal – advice that is just as appropriate for heterosexuals). Fischer’s logic would be akin to saying certain African populations have shorter life spans because they are African, not because they are more exposed to malaria, tuberculosis and other health dangers.

Or consider Fischer’s statement regarding myth no. 9. He states, “The SPLC falsely claims that people are born homosexual. But not even homosexual researchers claim to have found the ‘gay’ gene” – as if we ever claimed there was such a gene. We wrote, “Modern science cannot state conclusively what causes sexual orientation, but a great many studies suggest that it is the result of biological and environmental forces, not a personal ‘choice.’”

Let’s examine more of Fischer’s latest crop of distortions. Fischer wrote of myth no. 8, “The SPLC falsely claims that homosexuals are not more likely to be mentally ill or to abuse drugs and alcohol.” That, simply, is a lie – we made no such statement. We wrote, “It is true that LGBT people suffer higher rates of anxiety, depression, and depression-related illnesses and behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse than the general population.” The myth, we stated, is the notion that simply being homosexual causes these conditions – which is what many pro-family activists claim. (They imply further that all one has to do is stop being gay and the mental health issues will magically vanish.) We explained: “Studies done during the past 15 years have determined that it is the stress of being a member of a minority group in an often-hostile society – and not LGBT identity itself – that accounts for the higher levels of mental illness and drug use.”

On myth no. 6: Fischer writes, “The SPLC falsely claims that hate crime laws will not lead to the jailing of pastors and others who criticize homosexuality.” He then cites the case of a Philadelphia grandmother arrested during a gay pride event along with 10 others in October 2004 – the so-called Philadelphia 11. The facts: the 11 protestors were arrested for refusing police orders to move and acting as a threat to the peace (all charges were later dropped). Police did also file hate-crime charges against the 11 for their anti-gay comments, but these were thrown out as unconstitutional – and properly so – by the courts. Fischer’s anecdotal example essentially proves the point: As long as the First Amendment stands, it will never be legal to arrest a pastor or anyone else merely for stating their religious beliefs.

In fairness, Fischer did correct one of his earlier misstatements: He properly identified the author of a scientifically unsound and outdated study on purported harm to children of same-sex parents as Australian, not Austrian.

There is a certain tedium in constantly having to rebut the ceaseless stream of falsehoods put forth by mouthpieces like Fischer. But there is far greater danger in allowing them to stand unchallenged: the chance that a lie repeated often enough might eventually be accepted as the truth. That, evidently, is the gamble Fischer is counting on.

  • Richard

    If you want to see how unbelievable and despicable it is that even pastors in churces now will spread these hateful anti-gay myths as truths take a look at this video by a pastor named Bryan Newberry from Calvary Chapel San Diego:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDTP-ylG8vg

    Newberry cowardly disabled comments on the video, how I wish someone would contact him showing him the truth of how so-called “Christian” hate groups such as the Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, American Family Association, etc. have created these hateful lies to spread them as truths! He probably doesn’t even know these groups where he most likely gets his statistics have been listed by the SPLC as hate groups. These kind of hateful lies shouldn’t be being told to people even in churches to try brainwash people with this nonsense!

  • vincent guarrieri

    bigotry is bigotry no matter what you hate and hate breeds hate. I am ashamed of american family fitness and will do my best to let all my friends and family know that this is a company that no one should support and I look forward to seeing this nazi company closing soon , lets put a nail in this coffin.

  • John Molina

    Honestly, I have NOT EVEN heard of three of the ten “myths” here. And Myth # 6 is a combination of two, three? Does that count as one?

    While some of these claims are indeed absurd, to call something a “lie” and then attempt to explain with a “Modern sciende cannot state conclusively what causes sexual orientation” (but in the mean time, we are going to have our way) is nothing less than DISHONEST.

    Yes, it is true that same-sex couples are like or similar to heteroseuxal couples: control of one over the other and the reality of domestic violence. Are they still going to push for marriage in 2012 in CA now that the cost of divorce in this state has gone up as of 1/1/11???

    One thing I can tell you off the bat, w/o having to go into much “research,” is that while the claim about the Nazi party may be false or a distortion, it is true, as Albert Speer acknowledged in SPANDAU, that homo-eroticism was quite prevalent. In fact, this homo-eroticism among the higher echelon of the Nazi party became a subplot of the British-German 1969 copriduction, THE DAMNED, directed by the master Luchino Visconti, himself a homosexual and a Marxist. The important distinction here is that homosexuality and homo-eroticism are TWO VERY DIFFERENT animals. The error of the “opponents” is in not making this important distinction and the error of the article is in the sidestepping of the veracity of this homo-eroticism within the upper echelons of the Nazi party.

  • John Molina

    Snortax, and Gus van Sant’s film wasn’t propaganda?

  • Dakotahgeo

    David Hart said it best, above, “Fischer seems to have become more obsessed with gays than even Porno Pete LaBarbera. Anyone this rabid is probably insecure over his own sexuality.”
    If the GLBT population were as obsessed with homosexuality as the right wing ‘family values’ people, we’d ALL be locked up for our own protection. Yes, tedium is the best word possible to explain my feeling concerning the right wing American christian Taliban. Thanks, SPLC!!

  • Chuck

    Good call, NJ…and let us not forget that commandment about not bearing false witness, which Fischer seems to have no prob repeatedly disregarding…does he think that exemptions are granted if the lies are told in Jesus’ name?

  • Marlene

    NJ — You have to realize that these members of the American Taliban, like Fisher, are highly delusional.

    First, they believe, like their radical Muslim brothers, that they are the true and perfect followers of their faith. Then they have the delusion that they must impose their interpretation on everyone within their faith.

    Their delusion then spreads to where they believe that civil law must be abolished, replacing it with their racial and narrow interpretation of said faith.

    Finally, their delusion causes them to believe that their faith is so pure and so pious, they no longer need to follow the laws of their own faith! This is how Fisher and their ilk get out of violating the Eighth Commandment of bearing false witness.

  • Peter Paul Fuchs

    Naturally, I can’t stand the rhetoric or tactics of people like this Fischer. But somehow noting that they have a penchant for lying seems to leave some question unanswered in my mind. Namely, how do they justify the lies to themselves? Somewhere in there is a rationale that must go something like this: well, this may not make any sense but it is OK because I have the higher sense of X,Y, or Z. What this then means is that when people like this speak of logic or coherence they tend not to mean the integrity of terms or ideas before them. Thus when they are accused or lying or meaninglessness they have an inner rejoinder by which they accept themselves: I answer only to a higher law. Curiously, they never make this step explicit. And this is point that I find most fascinating. In reality they don’t make it explicit because it would open them to real questioning about ultimate matters. To wit, the opposite interlocutor might point out the that he/she also has a sense of higher law, but that for the sake of commonweal one is trying to use mutually accepted terms and limits that make sense. What would the reactionary say then?? They know they would have nothing or little to say, except— I’ll take my ball and go home. So they keep quiet about their inner assumption BUT with the smug presumption that they are doing you a favor by even bothering to make some little bit of sense in common terms. Thus they can believe that in fact not delivering themselves of their inner presumption is somehow a big bit of largesse towards you.

    Anyways, that seems to be the strategy of the whole side against gay rights. Sadly, gay rights is not even where these mental somersaults do the worst damage. As an example recently the Catholic Canon Lawyer Edward Peters, who is also on a special Vatican courts, delivered himself of a rationale on his website, that was so strikingly and stridently authoritarian, and potentially totalitarian, that it takes one’s breath away. He did this by simply dismissing some questions about the Catholic Church’s actions with the following observation. Because Jesus said “the gates of hell would not prevail” against the Church, therefore any substantial questions about the Church were off limits for a moral person. Huh? This is the absolute nadir of the way-of-thinking described above. And it is interesting as a clarification of the mental process. But in this reductionist version, coherence and integrity are not negated merely by a higher adherence of a law, but my the negation of the very possibility of any valid criticism merely because of biblical prescription. It is really worth taking the time to anatomize the conceptual styles of folks like these because ti helps one understand that though they may give lip service to coherence and logic, they in fact mean something utterly different by it, even different from what they themselves avow that it is.

    And the king of this rhetoric is the tawdry Robert George, but that is the topic for a whole other little analysis.

  • Snorlax

    Fischer is using propaganda tactics that Josef Goebbels or Karl Rove would be proud of.

    Same type of “reasoning” permeates FOX “News”. Or any other network Rupert Murdock runs worldwide.

    The question is…are people smart enough to tell when they’re being LIED to??

  • NJ May

    Do you suppose all these so called “Christians” missed reading the words of Jesus? Didn’t He give us a great commandant to love your neighbor as yourself? Where did all this hate come from?? Also, one of the 10 Commandants is not to bear false witness, or lie? Unbelievable!!

  • Lou Hart

    Hi

    This sounds very similiar to stuff going on in the UK as well – thank you guys for all your hard work. It is good to know that people like Fiuscher are challenged.

  • Red Mann

    I read Fischer’s blog on Rightly Concerned not to read his garbage, which I skip over knowing it will never have any value, but to enjoy the comments that are posted. Somewhere around 95% call Fischer out for his bigotry and hatred. It’s just amazing that this happens on virtually every post. It warms the cockles of my skeptical heart to read them. Even the Christians dis him.

  • David Hart

    Being gay is not unhealthy. It is repression that puts gay people at risk.

    Fischer knows that he has an intellectually incurious constituency. They will believe anything that he says no matter how illogical or preposterous. AFA’s subscribers and readers are not exactly a bevy of acutely accomplished critical thinkers. Clearly, Fischer has no respect for the intelligence of his readers. Presumably, he knows his audience better than I do.

    On the other hand, what SPLC writes about him seems to be very important to Fischer. Some years ago Mark (I think it was Mark) wrote “A Mighty Army.” Not much has changed.

    Fischer seems to have become more obsessed with gays than even Porno Pete LaBarbera. Anyone this rabid is probably insecure over his own sexuality.