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

Anti-LGBT Zealots Target Fox and Bill O’Reilly

By Zachary Conn on August 29, 2012 - 10:43 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Christian Right, Hate Groups

Leave it to extreme elements of the anti-LGBT right to make Fox News look almost “fair and balanced” after all.

Frequently the target of left-leaning criticism, the cable news network and its most popular host, Bill O’Reilly, are now coming under fire for “helping violent homosexuals to kill Christians.”

Last week, a group of anti-gay activists leveled that charge as part of a campaign aimed at stopping O’Reilly from inviting LGBT rights advocate Wayne Besen onto his primetime program.

Besen is the founder and executive director of Truth Wins Out (TWO), a non-profit devoted to fighting anti-gay religious extremism. It specializes in combating the “ex-gay” ministries that claim – contrary to all evidence – that LGBT people can be changed into heterosexuals through prayer and therapy.

The vendetta against Besen began with a press release, signed by a long list of anti-LGBT extremists, that accuses Fox of being “complicit in the damage done to the victims of Wayne Besen’s and the SPLC’s smear campaigns.”

Next, a slightly broader array of anti-gay leaders signed a petition aimed at removing Besen from the air. Online readers were urged to stand “with us against anti-Christian violence by murderous homosexuals.”

What had the “murderous” activist – whose rap sheet actually consists, in his words, of “a few unpaid parking tickets” – done to deserve this epithet?

TWO played no role in, and immediately condemned, the “awful tragedy” on Aug. 15, when a gunman shot a building manager at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) office in Washington, D.C. “If the shooting is found to be politically motivated,” said Besen in a statement, “it is a detestable act of cruelty. …We stand squarely with the Family Research Council today and offer them our full support and prayers.”

Besen’s greatest sin was daring to defend the SPLC’s listing of the FRC as a “hate group” – a designation that somehow, in the words of the anti-LGBT activists, helped “create a climate that led to shooter Floyd Corkins’ actions.”

The petition advances this tenuous argument by repeating FRC President Tony Perkins’ false charge that the SPLC had given Corkins “a license to shoot” by “labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

Actually, the FRC earned its hate group status not for its religious beliefs or political stands but rather for routinely propagating demonizing and demonstrably false propaganda about LGBT people. It’s one thing to oppose same-sex marriage. It is another entirely to spread outright lies, such as Perkins’ claim that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem.”

Besen’s opponents are free, of course, to raise vigorous objections to his advocacy of equal rights for LGBT people – as does O’Reilly when he spars on-air with the man he’s accused of “helping.” What’s inexcusable is this attempt to tar a law-abiding citizen as “murderous” and the broadcaster merely allowing him to publicly express his views as “complicit in the damage.”

As Besen himself poignantly observes, “it is rich to see these alleged defenders of liberty and freedom begging FOX to censor a point of view which they find objectionable. … This effort to silence diverse points of views [sic] is disappointing and stands in stark contrast to the America I grew up in and love.”

Disappointing – but not surprising, considering the cast of characters doing the begging.

Signing the petition were such far-right luminaries as Mathew D. Staver and Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian litigation group that has begun flirting with the paranoia of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. Also involved were longtime activist Scott Lively, who is best known for writing a completely fallacious book claiming gay men orchestrated the Holocaust, and multiple representatives of the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman has claimed that the HIV virus is a “harmless microbe.”

So far, to their credit, Fox News and Bill O’Reilly have not responded to the petitioners’ demands.

  • Stephen Albus

    I am just completely flabbergasted that LGBT issues remain such “hot” items for news organizations. When will Gay persons be allowed to be full fledged citizens. I must admit that I am at a loss to express myself. Why certain groups target the LGBT community goes right over my head. I just don’t get it.

    Gay persons are just like everyone else, but they are not afforded the same basic, fundemental rights that all Americans share. Perhaps I sound stupid, but at the risk of being redundant I honestly don’t get it. If that makes me a thick headed moron…so be it.

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Zachary Conn,

    These people are messed up.

  • David T. Gray

    I went to one of the red links to find out about the petition. In it the author, who describes WP columnist Dana Milbank as a LIBERAL– WOW!!! I am sure he would relish that description, he is a member of the Skull and Crossbones Club–who complained that LGBT groups liken the anti-gay orgs, like the FRC, to hate groups and they should desist immediately. Does that sound like the liberal perspective?

    Of course these anti-gay orgs/groups are hate groups. They appeal to those Americans who hate everything that isn’t WASP and involved in a traditional marriage setting a k a The Nuclear Family, how about that for a Freudian slip? But this TNF involves “keepin’ the wife pregnant n’ happy” with a psyche that is fit to rubber stamp the thoughts and politics of her better half and be done with it.

    What is really going on here is that some Americans are uncomfortable with the New Paradigm. There is rapidly coming a time when Caucasians will no longer outnumber the Other in many states in the US. Rather than accept this mathematical fact of life they are, in true American fashion, holding on to a fantasy that fulfills their version of the American Dream and they are willing to support any other org that is espousing and aggressively fighting against this NP. It does not matter what method they employ and, we might even be able to ethnically cleanse some old shibboleths along the way–feminazis, environMENTALists, fags, lezzies, hippie-trash, anti-Americans, Commies, cowards, anti-bizzies, free-speechers, non-gunowners, anti-war punks, pro-druggies, pro-abortionists, liberal scum, niggerlovers, Jewboys, Demmocrats. This is by no means a complete list but it will serve as a starting point for the template.

    THIS is the war that they have been hoping for. This will restore White America to its proper place in America then the World.

    This is a fantasy but a very deep-rooted and powerful one that is enjoying a renaissance as proven by the articles in the SPLC newsletters. Every possible pathology is being marshaled in nice American niches that have only been waiting to return to the “good ol’ days” of lychins’ and burnins’. They are by no means confined to the Deep South states. EVERY one of our 50 states has pockets of this resentment and hate. Lose a job, have a Muslim move into the neighborhood and buy a business and fire can be started.

    With the likes of Tush Limpballs and FOX being given endless reportage by the so-called liberal or alternative press this fire just keep getting hotter. We are in for rough times and it’s not far away. However, maybe we have to go through this maturation process to emerge as the America that we profess and imagine ourselves to be.


  • Joseph Greenblatt

    It is a troubling habit to label someone that disagrees with certain ideologies a “hater”. It is even more troubling when someone makes a resonable, nuanced, respectful statement, and is treated in a harsh manner, just because his opinion is not shared by others. The SPLC should be careful not to make themselves look like the bad guy, lest the public turn against us. The situation with the FRC is one that could very easily get out of hand.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Anti-gay activists have targeted Fox News for being “pro-gay.”

    If it wasn’t so crazy, it would just get funnier and funnier.

    And the idea that the gays were behind the Holocaust is even more ludicrous.

  • Roger B.

    Thanks Ian for the great segments on the insanity of it all. They are hilarious. Almost as hilarious as the reality of the beliefs and actions of the crazy right wing zealots that actually believe crap like that. It would be even funnier if it wasn’t so close to the truth about these hateful people and the dangers they present. It is always fascinating to watch people’s reactions that teach bigotry and hatred of any kind when thier lies and wharped beliefs are put into the light. They scramble like rats when you turn on the light and they don’t want to be seen or exposed.

  • Cheryl

    Click on the word “petition” in paragraph 6 of the article and check out the petition to Fox. You’ll be directed to a letter by Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who claims to have performed “exorcisms” of lesbians and gay men to rid them of homosexuality. He claims Wayne Besen “humiliated himself” in a debate with Klingenschmitt. (The video of the debate is linked within the letter) Besen was reasonable and restrained under the circumstances, while Klingenschmitt comes across just as he is — a zealot on the fringe of Christianity whose beliefs are nothing short of bizarre. He is also a liar who cites discredited research and makes patently false statements to “prove” his points. For example, Dr. Robert Spitzer — whose research has been used for years to justify so-called restorative therapy, has stated that his research was flawed and has issued a public apology. Dr. Spitzer wrote, “I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy. I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some ‘highly motivated’ individuals.” Klingenschmitt also claims that children of lesbians and gays being more likely to be on welfare. Actually, studies have shown just the opposite. It’s truly frightening that anyone could find that man credible.

  • Gregory

    Faux News is LGBT friendly? Wow, that is going to come as a surprise to a lot of people.

  • Ian

    A post about Besen gives me a chance to post my favorite “Daily Show” report of all time, which featured him. The episode’s language is not safe for work.

    Part 1:–1

    Part 2–2

    The later half features Richard Cohen, the one-time president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX). After Cohen’s minor mental breakdown from 1:27 to 2:26, PFOX disassociated itself from him.

    Even crazy has limits.

  • Erika

    I would have thought that the anti-gay wackos would have objected to the icky drooling that Hannity was doing over Paul Ryan

  • Dan Zabetakis

    Keep the focus on the FRC. Offer FOX a spokesperson to explain on-air and in detail why the FRC is listed as a hate group. (I assume that the SPLC does this as a matter of course.)