Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The will to believe is the will to be hoaxed.

Oh, dear the Right-wing has been playing the victimization game again. In recent years the Christianists have taken a page out of the strategy book of the far Left. They are now claiming discrimination over everything and whining about how they are victims.

If they can’t use the state schools to preach the theological doctrine of creationism they say they are being victimized. If a gay couple can marry that victimizes Christianists (the Western version of Islamists) because they hate homosexuals and granting equal rights offends them. If they can’t use state funding or property for their sectarian message they whine they are being persecuted. Meanwhile they are working to deny other people full equality before the law. They have a very warped sense of morality.

Now a group of religious conservatives at Princeton received threats by email telling them they were not welcome on campus. The first threat got intercepted by the spam filter on campus because it contained the word “fuck”. But a second one, that replaced a couple of letters with symbols, got through. And it got widely publicized.

And then it got worse. One of the Christian Right-wingers, Francisco Nava, says he was assaulted by two men. The story was a dramatic one according to Nava. He was walking along when two men dressed in black and wearing ski cap approached him. The first asked for directions while the second grabbed Nava from behind. They were alleged to have “repeatedly hit his head against the bricks” of a wall. Nava said he blacked out but when he came through he was still being assaulted. The two men repeated the statement from the email to “shut the fuck up”.

Nava’s story got picked up and spread by the Right-wing blogs and news sites. As conservative Glenn Reynolds said: “this one did involve a concussion, which probably wasn’t fake.” The Right Coast blog reported that “The student beaten into unconsciousness was a Mormon” and a conservative thus not “the right sort of minority, and one who contributed an unwelcome sort of diversity.”

This Right-wing site even made sure that you know that beating of Nava was worse than the waterboarding used by the military to torture people because “when properly administered” waterboarding is “terrifying, but causes no permanent physical damage.” See -- a compassionate conservative if there ever was one.

One conservative columnist at Princeton said that while it is “tempting to believe that this is only an isolated incident. It is not.” He claimed it is “part of a pattern” against those “who speak out against the hookup culture and sexual liberationist ideology.” Ivygateblog reported that some believe the attack is “the work of some vicious new generation of the ‘gay Mafia,’ while yet others suspect it may be the work of some hopelessly radicalized grad student....”

The Princeton columnist said that Nava had decided he would “no longer mask my views on contemporary moral issues. As if moral busybodies have ever been tempted to shut up. Nava said he was afraid and paranoid but would be brave in the face of this intimidation. The brave Mr. Nava said “I’m still committed to having the beliefs that I do, and I hope that Princeton will show these two characters that intimidation doesn’t work.”

As for being committed -- it might be a good idea. You see there was no beating and the emails were fraudulent. The individual who sent the threatening emails was Nava himself. He knew he had no reason to be afraid. Under a police investigation Nava “has admitted to fabricating an alleged assault on himself... and to sending threatening emails to himself and others...” The police are still investigating and the university will only take actions against Nava when that investigation is completed. But it appears that the case is closed, that no attack took place and that Nava was the only person issuing threatening emails. Meanwhile the Right-wing Christian blogs have egg on their face.

Yet there were clues that Mr. Nava was a committed liar. Consider that the first message was sent out but never received. So the emails were issued again. How would someone know that the first messages were never received by the small group of conservatives who were targeted? The only way to know if the emails were received by them was if the sender was also a recipient.

Fraudulent stories are rampant on the fringe Right. One merely look at the claims about the “amero” and the “NAFTA Superhighway” as an example of the paranoid, almost delusional thinking that is common there. It appears that any story that confirms their preconceived delusions is automatically assumed credible because it is so confirmatory. Another recent story was exhibited on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” television show.

According to Robertson some fundamentalists have concluded that there is a “highway to holiness” in the Unites States which is route I-35. So these churches have been conducting “purity sieges” in towns along this route. The belief is that they will “win” these towns and that a Christianist revolution will spread out from there. As part of this “crusade” they targeted some gay clubs.

James Stabile, 19-years-old, was going into one of these clubs with some friends for drinks when he meet up with these fundamentalists. He basically disappeared that night for several weeks. When next seen he was on Pat Robertson’s TV show telling how he was a “gay atheist” who was converted when one of the evangelists “barely touched me”. He claimed: “I remember staggering backward and thought I was, like, tripping on acid. And he reported that he “didn’t feel the desire to be with men like I had felt before.”

Here’s a report on this lunacy from Robertson’s show:

You can see the report itself. So what happened with Mr. Stabile? The fundies shipped him off to one of their pray-away-the-camps to get cured. But they threw him out for being a “compulsive liar”. So the “compulsive liar” was their poster boy for this campaign? After several days Stabile called his parents and told them he was moving out. His father is the pastor of the oldest church in Dallas in fact.

After he picked up his belongings he disappeared. Apparently he was told not to contact his parents by the fundamentalist cult that had “converted” him. The parents say that when James is off his medication he has a tendency to lie and that he wants lots of attention. After four months Stabile returned home, still gay by the way, and told them that the experience with these people was horrible. The camp took $2100 in fees from James along with $150 per week in order to “cure” him. But when they drummed him out as a failure they wouldn’t provide a bus ticket so he could return home.

Apparently Pat Robertson and crew were reporting something that simply turned out to be false. But then this is a man who claims that God literally talks to him and gives him weather reports -- unfortunately the prophecy of great storms hitting America that year turned out false as well.

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