Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Straight from the horse's mouth: if by horse, you mean ass.

Many of you know that the misnamed American Family Association is a gaggle of fundamentalist Christians, many of whom seem certifiably insane. Of course, I dare not say they are all crazy. Some are just as dumb as a post. Others, of course, may just be malevolent, evil people. Recently the new head of AFA, Rev. Bryan Fischer, addressed why he wants the law to arrest gay people. His comments will be indented and in blue, my reply, will not be indented and in black.

I received a complaint from a listener to my "Focal Point" radio program, complaining that I had suggested that it is appropriate to impose legal sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior. Here is my response. The individual's name was not attached to the email, so I wasn't able to address him by name.

I suggest it a good thing the person didn't attach his name. If the AFA crowd ever does get to make the laws, it is clear they will use them widely and in a very authoritarian manner. So anonymity, in the face of potential tyranny, is not necessarily a bad strategy.


Thanks for writing me about my comments on my program regarding homosexuality.

It might be worth noting that what I actually suggested is that we impose the same sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior as we do on those who engage in intravenous drug abuse, since both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I'd be curious to know what you think should be done with IV drug abusers, because whatever it is, I think the same response should be made to those who engage in homosexual behavior.
There are a lot of bad premises packed into a very small amount of space. Let's try to unpack them rationally, which I know, is not something you prefer to do. Reason and faith don't go together very well. Being that you are out of practice of using reason, allow me to help you.

I would have the same penalty on drug use, IV injected or not, that I would have for being gay. That is, none whatsoever. What people do with their own bodies and lives is their own business. It is not your business, the church's business, and most certainly NOT the state's business. What people put in their bodies is no more concern of the State than what they put in their minds. Good thing too otherwise the irrationality that you preach would be illegal to the core.

Considering how the government has botched the war on drugs so badly it is shocking that you use drug laws as an analogy for criminalizing, and incarcerating, gay people. Imagine the SWAT teams breaking down bedroom doors, guns pulled, the same way they do in the war on drugs. Of course, the drug warriors fuck up all the time and end up murdering people who weren't even drug users. I guess we could expect the same sort of botch-ups when we hand over to the SWAT teams the enforcement of biblical morality.

There is a premise within your premise. You assume that both these activities should be punished by the violent force of government because "both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS." Actually not. Life is not as simple as simpletons like to pretend.

First, the risk of contracting HIV from IV drug use is NOT due to IV drug use but do to the reuse and sharing of infected needles. It doesn't matter one iota what is in the syringe that is being shared. It is the sharing that is the problem—not the content of the needle. If diabetics were forced to share needles the same risk would be prevalent and only the most ignorant of people would then propose a law banning the use of insulin due to the risk of HIV. I will assume you would be one of them.

Why is it that IV drug users share needles and diabetics don't? Because people like you propose laws to prevent drug use. As part of your prohibitionist mentality the government, your Big Pal, has regulated needles. Of course, prohibition never actually prohibits anything. People still use needles, but people like you have made it harder for them to get clean needles. You are so anxious to save them from themselves that you force them into a death sentence by sharing needles. If anything should be banned here, and I'm not proposing it, then it ought to be people preaching prohibitionism—it really does kill people. And you helped with those laws, so you are responsible. Blood is on your hands but apparently not enough to satisfy you.

There is another premise hidden in this paragraph: that is the idea that Big Government should protect people from themselves. People do bad things, or at least things you assume are bad, and from that you preach that the Almighty State should step in and strip people of freedom because, when people are free, they are sometimes stupid. I agree that free people often do stupid and irrational things, not that I think homosexuality is either. But, your churches wouldn't exist if that weren't the case. I think religion is harmful and you are good proof of that. It is dangerous to freedom, much the same way communism is. Now, if I held your authoritarian premises, which I don't, I would then have to push for arresting you and prohibiting you from preaching Big Brother government and moral authoritarianism.

You also seem to think that homosexuality causes AIDS or increases risks in ways that heterosexuality does not. Of course, I'm sure you are ignorant of the facts because faith and facts just aren't seen together very often. In truth, most AIDS cases worldwide are among heterosexuals. HIV is not homosexually transmitted, it is sexually transmitted. It can be spread more easily by some sexual activities than others, and the sexual acts most likely to spread HIV can be, and are, performed by people of all sexual orientations, not just gay people. Based on your uninformed assumptions you would need to make sex illegal, not just homosexuality. Of course, I'm sure that some of your more frigid congregation would shout a loud hosanna to that idea.

Just as there are some practices that are more likely to spread HIV than others, there are practices that won't spread it at all. I won't titillate you with a discussion of them. But there are sexual practices that one can engage in, from now until eternity, with zero risk of infection. Actually you could have a huge, writhing mass of millions of homosexuals, perpetually engaging in such practices without a single infection. (Heterosexuals as well, mind you.)

In addition, if you were to lock 100 homosexuals in room, all of whom are HIV negative, and allow them to commit "sodomy" for the next 40 years, not only would they be grateful, but all of them would still be HIV negative as well. HIV is a virus, it is sexually spread without regard to sexual orientation. But HIV negative people don't infect other people NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO SEXUALLY.
If you believe that what drug abusers need is to go into an effective detox program, then we should likewise put active homosexuals through an effective reparative therapy program.
Wow, Rev. Fischer, you want mandatory sentences sending homosexuals to places to "detox" them. How about a nice sign outside the camp saying: Arbeit macht frei? What you are saying is that the government should round up millions of gay people and incarcerate them under some forced therapy program that you and your fellow authoritarian religious nutters would concoct for them. I have long said that fundamentalists see gays the way Nazis saw Jews. Your willingness to have "therapy" camps for unwilling gays is evidence of that. It is also evidence of how you people preach massive government expansion and break-the-bank taxes to impose your authoritarianism on others.

There are at least 15 million gay people in the United States. How many "ex-gay" camps would it take to house 15 million people? A camp you might wish to emulate was a little place called Dachau. It was only open for 12 years and during that time it processed 200,000 prisoners. That means that at any one time it had around 15,000 prisoners (and when you put people in detox centers against their will they are prisoners). Now, if you were to try to "detox" all gay people at once, you would need the equivalent of 1,000 Dachaus.

Any idea on how much taxation would be needed to fund this little project of yours? And are you seriously thinking that locking up 15,000 gay men, in barracks together, with nice big group showers, will help discourage homosexuality? No sir. Not at all. You will need separate showers and lots and lots of heterosexual guards to make sure they all stay virtuous. No barracks either. They can't share rooms. Surely you know how the mainly heterosexual inmates in prison are having sex with each other, can you imagine how widespread it would be if you locked up all the gay people together?

Here are some ideas. The average cost per inmate in American prisons is $25,000 each. Of course you can house them in shared rooms and they do have group showers. Can't do that if they are all gay and you are "dehomosexualizing" them. So the cost would be have to be much higher. With 15 million inmates, even at the lower rate of $25,000 each, your cost per year, to maintain your Gay Gulag, would be $375 billion. America is spending about $7 billion per year to build prisons for the current inmate population, which is just over 2 million. Under your Gay Gulag idea the cost would jump seven fold at least, and the gay prisons would cost a lot more (all those extra single rooms and tiny showers). The start-up costs for a Gay Gulag would be billions, before your dehomosexualize your first victim.

Of course, to dehomosexualize unwilling homosexuals you not only have to incarcerate them, for years I suspect, you have to pay for an army of faux therapists who will be handsomely paid along with a few million guards and auxiliary personnel.

Hopefully your employees won't be like the so-called "ex-gay" therapists fundamentalists have promoted in the past. It is pretty messy when they get caught screwing the patients, isn't it? Or how about the big exgay you guys promoted as an example of dehomosexualization, who got photographed hanging out in a gay bar? Wasn't it a bitch that he was on a speaking tour sponsored by your group when he got caught?

All in all, the Gay Gulag is going to be very, very expensive, and it will require tax increases that will make Obama salivate, a system of camps that would turn Stalin green with envy, and would require the obliteration of a little thing called the Bill of Rights. But, it's a small price to pay when you're imposing God's will on people!
Secondly, I'm afraid you're simply wrong about the Bible's perspective on the law and homosexuality.

Paul lists quite explicitly in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 the actions and behaviors that are the proper concern of the law:

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine..."
Oh, dear, you don't seem to know that Paul didn't actually write the Pastoral Epistles which are ascribed to him. The evidence is pretty clear that they were written by someone else, not by Paul. And Paul was probably dead for some time when they were written. However, even if Paul had said it: so what! The Bible says a lot of stupid things and we aren't going to impose laws based on those idiocies either.

Please note that by your own admission you will actually need to incarcerate most of the American public. You say that the law should impose penalties on people based on what someone, pretending to be Paul, wrote a couple of thousand years ago—and you dare call the Muslims dangerous for wanting to impose the Quran! But the verse you quote would, according to your logic, require camps to "detox" all "sexually immoral" people, not just gays. That would shut down the U.S Congress (which might be beneficial) but it would also means tens of millions of more inmates in your system of camps, actually hundreds of millions considering what you people think about sex.

The alleged Pauline verse also says that this applies to "whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine." I suppose we will need courts to determine "sound doctrine" from unsound doctrine. And, I know people like you well, I grew up with you guys and went to your schools. So I know that by unsound doctrine you mean, and this is only a partial list: Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, Scientologists, Quakers, Shakers, Unitarians, Muslims, humanists, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists, Christadelphians, and hundreds of other sects, cults and churches. Even the mainstream Protestants aren't of "sound doctrine" in the eye of fundamentalists. Once "sound doctrine" is put under federal law there is no limit to who can be incarcerated in your moral America.

So, why not just build a prison wall around the whole country? Oh, never mind, I forgot they were already doing that.

Of course, we have to also look at the destruction your little gulag would cause by ripping productive people out of the marketplace and incarcerating them. You arrest 15 million gays and that means 15 million people stop producing goods and services. Not only are they costing tens of thousands of dollars for each year it takes to dehomosexualize them, but they stopped paying taxes and producing goods and services. So that means even more taxes on the backs of the few people who aren't sinful enough to be incarcerated, which I think might be four people.
The bottom line here is that, biblically, those "who practice homosexuality" should come under the purview of the law just as much as those who take people captive in order to sell them into slavery.
Apparently you can't see the difference between enslaving people (which involves incarcerating people against their will—much as you are advocating) and homosexuality. Enslaving people means violating the rights of others. Incarcerating gay people (or the sexually immoral and others listed in the bogus Pauline quote) is also violating the rights of others. Two people, or even 42 people, voluntarily having sex with one another, violates the rights of NO ONE. Slavery is wrong but for the same reason that your Gay Gulag is wrong—it violates the rights of other people.
You express a belief in the Scriptures, and I trust your confidence in Scripture is not selective. If you believe all Scripture is inspired, then you are compelled to accept that legal sanctions may appropriately be applied to those who engage in homosexual behavior.
I don't know if the poor person who wrote you believes the Bible is inspired. If he does, that's his problem. But I'm glad you have made it clear that you think to believe the Bible requires Big Brother government to make it illegal to be gay. And you have made it clear that you want gays incarcerated to be forcibly dehomosexualized, as if that is possible. You berate the person in question asking him if his "confidence in Scripture is not selective." So, lets get some selective Scripture out of the way. The Bible says: "If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

So, Rev. Fischer, is your belief in the Bible selective as well? Or do you really believe that instead of locking up millions of gay people in one vast gulag, which the Bible doesn't suggest, that they should all be executed instead, which the Bible does command.

Let's get realistic here. Of course, the recipient of your little authoritarian epistle is selective in what he believes in the Bible. So are you. One would have to be totally insane to take every word of that book literally. No one does, no one. Even the most fundamentalist of fundamentalists won't take every word of Scripture literally. So they each pick and choose according to their own petty hatreds, prejudices, and ignorance—much as you have done.
Thank you for contacting us, and I hope this response will help you think in a thorough and biblical way about this important social issue.
I have long argued that one's views of God don't tell you anything about any god at all. But they do tell you a lot about the person who is preaching. People use their vision of a god to project a giant version of themselves. God is like a projection screen where we see a bigger image of the projectionist. Your view don't help anyone think through "this important social issue" but it does out you as an authoritarian, someone who believes in massive government intrusion into the lives of people, and who advocates a pervasive system of State control. Hell, compared to AFA and your views, Rev. Fischer, Obama is practically a flaming libertarian.

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