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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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Jerry Falwell's Foolishness

 

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By Alan Mills
Guardsman Staff Writer
Published Mar. 8, 1999

OPINION

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Jerry Falwell’s most recent display of stupidity and paranoid homophobia has created a feeding frenzy among political satirists and late-night talk show hosts. After all, someone or something had to fill the void now that the Lewinsky-Clinton circus is over.

Don’t all you parents of impressionable toddlers sleep better at night, knowing that the Christian fundamentalist Virginia minister is eternally vigilant in protecting your offspring from the insidious virus known as the "gay agenda?"

Like the communist witch hunts of the 1950s that featured the red-baiting tactics of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, Falwell and his fellow travelers have found their own whipping boy.

Even the existence of any shade close to purple — no matter where it is found — is prima facie evidence, for the likes of Falwell, of the pervasive, morally corrosive influence of homosexuals.

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, escapes the watchful eyes and ears of the good reverend in his role as self-appointed guardian of public morality. Viewed through his distorted lens, even a seemingly harmless toddler cartoon character is transformed into an agent of moral subversion.

In his infinite wisdom, Falwell has outed Tinky Winky, a character on the Teletubbies television show that caters to children from one to three years of age.

The fact that Tinky Winky is purple (close enough for Jerry to the gay pride color of lavender), has a male voice but carries a magic bag (a purse in Falwell’s eyes), and sports an inverted triangle (a symbol for Act-up, a militant gay organization) has spurred Falwell’s latest diatribe.

It is tempting to write off such nonsense as merely the mindless ranting of one of the more notorious characters of the lunatic fringe of the Christian right.

Unfortunately this kind of thinking has found a voice among some of the nation’s most influential political and religious leaders. Consider the following:

•U.S. Senate majority leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, compares homosexuality to kleptomania and alcoholism.

•Pat Buchanan, a nationally syndicated conservative political newspaper columnist, television commentator and former Republican presidential candidate, declares that AIDS is "mother nature’s revenge" against the gay community.

•Television evangelist Pat Robertson insists that homosexuality is the "last step in the decline of gentile civilization."

•Gary Bauer, head of the Family Research Council, discusses "waging war against the destructive homosexual agenda."

•Voters in several states — most recently, Colorado — reject measures to include gays and lesbians in civil rights statutes.

Sadly, even prominent people from the more liberal end of the American political spectrum have often been on the wrong side of the battle for gay rights.

President Clinton displayed a shameful lack of political courage when he caved into pressure from right-wing fundamentalists by signing the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act." This misnamed piece of draconian legislation limits legal marriages only to heterosexual couples.

Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano, a liberal Democrat, told a TIME magazine reporter that "Same sex marriages shouldn’t be legal for the same reason that marrying your sister isn’t legal," thus equating gay marriages with incest.

While bigots spew their hateful rhetoric, many religious leaders from mainstream American churches refuse to speak out in condemnation of this kind of bigotry, and thus become unwitting co-conspirators. Most mainstream churches still refuse to ordain gays as priests or ministers.

The inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric and scapegoating by religious zealots and political opportunists has contributed to the recent spate of anti-gay violence. The brutal murder of Shepard and the savage beatings and general harassment of Adam Colton, a gay 17-year-old high school student from Novato, CA, are the inevitable result of a political and social climate that is increasingly hostile to gays and lesbians.

Perhaps these two well-publicized tragedies will force Americans to re-examine their long held stereotypes of homosexuals and stop demonizing them.

If so, perhaps Matthew Shepard did not die in vain.

 

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Copyright 1996-1999 City College of San Francisco. All rights reserved.  Articles by Guardsman staff writers are copyright by The Guardsman, a student-run publication of the Journalism Department of City College of San Francisco.  Material supplied by University Wire is used under license from that organization.  University Wire stories are copyright by the originating college paper and author.  Material reprinted from City Currents is used with the permission of the Public Information Office, City College of San Francisco.