Falwells 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.
Dont 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
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 Falwells eyes), and sports an inverted triangle (a symbol for Act-up, a
militant gay organization) has spurred Falwells 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
Unfortunately this kind of thinking has found a
voice among some of the nations 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 natures 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
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
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 shouldnt be legal for
the same reason that marrying your sister isnt 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
Perhaps these two well-publicized tragedies will
force Americans to re-examine their long held stereotypes of homosexuals and stop
If so, perhaps Matthew Shepard did not die in vain.