Saturday, May 14, 2005

Jesus Plotzed 

Speaking of abominations (and scarcely a day goes by when we don't), here's a little tip you may enjoy: if you're chatting with Jesus and you want to see him blush bright red -- we're talking a shade normally reserved for lobsters and the bum of Prince Charles, after a few strokes of the riding crop -- all you have to do is mention Fred Phelps:
A Kansas-based evangelical group plans to picket Englesby Intermediate School June 6 after a student won an essay contest writing about openly gay comedienne Ellen DeGeneres.

A flier from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka singles out a Women in History essay written by a 12-year-old student who chose DeGeneres as her subject. The invective-laden leaflet includes a photo of the Englesby School and a grotesque devil. The diatribe attacks the staff, labeling it a “homo-fascist regime,” among other things.

Acting Police Chief Kevin Richardson said he received a communication from Fred Phelps, pastor of the Kansas church, asking for information about securing the proper permits. Richardson recoiled when shown the flier, saying, “No, we didn't get this.”
To learn more about Rev. Phelps's ministry of love, visit GodHatesFags.com and GodHatesAmerica.com (where you will learn that, much as we suspected, Ronald Reagan is in Hell!, Reggie White is in Hell!, and Pope John Paul II is in Hell!, with his successor soon to follow). If you're wondering about the connection between the two sites -- does God hates both fags and America-under-Bush? -- we can only suggest that you draw yourself a little Venn diagram. As Frank Rich points out in his article "Just How Gay Is the Right?", there's an awful lot of overlap between the two sets:
Today's judge-bashing firebrands often say that it isn't homosexuality per se that riles them, only the potential legalization of same-sex marriage by the courts. That's a sham. These people have been attacking gay people since well before Massachusetts judges took up the issue of marriage, Vermont legalized civil unions or Gavin Newsom was in grade school. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, characterizes the religious right's anti-gay campaign as a 30-year war, dating back to the late 1970's, when the Miss America runner-up Anita Bryant championed the overturning of an anti-discrimination law protecting gay men and lesbians in Dade County, Fla., and the Rev. Jerry Falwell's newly formed Moral Majority issued a "Declaration of War" against homosexuality. A quarter-century later these views remained so unreconstructed that Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson would go so far as to pin the 9/11 attacks in part on gay men and lesbians - a charge they later withdrew but that Mr. Robertson repositioned just two weeks ago. In response to a question from George Stephanopoulos, he said he now believes that activist judges are a more serious threat than Al Qaeda . . . .

What adds a peculiar dynamic to this anti-gay juggernaut is the continued emergence of gay people within its ranks. Allen Drury would have been incredulous if gay-baiters hounding his Utah senator had turned out to be gay themselves, but this has been a consistent pattern throughout the 30-year war. Terry Dolan, a closeted gay man, ran the National Conservative Political Action Committee, which as far back as 1980 was putting out fund-raising letters that said, "Our nation's moral fiber is being weakened by the growing homosexual movement and the fanatical E.R.A. pushers (many of whom publicly brag they are lesbians)." (Dolan recanted and endorsed gay rights before he died of AIDS in 1986.) The latest boldface name to marry his same-sex partner in Massachusetts is Arthur Finkelstein, the political operative behind the electoral success of Jesse Helms, a senator so homophobic he voted in the minority of the 97-to-3 reauthorization of the Ryan White act for AIDS funding and treatment in 1995.

But surely the most arresting recent case is James E. West, the powerful Republican mayor of Spokane, Wash., whose double life has just been exposed by the local paper, The Spokesman-Review. Mr. West's long, successful political career has been distinguished by his attempts to ban gay men and lesbians from schools and day care centers, to fire gay state employees, to deny City Hall benefits to domestic partners and to stifle AIDS-prevention education. The Spokesman-Review caught him trolling gay Web sites for young men and trying to lure them with gifts and favors. (He has denied accusations of abusing boys when he was a Boy Scout leader some 25 years ago.) Not unlike the Roy Cohn of "Angels in America" - who describes himself as "a heterosexual man" who has sex "with guys" - Mr. West has said he had "relations with adult men" but doesn't "characterize" himself as gay. This is more than hypocrisy - it's pathology.
The column opens, by the way, with an extended discussion of Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent, newly released on DVD. A&C is one of two early-sixties movies to feature both A) Henry Fonda in a leading role, and B) a closeted gay politician. Rent it if the opportunity arises; we recommend all Premingers, with the painful exceptions of Skidoo and Rosebud.

UPDATE: Zemblan patriot J.D. recommends that Hurry Sundown be added to the list of skippable Premingers; we are grateful for his advice and we eagerly consent. Come to think of it, The Cardinal ain't no masterpiece either.

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