Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hatred for its own sake

One of America’s leading and most powerful anti-gay hate groups, the American “Family” Association, has attacked the Obama Administration because they’ve ordered all hospitals receiving federal funds to ensure that they don’t discriminate against gay couples in visitation policies. Echoing their usual anti-gay rhetoric, the AFA calls it “special visitation rights”.

The AFA approvingly quotes the far right “legal” group “Liberty” Counsel’s spokesbigot, Matt “Bam Bam” Barber, claiming these rights already exist:

"Patients are allowed to designate whoever they want to come visit. And certainly through powers of attorney and various written agreements and contracts in advance of this sort of situation, people are allowed to decide who comes to visit them in the hospital."

He’s being deliberately deceptive. Many hospitals do have such rules for ordinary visitation, but regardless of their overall policies, many hospitals restrict visitation to “immediate family” at least under some circumstances, such as in an intensive care unit. Even when they don’t formally make such a restriction, many hospitals will do that in practice—restricting visitation only to a legally-married spouse or similar close blood relative. In most places in the US, that means the same-sex partner can be excluded—even if they’ve spent hundreds of dollars drawing up special documents the hospital may refuse to accept, anyway.

Barber makes their objection clear: "Certainly there are Catholic hospitals and Baptist hospitals that recognize homosexual behavior as sinful behavior, and they do not want to take part in affirming homosexual sin under the strong arm of the government." The AFA dishonestly claims that the Obama administration is “casting liberty of conscience aside” and is “forcing acceptance of homosexuality”.

Put another way, their religious dogma should trump patients’ rights and simple human decency toward hospital patients who are ill, injured or who even may be dying. They aren’t displaying “liberty of conscience” (whatever that means) by putting their political agenda ahead of compassion and caring. In fact, they aren’t even being remotely Christian.

I think Joe.My.God. describes them best. His site’s where I found the AFA press release link and their video in which they moan about having to treat gay people with human decency and compassion. Said Joe:

“As unbelievably cruel as it may sound, God's Gentle Loving People™ are actually publicly saying that gay people should die alone without their loved ones by their sides. I can't think of a single thing more vile or detestable. Or one that more perfectly encapsulates the vicious nature of American Christianism.”

The AFA shows how the wealthy and powerful far right christianist lobby in America engages in hatred of gay people for its own sake, attempting to make sure that even in the most distressing and vulnerable times for GLBT people, they’re right there putting the boot in. Vile and detestable? Vicious? I think Joe is being far too kind.

To read the press release for yourself, or to see the AFA video, you’ll have to go to Joe’s site. I have a policy of never linking to far right extremists.


epilonious said...

It always shocks me to see how blatantly hateful Joe.My.God's rhetoric is...

It hits the same peg on the "awful" scale as the AFA's special brand of all-encompassing absolutist horror speech... and the fact that he's supposedly doing it for the benefit of gay people doesn't excuse it, or give me much hope for the people who he claims to represent.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I don't see what he said that's hateful to normal people. Joe uses the catch phrase "God's Gentle Loving People™" to drive home a point, one I wouldn't make in the same way, but one I certainly get: Far right Christian fundamentalist political activists are not gentle, loving or generally even "god's people" in terms of their behaviour toward their fellow humans. If normal Christians are upset at being associated with the rightwing, perhaps they need to find ways to differentiate themselves.

The fact is, no matter how distressing it may be to normal Christians, whatever the fundamentalists do reflects—badly—on all Christians. Joe's attempting to shock normal people with his rhetoric, as well as sarcastically insluting the extreme right who frequently refer to themselves in such terms while also claiming to be the only "true" Christians.

Like I said, I wouldn't put it that way, but if the rightwing Christians have a right to spew their homophobic hatred, then surely Joe as the right to call them on it using whatever language he wants to, even if it is hateful toward the bigots on the right.

For the benefit of any other similarly troubled readers who see this post/these comments, I should reiterate yet again that the word "christianist" is NOT the same thing as "Christian" (which is partly why I never capitalise it). Instead, it refers to people who, regardless of what they really do or don't believe, use Christian dogma and beliefs as a right wing political weapon against their enemies (the term is similar to islamist, and I'm sure there must be equivalents for other religions, too, but I admit I don't know them).

Anyway, because political extremists and religious folk can be completely separate, I use the term "christianist" instead of "Christian" in phrases like "Christian extremist" or "far-right Christians" because I think that unfairly brands all Christians when it's only the far right political activists I'm talking about.

I think you're assuming,epilonious, that Joe is talking about all Christians when he definitely isn't. Having read his blog for so many years now, I think I think he's become more strident, and I also think that's probably a result of the growing power and success of the far christianists in the US. I completely understand where he's coming from, and the frustration he barely, if at all, conceals.

But I reject the current fad of claiming the left and right are "as bad as each other", and the false equivalence you're drawing here. While Joe may sometimes use language as overheated as the right, there's one clear and important difference: Joe would not take away the civil and human rights of the AFA and their ilk, he wouldn't try to make them second-class citizens and he wouldn't deny their very humanity. The AFA and their ilk are wrking hard to do all three to GLBT people.

Joe's lashing out in frustration, trying to get someone—anyone—in the heterosexual majority of Christians to recognise what these people are doing in their name and what the christianists want to do to GLBT people. Conventional tactics haven't worked, nor has quiet dialogue. Personally, I think we need people like Joe stirring up the pot, making mainstream folks uncomfortable.