Friday, June 18, 2010

Let's Execute Fags; or, "Cliffy, Eat Da Poo Poo!"

You should watch a video. (Whether you can watch it at work depends on employer/volume issues.) It features Pastor Martin Ssempa, the chairman of a Ugandan group against homosexuality. It's important for two reasons, the second of which I'll get to in a moment. One, last year Uganda proposed new anti-homosexuality legislation that would extend the government's criminalization of homosexuality so that Ugandans abroad could be extradited back to Uganda to be punished. For repeat homosexual offenders — recidivists who engaged in homosexual sex with consenting adults multiple times and had cops notice — that punishment includes the death penalty.

Why does Uganda need this legislation? Let the Pastor explain for you:

Look, this video is funny. They keep screaming "poo poo!" Almost everyone I know who's seen this thinks this video is an elaborate troll, another example of Poe's Law, where reality is so absurd that satirizing it becomes undetectable. People want to laugh when they see it, if only to protect themselves from a grotesquerie of inhumanity. And even if it's dead serious, it's still funny from a sexual standpoint. These people sincerely think that all homosexuals are coprophagic, and that somehow straight people never engage in analingus, scat play or fisting.

The second reason why it's important is that insanely hateful people such as these men — men who would desire the state to sanction killing homosexuals — draw both their playbook and their legitimacy from the American right. For instance, the New York Times reported how three American evangelicals have supported Uganda's stridently anti-gay stance. (Rick Warren has a problem here.) But it goes deeper than that. The obsession with fecal matter and the litany of bizarre, extreme and "exclusively" homosexual acts that all homosexuals supposedly always engage in during sex is taken straight from the evangelical right's 1993 campaign against possible gay integration of the American military.

Look at Nathaniel Frank's Unfriendly Fire, then look at these people, and the only substantive difference between them and christians in a Colorado mega-church redoubt screaming about gay poo poo in combat trenches is the degree to which the U.S. and Ugandan governments are willing to dehumanize homosexuals and abrogate their civil and human rights. Consider, too, the tremendous boon that vile bigots in Uganda derive from being able to quote fictionalized and hysterical anti-homosexual "research" that is part of American congressional testimony and thus stamped with the legitimacy of ideas that the United States will entertain.

No less an éminence grise than friend of the blog "Cliffy" Cliff Kincaid both endorses Uganda's actions but also piles on the same misinformation, while adding propaganda so revolting that it beggars the imagination. Making fun of Cliff Kincaid's poor journalism isn't just fun as a hobby; it should be a national pastime, and it's a social good. For instance, he's made the following claims:
foreign homosexuals have been targeting Ugandan children for sexual abuse

because of the power of the well-funded homosexual lobby, the campaign has taken the form of a global effort to isolate Uganda and even cut off aid to the poor country because of its stand against homosexuality
The rest of the article is odious, but those two quotes are enough, especially since there's also this one:
Homosexual media activists in the U.S. such as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post have falsely depicted the bill in Uganda as an effort to kill homosexuals. In fact, it is designed to save lives by restricting dangerous homosexual practices, including pedophilia, child rape, and the deliberate spreading of the AIDS virus. The controversial death penalty provision, which even some pro-family activists in the U.S. find objectionable, is for crimes of "aggravated homosexuality."

George Oundo, a former homosexual, has confessed that he recruited school children into homosexuality as part of a program funded by foreign interests and operating in Uganda under the cover of a group called Sexual Minorities Uganda.

The United Nations has been caught distributing a pamphlet encouraging homosexuality among teenagers.
Nothing Kincaid says even verges on winking at the truth in a passing car, but at least his Ugandan obsession explains his last-minute condemnation of Kathleen Parker in a previous column. So far as I can tell, Parker thinks that executing people for being gay is bad. According to Kincaid, this proves that she's not a conservative, at least as much as her writing for the Washington Post does. This is the same newspaper that runs columns from Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer.

The great thing about a person like Cliff Kincaid is that he's funny. He writes badly, writes unscientifically and writes arguments inconsistently. Anyone of sound mind and good heart should have a field day with Cliff. The problem with him is that allowing him to enter national and "tolerated" debate gives him a patina of authority he doesn't deserve. And while, in America, that might be a noble open-handed concession to the grievances of even the crazy or the helplessly stupid, our institutional toleration bestows on him an accidental esteem he doesn't merit.

He gets to speak before the American people because, okay, whatever, we'll let everyone get a shot. But our collective disdain, our prosperous and unconcerned social "whatever..." response does not transmit overseas. What people overseas get to see is the American Congress, the Great American Might, giving audience to virulent idiocy and then Cliff pointing to that same idiocy and claiming that it's received a stamp of approval. Give evidence at a body august enough, and the evidence verges on valid just because of whomever heard it. Someone will take the evidence and its proximity to authority and power and conflate them until the idea and the deliberative body become one.

This is why laughing at a Ugandan shrieking about "da poo poo" isn't all that funny the second or third time. Every stupid idea he advances is nearly 20 years old. At any moment that he might doubt himself, he has a wealth of American records and "research" and testimony before the American government that can dispel any of his shame; they recorded this nonsense in 1993. He's seen the American debates. He knows that both sides "deserve" equal time. There's the science he doesn't believe in — which is probably rigged — and also the stuff he believes in, which isn't. And you can't argue Mosaic law.

We give equal time to violent nonsense because of a dim ambition to seem even-handed. This cowardly pose only allows factually bankrupt and socially malicious ideas to enter the discourse on the same level as science and toleration. We ennoble predation by giving it a "fair" platform. In doing so, we enable the exportation of malice. By discussing homophobia and dread on the same level as integration, we allow both to seem reasonable. Martin Ssempa makes things up, to be sure, but the atmosphere where he might have "fresh ideas" is something the United States bestowed upon him. And in a society as comparatively media un-savvy as his, that's all he needs. He is the ruthless and horrible stepchild of twenty years of "open" discussion that allowed studies without facts, hatred without reason and fear without reality.