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July 22nd, 2008

Why I Don't Hate Evil Ann Coulter

This isn’t about biblical good versus evil; it’s about foaming-at-the-mouth, ranting, foul homophobes like Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly and their ilk. And then there are the street preachers, like Billy Ball, and all the homophobic Christian and Muslim preachers, and all the televangelists. Yes, I believe they are a kind of evil and in one way, they’re necessary to the LGBT community. But they need our compassion and our help.

Wha’what?

Way back in January 1988, DesigningWomen aired an episode entitled There’s Some Black People Coming To Dinner. In it, Mary Jo’s daughter, Claudia, is asked out to the prom by a black student, Kyle Jarvis. Mary Jo stumbles through her approval for the date but Kyle’s father forbids it.

Upon hearing this, Mary Jo arranges a meeting with Matthew Jarvis to discuss the date. Over coffee, Matthew explains that “I try to teach my children to love all people but I don’t teach them that all people are going to love them.”

After much back and forth, Matthew agrees to let Kyle take Claudia to the Junior High Prom. Then he asks Mary Jo out on a date. Mary Jo declines because she’s seeing someone. Matthew admits to seeing someone also but this is just a friendly, casual sort of date. That’s when Mary Jo’s mouth gets her into trouble.

Matthew: I’m just glad I was finally able to discern your criteria. A Junior High dance with a black boy and white girl. That’s fine. Kids stuff. Just when adults are involved and the stakes are higher, that’s when it’s not all right, is it? Is that pretty much it?

Mary Jo, getting angry: Do you use this routine about being black every time you get turned down?

Matthew: As a matter of fact, I do. I find it saves me from a lot of embarrassment.

Mary Jo: I think that you’re the most infuriating man that I have ever met. I want you to know, I was going to vote for Jesse Jackson.

Matthew: That’s politics, Mrs. Shively. We’re talking about people. And incidentally, I’d take a guy in a sheet any day over you; I know where he stands. You’re the one who’s camouflaged. You’re exactly the person I worry about my children running into.


Coulter, O’Reilly and all the other homophobic publicity whores are the guys in sheets. They’re visible and we all know what to expect from them. Yes, they’re infuriating, but they serve to draw other homophobes to them. That helps us identify those not immediately visible to us, those not wearing sheets. Like advertisers. What companies are putting their advertising dollars behind the shows that feature these people.

And this thought extends to religious sects and individual churches. I think more people are now drawn to particular churches for who is hated openly by the church than for any other unifying reason.

I don’t believe for one minute that these preachers who make loud nuisances of themselves at every gay event are really there to save souls. They either want the media attention on their presence or they want the appearance of being true to the Bible. It brings up a quote I heard in a movie or tv program that I can’t recall. Odd, given its profound effect on me for years to come, even to this day. One character posed this question to another character: Are you doing all this for God’s glory, or for your own? I can’t look at any religious leader without asking that question.

All too often the answer is ‘your own’. A Latin phrase looks at the same issue without all the religiosity. It turns up a lot in books, tv and movies. Cui bono? Who benefits. In murder mysteries, the question is which suspect benefits from the victim’s death. In street, radio or television evangelism, it’s who is benefitting from all your preaching? All who hear you or you (and your wallet)? The rise and spectacular crash of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker is a clear example of whose glory they were after. Then there’s the very visible and very outspokenly homophobic Ted Haggard.

Ted is the guy who founded a Christian church in his house that grew to a 14,000-person congregation. The same Ted Haggard who was the head of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals. Thirty million people united in Christ by homophobia. But this is also the same Ted Haggard who had a gay relationship with a former male prostitute for three years. Oh, yeah. Ted got drugs from this guy, too.

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

This was written by William Shakespeare way back in the early 1600’s. You know what it means. Whether preaching on the street during Pride or leading 30 million people in hatred or gay-blocking political commentaries, it means that they are guilty of what they protest against. So what do they benefit from all this ranting and rallying against homosexuals? Money? No. It’s camouflage. It’s religious slight-of-hand. It’s the Wizard of Oz as the man behind the curtain. If they’re leading the word against homosexuals, they can’t be one.

But there’s a term for this: self-loathing homophobia. And that’s what all these people are. And I mean all. Sometimes their lives have a long-term absence of opposite sex companions (Coulter) or they have a really bad track record with the opposite sex (O’Reilly). In a lot of cases, they have cloaked their secret selves in the appearance of heterosexual legitimacy but have same-sex liaisons (Haggard.)

One thing is absolutely clear to me: These people aren’t enemies of our people. They’re just a subset of us. An annoying, loud, hatemongering subset, but us all the same. While they remain out of self-control and way out of balance, they’re socio-politico-spiritual dynamite but the real long-term damage is only to themselves.

Until they get help, they can serve to illuminate those who are also in need of healing. Meanwhile, we must counter them as publicly as we can. We can’t let silence or absence to mean assent or consent. This means calls and emails to advertisers, product boycotts and counter-protesting. These hatemongerers stone us at every turn and it is up to us to leave no turn unstoned where they are concerned.

And when you encounter someone loudly denouncing homosexuality, ask yourself, “Cui bono?”

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