It’s Friday, so let me tell you all a funny story. The other day, I posted a clip from Right Wing Watch of Buster Wilson, he of the American Family Association hate group, musing on AFR about the rise in the suicide rate among the United States Military. Though he paid lip service to PTSD as the leading cause of said rise, his real question was whether DADT repeal caused soldiers to suddenly up and kill themselves. His “reasoning” was that there is more suicide among the gay population — fed by right wing Christian teachings on self-hatred and guilt — therefore more gays in the military means more suicide. As a person with close, close, close family and friends who have served multiple tours of duty over the last decade of Dubya’s adventures in the Middle East, I found this to be a particularly egregious example of a wingnut pissing all over the actual sacrifices made by our armed forces. In short, it really rubbed me the wrong way.
(I haven’t gotten to the funny part yet.)
Working with Truth Wins Out, I’m fairly immune to Religious Right attacks on LGBT people. I’m used to them, I know they come from places of deep, intense, stomach-churning fear, and moreover, there is no anti-gay wingnut who has said anything fundamentally new or creative in the past twenty years. No, it was the military part that pissed me off.
So Buster Wilson showed up in the comments section of that piece, singing the entire wingnut songbook about how he doesn’t hate anyone, how he really loves us and prays for us, and he conveniently refused to actually defend his comments in any way. No, like wingnuts do, he focused on “civility,” and why are we bein’ so mean to poor old Buster? He just wants nice, polite dialogue, so that he may explain in the nicest terms possible that we are all going to hell. Here is his original comment, with Buster’s liberal use of the Caps Lock key preserved for historical accuracy:
Listen, Evan. First of all, I’m sorry for turning your stomach. The thought that the men and women of the United States military that give of their lives and their families sacrifice for them to go and serve US with their lives, the thought that THEY would feel that life is no longer worthy of living, is what turns my stomach. THANK YOU FOR EDITING MY COMMENTS AND REMOVING MY AGREEMENT WITH YOU that PTSD is the first and MAJOR cause of suicide among the troops! Your DISHONEST presentation of my comments, by leaving those remarks out, are sloppy, distasteful and hateful in and itself. YOU are the hater. You hate me and my organization BY NAME. Whereas I hate NO ONE. I do hate the GAY AGENDA AND LIFESTYLE for what it does to good people! Even the CDC reflects the facts about how dangerous the gay lifestyle is. I hate that. I hate NO ONE. READERS OF THIS STUFF: If he will edit my video and lie about my presentation, what else will he lie about? That I hate gays, maybe???
Of course, I pointed out that I didn’t make the video. Right Wing Watch did. But I did listen to his program that day, and pointed out that he rendered his concern over PTSD moot by finding a completely insane, hateful way to blame it on gay people. I didn’t choose to get down into the muck of his poor understanding of CDC statistics, and as I really have no desire for “dialogue” with people like Buster, mostly snarked at him and hit “close tab.”
I’m not going to reproduce the entire comment thread here (tedious), but suffice it to say that it started a long, long comment thread, with different commenters taking different approaches to the wingnut in the room. I mostly refused to get in too deep, due to a serious lack of reading comprehension skill on Buster’s part, and also because it was gettin’ on five o’clock and I have far better things to do than argue with a wingnut-word-generator in Tupelo, Mississippi about whether or not he hates people. I did get serious for one moment, though:
Also, I’d encourage you to read some stories about gay teen suicide and where it comes from before you write something on your blog about it. I, of course, did not say that you, personally, cause gay kids to commit suicide (another reading comprehension failure on your part), I said that your worldview causes it. And yes, telling kids that they’re going to hell for who they are, for something they’ve known about themselves since they were young, vilifying those kids on the radio every day, causes a kind of depression in those young people that is well-documented. Indeed, many of my readers have experienced that sort of depression as teens and young adults, and guess what else, Buster? So did I. It wasn’t my parents’ fault — they’re not hatemongers — but seeds planted from one of the churches we attended, combined with the hateful youth group leaders from another church (you’d call them “pro-family” people) led me to depression and self-hatred that I certainly would never wish on you or anyone you know. But it was absolutely caused by the worldview which you and the rest of the AFA holds.
I listened to a teenage girl break down in a public forum the other day because of the hateful messages preached by her fundamentalist Pentecostal father, who doesn’t know his daughter is a lesbian. I listened to her crying, desperately happy to be around a group of real adults who supported her as she was made, not as they wished her to be based on their medieval, bigoted notions of sexuality. Until your side does something that exhibits moral authority, we’ll just safely say the LGBT community and our allies have it.
That said, I don’t hate you, Buster. Don’t mistake mockery for hate.
They always do. They see us picking on them because they have stupid, malevolent ideas about the world that end up hurting innocent people, and they assume that our remarks are coming from a place of anger. The bait-and-switch into “you’re so mean, why are you so mean?!” also conveniently saves them from having to defend any of the incorrect things they believe.
My favorite part, though, was when a close friend of mine, who served 47 months in Iraq, decided to comment. He left a long, thoughtful comment, which I will reproduce now, in full, again, for historical accuracy [you'll see why that's important in a bit. Sorry if this post is getting tl;dr, but follow along, just this one time]:
Buster, first I am glad that I have served 15.9 years of military service to protect and defend your right to free speech and religious choice, along with Evan’s, 300,000,000 others and lastly my own! It has come at no small price, as 4 years of my life was partially squandered in search of WMD’s, etc, but the also my proudest, as every right we have as Americans was earned by someone like myself that picked up arms in defense of this great country, and I was given a chance to serve with the finest men and women this nation has. I volunteered twice to go to Afghanistan and was rewarded by our former president with years in IRAQ! I proudly served there, receiving a letter of commendation and awards by Gen David Petraeus and a host of senior ranking DoD leaders.
One of my saddest days was loss of a dear friend of mine who lost his boyfriend in a roadside bombing not far from the base where we worked. At the time of this tragic act of cowardliness, DADT did not allow this Airman to speak with a chaplain, mental health specialist, or any military member without fear of being reported under DADT. I thank President Obama for lifting this persecution that was allowed for 8 years under the former President. The young man that lost his Boy Friend, took his own life shortly after. Not because he was gay, but because he lost the man he loved and was not not allowed to talk to anyone about it without fear of reprisal. Furthermore, I deployed with what I mostly believe were straight people. I cannot tell you how many of them suffered under divorce upon redeployment back to the states but I can tell you that 2 have since lost their lives under conditions that have been questioned as suicide. I can safely assume that PTSD was exacerbated by the loss of their wives upon returning. I can also tell you my first suicide prevention class was at the end of my deployment in 2005. After 18 months of deployment I underwent training on how to look for symptoms of PTSD and suicide prevention because the military had began to notice a rise in those numbers, not because of gays serving openly in the military but multiple deployments. The statistics of service people coming back with PTSD and Suicide coincides very closely with the statistics of service people coming back from multiple deployments. I CAN TELL YOU FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE MULTIPLE DEPLOYMENTS WAS MUCH MORE TRAUMATIC TO ME THAN SERVING AS A GAY MAN. I was generally well received by members of whatever unit I served in, many in fact over heard conversations with loved ones back home, saw mail that was sent to me (birthday cards; well wishes; believe-it-or-not, even a bible my boy friend’s grandmother gave to him to send to me). Those members who figured it out, accepted me as someone that would save their life or defend them as a brother-in-arms regardless of their sexual orientation.
Buster, this is what serving one’s country is all about. Trusting that the man or woman next to you will not desert you in the worst of times. Buster, I believe you have deserted the truth in the disingenuous question that you asked about suicide rates increasing, in part, to the services allowing gay men and women to serve openly. For the first time in the history of our service, gays are allowed to live the Army values. At the bare minimum integrity is now allowed. No longer does a service member have to be a silent victim. For the first time in my 15.9 years of service I can have the personal courage, to respect that I am a gay man and a warrior of our nation. As a christian myself, I challenge you to answer the following 2 questions, 1. How could anyone deny the opportunity to people to defend the country they love? 2. How could anyone ask that serviceman to do so without the integrity to be honest about who they love? if you need confirmation please look up Leonard Matlovich and others who have served our nation so proudly and educate yourself further on the sacrifices made by people like myself to protect your rights and have enough respect not to destroy our reputation as we protect your right to do so! If you had volunteered to serve your nation and make the sacrifices that I have made, I would hope that you would have the respect of your brothers-in-arms that I have for mine and not slander us in the way you have!
Buster came back with his tail between his legs:
Harry, I offer you my deepest respect and appreciation for serving our country. I am grateful that you gave of your life in this way to protect our freedoms and our constitution. Thank you sir.
Oh isn’t Buster a sweet, kind, gentle sort of wingnut? Why were we being so mean to him?! I wasn’t having any of it, so I added this editor’s note to his comment:
[Editor's note: This comment was just made by somebody who represents an organization that vigorously advocated against the repeal of DADT, whose website features resources and articles railing against gays and atheists in the military, and who, IN THE VIDEO CITED ABOVE, insinuated that the suicide rate in the military is rising because people like Harry are now allowed to serve openly. JUST FOR THE RECORD.]
Okay! Now you know the background! Let’s fast forward to yesterday’s episode of Bryan Fischer Sings The Oldies, because it seems that Buster and Bryan had a little dude talk at the water cooler about all the terrible, mean gays over at the Truth Wins Out. Either Bryan Fischer wasn’t listening or Buster failed to disclose what the debate was all about, because Bryan went on his radio program yesterday and gave an account of the incident, and the BS factor is breathtaking. Take it away, Right Wing Watch:
Yesterday, Bryan Fischer cited the debate between Wilson and the folks over at TWO as proof that “you cannot reason with these people because they are impervious to facts, they are impervious to logic, they are impervious to reason, they are impervious to history, they are impervious to the truth.” And the reason that gays and liberals and the like cannot be reasoned with is because God has given them over to a “depraved mind,” so “their thinking is messed up [and] they don’t process information the way normal people process information”
That’s adorable. They have an answer for everything, don’t they? Facts don’t line up with their warped, transmogrified conception of reality and they simply reply that they’re the real victims and moreover, our brains are depraved, therefore neener, neener, God hates fags, the end. Here’s the video clip of that:
No mention of Buster’s insipid comments about the military. None at all. It simply became “their thinking is messed up.” So we can safely assume that Buster’s tail-between-the-legs comment thanking Harry for his service was just more sugary wingnut pablum, and moreover we can probably assume that Bryan Fischer doesn’t really give a damn either. Instead, it served as yet another way for the American Family Association hate group to reinforce among their sadly uninformed/unaware listeners the notion that gays are evil, mean, depraved people. So I’m going to count this as three incidences of the AFA pissing on our troops’ sacrifices and their real challenges. First, Buster’s comments on the radio, next in our comments section, and finally, from Bryan Fischer, using the entire conversation to further engender hatred against the LGBT community on the back of that story.
Stay classy, gentlemen.