Full-page hate ads harmful, ignorant

By By John Stafford

By John Stafford

Recent debate about the Common Ground Initiative has fully exposed the blatant bigotry that exists in this state. On Feb. 15, both The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News ran a full-page ad sponsored by the anti-gay group America Forever titled “Stand Up & Stop the Homosexual Movement.” The ad blasted Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. for his support of the Common Ground Initiative while using inflammatory claims to sell the ludicrous proposal that the gay rights movement is somehow trying to befoul the sanctity of marriage and sodomize children.

I appreciate that I live in a country where a group such as America Forever can express its opinion freely, however misinformed and flawed it might be. And I understand that papers such as the Tribune and the Deseret News seldom censor ads in respect to the First Amendment. But when obvious lies are used in a publication to shine a bad light on a group of people, it is libel and has no place in a newspaper. America Forever has a right to expression, but using false claims to promote hate is wrong. According to MediaOne’s rate card, it cost around $15,000 to print the ad in both papers. This was worth $15,000 to a group of individuals.

It is a sad and disturbing reality that ideals based on lies and hate are so entrenched in Utah’s mainstream politics. The fiery rhetoric of America Forever shows how arguments based on deception and fear have become the cornerstone of the reactionary agenda of anti-gay demagogues. On America Forever’s Web site, an article is posted that satirizes Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” a piece titled, “America: Is this the Gay Declaration of War?” by a fictional Michael Swift. It was originally written to poke fun at homophobic attitudes. The fact that America Forever is attempting to sell it as a legitimate attack on heterosexuality demonstrates its ignorance, stupidity or disregard for the truth8212;maybe all three. In any case, using the article in the light it does makes its paranoia and hatred pretty clear.

The article reads: “We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all-male clubs, in your house of Congress, wherever men are with men together. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding.” It concludes with, “Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.”

It’s funny how history sometimes repeats itself so predictably, though many people seem not to notice. Just as Jonathan Swift’s satire was misunderstood and criticized for being in “bad taste,” today’s simpletons are misinterpreting this Michael Swift satire in the exact same way. Unfortunately, the misinterpretation in this case is being used to fuel hatred toward the gay community and as evidence to falsely portray gays as a lesser “anti-species.”

This ignorance has implanted itself into mainstream American culture, but it can be destroyed. It starts with revealing lies and countering hate-mongering with the cold hard facts that speak for themselves. In the words of Gerald Massey in the movie “Zeitgeist”: “They must find it difficult…those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority.”

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John Stafford