Tag Archives: hate speech

San Francisco mayor vows to remain sanctuary city

A large crowd cheered earlier this week as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vowed that the city will remain a sanctuary for immigrants, gays and lesbians and religious minorities despite the election of a president who strikes fear into many of those communities.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to cancel federal funding for sanctuary cities such as San Francisco that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. He also said he plans to deport millions of criminals who are living in the country illegally.

“We will always be San Francisco,” said Lee from the rotunda of city hall as dozens of people roared with approval at an event that featured the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and a host of public elected officials.

“I know that there are a lot of people who are angry and frustrated and fearful, but our city’s never been about that. We have been, and always have been, a city of refuge, a city of sanctuary, a city of love.”

San Francisco receives roughly $480 million directly from the federal government and more than $900 million from the state, much of it pass-through federal money, city Controller Ben Rosenfield said.

The largest share goes toward health care, but federal dollars also fund public assistance and infrastructure, he said. The city’s budget is $9.6 billion.

It’s uncertain how the city would recoup that money should Trump make good on his promise to cut off sanctuary cities.

Also reacting to Trump’s statements on deportations, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said his officers will stay out of immigration issues as they have for decades. “I don’t intend on doing anything different,” Beck told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

“We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said.

Trump excoriated San Francisco last year when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by a Mexican native who said he had found a gun and it accidentally fired.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had a federal detainer on him, but he was released from San Francisco’s jail after the district attorney declined to prosecute a decades-old marijuana sales charge. The sheriff at the time freed Lopez-Sanchez in keeping with city laws not to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

San Francisco’s sanctuary policy, which was tweaked and re-affirmed earlier this year, bars city employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials in deportation efforts except in rare situations. The law dates to 1989.

The current sheriff, Vicki Hennessy, also supports sanctuary policy as a public safety tool. Sanctuary advocates say people who live in the country illegally are more likely to report crimes to local police if they know they won’t be deported.

She said Monday that she’s concerned but taking a wait-and-see approach to a Trump presidency

“I’m following Hillary Clinton’s advice in her concession speech, which was to give the new president a chance to lead, and hopefully he’ll lead with compassion and understanding, as well as making sure our cities are safe for everybody,” Hennessy said.

White supremacists in the ‘age of Trump’

When Hillary Clinton warned about the dangers of the “alt-right” in an August speech, she was referring to white supremacists like Matthew Heimbach.

Directly, it turned out.

“Hillary noted me by name on her website,” said Heimbach, a self-described white nationalist who sounded giddy at the mention.

Heimbach was referring to the aftermath of an August speech in which Hillary Clinton warned about the dangers of the “alt-right” movement, calling out people like Heimbach by name. At 25, he’s already a racial provocateur on the rise.

Despite his age, Heimbach has been agitating about race for years, long before Trump ran for president. Though he is an avowed Trump supporter, Heimbach is first and foremost a product of Maryland, a liberal state still struggling to come to terms with its Confederate-friendly past.

“(Trump) is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party,” Clinton said in a speech on Aug. 25. “The names may have changed. Racists now call themselves ‘racialists.’ White supremacists now call themselves ‘white nationalists.’ The paranoid fringe calls itself’ alt-right.’ But the hate burns just as bright.’’

Heimbach says he is not a racist, despite calling himself one in a 2014 Nightline interview that he argues was edited to quote him out of context. He also claims he is not anti-Semitic, but he posed at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington with a sign that read: “Six million? More like 271,301.”

The reference to Heimbach on Clinton’s campaign website appears on a page dedicated to explaining Trump’s ties to the white supremacists on the alt-right. “The following quote from a 2013 Heimbach speech called “I Hate Freedom” is featured: “The ’freedom’ for other races to move freely into white nations is nonexistent. Stay in your own nations, we don’t want you here.”

Part of what sets Heimbach apart from other white supremacists is his willingness to argue his case with anyone, particularly those repulsed by his ideas.

“He’s very media savvy,” said Ryan Lenz, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog. “He knows how to talk to people and make himself seem what he is not. He uses media to elevate his image. Meanwhile, he is hiding from the realities of his hate. And believe me, Matthew Heimbach does hate.”

Heimbach’s actions at a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 1 make it hard to argue with Lenz. In one of the first videos of violence at a Trump campaign event, Heimbach, who is baby-faced, heavy-set and with close-cropped black hair, is seen repeatedly shoving Kashiya Nwanguma, a black female protester, on the auditorium floor.

He was not arrested and charged in the incident, but was later sued in civil court by Nwanguma. In response to the charges, Heimbach said: “They’re another attempt by the far left to bog us down by using law-fare (sic),” playing on the word “warfare.’’

In June, Heimbach organized but did not attend a joint rally in Sacramento, California, of his Traditionalist Worker Party and a local skinhead group that turned bloody when anti-fascist counter protestors arrived. Ten people were injured, two with critical stab wounds according to the Sacramento Fire Department.

Where Heimbach goes from here will answer the question of whether he is an anomaly made prominent by Trump, or a future leader of white supremacists who remains on the political scene after this year’s presidential election.

“If Hillary wins, the Republican establishment will be totally discredited,” he said. “The ‘alt-right’ will be the only option for the white working class. We will be become their de facto voice.”

Heimbach is actively preparing for the possibility.

In 2018, he plans to run for a state legislature seat in Paoli, Indiana, where he moved in 2013.

And Heimbach believes he can win. “There is a clear path to electoral victory,” he said. “If I can just get a sizeable percentage of people who are disgusted with Democrats and Republicans to vote again, I can win the seat.”

There is also his charisma to consider. Speaking with Heimbach — who is widely described as friendly, well-spoken and accessible — is disorienting. He is genial, smooth and adept at presenting his views as simple solutions to complex problems, and not an improbable return to race-based segregation.

Yet all his purported solutions lead to the same thing white supremacists have been seeking for years: a homeland for whites only within the United States.

“America is big enough to divide,” said Heimbach, citing the breakup of the Soviet Union into different ethnic-based republics as a model for what could happen in the U.S. “We’ll take any patch of dirt. We’re not asking for people to follow us. We’re asking to opt out.”

He intends to pursue this end by political means. In addition to his own candidacy in 2018, Heimbach plans to field a slate of Traditionalist Worker Party candidates for local, state and county offices in regions he considers friendly to his cause, specifically in rural Appalachia.

“We don’t have to win to win,” said Heimbach, referring to the idea of preventing Republican candidates from holding on to their seats. “If you support free trade, amnesty, gun regulation, more money to Israel, if we can go ahead and knock you out of office, we’re going to have a disproportionate impact on American politics.”

Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party has yet to field a candidate in any race. However, Heimbach said he has already recruited seven candidates to run for state or local offices in Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. For now, Western Maryland is not in Heimbach’s sights, but he hopes to run candidates there one day.

“Western Maryland doesn’t like being under the control of Annapolis,” said Heimbach, a native of Poolesville, Maryland. “We’d like to work with people there to have their own state, or join West Virginia so they can be a part of state that more reflects their values.”

“There’s no easy answer to why someone becomes radicalized,” says Patrick James, a researcher and project manager for the Profiles of Individual Radicalization project at the University of Maryland. “But they tend to come from a middle-class background.”

Heimbach’s father, who did not return calls for comment, was a history teacher at the local high school in Poolesville, Maryland. The town’s population is 5,000, almost 90 percent of whom are white and with a median family income of $150,000, nearly double the state median, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.

At Poolesville High, Heimbach became interested in history and learned about Maryland’s seditious side during the Civil War. Although Maryland never seceded from the Union, its proximity and ties to the South were well known. Its state song, “Maryland My Maryland,” was written in 1861 at the start of the Civil War and includes a lyric about how the state “spurns the Northern scum.”

Poolesville was founded by a man named John Poole, whose house is now a historic site in town. According to Heimbach, there is a framed quote on the wall in the house from a Union commander that reads: “Poolesville was most treasonous town in the entire south.”

During high school, Heimbach also discovered Confederate ancestors in his family tree and claimed that Poolesville had voted for segregationist George Wallace repeatedly. According to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, which could only locate polling going back to the 1976 presidential primaries the last time Wallace ran for President, Poolesville cast only 29 votes for him out of a total of about 400. However, there is evidence of a local Poolesville group that tried to stop desegregation there in 1956.

“There was a huge part of our local history that was ignored based on political correctness,” said Heimbach.

After high school, he attended Montgomery College just 30 minutes away from his hometown of Poolesville. It was where he began to despise what he called the “social justice warriors”on campus. By the time he transferred to Towson University in 2011, Maryland’s liberal side had gotten under his skin.

“If you can’t make it at Towson with political differences, you can’t make it anywhere,” said Richard Vatz, the Towson professor who briefly served as a faculty adviser to a student group Heimbach started there called Youth for Western Civilization.

Heimbach saw it differently. “Towson was Montgomery College on steroids,” he said.

So was it old vs. new Maryland that led Heimbach to be called part of a “hate movement” by a candidate for president?

“More often radicalization is driven by some kind of emotional need,” says James, ”a quest for significance, the need to be someone.”

In response, Heimbach said: “I think that’s dismissive of the legitimate political, economic and social concerns of white millennials.”

Emotional or otherwise, Heimbach’s attention-seeking efforts began in earnest at Towson, where he formed the White Student Union, escalating his race-based provocations by chalking a series of slogans around campus that included, “White Pride,” ‘White Guilt is Over” and ‘Celebrate Your European Heritage.”

Despite Towson’s standing as the safest school in the Maryland collegiate system for crimes per capita in 2014, Heimbach and other members of the White Student Union embarked on campus night patrols in 2013 to prevent black-on-white crime. The ensuing attention included a widely seen profile by Vice Media that landed Heimbach firmly on the larger white nationalist scene.

Upon graduation he doubled down, joining the neo-Confederate League of the South, attending events with the Aryan Terror Brigade and the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. He twice addressed the annual conference hosted by Stormfront, one of the biggest Internet forums for white supremacists and hate speech. He has also traveled abroad, visiting with far-right groups in Europe, including Greece’s Golden Dawn, the Czech Workers’ Party and the New Right Party in Romania.

All of it in apparent preparation for what is happening now, or per Heimbach’s master plan, in 2018.

By then, it will be more clear whether he is the next David Duke, to whom he’s so often compared, or merely as Lenz said: “The consummate glad hander of the racist right.”


‘Season of Light’ goes dark

I usually write something frothy around the holidays, but the terrible events in Beirut and Paris and now in a women’s clinic in Colorado have turned the so-called “season of light” into something dark and foreboding.

Contributing to the toxic atmosphere have been comments from politicians that incite violence, scapegoat refugees and spread prejudice and xenophobia. That includes Carly Fiorina’s deliberate, vicious lies about Planned Parenthood; Ben Carson’s reference to Syrian refugees as “dogs” from whom we have to remove the “rabid” element; and Donald Trump’s scurrilous description of Mexicans as criminals and rapists.

We are right to be concerned about the growing threat from ISIS, but we should be equally concerned about the Taliban-like rantings of our own political leaders. Attacking our government as incapable of screening refugees (when in fact multiple agencies spend up to two years vetting individuals) and characterizing desperate victims fleeing ISIS terror as would-be terrorists is utterly counterproductive.

We have demonized refugees and immigrants during many crises in the past and have always come to regret our behavior. 

In the 1930s and 1940s we shut the door to Jews fleeing Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. This was due to a prevailing anti-Semitism among the public (registered in many polls) and to the blatant anti-Semitic views of administrators in our State Department and Visa Division. Memos to President Franklin Roosevelt also cited fear of “penetration of German agents” as rationale for keeping Jews out.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt signed an executive order to intern Japanese-Americans, most of them U.S. citizens. More than 120,000 people were deprived of due process, shorn of their goods and property and imprisoned in isolated camps patrolled by armed guards. The census bureau provided the demographic data used to locate and lock up these innocent people.

While their families suffered in camps, thousands of Japanese-Americans won distinction fighting against the Nazis in the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Of the 14,000 men who served, 9,486 received Purple Hearts, 560 won Silver Stars for valor and 21 won our highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Today, many Mexicans and other Latinos new to the United States join the Armed Forces as a means to earn citizenship. The people demeaned by Donald Trump are actually playing an outsize role in the defense of our country.

As for Planned Parenthood, in the past 38 years, 10 doctors, clinic personnel or patients have been assassinated. Other acts of violence include: 26 attempted murders; 42 bombings; 182 arson attacks; 199 assaults; 1,507 incidents of vandalism; 80 acid attacks; and 983 death threats or stalking incidents. 

Women who go to Planned Parenthood clinics for health services and birth control are routinely harassed by screaming crowds of anti-abortion zealots. In this context it is a travesty that the media fails to identify the latest attack as an act of domestic terrorism. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the right thing by ordering state police to protect Planned Parenthood clinics in that state. 

While we deplore the misogynist cruelty of ISIS and the Taliban abroad, we must fight the growing terrorism against women here at home.

For end-of-year charitable donations, I recommend giving to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin at www.ppwi.org and the United Nations Refugee agency at www.unhcr.org. Your donations will support critical services and make an important political statement in these times of domestic and international terrorism.

U.S. anti-gay activist ‘Porno Pete’ arrested in Canada for mischief

Peter LaBarbera, a U.S. anti-gay activist in the Christian right movement, was arrested on April 14 in Canada for “mischief.”

LaBarbera, known to LGBT civil rights advocates as “Porno Pete” in part for his infatuation with the details of same-sex sex, and activist Bill Whatcott were arrested on the campus of the University of Regina at about 2 p.m. after being asked to leave several times.

Authorities said LaBarbera and Whatcott were displaying “graphic” materials that went against the university’s policy.

The men were met by counter-protesters with the UR Pride Centre.

LaBarbera and Whatcott were released from custory with a notice to appear in court on May 26.

LaBarbera is the president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, which he describes on his website as a nonprofit and non-partisan group dedicated to “exposing the homosexual-bisexual-transgender activist agendas.”

He also is an anti-choice activist and had initially been prohibited from entering Canada, where he was to give a speech to an anti-abortion group, because his appearance might violate Canadian laws against hate speech and “willful incitement of hatred.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated LaBarbera’s organization as a hate group.

Unintentional legacy: Did Fred Phelps’ hate campaign help drive LGBT equality?

Fred Phelps Sr. led his small Topeka church for more than two decades in a bellicose crusade against gays and lesbians, saying they were worthy of death and openly declaring – often at military funerals – that the U.S. was doomed because of its tolerance of homosexuality.

But in targeting grieving families of troops killed overseas, taunting people entering other churches and carrying signs with anti-gay slurs and vulgar language or symbols, Phelps and his Westboro Baptist congregation created public circuses that may have helped the gay rights movement.

Following Phelps’ death on March 19 at age 84, some gay-rights advocates suggested that he and his church inadvertantly helped improve public opinion and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Religious leaders who oppose gay marriage also said the pastor’s tactics clouded the debate over such issues and put them on the defensive in discussing both policy and faith.

“The world lost someone who did a whole lot more for the LGBT community than we realize or understand,” said Cathy Renna, a longtime consultant to LGBT groups. “He has brought along allies who are horrified by the hate. So his legacy will be exactly the opposite of what he dreamed.”

Phelps founded the church in the 1950s, and it has drawn much of its small congregation from his extended family. Its rise to national and even international notoriety began in the early 1990s, as it picketed against gays and lesbians, then protested funerals of AIDS victims and, eventually, fallen soldiers.

The protests sparked outrage, with the federal government and lawmakers in more than 40 states passing specific laws to limit the protests and local residents using various tactics – including lining up to block views of the protesters – to protect grieving families.

Conservative religious leaders regularly denounced Phelps, worried that his relentless attacks would be perceived as representing the Christian case against same-sex relationships. At the 2003 annual Southern Baptist Convention, leaders spent a session drawing a distinction between their opposition to same-sex unions and Phelps’ protests.

Phelps called his church Baptist but had no ties with the Southern Baptist Convention or any other mainstream Baptist group.

“Westboro Baptist is to Baptist Christianity what the “Book of Mormon” Broadway play was to the Latter-Day Saints,” said the Rev. Russell Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. “They were kind of a performance art of vitriolic hatred rather than any kind of religious organization.”

Phelps professed not to care what anyone thought of his church. He said in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press that no minister could “preach the Bible” without preaching God’s hate. Westboro spokesman Steve Drain said in an email a few days before Phelps’ death that the church’s doctrines weren’t changing.

“The church of the Lord Jesus Christ does not rise or fall with any man – in fact, the Lord doesn’t need ANY of us,” Drain wrote. “Any nation that embraces that sin as an `innocent’ lifestyle can expect to incur the wrath of God.”

Some LGBT rights advocates argued that Phelps and his congregation were problematic for the religious right because they said what social conservatives truly believed but were careful not to publicly express.

“Fred was a loathsome creature,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of the gay-rights group Truth Wins Out. “But I’ll say one nice thing about him: He’s the only honest person on the religious right I’ve ever met.”

Phelps often reserved especially caustic comments for evangelical Christians and Catholics who view homosexual behavior as sinful but also preach that God also loves and reaches out to gays and lesbians. Phelps dismissed them as “enablers,” and his congregation often picketed their churches.

The Rev. Terry Fox, a Southern Baptist minister who’s pastor of Wichita’s non-denominational-leaning Summit Church, once felt compelled to apologize for Phelps’ shocking behavior on television. Fox called Phelps “a false prophet” and said Satan “greatly used him.” Fox was prominent in a successful effort in 2005 to persuade voters to amend the Kansas Constitution to ban gay marriage and said Phelps “was an embarrassment” but had “become the face of Christian work in Kansas.”

Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said Phelps and his congregation still represent “an easy device” for gay-marriage supporters to “short-circuit the conversation” on that and related issues in recent years.

“People were justifiably, appropriately outraged by the things that they did,” Schuttloffel said of Phelps and his church. “As soon as someone, then, is able to tar you as being related to them or thinking the same way as them, right away you’re starting behind the eight ball.”

LGBT rights advocates, meanwhile, were assessing Phelps’ place in the history of their movement.

“An obscene footnote” is how Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, the state’s leading gay-rights group, believes Phelps and his followers will be remembered. Witt said progress began well before Westboro’s protests and will continue long after Phelps’ death.

However, James Esseks, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, acknowledged that he eventually saw Phelps’ protests as helping his own movement.

“He would show up with his extreme anti-gay views, and a bunch of people in the middle would think, `If that’s what it means to be anti-gay, I want no part of it,'” Esseks said.

Game developers take up social issues at S.F. conference

The video game industry is taking itself more seriously.

Besides the usual talk of polygons, virtual worlds and artificial intelligence at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, there are discussions led by game makers about such socially conscious topics as designing for gamers with disabilities, battling depression at game studios and tackling hate speech in online game communities.

The organizers of GDC, which kicked off Monday at the Moscone Center and continues through Friday, have expanded the conference’s advocacy-themed sessions with panels featuring such titles as “Beyond Graphics: Reaching the Visually Impaired Gamer,” “How to Subversively Queer Your Work” and “Women Don’t Want to Work in Games (and Other Myths).”

“It’s something that in some way or another has always been part of the conference, but it’s something that we’ve found interest in genuinely continue to grow as the industry has become more diverse and inclusive,” said Simon Carless, executive vice president of UBM Tech Game Network, which organizes GDC and several other technology conventions.

This year’s conference has attracted about 23,000 game developers and executives from across the globe. Carless and other GDC organizers, which includes an advocacy advisory committee made up of game designers, hope that examinations of racism, misogyny and homophobia in games aid the industry’s continued fight for wider cultural legitimacy.

Rosalind Wiseman, author of the book “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” which inspired the Lindsay Lohan film “Mean Girls,” was part of a Tuesday discussion about gaming and social hierarchies among boys. The panel examined how the games that young men choose to play effect their popularity, as well as their social competence in moments of conflict.

Other speakers include Adam Orth, who left Microsoft Corp. last year after fiery Twitter exchanges about “always-on” technology; Manveer Heir, a game maker who works on the “Mass Effect” sci-fi series, which features gay and lesbian characters; and Toshifumi Nakabayashi, who organizes an annual game workshop to support Fukushima disaster victims.

Despite the refreshed focus on real-world issues at the convention, how to view and interact with ever-changing virtual worlds will ultimately take center stage at GDC. PlayStation 4 creator Sony Corp. teased its rendition of virtual reality technology during a Tuesday presentation called “Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment.”

Meanwhile, a handful of developers are showing off software using the VR goggles Oculus Rift, which captured attendees’ attention at last year’s conference. The exhibit “ALT.CTRL.GDC” highlights 14 games that utilize such alternative control schemes, like a piano-powered version of the sidescroller “Canabalt” and a holographic display called Voxiebox.

This year’s conference, the largest annual gathering of game creators outside the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June, is the first since Sony and Microsoft respectively released its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles last year. Several sessions scheduled this year are dedicated to creating games for those systems, as well as more popular mobile platforms.

On the Web…


WiGWAG: News with a twist and sometimes a punchline


A Kmart commercial for Joe Boxer that features boxer-clad men jiggling their junk to the tune of “Jingle Bells” is stirring ire among the world’s human-body-hating humans (i.e., the fervent religious followers of the human-body maker). The ad begins with a row of bow-tied men ringing bells in front of a white banquet table. The table is yanked away, revealing the men stripped down to their skivvies and shaking it. Whether you think it’s naughty or nice, “Show Your Joe” is less sexploitive than the average Victoria’s Secret ad.


The National Organization for Marriage has come up empty in the past year or so in repeated attempts to block marriage equality in the states. NOM lost in Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Delaware, Maine, Hawaii and Illinois in the last 12 months. And the right-wing group is feeling the impact on its bank account. The political arm of NOM has borrowed $1.7 million from the educational arm to cover a deficit. The lesson: Don’t bank on hate.


Mom and Dad Cheney aren’t happy with the high-profile public feud their daughters are waging over same-sex marriage. Daughter Liz is running for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming and is courting the religious right vote with repeated affirmations that same-sex marriage is wrong. Daughter Mary, who is a lesbian and married her longtime partner in the District of Columbia, has responded that her sister is wrong. Their parents, in a statement to the press, said that the family has dealt privately with the issue for years and they are “pained to see it become public.” Of course, at WiG, we’ve been pained for years that the Cheney family has any public role.


MSNBC suspended Alec Baldwin’s new weekly talk show for two episodes after his latest videotaped public meltdown, which was laced with homophobic insults. Baldwin said he was “deeply sorry” for calling a photo
grapher what sounded like “cocksucking fag.” At first, he denied using the word “fag,” insisting that he said “fathead.” He later admitted to using that epithet, but claimed that he didn’t know “cocksucking” was offensive to gays. Up Late with Alec Baldwin airs on Fridays, if any “cocksucking fags” or their friends care to tune in.


In the final hours of this year’s Wisconsin Assembly session, the Republican majority voted to create a special “Choose Life” license plate. Proceeds from sales of the plate will go to Choose Life Wisconsin Inc., an organization seeking to force women to bear children, whether they want them or not. Republicans in the House also killed a Democrat-proposed resolution to honor the 26 people — mostly children — killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year in Connecticut. Their vote is likely the result of allegiance to the National Rifle Association, which opposes any action that draws attention to gun violence.


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently delivered a message with some spice to Jon Stewart, who mocked the city’s love for its deep-dish pizza pie on The Daily Show. Stewart said Chicago’s famed pizza was “an above-ground marina swimming pool for rats.” Not one of his craftier quips, but enough to goad Emanuel to action. The Second City mayor sent the staff of the New York-based show an anchovy-covered pizza with a note: “Jon, Deep Dish with Dead Fish. Love, Rahm.” The Daily Show staff tweeted a video of a dog sniffing and passing by the pizza, which, it turns out, was made in New York City.


Retailer Costco has apologized for labeling Bibles as fiction at a store in Simi Valley, Calif. A local pastor photographed the label and posted the picture on Twitter, setting off a predictable uproar from fundamentalist Christians. In an email to Fox News, Costco officials said they “deeply regretted” the incident and “meant no offense.” The reaction on Twitter has been mixed, according to USA Today.


Dan T. Cathy, president and CEO of Chick-fil-A, won an award at the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s annual Equal Opportunity Day dinner. Cathy received the honor despite proudly boasting of his opposition to equality for LGBT people and staunchly defending his family foundation’s funding for hate groups such as the Family Research Council. The urban league explained its award to Cathy in a Facebook post, noting the “significant financial contributions” from Cathy and the Chick-fil-A Foundation.

Far-right Wisconsin minister, anti-abortion crusader calls gays ‘filthy people’

A minister from West Allis has called gays and lesbians “filthy people” and attacked straight parents who don’t condemn them as “disgusting.”

On “In Focus,” a right-wing show, the Rev. Matthew Trewhella of Missionaries to the Preborn made reference to a column about the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

Trewhella said gay marriage “totally changes the entire culture,” according to a report from rightwingwatch.org.

He complained that America’s selfish people mostly aren’t having children, but if they were, he said, “Your children would be getting perverted in their minds by these filthy people.”

Trewhella went on to say that he has “no respect for people who are parents, who actually have children, and have no problem with homosexuality or homosexual marriage. They are the most base people on the planet to have totally abandoned every God-given vestige to protect your child from the filth of homosexuality, to blatantly go along with it is disgusting.”

Missionaries to the Preborn – its address is a Post Office box in Milwaukee – has a website that contains the group’s mission statement: “THEREFORE 
we come together as a last line of defense on behalf of those babies taken into America’s abortion clinics. We will speak up for our preborn neighbor, and offer help to the mothers and fathers who bring their sons and daughters to these death camps. …

 we come together to expose the unjust slaughter of helpless preborn babies by abortion, and to call our nation to repentance for violating God’s holy Law in that Americans either participate in or tolerate this bloodshed. We will display photographs of the remains of those babies who have died at the hands of the abortionists.”

The home page links to pages that explore “why we show the photographs of murdered preborns” and “are you good enough to go to heaven?”

The group’s leaders and activists have traveled to various locations to stage anti-abortion demonstrations and their tactics have been likened to those of the radical, anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church led by the Rev. Fred Phelps out of Kansas.

Trewhella has long been active on the far right and, in the 1990s, was investigated by the FBI. In 1993, he boasted to an audience that his 16-month son knew his “trigger finger” and in 1994, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he called on anti-abortion churches to form armed militias.

Rightwingwatch.org is a project of People For the American Way that is “dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement.”

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

On the Web…


European Court: Sweden can fine for anti-gay leaflets

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld Sweden’s fines levied against four people who circulated anti-gay leaflets in high schools.

The EC ruling stems from a December 2004 incident.

Court records state that National Youth members Tor Fredrik Vejdeland, Mattias Harlin, Bjorn Tang and Niklas Lundstrom, who were in their 20s and teens at the time, distributed leaflets declaring homosexuality is a “deviant sexual proclivity” with a “morally destructive effect on the substance of society.”

The leaflets also blamed gays for HIV/AIDS and said a “homosexual lobby” was downplaying pedophilia.

The foursome dropped the leaflets in lockers at a secondary school in Soderhamn.

A case was brought against the young people and, in 2006, Sweden’s highest court convicted them of agitation against a national group – gays.

Three of the defendants received suspended sentences and a fourth received probation.

The court also imposed fines – as low as $260 and as high as $2,600.

An appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, filed in January 2007, claimed the “free expression” right to distribute the leaflets.

But the EC, in a chamber judgment, sided with the Swedish court in Vejdeland and Others v. Sweden.

The court “found that these statements had constituted serious and prejudicial allegations, even if they had not been a direct call to hateful acts.”

Also, the court stressed that discrimination based on sexual orientation is as serious as discrimination based on “race, origin or colour.”

In a press statement, the EC court said, “While acknowledging the applicants’ right to express their ideas, the Supreme Court had found that the leaflets’ statements had been unnecessarily offensive. It had further emphasised that the applicants had imposed the leaflets on the pupils by leaving them on or in their lockers. The court noted that the pupils had been at an impressionable and sensitive age and that the distribution of the leaflets had taken place at a school which none of the applicants attended and to which they did not have free access.”

The EC, in conjunction with its opinion, also released a fact sheet on hate speech.

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LBGT groups Urge Orbitz to pull ads from anti-gay Fox News

Media Matters kicked off its Drop Fox acampaign by urging Orbitz, an online travel site, to pull its ads from the anti-LBGT Fox News network. Three high-profile gay rights organizations – GLAAD, Courage Campaign and Equality Matters – signed the letter to Orbitz CEO Barney Harford asking that the company no longer support Fox News through ad revenue.

Media Matters’ multi-issue DropFox campaign aims to hold Fox News accountable for its hate speech, misinformation, and other alarming deviations from the usual standards of a news organization. This campaign includes an online ad component to raise awareness about Orbitz’s financial support for Fox News.

“Orbitz risks alienating gay and lesbian customers by giving ad dollars to Fox News, a network that blatantly promotes an anti-gay political agenda,” said Ilyse Hogue, Senior Adviser at Media Matters. “Orbitz customers who value equality can and will take their business elsewhere, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Any company whose customer base values the diversity, civil rights, and journalistic standards should recognize that doing business with Fox will only cost them in the long run.”

Fox News’ history of destructive anti-gay language and actions includes:

• Giving Mike Huckabee his own show despite Huckabee’s history of comparing homosexuality to drug abuse, incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Huckabee has repeatedly used his Fox platform to campaign against gay marriage, and he has suggested that marriage equality poses a threat to stable society.

• Bill O’ Reilly repeatedly using his popular prime time show to warn against the “dangers” of allowing gay people near children, to assert that same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy, nuptials with turtles, ducks or dolphins, and to claim that implementing a hate crimes bill could protect pedophiles.

• Perpetuating the claim that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” would impact troop readiness and morale, despite multiple reports – including the Pentagon’s – to the contrary.

Orbitz’s gay-specific travel site has been warmly received, has resulted in higher quality service for the LGBT community and has achieved an increase in growth for Orbitz. In the last few years, leading LGBT organizations such as GLAAD have recognized the great work that Orbitz has done in partnering with and catering to the LGBT community.

“Companies, especially ones with strong track records of LGBT inclusion, should think twice before supporting Fox News’ pervasive pattern of indefensible bias against our community,” said GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios. “Orbitz is an industry leader in supporting our community and we urge them to send a message that Fox News’ attacks are unacceptable.”

A Media Matters analysis of coverage on everything from gay marriage to the repeal of DADT to gay individuals supports a conclusion that Fox’s coverage is driven by an anti-LGBT political agenda and cannot be considered unbiased news.