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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stephen Bennett, Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barbera: Please apologize! Misinformation leads to Fear, Fear leads to Violence, Do the Math!

by @ 4:23 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, Gay News, hate speech, Nonviolence, Stephen Bennett

Peter LaBarbera, Stephen Bennett and Matt Barber are all anti-gay rights advocates who have jumped on a story about a very disputed report claiming GLBT folks are 13 times more likely to be infected with what is commonly known as “Flesh eating bacteria” or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).    Since the release of the study done by the University of California there has been much controversey over the findings, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-gay folks from making new comparisons to the days when AIDS was first discovered.

Peter LaBarbera was first to jump on the story releasing an article on his Americans for Truth website, proclaiming:

“More evidence that homosexuality is a public health hazard”

LaBarbera went on in the article to make all sorts of demonizing statements about homosexuality including (blod print is Peter’s):

“Wake up, medical and political establishment: homosexual behavior is unhealthy — no matter how many secular sermons you preach against “homophobia.”  Due to liberal political correctness, which insists on treating aberrant — even deadly — behaviors and lifestyles as a “civil right,” we as a society don’t seem to have learned much from the AIDS pandemic. ” 

Peter goes on to use this story as a platform to dennouce all sorts of pro-gay things, making even further claims that homosexuality is being promoted in schools and that the news media is covering up the dark side of homosexuality.  LaBarbera goes on to paint the picture of all gays and lesbians as sexually promiscuos and sex obsessed. 

Matt Barber and Stephen Bennett have also jumped onto this story using it in similar ways to demonize gays and lesbians.   Both of these men are making the claims that gays are more proned to disease.  Bennett says:

“Sorry… the “answer” is not to throw homosexuals “more condoms.” The answer is for these “men” who are hell-bent on having anonymous sex and/or multiple partners — TO STOP.” 

The problem with Bennett’s comments is that the CDC and the Authors of the study have made it well known that this is spread through skin to skin contact.  It is not a sexually transmitted disease, oh but wait…Bennett knows that beause just before this he says, in the same article:

“Skin to skin contact is all one needs to be infected. Homosexuals are being infected “at the point of skin to skin contact” according to the reports.”

So, let me get this straight, no pun intended, Bennett knew this was not a sexual disease but is calling for an end to public sex to stop it?  Perhaps Stephen doesn’t realize what he has said or can he see that he is a bit more transparent then he thinks. 

Matt Barber is also calling for bath houses and such to be closed, even though this is not a sexual disease.   In an attempt to create the picture that gays are all sex obsessed monsters, He says:

“In light of this behaviorally related MRSA outbreak,” said Barber, “we additionally ask HRC and other groups to call on local health agencies to shut down the many bathhouses and sex clubs around the country where men meet for anonymous sex with other men, often multiple partners, on a daily basis.  These places create the ‘perfect storm’ for infectious disease, including MRSA.”

My question is, why hasn’t Matt or Stephen called on Heterosexual Bath Houses to close?  Like this one?  Why are we only focused on gays?    That wouldn’t be because that is the type of rhetoric that fuels donations of money to your organizations is it?

Even the CDC has come out questioning the findings of the study saying in fact:

“It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM,” the CDC statement said. 

“The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviors that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact … There is no evidence at this time to suggest that it MRSA is a sexually-transmitted infection in the classical sense.”

It shouls also be noted that MRSA is also common in schools.  Does Mr. Bennett, Mr. Barber and Mr. LaBabera also  demand we close the schools?  Do they think since this bacteria is also common with 6th graders that we should assume they are having sex?   Of course not, that would be making some irrational assumptions based on little facts.  Right?

From the website Education Portal:

Each day, there are new reports of students being infected with MRSA. Schools in California, New York, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, New Jersey and nearly every other state in the nation have been forced to respond to the outbreak.

So, let me summerize this for ya.   Bennett, LaBarbera and Barber have all jumped on a band wagon demonizing gays as diseased (much like the Nazi’s did to the jews, I would add).   They have used this story to paint enemy images of gays as a threat to the general populations health, therfore invoking fear of gays as they may be carring some disease that is easy to spread.  This is just wrong and Bennett, LaBarbera and Barbera need to publically apologize and set the facts correct so as not to cause people to fear gays and lesbians as diseased.  Such fears instilled by groups like Bennetts, LaBarbera, and Barber are the types of fears that lead people to want to defend themselves and could well lead to violence.  

Information is the safest and best way to combat fear and violence, but the information needs to be accurate.  In this case Bennett, Barber and LaBarbera are spreading lots of misinformation that needs to be corrected as it is already doing harm.   They need to come clean.

Many times people will refuse to admit they have made a mistake because they want to save face.  I would suggest to these men that saving face in light of misinformation is dangerous for others.   You have put GLBT folks in harm’s way with your misinformation and you should correct that immediately.

Additional Coverage:

Good As You  

CDC Statement on MRSA

Box Turtle Bulletin

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