The ConWeb's Favorite Gay-Basher
Matt Barber has good friends in WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com, which approvingly quote him and reprint his attacks on homosexuals while never allowing anyone to challenge his claims.
By Terry Krepel
J. Matt Barber is a professional gay-basher. He started out as an amateur one, which he parlayed into his current pro status.
Barber earned his gay-bashing -- and cause celebre -- stripes when he wrote a column that appeared on various right-wing websites in late 2004 and early 2005 that bashed gays and gay sex:
For one to believe that homosexual behavior, the act of sodomy in particular, follows the biological order of things, one must ignore the fact that sodomy violates natural law you know... wrong plumbing...square hole/round peg. The whole thing really is a testament to man’s creativity. Give us something good, and we’ll bend over backwards to twist it into something else.
One of these outlets added to Barber's bio that he worked for Allstate insurance. Barber claimed that in February 2005, Allstate fired him over the article. Barber then hooked up with attorney David Gibbs III -- whom WorldNetDaily lionized for his work on the Terri Schiavo case, making sure in the process to turn a blind eye to where the money to pay him was coming from -- and thus the cause-celebre machine began.
WND jumped on board with a June 2005 article by Ron Strom hyping Barber's lawsuit against Allstate over his dismissal, serving up Barber's side of the case in detail. Not until after 40 paragraphs of Barber's attacks on his former employer did Strom get around to mentioning Allstate's side of the story (which at the point was no comment since it hadn't yet been served with the lawsuit). An August 2005 article, Strom's third on Barber, continued to exclude a response from Allstate, even though the Chicago Tribune had included one in an article a week earlier. It wasn't until the fourth article he wrote on Barber, two weeks later and two months after his first article on the story, that Strom bothered to note Allstate's response -- that he was fired "because he used the company's information technology systems and other resources for his personal journalism activities, many of which took place on company time."
Barber and Allstate settled the lawsuit on confidential terms in February 2006 that apparently did not publicly settle the question of why he was fired; Strom's article on the settlement rehashed Barber's side of the case but didn't mention Allstate's.
WND was still falsely potraying Barber's version of events as the undisputed truth as recently as March 2007.
Barber's anti-gay rant morphed into a gig as "policy director for cultural issues" for the conservative group Concerned Women for America. The December 2006 CWA press release announcing his hiring repeated Barber's assertions, claiming "he was fired from Allstate Insurance Company after writing an article defending traditional marriage," without noting that Barber's version of events remains officially unverified.
CWA apparently lets him be as anti-gay as he wants, so it's not surprising that he runs roughshod with the opportunity.
One would expect Barber to pop up regularly at WND -- what with its own anti-gay agenda on top of its previous promotion of his cause -- and indeed he does, peddling gay stereotypes and misleading claims along the way:
This kind of gay-bashing is right up WND's alley. The surprising thing is CNSNews.com has become a friendly home for him as well. Indeed, Barber has been popping up at CNS with more frequency in recent months. And like at WND, a response to Barber's quotes for "news" articles are rarely, if ever, permitted.
CNS has quoted Barber in at least two articles on the subject of gays in the military. An Aug. 10, 2007, article by Monisha Bansal quoted Barber calling gay in the military an example of "leftist social experiments gone awry" with a "destructive impact," snarkily adding, "Apparently, allowing homosexual men and women in the military to advertise their chosen lifestyle represents the only 'troop surge' liberals will support."
Barber also went on the attack in a Jan. 15 article by Melanie Hunter on a potentially deadly staph infection known as MRSA that has materialized, among other places, in the gay community:
"The human body is quite callous in how it handles mistreatment and the perversion of its natural functions," said Barber. "When two men mimic the act of heterosexual intercourse with one another, they create an environment, a biological counterfeit, wherein disease can thrive. Unnatural behaviors beget natural consequences."
Nowhere did the article note another community in which MRSA has spread: football players. It wasn't until a Jan. 28 article by Pete Winn did CNS acknowledge this -- and only in the context of deflecting criticism of conservatives such as Barber who portrayed MRSA outbreaks as solely a gay-related disease. Winn quoted Barber claiming that "the media have whitewashed this outbreak."
(Winn's article quoted "internationally known infectious disease specialist Dr. John Diggs" as" siding with the conservatives" on the issue, but Winn didn't mention that Diggs is himself a conservative; he has been a member of the national advisory board for the conservative Family Research Council.)
Like WND, CNS has also given Barber space to write op-eds. In a lengthy Feb. 14 op-ed, Barber gives full throat to denouncing the "gay agenda," which he purported to "unmask." But he does a lot of misrepresentation in the process.
Barber began by making a big deal out of something called the "1972 Gay Rights Platform," which included among "the central demands put forth by homosexual activists" a plank seeking to "Repeal all laws governing the age of sexual consent." Barber insisted, "It would legally allow pedophiles, and homosexuals who were so inclined, to access your children and teens for their own predatory sexual gratification - so long as those children 'consented' to having sex."
But as blogger Susan Norfleet pointed out, this provision may have its roots in “age of consent” laws, under which homosexuals have routinely been punished more severely than heterosexuals. Further, nowhere does Barber note that gay groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have denounced sexual abuse of children in general and notorious bogeyman group NAMBLA in particular; GLAAD stated that NAMBLA's "advocacy for sex between adult men and boys and the removal of legal protections for children" are "a form of child abuse and are repugnant to GLAAD."
Barber also claimed that "noted homosexual activist and pornographer Clinton Fein addressed the "gay" agenda in a 2005 article candidly titled, 'The Gay Agenda.'" But as Fein later wrote, the article Barber cites was satire: "Either Matt Barber is deliberately giving his God the finger, or is too stupid to discern satire. Probably both." After all, in the piece itself, Fein wrote that "despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of this piece, it can, and likely will, be taken out of context, and used destructively by bigots and homophobes with ill intentions," adding, "Concerned Women for America called me an obscene pornographer or something to that effect in one of their polemic press releases. So let me give them what they really want to hear."
Barber ramped up the hate even further in a March 27 CNS column essentially claiming that gays are filthy, disease-ridden scum who are plotting to kill straight people by donating blood. He claimed:
In South Africa, militant homosexual activists have been "protesting" by deliberately and surreptitiously violating that nation's blood ban, aiming to flood blood banks with 70,000 units. Who knows how much blood has been contaminated or how many innocent people have been infected. This isn't a protest; it's an act of violence.
Barber treated this as if it was a current story; in fact, the BBC first reported on it in January 2006. The BBC went on to note that the South African National Blood Services also banned blood donations from blacks, noting that "President Thabo Mbeki's blood was destroyed because he was black and because his doctor had refused to complete the personal history questionnaire used to screen donors." Does Barber approve of that ban as well?
Barber doesn't mention that South Africa has since lifted the blanket ban on gay men donating blood, allowing those who have been celibate for six months to donate.
While Barber made a big deal about HIV and AIDS being a "gay disease," that's not the case in South Africa. It's estimated that as many as one in five South African adults -- and nearly 30 percent of pregnant women -- have HIV. Barber also doesn't mention that most countries test donated blood for HIV, making the actual threat much smaller than he purports it to be.
Barber mouths off on non-gay subjects as well. Last August, CNS published Barber's attack on a book for teens that pulled quotes out of context and doesn't mention what the book is about. Barber bashed an Illinois school district for assigning "summer reading to 12- and 13-year-olds that is replete with harsh profanity and references to teen sex (even teen sex with adults)." He then offers salacious quotes from "one of the books," "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K. L. Going. Barber accused the school district of "educational malpractice" for purportedly "willingly -- if not eagerly -- contribut[ing] to their moral degradation by pushing this kind of vulgarity on them." But nowhere does Barber tell readers what the book is about or in what context those quotes appear.
So, what is this purportedly offensive book about? Here's a summary of "Fat Kid Rules the World" from Common Sense Media, which describes itself as a "non-partisan, not-for-profit organization" that offers "trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume":
Troy, a 300-pound high-schooler, is contemplating jumping in front of a train when he meets Curt, an emaciated, homeless, guitar-playing, drop-out legend in his school. Before he knows what has hit him, Troy has agreed to be the drummer in a new band Curt is forming, despite not playing drums. With a faith in him that Troy doesn't understand, Curt is Troy's nightmare and dream come true, often at the same time.
Common Sense Media raises caution flags about much of the book's content, but rather than issuing blanket condemnations, it states for most of those flags, "know your kid." It seems to believe, unlike Barber, that the book covers subjects that adolescents can learn from. Indeed, as the reviewer states:
Troy's father, ex-military, is a rigid stereotype in Troy's, and for a while the reader's, eyes. But from Curt's point of view, and in the midst of crisis, his faults morph into virtues without too much gong-beating from the author. As often happens when we meet someone who has real problems, Curt brings with him a dramatic perspective shift, and young readers may have cause to reassess their opinions of their own parents.
Is that not a message Barber can endorse? Apparently not. If it doesn't occur through his extremely narrow definition of a family, it doesn't exist and must be denounced.
Makes for good ranting -- and a good, well-paid professional gay-basher -- just not good fidelity to the facts or to common sense.