Answering Scott Lively

13 03 2010

Among the most dangerous and truly vicous promoters of hatred and fear of gays at work today is lawyer/author Scott Lively. Crackpots such as the Westboro Baptist crew can be dismissed as merely annoying – defeating themselves via their own hydrophobic extremism. We could in fact use a few more such nut-jobs as they effectively tar the entire anti-gay movement with the brush of their own disrepute.

Lively however, is another matter. For one thing, the man is not stupid. He’s evil, yes, but moderately intelligent. That makes him dangerous and a threat to be taken seriously. His doctorate from Trinity Law School does not put him in the intellectual league of a Harvard or Princeton graduate of course, but at least it has given him the skills to write coherently. (We should note that this is not the Trinity, the ancient and eminent college in Dublin. It’s some other place that liked the name.) And what has he done with these skills? He has made a globetrotting career out of spreading hatred and fear of gays from his California base through Eastern Europe and Africa and is a prime mover behind the anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda. To this end, he has published a number of books including “The Pink Swastika,” a book purporting to prove the Nazis were a gay movement and hence, gay liberation is inherently fascist and a loathsome volume titled “7 Ways to Recruit-Proof Your Child.” This last book is undoubtedly responsible for untold misery on the part of gay kids who have the great misfortune of being born into fundamentalist families. One might wish the fundy’s primitive ideas about Hell were true and that, for contributing to the anguish of so many kids, Lively would find himself consigned there. However, as my grandmother said, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

Lively is closely associated with the Christian Reconstructionist movement and has written for it’s primary publication, The Chalcedon Report . Christian Reconstructionism is self evidently traitorous to the United States. The movement is based on the idea of replacing the constitution with Biblical law and the establishment of a “Christian” taliban. Hence, we may presume Lively does not respect the traditions of democracy handed down to us by the Founding Fathers.

Among Lively’s internet postings is a script for arguing with gay activists. It is a clever and effective use of the tools of debate and logic. It should be paid attention by activists as a lesson in sharpening one’s skills when confronting the enemy. Far too often, gays enter into such debates (on those rare occasions when fundamentalists are willing to talk to us at all) armed only with assumptions, generalities and a fuzzy-minded, live-and-let-live philosophy, making themselves easy victims of someone armed with Lively’s coaching. Let’s look at the scrip item by item.

First. Lively wants to define terms and asks “what is homosexuality?” He presumes the responder can be trapped into a discussion of whether it is an innate or a chosen condition. This argument cannot be won. While some studies indicate a genetic predisposition as a possibility, the results are not yet conclusive. Even if they were, they would not necessarily justify a given behavior since inclination and action are two different things. One might, for example, be psychologically inclined to violence but this would not justify assault. Instead of being trapped in a quasi-scientific minefield, define homosexuality as “the pursuit of happiness.” Always have recourse to the classic and enshrined phrases of American history whenever possible.

Lively will doubtless respond “so, what if your happiness is sex with your sister or a child or a sheep? Are there no limits on this pursuit?” You could reply “provided the sheep is over 18 and specifically consents. Now let me ask you a question? What should one do if the sheep is the aggressor? Ignore its hopes and aspirations? That seems cruel. As for sex with one’s sister, there are already quite enough congenital idiots in the world who believe primitive and simplistic dogmas.”  The references to age 18 and to consent clearly reply to the issue of children and no more need be said about that.

Lively advocates returning to the definition issue again and again, therefore he will say there is no test we can administer to determine if a person is gay. We must rely on their word. One can reply that the same is true of Christians, yet their status is recognized in law and they even get tax exemptions for their churches. Why then can we not have tax exemptions for gay bars? That this reply is silly is its strength. The use of sarcasm and humor has ever been among the gay movement’s strongest weapons.

Lively passionately argues that children must be saved from exposure to the normalization of homosexuality, lest the be “recruited.” This chestnut belongs in the same trash barrel as “Reefer Madness,” but it still has many believers as is evidenced by the sale of Lively’s abhorrent “7 Ways” book. The response to that would be to quote statistics on the number of gay teens who commit suicide every year, primarily because of the intolerance of their families. Point out that the majority of teen suicides are caused by this very issue and suggest Lively would prefer dead kids to gay kids, since that is precisely what his views result in.

Lively may counter that Kids can be “saved” through counseling, treatment and “coming to Jesus.” Point out that no reputable medical or psychological association supports such treatment and Jesus evidently couldn’t care less since he never said word one about the subject.

Among Lively’s favorite techniques is to reduce everything to absolutes. He discounts “diversity” because it doesn’t include all cultures, giving slavery and cannibalism as examples of the excluded.  Respond that there are no absolutes and give the example of not being allowed to cry “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire as the accepted example of limits on freedom of speech. Likewise, freedom of religion does not include human sacrifice. Point out that cultural limits change and evolve constantly. A hundred years ago, children were routinely beaten with a switch or a cane for misbehavior in school. Today, the teacher who did that would go to jail. Limits change. Four or five hundred years ago, Lively would have been himself burned at the stake as a heretic. One might argue, especially in this last example, that the old ways were best but, sigh, change has happened and continues to happen.

Lively is particularly incensed by the term “homophobia,” which he claims is a snarl word we made up to give the impression that everyone who opposes homosexuality is in the same class as the killers of Matthew Shepard (his example.) He challenges his debate opponent to define the difference between homophobic and non-homophobic opponents of homosexuality. The reply to that is – he’s right. They ARE all in the same class. The preacher who condemns gays from the pulpit need never personally lift a finger to harm a gay. He contributes more than his share by helping to create the moral justification for those who actually do the heavy lifting. The person who passes crude anti-gay jokes or who objects to positive portrayals of gays does the same thing.

Lively attempts to employ the scare tactic that gays are “taking over” mainstream religious denominations, schools, the entertainment industry and politics. Uh – huh. That must be why we only have full equality in five states and the District of Columbia. That’s why DOMA is still in place. That’s why we can’t file joint federal taxes. The list does go on for quite a while.

The point of all this is that when confronting an enemy such as Scott Lively, avoid the traps, be armed with facts and statistics from reliable sources and whenever possible, turn the question aside with sarcasm intended to show the oppression and absurdity inherent in his position.




One response

13 03 2010

I feel like there is always going to be a Scott Lively lurking someplace. I knew several of them in high school in Savannah, GA—they were amazingly good at changing their spots, but remained the same animal. They are extremely insecure and anything that penetrates to the wobbly core of them destroys them. My main question to Lively (and I hope I get to ask that question) is what stake does he have in destroying something that’s been around as long as humans have, and probably even before us? What or who is he trying to hide? Was his father gay? Does he have a gay uncle, or mother, or sister, or son? And as he answers this vehemently, I’d ask him why he needs to lie about it? Simple as that.

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