Brian Tashman's blog

Janet Jackson, ISIS And The Amish: Religious Right Group Fears First Amendment On Last Legs

When Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), told the Values Voter Summit on Friday that the U.S. is witnessing the rise of “self-imposed Sharia law” due to the gay rights movement, it turns out that he was just getting started.

The next day, Johnson — whose group represents evangelical radio and television programs — hosted a panel discussion on how the First Amendment is “under siege” by liberals. Johnson and his fellow panelists Craig Parshall, an NRB official and husband of right-wing talk show host Janet Parshall, and Canadian Religious Right activist Charles McVety, stoked fears about the persecution of Christians in the United States, including warning that Janet Jackson’s decade-old “wardrobe malfunction” could lead to laws criminalizing anti-gay speech.

Johnson suggested that the anti-gay Benham brothers somehow had their constitutional rights violated when HGTV dropped their planned reality show, and repeatedly made misleading claims about a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. He warned that without Citizens United, “private citizens” would be barred from “weighing in on elections,” which of course implies that citizens did not have those rights prior to 2010, when the case was decided.

McVety, the Canadian, claimed that the U.S. is on the verge of doing away with the First Amendment because he has heard “whispers of hate speech” laws on the horizon, alleging that even quoting from the Bible may soon become a criminal offense in America. Outside of the “whispers” he claims to have heard, McVety cited no evidence at all substantiating his claim about the imminent passage of unconstitutional hate speech laws.

McVety explained his theory that U.S. activists will use ISIS propaganda videos of hostage beheadings as an excuse to enact laws banning hate speech. “I can see it coming in America,” he said.

Johnson also tried to find evidence to back up the panel’s dire warnings of constitutional collapse, warning that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may cite the fines levied against Janet Jackson for her 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” as a precedent for fining conservative TV personalities under the guise of preserving public order and decency.

The halftime show controversy, of course, occurred a decade ago without any of the horrible results that Johnson predicted, and the NRB actually supported the FCC in the case. Seeing that the NRB filed an amicus curiae brief under Parshall’s name defending the FCC’s fine [PDF], Johnson appears to suggest that his own organization is threatening the First Amendment.

Parshall also grasped at straws in an effort to find evidence of imminent dangers to the First Amendment.

After discussing “Spanish inquisition-type investigations” taking place in America and a “tsunami” of threats to the freedom of speech, Parshall could only cite the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 case that struck down anti-sodomy laws. He said the ruling paved the way for hate speech laws because of the majority opinion’s use of international law in its decision.

Since U.S. courts citing foreign laws is nothing new, we can only assume that Parshall merely cited Lawrence to raise fears about the gay-Sharia menace that Johnson previously warned about.

Parshall then railed against hate speech policies on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, which of course have their own policies that users agree to uphold and do not represent the government.

Parshall also pointed to the Amish beard shaving case — in which a group of people from an Amish sect were charged with breaking federal hate crime laws, among other counts, for forcibly and violently shaving the beards and cutting the hair of former sect members — to claim that the Justice Department used the hate crime charges against the Amish beard-cutters in order to give them more leeway for future prosecutions over hate speech.

An appeals court recently overturned the religious-based hate crime conviction, finding that prosecutors couldn’t prove that the attacks were motivated for religious reasons, rather than familial, political or personal disputes (two of the victims were the parents of their assailants).

Essentially, the NRB panel’s extreme claims about the imminent annihilation of the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution came down to a string of possibly-maybe-this-could-happen incidents that wed together Janet Jackson, ISIS and Amish beard-cutters.

Johnson concluded his remarks by saying that the “NRB will be for the First Amendment what the NRA is for the Second Amendment.”

If that means making completely outlandish statements and developing doomsday conspiracy theories to spur political outrage and raise money, then his comparison is right on.

Pat Buchanan: Obama Inciting Violence Against Police Officers

In his syndicated column today, Pat Buchanan decries President Obama for supposedly “stoking the fires of racial resentment” with his remarks on the ongoing controversy surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Citing dubious reports that Brown “smashed” officer Darren Wilson’s eye socket, Buchanan criticized the notion that Brown’s death had anything to do with race, warning that if “a St. Louis officer is wounded or killed in revenge for Brown, President Obama will deserve a full share of the moral responsibility.”

What, other than its racial aspect, can explain why Obama is so hung up on Ferguson? At the Congressional Black Caucus dinner Saturday, he was back stoking the embers.

“Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black or driving while black – judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.”

Obama is here implying that Michael Brown was profiled, judged “guilty of walking while black,” when shot and killed.

But that is false, and Barack Obama knows it is false.

Brown had just knocked over a convenience store after collaring the clerk and was walking in the middle of the main street in Ferguson, blocking traffic, when Officer Darren Wilson confronted him.

Did Wilson shoot Brown in a racist rage? Or did Wilson, face battered and eye socket smashed in a fight with the 290-pound, 6-foot-4-inch Brown, empty his gun in self-defense? We do not know. And neither does Barack Obama.

For weeks, a grand jury in St. Louis County has been hearing testimony, trying to sort it out. But by implying the shooting was done for racial reasons, that Brown may have been “targeted” for “walking while black,” Obama is stoking the fires of racial resentment.

Why is he parroting a party line about America that he knows is more myth than truth? White cops are not the great lurking danger, nor the leading cause of violent death, of black teenagers and men.

That role is fulfilled by other black teenagers and other black men. And the statistics on the ugliest forms of racial violence in America – interracial assaults, rapes, murders – reveal that such crimes are overwhelmingly black-on-white.



Saturday night, a Ferguson cop was shot in an incident unrelated to August. But Chief Jackson and State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson have told the Washington Post their officers have been repeatedly threatened and, since August, have come under gunfire.

If a St. Louis officer is wounded or killed in revenge for Brown, President Obama will deserve a full share of the moral responsibility.

It is time he started acting like a president of all the people and dropped this role of outside agitator.

Ben Carson: Looming Anarchy May Cancel 2016 Elections

Likely GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson spoke with Alan Colmes on Friday about his repeated claim that the U.S. may not have an election in 2016 because of the way Democrats are acting in office.

Carson said the election could be cancelled because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t “bring up these 358 bills that are sitting on his desk” to a vote, which of course has nothing to do with organizing a general election.

When Colmes pressed him on his remarks, Carson said the threat of ISIS and “envy” could bring about a situation where “there may be so much anarchy going on” that elections can’t be held.

Carson: If in fact we continue to have all these decrees being made the way they’re being made, if in fact we don’t fight the kind of war that needs to be fought in order to really put and end to the threat that is brought on ISIS, if we continue along a pathway of financial irresponsibility, if we continue along a path of envy, greed, hatred, what happened with Occupy Wall Street will be a cakewalk compared to what will begin to happen in this country.
Colmes: What do you mean though when you say there won’t be an election in 2016?
Carson: There may be so much anarchy going on.
Colmes: Anarchy? You think really risk having an anarchic America to the point where elections may be put on hold or some kind of emergency is declared with such anarchy that there wouldn’t be a presidential election in a couple of years.
Carson: I don’t want to find out, I really don’t want to find out. I don’t want to continue down this pathway that we are going down. This pathway where everything is framed in a political sense and our representatives are not working for the people, they’re working for their party.

Carson also insisted that President Obama is hiding his college records, suggesting that there was a conspiracy to get him into Columbia University since he was only a “mediocre” student at Occidental College.

As Fact Check notes, past presidents have similarly declined to release their college records, but Carson believes Obama is hiding something because the president “didn’t demonstrate a stellar academic record and yet the next thing you know he’s at Columbia University, which is an Ivy League institution, and it would be very nice to know how do you go from a relatively mediocre record at an average school to a prestigious Ivy League school. I think it would be interesting to know.”

Carson refused to say if he had his own theory regarding Obama’s academic career, just responding: “I think we should know what happened, it would be very interesting to know, it would be nice to know if any of those are the ways. I don’t know what happened, that’s why I’d like to see the records.”

“If they’re going to hide things, why should we trust them to represent us?” he continued. “If they have something to hide, there’s a reason that they’re hiding them. I have a reason to want to see the records.”

Ex-Gay Activists Plan To Lobby On ENDA, Hate Crimes Laws

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is preparing for the “Second Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month” conference taking place this week in Washington, D.C., and PFOX executive director Regina Griggs appeared on today’s edition of “Sandy Rios In The Morning” to promote the event to all of American Family Radio’s ex-gay listeners.

Griggs told guest host Fred Jackson that the group of ex-gay activists will be visiting Capitol Hill because “many, many people within our Congress and in our Senate do not know and have never met an ex-gay, never heard of one.”

According to Griggs, the ex-gay lobbyists will tell members of Congress, “I want you to know that when you consider legislation, when you consider protection, hate crimes, ENDA, we do exist, we are out here, change is possible.”

Griggs, who has a gay son who does not identify as an “ex-gay,” also claimed that homosexuality is a choice, and a “dangerous” one at that.

“It is declared by the individual, it’s a decision that they have made,” she said. “If they have unwanted same-sex attractions that are based on being encouraged to live this lifestyle, many of them make the decision to live in a lifestyle that is changeable.”

She denounced laws in California and New Jersey that bar minors from undergoing ex-gay therapy, which she said will prevent people from receiving “help to walk away from a dangerous lifestyle.”

Stop Persecuting Us! Five Religious Right Tactics On Clear Display At The Values Voter Summit

One thing was clear at last week’s Values Voter Summit: many of the Religious Right’s leaders and allied politicians know that their stances on abortion rights and LGBT equality are becoming more and more toxic to the average voter, and less and less popular within the GOP.

Many speakers at the conference tried to reframe the debate on issues such as same-sex marriage, insisting that opponents of LGBT rights are becoming an oppressed minority in America. This delusion even seeped into matters such as foreign policy, with speakers attacking President Obama as an Islamist sympathizer who refuses to take military action against ISIS, even while he was doing exactly that.

Naturally, one politician was able to prey upon the many fears and fantasies of the far-right: Ted Cruz.

Even as the Values Voter Summit subtly changed its tone on some familiar issues, five tried and true tactics of the Religious Right were unchanged at last week’s event:

5. Make Audacious Persecution Analogies

While addressing the plight of Christians in the Mideast and people such as Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan and Saeed Abedini in Iran — both of whom are actually the victims of shocking anti-Christian persecution — Values Voter Summit speakers often attempted to claim that conservative Christians face similar abuses and comparable treatment in America.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel attempted to paint the Obama administration as more malicious than the government of Nazi Germany, and twins Jason and David Benham — who lost a planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay political activism — even had the gall to compare themselves to the victims of ISIS.

Todd Starnes and Kelly Shackelford rattled off cases of purported anti-Christian persecution in America, “Duck Dynasty” star Alan Robertson said his family’s reality TV show was briefly suspended as the result of demonic attacks, and a Colorado baker who gained national attention after denying service to a gay couple broke down in tears.

Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, told attendees that marriage equality opponents will be “oppressed” due to their opinions, and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel predicted Big Government persecution of Christians on behalf of “the intolerant homosexual lobby.”

4. Demand Religious Freedom… Except For Muslims

For a conference dedicated to protecting religious liberty and addressing the supposed persecution of Christians in America, there sure was plenty of animosity towards Muslims.

Conference speakers including Michele BachmannRobert DeesGary Bauer and Brigitte Gabriel dedicated their remarks to the threat of Islam, with several conflating Al Qaeda and ISIS with all of Islam and suggesting that the U.S. government somehow declare war on the religion.

Prior to the conference, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose group was the summit’s chief sponsor, suggested that Muslim-Americans be stripped of their rights under the Constitution.

3. Brazenly Ignore Reality

It was surreal to watch several Values Voter Summit speakers criticize President Obama for not going after ISIS at the same time as a U.S.-led coalition was launching a daily torrent of airstrikes against ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said Obama doesn’t believe that ISIS leaders need to be “hunted down and killed and destroyed.”

Bachmann declared that the president was ignoring her sage advice on how to handle ISIS: “You kill their leader, you kill their council, you kill their army until they wave the white flag of surrender. That’s how you win a war!”

2. Push Back Against The GOP

There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right, as more and more GOP candidates either refuse to highlight the movement’s anti-choice and anti-gay positions or are openly trumpeting support for abortion rights and gay marriage.

Just before the conference took place, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council issued a letter announcing their vow to defeat two openly gay Republican House candidates and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Oregon, who is pro-choice and running advertisements boasting of her support for marriage equality.

NOM president Brian Brown criticized Republicans for blaming the party’s stances on social issues for losses in the 2012 election. “It’s not our fault,” Brown insisted as he introduced unabashedly anti-gay politician Rick Santorum at the summit.

Later, at a NOM-sponsored panel, Brown accused gay rights supporters of attempting to “hijack” the GOP. While one panel at the summit attempted to explain the potential for libertarians and social conservatives to build a political alliance, it seems many in the audience didn’t want anything to do with the libertarian message.

1. Throw Them Red Meat

Ted Cruz once again won the summit’s presidential candidate straw poll, with Ben Carson, who didn’t attend the summit this year but was well-represented by campaigners from the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, finishing in second place. Cruz and Carson notably outpaced Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, two favorites of Religious Right movement who both spoke at the summit.

Cruz packed his speech with warnings about imminent threats to the Second Amendment and religious freedom, and listing objects of conservative derision: IRS, Common Core and Obamacare.

Conference organizers said Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not welcome at the summit, but they wouldn’t have been able to stand a chance against Cruz’s easy applause lines anyway.

Who Does Glenn Beck Really Stand With: Russian Gays Or America's Religious Right?

Shortly after Russia passed its new spate of anti-gay laws, Glenn Beck said he was so offended by one Russian commentator who called for the mass killing of gays and lesbians that he would “stand with GLAAD” against the growing tide of anti-gay bigotry and “hetero-fascism” in the country.

At the same time, however, Beck was heaping praise on anti-gay activists such as Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who endorsed draconian anti-gay laws in Russia and Malawi.

Then, this weekend, Beck took the same stand against growing Russian “hetero-fascism” in his closing speech at the Values Voter Summit, even though many of the summit’s sponsors and his fellow speakers have openly backed harsh anti-gay laws in Russia and throughout the world.

To begin with, Tony Perkins, the president of the summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, defended Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it included provisions making homosexuality a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Beck’s fellow Values Voter Summit speakers included not only Staver and Perkins but also Peter Sprigg, the FRC spokesman who called for the U.S. to export gay people and criminalize homosexuality. The American Family Association also sponsored the summit, and its spokesmen Bryan Fischer and Sandy Rios have also endorsed Russia’s anti-gay policies, with Fischer even backing Uganda’s law.

Maybe Beck was trying to hold Religious Right leaders at the summit to task for their support of brutal anti-gay policies. But if that’s the case, Beck should start confronting them directly when they come on his show, rather than singing their praises and appearing at their conferences while calling policies they support “fascist.”

Anti-Gay Activist Peter LaBarbera: I'm Like A Jew In Nazi Germany!

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality is joining the chorus of anti-gay activists likening themselves to Jews living in Nazi Germany, twice drawing comparisons to Nazism during a Friday interview with conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd.

While discussing the Human Rights Campaign’s “Export of Hate” report and what he claims are Right Wing Watch’s misrepresentations of his remarks, LaBarbera said of gay rights supporters: “They’re doing to us what the Nazis did to the Jews.”

“We have to trust in God to protect us,” LaBarbera said, suggesting that criticism of his anti-gay activism is fanning the flames of violence.

“This demonization is just — it’s what’s been done to minorities to the past and like I said, it’s what the Nazis did to the Jews,” LaBarbera added. “We’re losing our freedoms.”

LaBarbera repeatedly told Mefferd that HRC and others are trying to stop him from appearing in the media, which is actually exactly what LaBarbera did to gay rights advocate Wayne Besen.

Michele Bachmann Tries To Walk Back 'Boring' Gay Marriage Remarks

Following her Values Voter Summit speech about engaging in “spiritual warfare” with Islam, Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke to journalists, including Michelangelo Signorile, who asked her about gay marriage.

Bachmann, a leading anti-gay Republican, said that “it’s not an issue,” telling Signorile, “In fact, it’s boring.”

The Minnesota congresswoman now appears to be walking back her remarks, suggesting in an interview with WorldNetDaily that she is the victim of a media attack:

In a follow-up interview with WND, however, Bachmann clarified her comments.

“What I said is that this won’t be the issue that drives the 2014 election,” Bachmann said. “I told the reporter it’s getting boring having them only press this issue with Republicans while ignoring Democrats.

“The media loves to divide us on this issue. They look for something all the time,” Bachmann told WND. “I said nothing different. I’m the woman who carried the traditional marriage amendment in Minnesota, and I stand firm in my belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

Bachmann’s aide told WND she wasn’t brushing off the radio host, she was merely making a quick, parting comment as she was leaving.

Brigitte Gabriel: Hundreds Of Millions Of Muslims Are Aspiring Suicide Bombers

How fitting that a conference ostensibly about guarding religious liberty included several speakers who used their time to level attacks against Muslim-Americans, including Brigitte Gabriel of the anti-Muslim group Act! for America.

Gabriel, whose organization focuses on fighting Muslim campus affinity groups and passing dubiously-constitutional laws barring sharia law, claimed in her speech this morning that around 180-300 million Muslims are “radical Islamists who are willing to strap bombs on their bodies and walk into this room and blow us all up to smithereens.”

Erick Erickson: People Who Believe In Evolution Are Dumb And Jealous

It was tough to top the sanctimonious speech delivered by Religious Right activist twins David and Jason Benham at the Values Voter Summit last night, but RedState editor Erick Erickson tried his best. Erickson, who also serves as a Fox News pundit, dedicated his remarks to explaining how people like himself and the VVS audience are headed to Heaven and, because of that, everyone else is jealous of them.

These days, Erickson lamented, people “worship science” and “believe we were an accident of a primordial goo, particles bumping into each other after the Big Bang that created bacteria that created amoeba that created something that led to something that led to something, a missing link, and then men, somewhere in there there’s a monkey apparently.”

After mocking evolution as dumb and incompatible with the religious faith, even cracking a joke about the Fox series “Cosmos,” Erickson said “I see a world that is opposed to us in this room because we’re headed home to eternity, we’re just passing through.”

“There is a last day, pick a side and the right side wins,” he said, adding: “You have got to love someone enough that you don’t want them to go to Hell.”

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious