Seems like everyone’s been talking about Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kerns and her little tirade against homosexuality. Kerns believed she was speaking to a small group of like-minded supporters, but when the audio got leaked, she instantly became a national embarrassment:
Kerns has complained that her remarks are edited and taken out of context:
I am totally against hate speech. Always have been and always will be. What you heard on YouTube was from a talk I gave on the aggressive movement to fund homosexuals and pro-homosexual candidates across the country and here in Oklahoma now that an openly homosexual is running for a statewide seat. The account given on YouTube took my words out of context and omitted other parts stringing certain words together to make it appear I was engaging in hate speech. I was not and would never do such a thing. The YouTube account is a blatant misrepresentation of my talk.
Now, the remarks clearly do seem to be edited, but as far as I can tell, edited mostly to highlight hateful, ridiculous claim after claim rather than to substantively distort her remarks. It’s quite clear from the video, rather than disguised, that she is railing against “homosexual candidates”: what she doesn’t seem to understand is that this is precisely what people find to be hateful in the first place. Notice also that she doesn’t actually give any examples of things that were distorted or taken out of context. And then there’s the usual “I didn’t say that… I stand by what I said” two-step:
I said nothing that wasn’t true. The homosexual agenda is real, the movement is aggressive, and it is a very real threat to the sacred institution of marriage and the traditional family unit. They are actively seeking to remove conservatives from the political arena. My talk was to a Republican group and I was speaking about the homosexual agenda to defeat conservative Republicans. They want to silence anyone who does not approve their lifestyle. They want their freedom but don’t want those who disagree to have their freedom.
Notice how supporting this or that candidate is all of a sudden an attempt to “silence” people or deny them their freedom. Again, no actual examples are given as to how anyone is silenced or denied any of their freedom. Meanwhile, this is the very woman trying to censor any books from school libraries that mention gay people in a positive light. As with the Intelligent Design film Expelled!, talking about “freedom of speech” here is simply an attempt to change the subject: restating that someone has the right to say something is not an answer to the question of whether you agree with it or support it, or whether it has merit. The fact that someone is free to speak does not mean that voting them out of office is silencing their views. It’s judging them and responding to them.
But what’s truly pathetic is the way she tries to hide behind her religion in excusing her opinions in her media responses. The fact that someone believes that their bigotry is endorsed by a holy text doesn’t make you one iota less morally responsible for holding those views. People who believe that they are acting under orders do not suddenly become blameless for carrying them out, and certainly not with the sort of passion this woman demonstrates. The Bible doesn’t contain any of the psuedo-scientific nonsense she peddles about gay life-expectancy: that stuff was actively made up and promoted by activists trying to demean and attack gay people.
If you’re going to hate on gays, fine. But the fact that you think you have God on your side is irrelevant to whether or not you deserve condemnation, nor does it magically transform your bigotry into “facts.”
Update: Ed Brayton at Dispatches posts a powerful statement from one of the victims of Oklahoma City bombings speaking out against Kerns’ bigotry. One obvious quibble with it is that McVeigh was not in any demonstrable sense a Christian extremist motivated by religion, as the author seems to imply. But other than that, it’s really a quite brilliant and very appropriate response.