The sad fact is that there are certain people, at polar-opposite ends of the political spectrum, who sometimes venture beyond the water's edge and--driven by their beliefs and ideology--leap straight into the cesspool of intolerance, bigotry, and utter lunacy.
It was bad enough when Senator Trent Lott praised Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign, and was rightfully forced to resign from his post as Senate Majority Leader as a result. Or when Senator Rick Santorum hyperventilated in an interview earlier this year with the Associated Press: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consentual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything!" Or when Democratic Congressman James Moran blamed Jews for being the driving force behind the war in Iraq--with the outburst resulting in the loss of his position as Democratic regional whip. However, none of the aforementioned incidents come anywhere close to beating the "redneck eruption" this week by Canadian Alliance "family affairs critic," Larry Spencer.
This guy's remarks make even Reverend Jerry Falwell's politics look more like Larry Flynt's. According to Spencer, homosexuality should be criminalized, and gays can be trained to love the heterosexual lifestyle in the same way that someone who hates long-distance running or weightlifting can train themselves to love it. The former Baptist preacher-by-training from Missouri also describes a loopy four decade-old conspiracy on the part of homosexuals to seduce and recruit young boys in playgrounds and locker rooms and convert them to the gay pride movement.
The "pro-family" agenda of conservatives shouldn't double as a welcome mat for anti-gay, intolerant bigots who are looking for a forum to spew their venom. Unfortunately though, there will always be a few of these types loitering around--but in a healthy, democratic party or movement, their views will be relegated to the sidelines by the will of the sensible majority. Those who interpret the Bible in the extreme in order to promote some sort of hate-filled agenda of intolerance really are no different from the al-Qaeda extremists who used their own brand of hatred and anger to fuel the deadly attacks of September 11th, 2001, that brought down New York's twin towers and temporarily turned the Pentagon into little more than a square. But the bottom line is that, in a society that values democracy and free speech, Spencer has every right to tell the world (and the voters) what he thinks. If he really wants to, he can go on about his gay conspiracies, the JFK 'magic bullet theory', how you could see the puppet strings attached to astronaut Neil Armstrong in the moonwalk footage, and the black helicopters that may or may not hover above his house at night--all in the name of 'free speech.' It doesn't mean that he speaks for his party, or for anyone else not confined to an insane asylum. In turn, voters have the right to label him a mouth-breathing hate-mongerer, and to toss this "Tickle Me Crazy" bigot (wind him up and watch him shake with fury while the insults and spittle fly!) out of elected office in the upcoming spring election if they disagree with his views. And his party's leader has the right to drop-kick Spencer's butt out of caucus if his comments aren't supported by the party on whose policy platform he was elected.
Canadian Alliance Opposition Leader, Stephen Harper, fired Spencer from his critic portfolio and dropped him from caucus 'temporarily'. In my opinion, Harper didn't quite go far enough: He should have been given a permanent heave-ho.
The left-leaning mainstream media has predictably framed the incident to suggest--over and over again, in daily coverage--that the Right has some real wingnuts in its ranks. Well, duh! Extremists exist at both ends of the political spectrum. At least on the Right, though, we call these people "fanatics" or "extremists". When liberals spew their typical hatred towards Christians and white people, no one blinks. Political correctness dictates that it's okay to speak out against Christians--just not blacks or gays. Similarly, lefties feel that it's okay to discriminate against white people through a phenomenon called "affirmative action." Conservatives, on the other hand, value and uphold everyone's right to equality and free speech, but are quick to relegate hatemongering of any form to the lunatic fringe.
Take, for instance, George W. Bush and the "Family Policy Network." Bush has made no secret about his support of family values. A born-again Christian, Bush--along with his longtime friend, Secretary of Commerce Don Evans--is known for holding regular Bible study sessions for his staff at the White House. But these factors also make Bush a bigot magnet. They court him under the guise of "family values"; but, Bush and his team know where to draw the line with these people. As a result, some of these "family value coalitions" don't like him too much. "BUSH ADVANCES THE 'GAY' AGENDA," screams a headline on the "Family Policy Network" website. The site further accuses Bush of "strategizing with homosexuals," while pointing out that the "Bush/gay alliance pushes Christians to the fringe." Then comes the laundry list of "gay" appointments: "Homosexual appointed to Arts post" (duh!); "Bush appoints a homosexual ambassador"; and "Bush appoints 4 more homosexuals." Did it ever occur to these people that--particularly in the first case--he merely picked the BEST person for the job, no matter what their sexual orientation happened to be? If you were to believe these guys, you'd figure there was some kind of imminent danger that the entire West Wing could spontaneously combust at any second with all the flaming gays Bush had hired. If there's ever an opening for a "Fashion post" appointment, I certainly hope Bush gives them reason to write yet another headline.
Just to illustrate how far removed from reality these people really are, they also accuse Attorney General John Ashcroft--arguably the most right-leaning authoritarian of the current administration, or of any recent administration for that matter--of "making promises to homosexuals" and "pleasing gay activists at the Department of Justice." Even Hitler wouldn't have been right-leaning enough for these people: "Yeah, that Hitler. Had some dang good ideas, but didn't quite go far enough. Ultimately, a disappointment."
The great, former President Ronald Reagan had it right when he said that he didn't really care what kind of relations occurred between two consenting adults, "as long as they didn't do it in the streets and scare the horses." It's not the business of government to legislate this kind of morality. The real issue is how the bigoted nuts who feel otherwise are handled on the odd occasion when they happen to roll out of the trail mix--not whether they exist at the outskirts of any given party. Having one of them go off on a rant every so often provides for a convenient public demonstration that serves to show the voters that extreme viewpoints don't rule the party. It would be far more disturbing NOT to know what the nutbar contingent was up to, what influence they wielded, whose ear they happened to be chewing on, and what they were really thinking. At least this way, everything's out in the open.