Thursday, January 29, 2009

Targeting Youth with Anti-Gay Lies: More on the Right's New Outreach to American Youth

As an addendum to my series on what seems to me to be an unfolding agenda of the political and religious right to enhance its appeal to younger voters (, I’d like to recommend an article from yesterday’s Slate ( In the article, Christopher Beam examines the attempt of the right to create its own version of the netroots movement.

As my last post on this theme of new methods of right-wing outreach to younger voters (to which I link above) notes, the American Family Association recently started its own Facebook site ( I’ve been following the development of that site by logging in to it daily. As I do so, it’s becoming clear to me that churches of the religious right and other groups affiliated with that movement are heavily promoting this new outreach to youth.

Daily, there are eye-popping announcements that thousands of new members have joined the site. Peruse these members, though, and you’ll discover that a great many of them are not the youth the site is hoping to target, but the old war horses of the religious right.

The AFA site is currently marketing itself as an open group site with open discussion. But that claim is belied by the administrators’ handling of the discussion board. Because it’s open, it’s receiving contributions from posters who are energetically challenging the AFA agenda—including a delightful Rev. Kris Hussein Smithleton, whose username is a cheeky response to some of the bona fide AFA members who seem to think it’s still clever to spell out the new president’s full name.

But follow the postings, and you’ll note that censorship is alive and well on the site. Discussion topics that get into the face of AFA have been disappearing from the site with notes that the posting was removed. It will be interesting to see how long the site remains open and permits posters like Rev. Kris (and other courageous souls who are also logging on to make their voices heard) to contribute to discussion at the site.

It’s also interesting to note that though Rev. Don Wildmon’s oft-repeated ground rules for the AFA Facebook site state that no stereotyping is allowed, and that “[a]ll persons are to be treated with dignity even if you disagree with what they say or do,” some posters routinely use the word “homosexual” as an epithet, and do so with impunity. One of the worst offenders in that regard is an older married woman in Florida who has now chosen to change her Facebook picture. Whereas it previously showed her standing behind her husband, it now has one of the anonymous-face i.d.’s that Facebook assigns if one does not upload a picture of one’s own.

AFA may soon learn that it’s harder work than they imagined, to maintain a site that purports to value free discussion when the real agenda is to promote the AFA agenda, and to try to hook younger folks with that agenda. Those being targeted are computer-savvy and also know the ropes of these discussion boards, and may well use this new site to give AFA a run for its money.

And make no mistake about it, this site promotes an agenda, and a highly political one at that--one that goes far beyond resistance to gay rights. It calls for activism to resist the new president and his administration; its posters take strong sides in the Arab-Israeli conflicts; it stoutly resists women's rights, etc. It supports a theocratic political agenda that would dearly love to force all American citizens to submit to the religious, moral, and political views of a right-wing evangelical minority who have deified the past president and who are betraying core Christian principles by idolizing one political party.

By the way, if you visit this site, check out the picture of site creator and administrator Jacob Dawson. Is it just me, or is that one scary photo?