Fox News Chicago Sends Undercover Agents to Anti-Gay Fundraiser December 20, 2010

Fox News Chicago Sends Undercover Agents to Anti-Gay Fundraiser

Remember a few months ago when I sent a couple people undercover into the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality Anti-Gay-Rights “Truth Academy”? (If not, you can read the reports here, here, and here.)

Well, a couple months ago, I was contacted by my local Fox Chicago news affiliate. They were going to do a story on AFTAH (more newsworthy now that the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled them a Hate Group) and they wanted to get in touch with my reporters.

Not only that — Fox was sending its own undercover reporters to an AFTAH fundraiser. And this time, they were bringing hidden cameras 🙂

I put the Fox folks in touch with my reporters, Maria Pahl and Perry O’Dolia (a pseudonym). The reporter, Mark Saxenmeyer, ultimately interviewed Maria — I think they got all the soundbytes they needed from her.

The segment is airing in Chicago tonight.

“It’s not like AFTAH is just saying, ‘we dislike what gay people do’ or “we’re personally disgusted by it.’ They think it’s a real threat to the nation at large,” said DePaul law student Maria Pahl, who recently signed up for a three-day AFTAH conference. Pahl considers herself bisexual and she wanted to see their presentations for herself.

“There were concerned mothers there, concerned grandmothers, grandfathers,” she said, describing the other attendees who, she believed, all supported AFTAH and its message. AFTAH dubbed the conference “The Truth Academy” and Pahl later blogged about all the supposed “truths” she was taught.

“They think that gay people want to force HIV blood into the blood supply, they think that gay people want to recruit straight people, they think that homosexuals have training camps where they’re all taught the same sob story so straight people are sympathetic to them,” Pahl said.

Pete LaBarbera comes off as a bigot dressed in sheep’s clothing — he thinks he’s completely blameless for any harm that comes to a gay person due to rhetoric like his:

LaBarbera, a married father of five, is insistent that AFTAH and its followers are not dangerous.

“Of course we denounce any hatred or violence towards homosexuals,” he said.

But Pahl says LaBarbera and AFTAH are missing the point. “They may not go out and beat gay children, and they may not go out and bully a 13-year-old who’s going through sexuality and identity issues, but the rhetoric they use is certainly being used to justify the actions of the people who do those things,” she said.

Damn right.

I’m so proud of Maria — she presented herself wonderfully, don’t you?

By the way, the Illinois Family Institute also make an appearance in the Fox clip — they were named a hate group by the SPLC as well.

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  • Can’t watch it, sorry. Feel to sick

  • The fact that groups like this are being covered the way they are gives me just a *little* bit of hope for humanity. Not everyone agrees with them.

    Many people do still oppose equal rights for gays, so it’s not even *close* to perfect, but it’s a start. Evolution took millions of years of accumulated small changes in order to make significant progress; social evolution is no different. Kudos to folks like Maria Pahl who have the balls (metaphorically, of course!) to speak out so openly and frankly (and not over-emotionally) about these sorts of things.

    All in all, I’d say it’s a step in the right direction.

  • Maria

    So, all in all, I’m pleased. Definitely the most surreal moment was the “Maria Pahl ACTION SHOT! Walking to the interview!” moment, which my little sis gave me a good-natured ribbing over. 🙂

    I’m most pleased that they stressed that this sort of speech is what leads to an environment where gay children feel the need to take their own lives. That was definitely the scariest thing about the conference – hearing the kind of stuff I heard in my high school hallways every day, when my friends would get pushed into lockers or have cans thrown at them from moving cars.

  • Heidi

    That was on Fox? Wow. Does the parent company know?

    I actually enjoyed watching that. “The other side is winning.” Good. Get used to losing. Thanks, Maria. Good job. 🙂

  • James

    You don’t change timeless truths because of one personal experience”.

    Nope, you just change them if the ruling monarch decides they need to be changed, or you create entirely new timeless truths.

    Being gay was never an issue until religion came along. Not exactly a timeless truth there.

    The only timeless truth is that we all must die.

    When the one moron stated “if we had adultery pride parades people would say wait a minute that is wrong” I wanted the interviewer to remind him that adultery is illegal, being gay is not. At least, not yet.

  • Revyloution

    Heidi, many Fox local affiliates are actually real journalism. That’s what’s so bizarre about the who Fox broadcasting corp. They broadcast some serious journalism, some liberal TV shows, and some crazy over the top right wing opinion pieces. It seems that the corp is really about making money, not any nefarious ‘rule the world’ crap. There is obviously some big bucks in pandering to the conservatives, and Murdoch and Co aren’t going to pass that up.

  • Heidi

    Really? Wow, journalism isn’t a word I’d use to describe our Fox affiliate. (WFXT Boston) When something happens in Massachusetts, if it’s a scandal Fox25 and channel 5 (ABC affiliate) show up. If it’s actually news, you get 4 & 7 (CBS and NBC affiliates, respectively).

    Anyway, thanks for the info. I didn’t know that.

  • Saxenmeyer has a history in Chicago of being more reasonable then Fox in general and the national Fox network specifically. Too bad that his stories don’t reach the national airwaves.

  • Sean Santos

    Fox local affiliates are pretty variable; a lot of them retain some of their pre-2000 character, before the dominate-the-conservative-market strategy became the company’s main shtick.

    In Denver, Fox 31 is actually the major television sponsor for our gay pride parade/festival/thing.

  • Richard P.

    I wanted the interviewer to remind him that adultery is illegal

    I don’t think so…

  • I love how the bigots are exposed as such and try to justify their bigotry with the bible. Well I’ll bet that some gay friendly Christians could use the bible to justify the exact opposite.

  • Erp

    Adultery is still illegal in the US military though only if prejudicial to the military (e.g., don’t commit adultery with a fellow soldier or a fellow soldier’s spouse).

    It is still on the books in some states.

    More apropos is that engaging in sex with someone of the same gender was illegal not too long ago in many states (and still is in many countries) so mere illegality is insufficient to make this a difference. Adultery, however, often hurts a third party who believed they had agreed to a mutually exclusive sexual relationship with one of the two involved (it is a different matter if the third party had willingly agreed to an open marriage or partnership). Having gay sex unless it is also adulterous does not violate this or any other agreement nor is it a danger to society.

  • Can’t watch it, sorry. Feel to sick [2]

  • Sbeissy

    I realize that this will be unpopular among the liberals here; However, I’m prescribed to science, and science tells us that, through evolution, homosexuality IS “lesser than” heterosexuality. Sexuality is not physiological; It’s psychological. As such, being gay is clearly a psychological disorder which mismatches physical anatomy and physiology. I think it’s absolutely wrong to harm a person or discriminate based on a psychological abnormality, but I wonder why this condition is being passed off as innate, untreatable (not by religious means, obviously), and completely equal to heterosexuality. It’s not. You wouldn’t say that a clinically depressed state is equal to a state of bliss, would you? I don’t expect all or even most gays to change if they’re happy the way they are. Obviously, this a group that isn’t going to vanish, and as such, we can’t have hate crimes run rampant, or happen at all if possible, in our society as a result. I just think it’s sad that social engineering justifies this group of people as yet another liberal group that doesn’t take responsibility for its own dysfunction. Yes, heterosexuals need to accept homosexuals for the sake of harmony and human rights; But gays also need to take responsibility for their irregularity, and the effect they and their demands will have on society. Gay individuals are not, in general, lesser than straight individuals. However, I’ve never met anyone who prescribes to the homosexual lifestyle who didn’t do so out of abuse or distress as a youngster or personal weakness. Pretending it’s an equal lifestyle – one that is even possible as a result of personal strength – is a delusion.

  • Maria, you did a great job. Though let your sister rib you. The walking down the street “action” shot was hokey but that was the newsteam’s fault not yours.

    I actually think my local Fox news in Albany, NY is decent though I probably wouldn’t expect them to run this story. But that’s the thing. I wouldn’t expect them to run it the opposite way, praising the haters. They are pretty neutral and actually rather unbiasedly report the news, leaning neither right nor left. That’s a precious rarity these days.

  • cypressgreen

    They can’t have an adultery pride parade, ’cause half their members would show up!

  • Vance

    Sbeissy, and don’t forget the bible says so too..
    That’s stupid on a massive scale that they should be treated as lesser beings which is what you’re essentially saying.

  • Samiimas

    20 bucks says Sbeissy isn’t an atheist.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    She was right about the anti-gay rhetoric creating an environment that fosters bullying and suicide.
    The homophobes want to get people fired up about the evils of homosexuality and then not take any responsibility for things like the Uganda murders.

    They are ok with gay people living their lives as long as they don’t have sex/get into relationships/raise children/have equal rights…in other words…they have problems with homosexuals LIVING.

    If I weren’t an atheist I would ask them why they think God makes mistakes. Aren’t they all “children of god” and all that?

  • walkamungus

    Oooh, Samiimas, I wouldn’t touch that bet!

  • Verimius

    I’d have thought it was obvious by now that extreme homophobes like La Barbera are repressing their own homosexuality.

  • James

    TL:DR, Sbeissy, your opinion is not only unpopular, it is completely ridiculous. and now you have met a homosexual that does not fall into your mold, so time to change that.

    Sbeissy, you just stated “I’ve never met anyone who prescribes to the homosexual lifestyle who didn’t do so out of abuse or distress as a youngster or personal weakness”.

    First off all, you do not “prescribe” to the homosexual lifestyle as if it is some choice you can make when ordering your cable.

    Secondly, you have met someone now. Hi, the name is James, I was not molested as a kid, had a pretty good upbringing, was a star high school football player, had lots of blow jobs from the cheerleaders after the game etc etc. From there I went on to become a Marine, in the Marines I was a sniper, 550 yards with a pistol, 1150 yards rifle, 2112 yards large caliber.
    I am a mans man, I can fix any broken item, I play catch with my son and have tea parties with my daughter. I am hardly what you would call a weak person.

    My wife and I enjoy a nice movie alone. So does my boyfriend and I.
    That’s right, I am bi-sexual. And my wife and I, along with our submissive partner have lived in a poly-amorous relationship for as long as my daughter has been alive.

    I simply repressed my homosexual side my entire life. I grew up in a country area, boys could not like other boys or they simply died of a terrible accident in the field. Then I joined the corps, DADT kept me quiet.

    Now I am an open bi-sexual, I no longer feel as if I am hiding, I do not have a lisp, I am not flamboyant, half the time my clothes do not match and I do not care. Other times I am meticulous with my clothing, depends on the day I guess.

    There is no stereotype for a gay man. You assertion is incorrect.
    If you think I am any lesser because I like males and females, then I say you are lesser because you limit your options.
    If homo/bi-sexuality was not good for the population then why would it not have been bred out. OK maybe bi-sexuality would not have been bred out, but certainly homosexuality could not have lasted more than a couple of generations before the gene was filtered.

  • Sean Santos

    I realize that this will be unpopular among the liberals here

    Most libertarians and many fiscal conservatives would also disagree with you.

    science tells us that, through evolution, homosexuality IS “lesser than” heterosexuality

    Evolution does not get to dictate our moral values to us. If it did, we would all feel compelled to have tons of children to spread our genes far and wide. But evolutionary success is, de facto, not a driving concern in most people’s lives.

    Besides which, evolution doesn’t talk about what traits are “less than” others; it merely notes that some traits are better at spreading themselves than others, and those tend to predominate. There is some debate over whether psychopathy has evolutionary benefits. It appears that, as long as most of the population is empathetic and altruistic, a small percentage can thrive as con artists and cheats, which psychopaths are often quite successful at being, at least for a time. This does not compel us to think of being a successful con artist or cheat as OK, just because it has evolutionary benefit.

    I wonder why this condition is being passed off as innate

    Because we do have extremely good evidence that at least some of the major influences on sexual orientation are prenatal (via twin/adoption studies of genetics and birth order effects), whereas there is not yet definitive evidence for any particular postnatal influence. For many people, it seems that it really is innate.

    You wouldn’t say that a clinically depressed state is equal to a state of bliss, would you?

    Clinical depression inhibits people from being productive and causes them and the people around them significant pain and distress. These are obvious problems. Being gay doesn’t necessarily have any such effects, except in a homophobic environment.

    It’s not enough to note that something is different or unusual or evolutionarily disadvantageous to call it a psychological disorder; you have to show that it’s a significant disability or danger to individuals or the people around them. Is it a psychological disorder if someone simply doesn’t enjoy the company of children and decides not to have any?

    I don’t expect all or even most gays to change if they’re happy the way they are.

    That’s an understatement. Think about being in love with someone. Think about living with that person and building a life together for years, decades. Being told that you only have that feeling due to a psychological disorder is not exactly a welcome message.

    And in fact it’s quite ridiculous. Many disorders are diagnosed, not merely on the basis of psychological traits, but on the likelihood that those traits will cause a sufficiently strong risk pain, distress, or danger. To make into a disease some trait that hurts no one, and in fact is a source of great joy, meaning, and social support, is a ridiculous idea.

    But gays also need to take responsibility for their irregularity, and the effect they and their demands will have on society.

    What “responsibility” do gays have? What negative “effect” does a demand for equal rights have on anyone else?

    However, I’ve never met anyone who prescribes to the homosexual lifestyle who didn’t do so out of abuse or distress as a youngster or personal weakness.

    This suggests to me that you either haven’t met many gays, or that you have managed to fit every gay or lesbian person you’ve met into an odd stereotype. Of the dozens of GLBs I’ve met, very few showed any sign of “abuse or distress as a youngster”, and many had very pleasant childhoods. I’m a bisexual person who was never abused or traumatized as a child, whose childhood, in fact, was mostly tranquil and content, at least when I didn’t get bored or fidgety and annoy the adults, or get involved in typical sibling rivalry. Yet I was noticeably attracted to the same sex nearly as soon as puberty began.

    As for personal weakness, I don’t even know what you mean by this. What “weakness” is present in gay people that has no equivalent in heterosexuals? If you mean that they succumb to the “temptation” of gay sex, in what way is this different from the “temptation” of straight sex? This use of the phrase “weakness” seems to beg the question; it assumes that one’s natural sex drive is something dangerous to be resisted. While undoubtedly people should have enough self-control not to be rapists and pedophiles, why should anyone “resist” consensual sex that they enjoy, and why should failing to do so be a “weakness”.

    The “abuse” hypothesis for the origin of homosexuality is basically just a conservative stereotype backed up by pseudoscience (particularly Paul Cameron’s outright deceptions). Most gay people did not have unusually troubled childhoods except when they were under fire specifically for being gay. I’m sorry that these deceptions, anecdotes, and confirmation bias have led so many people to see homosexuality as a “wound” or disease, but they are still completely wrong.

    Pretending it’s an equal lifestyle – one that is even possible as a result of personal strength – is a delusion.

    We presume equality until it’s disproven. Given two groups of people, considering them equal is the null hypothesis. Even noting that gay and straight people are demographically different, it’s improper to assert that there’s a moral difference without evidence of harm done. And, in fact, being openly gay does sometimes require personal strength, much more in the past than now, and more in conservative regions. It’s not trivial to hear the people around you that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death, and then come out anyway. You may not think it’s a good thing, but whether or not you approve, that act under those circumstances does absolutely require at least a basic degree of self-confidence and courage.

    There’s another sense in which homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality, which is that they involve essentially the same basic feelings and emotional spectrum. Contrary to popular conservative opinion, homosexual attraction is not any more self-centered or less loving, neither more or less committed than heterosexual attraction (I can absolutely affirm this in my own case at least). Both gay and straight people can have really great relationships or really dysfunctional ones. In this sense, a gay couple is absolutely the same thing as a similarly-situated straight couple, and the assertion that somehow they are very different, just because gay couples don’t produce children, while God or evolution or some other illegitimate source of morality requires everyone to engage in constant baby-making, this assertion is ridiculous.

  • I can’t believe people say stuff like that with a straight face and expect to be taken seriously. Then again, they preach religious dogma with the same level of seriousness so…

  • AdrianT

    Congratulations for exposing LaBarbera and his lunatic, repetitive hate machine.

  • BrettH

    Sbeissy: From a purely scientific standpoint, I think there are answers to the points you raised. As far as considering homosexuality a mental illness, I think that’s going to far. I would defiantly call a lack of attraction to the opposite sex a psychological abnormality (1 in 10 is definitely a minority, whether you attach a moral judgment or not). Bisexuality wouldn’t effect fitness assuming the men followed humanities natural tendency towards serial monogamy/polygamy/adulterous monogamy.

    Something to keep in mind as far as “gay” genes getting passed on is the idea of regressive genes. If I was a gay man who helped raise my straight sibling’s children, there’s a good chance they’d have part of the genetics that made me gay. It’s also important to realize that until very recently, gay men still had wives and fathered children. (academically, I think it’s likely that homosexuality is both genetic and psychological, but I’m not an expert in either).

    All that said, I don’t think it matters why someone wants to do what they want to do if they’re not hurting anyone. Why they want to do those things when other people don’t is just a fun topic of discussion.

  • Vanessa

    @Sbeissy Even *if* homosexuality was a psychological disorder, telling gays to stop living that lifestyle is akin to telling clinically depressed people to “just cheer up.” As a sufferer of major depression, I can tell you that this simply isn’t possible.

    Anyway, I think Sean Santos had it right on by saying that psychological disorders are based on whether the condition is harmful to self or others. Therefore, pedophilia is a disorder, homosexuality is not.

  • Guy G

    Perry O’Dolia? Very nice.

  • Sbeissy: I would like to add my name to the (growing) list of LGB people who do not, as you say, prescribe to the homosexual lifestyle “out of abuse or distress as a youngster or personal weakness”.

    Also, what precisely is the homosexual (or bisexual, in my case) lifestyle? Anecdata I know, but comparing the lifestyles of the straight people I know with the non-straights, you don’t get much, if any, difference. My lifestyle hasn’t been seen to change depending on the gender of who I’ve been involved with at a given time. I might be more (or less) likely to be publicly affectionate or to go to frequent places I know to be gay-friendly, perhaps? But that’s less a function of my relationship than of simply keeping safe.
    Also, coming out as a sign of personal weakness? Are you kidding me? Coming out- as a member of any maligned/misunderstood/etc group- is a thing that takes a hell of a lot of guts. You have to be willing to roll with the punches, know that you’re likely to lose close relationships, know that you’re going to have to deal on a daily basis with an awful lot of crap you would otherwise avoid. You’ve gotta know that and still have the personal strength to deal with it. If you’d like to explain how that is a sign of weakness, I (and, for that matter, anyone here who’s openly atheist in a less-than-friendly area) would be delighted to hear your arguments. And I, for one, would like a side of citations with those.

  • tswider

    Sbeissy (if you’re even bothering to read counter arguements): Get your facts in order. From wiki (and definitely supported in gazillion other sources):

    In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives followed in 1975.[3] Consequently, while some still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, the current research and clinical literature now only demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.”


    Note that homosexuality is viewed as a POSITIVE VARIATION … if you’re up on your Darwinism, the trait is helpful to survival of society as a whole, not an individual birthing event.

    Also, I’m not a liberal … I’m a libertarian, and it seems like I’m in good company here.

    I encourage you to dig deeper into science, keeping in mind that the silly stuff like “intelligent design” is not science at all (e.g. not subject to critical review).

  • Sbeissy

    Anyone who’s commented in opposition to my contribution and said that they’re an example of a person who’s bi or gay and not out of abuse or weakness – Says who? Have you each been professionally evaluated? Those sound like personal evalutations to me, and of course, out of personal bias, you’re not going to label yourselves as defective or disordered in any way. I don’t have a moral objection to anyone’s sexuality. I simply pointed out that biologically and evolutionarily, it’s an abnormality. I have a gay parent, and I’m not just talking out my ass when I discuss this issue. I also have a PhD. Obviously, from my example, gay parents don’t negatively effect academic accomplishment (in my case anyway), but they can and do negatively effect a child emotionally. Argue all you want but you won’t effect my view on my own life as a result of my parents. I’m an expert where evolution is concerned, and while bisexuality is easily natural, exclusive homosexuality is not. And whether the APA designates it as a psychological disorder is effected by many things, including where they get their funding from and where popular politics is standing at the time. I’m not a homophobe. I love my mother – but despite my love, I also am intelligent enough to understand that her lifestyle is chosen and in opposition of psychological soundness.

  • Feson

    Sbeissy, are you aware that in the 1950s they considered homosexuality as a psychological disorder, and tried to cure it using cognitive therapy, and guess what? it. didnt. work. it lead to supressed and broken individuals who had far more psychological damages after this torture than before. what exactly is your PhD in? because im pretty sure it wont be psychology. you would also have not properly read the DSM-IV-TR classification of mental illnesses that describe an illness as one that interferes with someones life detramentally, and homosexuality does not, unless others go out of their way to make their lives a misery. and really, thats a refelction of others mental health, more than the individuals. and what exactly gives you the right to define it as such?
    you say you are not talking out of your arse, but im afraid that without evidence to back yourself up, or in fact any clear knowledge of psychology, you are.
    it sickens me that you think yourself as intelligent, when all you are really, are self important and narrow minded.
    oh, also, before you ask, im am straight.

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