Several years ago, while I was in a libertarian phase, I was mildly involved in school choice activism. Eager to become involved with groups on Long Island that promoted school choice, I e-mailed an organization based in Nassau County called the American Family Association of New York (aka AFA-NY), which is headed by a man named Frank Russo. Russo is a local right-wing Catholic activist who has a weekly public access program and occasionally gets an op-ed published in Newsday.
Mr. Russo responded to my e-mail by calling me at work. We spoke on the phone for several minutes, and in the course of my discussion, I got the impression that Mr. Russo was a little too right wing conservative for my tastes. But since he told me that promoting school choice was one of the most important issues for AFA-NY, I felt I could overlook my disagreements with Mr. Russo on other issues. He took down my address and told me he would put me on the mailing list for the AFA-NY newsletter.
After reading several issues of the newsletter, which Mr. Russo published on a quarterly basis, I could not help but notice that Mr. Russo devoted several articles in each issue to bashing homosexuals and railing against the gay agenda and the liberal media that he accuses of promoting that agenda.
Not long after setting up this blog a couple of weeks ago, I received the Fall 2006 issue of the AFA-NY newsletter. Sure enough, it contained a couple of articles dealing with homosexuality and "pro-gay bias." One article discussed an organization called NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuals). The article states that "NARTH counselors will review the underlying causes for same sex attraction and will work to diminish and sometimes eliminate those desires."
Below the NARTH article is another article titled "Channel 13 Does Not Merit Your Support". Russo complains in the article that Channel 13, which is a local public television station, has a "distinctly strong pro-gay bias". Specifically, Russo complains that Channel 13 refused to air AFA's video "It's Not Gay", which, according to Russo, "responsibly presents an alternative message on the controversial subject of homosexuality." On the other hand, claims Russo, Channel 13 broadcasts a monthly pro-gay program called "In The Life" and also aired a "pro-gay" program called "Free to Marry." Russo whines that Channel 13 is using public funds to air only one side of the issue when it comes to homosexuality, and he concludes the article by calling on AFA-NY members to not contribute to Channel 13.
Of course, what Russo is guilty of here is arguing that his views on homosexuality should be aired on Channel 13 in order to promote "balance." If Channel 13 airs a program that portrays homosexuals in a positive light, then "balance" requires that another program be aired that portrays gays as abnormal and in need of being cured. But what Russo and others don't want to see, because they are blinded by their own religiously sanctioned bigotry, is that the call for "balance" is a bogus argument. For example, if a newspaper or a magazine contains an article about the unearthing of the fossilized skeleton of a previously unknown dinosaur that lived 100 million years ago, balance does not require that author of the article feature quotes from a Young Earth Creationist arguing that the dinosaur could not have lived more than 6,000 years ago. Because Frank Russo believes that the Creator of the Universe revealed its inerrant truth in a collection of books known as the Bible, and that this Bible contains several quotes which suggest that homosexual acts drive this Creator into an uncontrollable rage, that Channel 13 should air AFA's program which portrays gays in a negative light.
Lastly, the latest AFA-NY newsletter contains a blurb about Robert Johnson, a former Newsday publisher, pleading guilty of downloading child porn movies to his computers. Russo describes Johnson as "a staunch liberal", obviously intending to convey the idea that only a "liberal" would be into kiddie porn or other perverted acts. In the wake of the Foley e-mail scandal, I could not get help but be mildly amused at Russo's smear.
In conclusion, I'm thinking of sending a contribution to Channel 13 along with a letter thanking them for not airing anti-gay propaganda.