Bil Browning

Engaging 'The Enemy'

Filed By Bil Browning | February 09, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Peter LaBarbera, Porno Pete, Twitter, Zack Ford

Blogger Zack Ford is having an interesting Twitter exchange with well-known anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera and has documented quite a bit of it on his site. He raises an interesting question that I'm sure will cause quite the bit of debate. Can his back-and-forth with Porno Pete actually have a difference?

Peter-LaBarbera-150x141.jpg...I've had my own topsy-turvy experience. I've been having a civil and even respectful dialogue (if you ignore the occasional mocking quotes) with Peter LaBarbera on Twitter.

Readers know I use this blog to challenge religious right rhetoric, and I won't pretend that I didn't start engaging with Peter LaBarbera with the same motive. But, I'm going to give him a little credit: it's actually been a constructive and meaningful exchange, as much as one between the two of us possibly could be. I mean, it's no secret to him that I'm an openly gay atheist, and it's no secret to me that he orchestrates Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, which promotes a lot of dangerous untruths about LGBT identities.
I've found that he can actually engage in civil discourse, a quality that doesn't apply to many of his anti-LGBT peers. We've actually found things we can agree on and jokes we can both laugh at (including GOProud's Chris Barron's regular Twitter updates about his workout routines). Today, Peter actually did me a favor. He noticed that I was debating "NGblog" about the merits of Creating Change and pointed out that it's Nelson Garcia, a fake gay activist with a history of boyloving and pedophilia charges. In fact, Peter went out of his way to call out Garcia's past on the #cc11 hashtag for all to see. He didn't have to do that.

Go check out the back and forth between the two and tell us your opinion. Is it a waste of time? Or can it make an actual difference?

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Om Kalthoum | February 9, 2011 8:33 PM

I know this is as bad as reviewing a movie you haven't seen but sorry, I just despise this sort of interaction so much that I will not "check out the back and forth" in this particular instance. We know this person is the enemy; we know he is incorrigible; there is no point in feeding his ego by interacting with him. There are some people so vile that the best tactic is to starve them of oxygen. We're helping to elevate them by giving them the time of day. Guess I'm mixing my metaphors now. Anyway, this goes beyond "know your enemy." Can anyone say what the point is of dignifying these types of turds with ANY recognition?

I haven't seen the back-and-forth yet either, but I'm inclined to agree. A polite bigot is still a bigot.

Much thanks to Bil for plugging this discourse.

I hear you both, but I think the important thing here is that I'm not placating (or "dignifying") anything he's saying. The only thing that's unique here is that I'm responding in a civil way.

If nothing else, I hope this exchange can be a model for how two individuals who are thoroughly offended by the other's perspective can have a responsible exchange about them. While he will continue to say things that trigger me, I can at least appreciate that there's a real dialogue taking place and he's not just attacking me in everything he says. It should be interesting to see where it goes...

When it's time to make awards on the basis of who got the most clicks instead of who advanced the cause of equality, lots of bloggers and blog sites spend huge amounts of time and energy "arguing' with professional anti-GLBT bigots and exposing their latest antics, as if that was newsworthy or somehow important.

Most of it's not, its beyond redundant. How many people who read and comment on LGBT blogs need to be convinced that bigotry is bad, that cults and bigoted politicians are wrongheaded and mean spirited or that we need civil rights.

How many professional bigots, people who make a living defaming and endangering us are ever going to change their minds (as opposed to covering their ass when one of us gets lynched or murdered).

That's easy. If they're cult leaders, the answer is none. If they're devolved hustlers, lawyers and similar creatures it'll b long after they've been out of office and are pondering what history will make of them. Clinton, for instance, with 25 million un or underemployed not thinks he may have been a wee bit hasty signing deregulation into law. Similarly, the thinks that his boosting and then signing DOMA may not look good, so he 'apologized'

Our discussions should be centered around solving the most important problem we face, the lack of a national, democratic (not Democratic) action oriented mass movement and building a leadership for it.

That doesn't mean we can ignore the latest news from bigots like der Papenfuehrer, LaBarbera or Clinton, but we should concentrate on building a movement and giving it a winning strategy. And if you'll notice, these bigots have a happy habit of self destructing. Maybe a nudge once in a while but what better way to fight them than the ability to call mass actions, make allies and push back.

Civil discourse is fine. However, Peter LaBarbera's actions won't change. The exchange might be more beneficial for his followers than himself.

And the point of this posting is ??? and why include the last paragraph about NGBlog.

Here boys and girls is another example of how Gay Inc and the Country Club attempt to shutup those outspoken against them.

I know from you're other postings you get off on porn, do you also get off on bullying LGBT bloggers ? ... but then you've just joined that club too.

My feeling is meh. I love it when people engage others in discourse on these issues, especially people who don't already agree. Want to take someone on? Talk to the uncle you know voted for Bush just because he was antigay. Or that coworker who said she wouldn't feel comfortable around lesbians.

But someone like Peter LaBee seems just silly. There are plenty of homophobes out there who are motivated by their actual beliefs and not their need to be in the spotlight.

I think that being able to disagree on something and still be civil is an achievement. Sadly, it's an achievement because so much discourse now is so uncivil...

But I don't think you're going to achieve much from this, Zack. Mr. LaBarbera will remain a deeply disturbed, deeply disturbing homophobe. He'll continue to do what he has done for years. So, if you think you're making a difference, you're not. But I will give you credit for your civility.

Haha... I agree with most of you!

Still, I think that this is a public dialogue is what's important. I don't expect to change his mind on anything, nor do I think I'd ever concede something like, "He's not so bad." Trust me, I understand exactly how dangerous his rhetoric is.

My hope is that the discourse affects OTHERS who see it, and given that it's on Twitter, that could literally be anyone (including my uncle who voted for Bush).

Based on exchanges I had with LaBarbera more than five years ago, his actions will not change. In e-mails he pleaded ignorance to facts he was well aware of and denied making statements that were on the record. His sole profession has been gay bashing and spreading anti-gay lies for so long that I suspect he's unemployable at this point except by anti-gay "Christian" organizations. And even then, he's been tossed from a number of those and now has his own anti-gay platform. Bottom line, it's a waste of time talking to the dirt bag.

Interesting exchange.

I would assume that the goal here is not to get Peter LaBarbera to change his mind about anything.

I can see the importance of each and every statement that he makes a part of the public record, though.

So I think that it can make an actual difference but not with Peter LaBarbera himself.

It would really seem that most of the responses here would hope Peter LaBarbera would just join the unemployed for many years!

One other thing:

Today, Peter actually did me a favor. He noticed that I was debating "NGblog" about the merits of Creating Change and pointed out that it's Nelson Garcia, a fake gay activist with a history of boyloving and pedophilia charges. In fact, Peter went out of his way to call out Garcia's past on the #cc11 hashtag for all to see. He didn't have to do that.

I don't get this. Lyndon, whom I don't know, alluded to it above also. Does this have something to do with past history on Bilerico? On Zack's blog? It seems pretty inflammatory to just drop in the stray pedophilia mention plus name. I mean, standard issue for The Peter, but what gives with Bil or Zack?

As you said,"He didn't have to do that." But then you did.

I guess I'm saying, that's one pot in gayland you don't stir without a purpose, without a reason, and without backstory.

Will someone please explain to me what a fake gay activist is? As opposed to all the real activists who call people names, seek to discredit bias victims and engage with anti-gay Jesus freaks?