Sunday, 18 April 2010

Is that a stump in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

Whichever way you plan on voting next month, you can at least take some solace in the fact that the three main parties seem to be running on sanity-based platforms.

Sadly, mental health doesn't seem to be quite so important for people pursuing political careers across the pond.

Last week, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, played host to The Awakening, a two day conference for ultra-right-wing activists. Unsurprisingly, it didn't seem to take them long to get around to their favourite topic - the gays.

On the agenda for the conference was the proposed ENDA bill, which aims to prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now, you don't exactly need a haemophiliac heart to recognise that eliminating discrimination is a positive step forward, but the Freedom Federation sees things differently.

In a session entitled 'The LGBT Agenda', Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, managed to keep a straight face whilst proclaiming that ENDA would protect people with stump fetishes who want to molest injured war veterans.

No, seriously.

Describing a scenario that would give David Cronenberg and the Farrelly brothers nightmares, Lafferty argued "You can be aroused by stumps of amputees. And we brought that up during the hate crimes thing because what if you have an employee working at the VA and someone has just come back from Iraq and they have this orientation. You can't fire them. What about the family that's upset that they've been aroused by their family member? It's disgusting. And it's tragic for the victim. Um, men that want to rub their bodies up and down women. That's on the list, that might become a protected class."

All absolute bullshit, but then, you didn't really need me to point that out did you?

So how do they get away with the kind of foaming-at-the-mouth insanity that would have made them prime candidates for electro-shock therapy forty years ago? It's all part of twisting the truth (AKA lying through your teeth) to avoid sounding like the bigot that you are.

Andrea's group is desperate to maintain the illusion that outlawing discrimination would open a sexual hellmouth of biblical proportions - trapping innocent children in the classroom with drag queen teachers, and forcing employees "to work alongside individuals with bizarre sex fetishes." But since the facts don't actually back up any of their claims, they decided to make up their own.

By erroneously repurposing the term 'sexual orientation' to include the 30 sexual paraphilias identified by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they are alleging that ENDA will normalise “all of these philias and fetishes and isms".

In fact, the APA only recognises three orientations - homo, hetero and bi. And they're the ones covered by the ENDA bill.

"Fecal matter. Their involvement with fecal matter." Oh Christ, she's still running through her entirely fictional list... "Or urine. Transvestism. The list goes on, I'm not naming all of them. Children. Animals. And so we really need to draw a line in the sand."

I'm not entirely au fais with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but I'm curious to know whether there's a name for the pathological obsession with aberrant sexual behaviour. If so, Lafferty may come to wish that she was protected by ENDA after all.

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