Saturday, September 05, 2015

They can't (don't) count

Fools or liars (or both)?

Panic-struck evangelistic Christians are desperate for solace in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision establishing marriage equality throughout the nation. Some of these narrow-minded people, like Kim Davis of Kentucky, are unsuccessfully asserting their right to “nullify” laws and court rulings with which they disagree. Others are less well-positioned to try to express their distress. They can flock to preachers like Billy Crone, who is well-prepared to speak untrue words to comfort them.

Crone was recently the featured guest on the radio program of Southwest radio church, giving a two-part presentation on A Christian Response to the Supreme Court Decision. It's unclear whether Crone is a fool or a liar, but he's at least thorough, touching on all of the most popular anti-gay tropes. For example, homosexuality is a “choice” and people cannot be “born that way” because not all pairs of identical twins grow up with identical orientations.
Nobody's born that way. It's a choice.... That's one of the lies that they say out there, that there's no way we can turn around and people are born that way. Well, that's another lie that we expose on this study. All right, because they say, ‘Just back off and leave us alone because, you know, we're born this way.’ Well, that's not true. And we know that's not true, folks, because you have the prime example with identical twins, okay? If genetics determine a person's sexual orientation, i.e., you're born this way, then it should manifest itself every single time, one hundred percent of the time, with twins, who by nature share the exact same genetic information. Well, guess what? It doesn't!
Apparently Crone embraces the notion that “genes are destiny” and remains ignorant of epigenetic issues (either because he's never heard of them or finds them inconvenient for his thesis).

Crone continues in this vein, pointing out the “logical” conclusion that gay rights must perforce lead to rights for other criminals. The reasoning is simple (like the reasoner):
A guy goes and he robs a bank—right?—he stands before the judge and says, ‘Hey, I'm sorry, judge, you can't prosecute me. You can't send me to jail. I was born this way! It's my civil right.’
I have to admit it's difficult to argue with statements this stupid, but Crone speaks with great assurance and authority. He keeps averring that his statements are “logical,” speaking to the degree that his sectarian blinders are firmly in place.

A familiar equation pops up in his rhetoric. He hates the word “homophobia” because it is used against his co-religionists.
Oh, and by the way, this term, homophobic. How is disagreeing on an issue automatically get you this label homophobic? There's plenty of people in the world who disagree with all kinds of behavior. People disagree about lying, or coveting, or stealing, or hatred, or mockery, or pedophilia. Does this mean we now label these people as liar-phobes, or covetophobes, or mockophobes, or theftophobes, or pedophilia-phobes?
See how smoothly he mixes in pedophilia with his jeremiad against homosexuality? It's all part of the same problem (in his mind).

Crone skips lightly through statistics on physical and mental illness in gay people, life expectancies, and other warped data. (At least he didn't cite Paul Cameron by name, but the stench of Cameron's fake research hovered over Crone's summary.)

But my favorite moment in Crone's entire presentation came early in the first installment, the moment six minutes into the broadcast when he offered comfort to his afflicted listeners. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Crone insists that opposition to same-sex marriage commands a huge majority in our nation:
When you look at the voting statistics, folks, on those who were against—in the states—that used the voting procedure, not one judge overruling the voice of the people in that state—that's not what our system is set up to be—okay?—and not only a handful of people on the Supreme Court, okay?—but when you look at the voting statistics of the states, the thirty-one states that voted against this, versus only three that did, you play the statistics there, and we are in the majority twelve to one. Twelve to one is the majority of people who are against this, so we are not in the minority; we're in the majority on this issue and so we need to stop listening to the media and thinking that you might as well roll over and play dead.
By what magic did Crone conjure up this cataclysmic landslide against marriage equality? It's simple, provided you ignore enough data! While he gave no citations of sources, it's clear that Crone must be clinging to outdated tallies of anti-gay victories at the voting booth. Various on-line lists identify thirty or thirty-one states with constitutional definitions of marriage that support the “traditional” version (where “tradition” in this instance means “one man and one woman,” and does not includes the various polygamous arrangements of several Biblical patriarchs and kings).  If we accept Crone's count of thirty-one state votes against same-sex marriage versus three votes in favor (or, at least, not against), we still do not get a ratio of twelve to one. It's more like ten to one. (And for all of you math pedants out there, yes, it's actually ten-and-a-third to one.) Crone is prone to exaggeration. But that's not the main point.

Crone's numbers are stale, well past their freshness date. The earliest state ban on same-sex marriage goes back to Alaska in 1998, when 68% of the voters placed the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage in the state constitution. However, Public Policy Polling found in 2014 that Alaska's voters favored same-sex marriage by a 47 to 46 plurality. This is a state that does not belong in Crone's anti-gay tally, especially since the national trend directly contradicts his claim about a massive majority being on his side.

So ... is Crone merely lying ... or is he a fool?