Bathroom ads indication of slipping grip


I know I’ve been on a bit of a James Dobson-bashing spree lately, but I promise this is the last one for a while.

That is, unless he and his crew do something absurd again, which is entirely within the realm of possibility.

I opened The Pueblo Chieftain earlier this week to see a large ad depicting a little girl coming out of a bathroom stall by herself, with the nasty boots of a male, supposed to be a predator, lingering by the door.

The text below the photo goes on to rail against a new anti-discrimination law passed by the Colorado Legislature to include public spaces such as restrooms. Largely a symbolic gesture, the main point of the law, to me at least, was to expand the scope of anti-discrimination law in the public forum.

Further, there are dozens of states that have passed similar laws, and there isn’t a shred of documented evidence that the passage of such laws has done anything to raise the danger of sexual predators in public restrooms. This doesn’t stop Dobson and his anti-gay agenda, though.

The ad points out prominently that one supporter of the legislation is the Gill Foundation, founded by philanthropist and openly gay businessman Tim Gill. The ad implicitly ties those who advocate for gay rights to those who would, for some undisclosed reason, have no concerns or reservations about passing a law that invited sexual predators to descend upon our children.

Am I the only one grossly offended by this sort of fear-mongering?

Even if you don’t believe that a person’s sexual orientation has anything to do with their rights as a human being, it’s stunning to me that such a prominent religious leader would assume that these kinds of flimsy fear-based tactics are anything but transparent, hateful propaganda. Even the most conservative-minded among us would be justified in feeling their intelligence was being insulted.

Further, what exactly is the point here? Why on earth is Tim Gill, a gay man, tied to the lascivious photograph of a man purportedly attempting to prey on a young girl? Does anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock since birth honestly think that being gay fills you with an irresistible urge to molest children – of the opposite sex, mind you – in public places?

That just doesn’t make any sense.

The one consolation I have is that this ad has drawn nothing but consternation from people on all sides, at least from what I’ve read. The claims are baseless, short of the basis of illogical fear, and they represent a thankfully waning perspective that is working its own way out of the cultural mainstream by clinging to an angry, fearful and acerbic interpretation of faith.

All of the legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, who supported this anti-discrimination bill were listed in the ad, supposedly to shame them in the public eye for what they have done. Lest they grow concerned that this sort of public opinion manipulation does any good, I recommend writing your local representatives and thanking them for being brave enough to stand up for the rights of all people, and not just those whom they prefer or agree with.

Ultimately, it seems that the fear behind such ads is about something much greater: the fear of diminishing relevance. Hate, fear and judgment are strong medicine, but their effects often fade more quickly than the antidotes of hope, compassion, equality and love.

For this, I have at least some sense of sadness for those who honestly believe that they are doing what is right, yet they see their agendas slipping away from them as the rest of the country turns toward a more just and humane understanding of community.