Dirty Deeds Coming Home to Roost, or, What’s Happening with those Evangelical Pool Boy Chasing Devils?
I’ve decided to just embrace that fact that because I have blogged a lot about the bigotry and hypocrisy of so-called Christians in general, and one anti-gay grifter in particular, that it is okay to just embrace the fact that as long as this story is in the news, people are going to be clicking on a lot of those old posts.
I laughed out loud when I saw this headline, because (particularly if you read in aloud with a lot of dread in your voice) it sums up how I’ve been feeling: And Now For Your Daily Update On Jerry Falwell’s Dick. This article was from earlier in the week, but I love his summary of the scandal:
Sometimes when a man and a woman love each other, and the man is the president of an evangelical Christian clown college and is friends with the pussy-grabbing authoritarian president of America, they get married and then they meet a 20-year-old pool boy named “Giancarlo” and they are like “Oh hey, Giancarlo, is that the Holy Bible in your pocket, or is it your boner?” and he is like “Oh it’s just my boner” and they are like “Good, we really aren’t into that Holy Bible shit when we aren’t profiting financially from it” and the pool boy is like “cool” and they are like “cool” and so they start having a sexual affair with the pool boy for years and years, where the lady does nakeds with the pool boy while the clown college Christian leader husband plays shadows puppets with his weener and watches in the corner, and they end up giving the pool boy SWEET business deals that kinda sorta look like payoffs, and fly him all over the country in their jet, and maybe there’s a similar arrangement with the hot jacked personal trainer, but we’re not sure yet, but anyway then everybody finds out and the man has to quit being a clown college Christian leader, WOMP WOMP.
The story quotes heavily from this interview: Falwell sought to cut financial ties to pool attendant before Trump’s campaign – Giancarlo Granda, who met Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife at a Miami Beach hotel, offers new details on his relationship with the couple.
Note that Granda’s account in the Politico interview appears to change the timeline of events I and others have put together. But also note that some of it contradicts that photo of Falwell introducing Granda to Donald Trump at the rally at Liberty University 10 months after when Granda claims Falwell tried to cut all ties with him. On the other hand, if what the former pool boy says there is true, it’s possible that Falwell was trying to get out of the deal without actually coughing up the promised money, and since Granda wanted the promised money, while Mrs Falwell apparently didn’t want to give up the Pool Boy… well, it sounds like it was messy for months.
And, as many people have expected, a couple more guys are coming forward with their stories: ‘She was the aggressor’: Former Liberty student alleges sexual encounter with Becki Falwell – A former student at the evangelical university opens up about a 2008 incident with the wife of the school’s president. Warning! This story has a lot of creepy details about multiple instances of Mrs Falwell coming onto (and much more) a young man (in his 20s) who at the time was a bandmate of her son. That sentence alone may have already put too many bad images in your head. Sorry…
There are a few aspects of this story that I do want to comment. The young man was a student at Liberty University at the time, and he was a member of a band that had recruited the Falwell’s oldest son, Trey (who was also a student at the university, though a few years younger than they) as their lead guitarist. One of the stories the young man talks about he and Trey hanging out at the Falwell’s home drinking whiskey and jamming, and because he’d been drinking he stayed in the guest room, where things later happened.
I want to point out, however, that this is a violation of the Liberty University Code of Conduct: “Liberty University’s code of conduct, known as the Liberty Way, prohibits the consumption of alcohol for all students living on or off campus. This policy applies not only to those under the age of 21, but also those who are 21 and older… This policy not only applies for students during school, but also while they are on breaks or trips.”
At the time of this incident, Trey Falwell was both a student at the University and underage. The other young man was 22 at the time, but was still a student at the university, yet it seems that they were partaking of whiskey at the Falwells’ home with the knowledge of at least Mrs. Falwell… who was an employee of the University at the time, as well.
I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised at the hypocrisy and double standards are in play, but… well…
The young man who has now came forward says that part of the reason he kept the story to himself for over 10 years is because his mother has always admired the late Jerry Falwell, Sr, and that the young man himself didn’t want to detract from all the supposed good that Falwell, Sr accomplished.
Falwell, Sr accomplished no good in his entire life. He was a liar, a grifter, a proven-in-court chiseler, who promoted racial and anti-gay hate for many decades. He was one of the leaders of an evangelical conference in the mid-70s that met for the express purpose of trying to figure out how to get donations flowing in again like they used to be able to by preaching against racial de-segregation and women’s rights. He was one of the people who made the cynical decision to change their doctrine regarding abortion (which before hadn’t been exactly pro-choice, but had been this complicated ‘the old Testament says clearly that unborn babies are not yet people, so this prove Catholics aren’t real Christians because they insist they are, but we’re not saying the we approve of abortion, but…’) and to make Abortion and The Gays their new focus to see if that would fire up people to send in donations. He then formed the so-called Moral Majority and dragged the Evangelicals into the Republican base and amped up the bigotry on all levels.
The gospel was a tool Falwell, Sr distorted to manipulate people into giving him money and influence. It shouldn’t surprise us that his son is a grifter and abuser, too.
Falwell, Jr has tried to wiggle out of this scandal by throwing all the blame on his wife and claiming the Pool Boy was blackmailing him. Mrs Falwell has joined in, saying it was all her fault for being weak and sinning and bringing the Pool Boy into their lives. That doesn’t really Falwell sharing nudes and such of his wife with all sorts of people who didn’t want to see them, as well as the Pool Boy, Personal Trainer, and apparently several others. It doesn’t explain grooming college students as additional sex toys. It might possibly explain some of the multi-million dollar deals, but doesn’t really explain sending the jet for the Pool Boy again and again after the deal, nor enthusiastically introducing him to Trump (which we have not just photos, but Fox News video of).
Sorry, the Falwells are both predators and jerks. A pox upon them!
And now, I’m going to let Stephen Colbert have the final word:
Stephen Colbert Unloads on Jerry Falwell’s Cuck Affair, Shares Photo of Trump Shaking Hands with Pool Boy – “Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Link To Trump Is Far More Troubling Than His Sex Scandal”:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)
Apparently I’m writing about Jerry Falwell, Jr some more…
Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod.Com has a really good collection of stories summing up yesterday’s churn on this issue, as Falwell said he was resigning, then retracted it while issuing a legal threat to the university trustees, and then supposedly resigned for real this time. Maybe: Jerry Falwell Jr. Re-Resigns From Liberty University.
While talking to Fox News in the middle of all that churn, at the point when he was still threatening to sue the board he said: “The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract. And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”
Pressure from self-righteous people, which he thinks is unfair. Really? This from a man who has campaigned to keep queer people from getting various civil rights. A man who has campaigned to prevent trans people from getting medical care, among other things. Has campaigned for the rights of medical personnel to refuse to treat queer people if they claim a religious objection. He has publicly condemned abortion, pre-marital sex among straight people—has even called for laws criminalizing not just gay people having sex, but also straight people having sex with people they aren’t married to be reinstated.
And he’s complaining about pressure from self-righteous people?
Wow! Talk about having your head shoved so far up your own hypocrisy you can lick your own tonsils!
I should explain the title of this post. The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity. They appear in the Gospels on several occasions, usually being in opposition to Jesus. In many modern Christian circles that word Pharisee is often used to refer to any self-righteous person or hypocrite.
I already pointed out in yesterday’s post that Falwell’s claim that he wasn’t a willing participant in the sex going on between his wife and Giancarlo Granda is contradicted by Falwell’s actions during Donald Trumps visit to Liberty University in 2016. You don’t enthusiastically introduce your blackmailer to the candidate for President that you’ve just endorsed… I’m glad other people are pointing this out. I’m also glad people are pointing out that Falwell sent naughty pictures of his wife to Personal Trainer (the guy I have often called the Other Pool Boy)… and accidentally cc-ed a ton of staff members at the university. Again, not something one would do if they weren’t a willing participant in the sexual shenanigans.
I hope, I really hope, that some state tax examiners are going to look into these transfers of million-dollar-properties to the Pool Boy and the Personal Trainer. Because I can’t believe those don’t violate some laws governing how non-profits handle their assets. And if the anti-guy, anti-feminist, pro-racial segregations non-profit entity takes a big financial hit because of it, I won’t be complaining.
First, let’s let some of the headlines speak for themselves:
And this one nearly local to me: Church youth leader from Marysville charged with child molestation.
The Dan Savage quote above really sums it up: we have had the means to notice this epidemic for decades, but we continue to turn a blind eye to it. We let religious institutions shame the victims of their leaders. We let them move offenders to new jobs where they still have access to the types of people they victimize. We often give the religious institutions a pass when we discover that they have aided and abetted in these crimes.
Worse than that, we keep acting surprised when a religious leader (or a politician who flaunts their religious beliefs) who has been vehemently anti-gay turns out to be a sexual criminal of one sort or another. Instead of recognizing the pattern and staying on the look out of other telltale signs, we talk about how it’s just an opinion, or hide behind that disingenuous phrase “traditional values.”
We’re starting to get better. One of the previous times I wrote about the specific tendency of sexual predators to seek out jobs as Youth Pastors, I griped about the fact that news organizations often didn’t identify the arrested or convicted person as a pastor. They would often bury the fact that the criminal was a former paster somewhere in the story. Because once the situation gets to an arrest, the church or other religious institution has (sometimes very reluctantly) fired the person. That pissed me off for a couple of reasons. If a doctor is fired by a hospital, we still refer to that person as a doctor. They are currently unemployed, but they are still a doctor.
And it is newsworthy how the sex predator used the culture of religious institutions to commit their crimes. Also, very importantly: the sexual predators were employed as pastors are the time they committed the crimes.
So notice that in several of the stories above the news agency hasn’t just used the religious title in the headline, in more of the cases they didn’t put the word “former.” Though I admit that in two of the stories above, the first version I saw included that designation as a former pastor, and I specifically looked for other stories about the same crimes that didn’t do that. I failed on one, but the fact that I could find those headlines is, I think a little bit of progress.
I have one other story I consider to be in the same category as the others, even though it involves neither a pastor nor any allegations of sexual assault:
Father Abandoned Son on Side of Highway Because He Thought He Might Be Gay. This story as a few more details on the same incident: Father Charged With Abandoning “Gay” Child Outside Closed Police Station For Them To Find Him New Family.
Why do I consider this the same as the others: one of the most galling aspects of the pastor-as-sexual-molester phenomenon, is that the predator is supposed to be looking out for and even protecting the people they victimize. We also know that the reason so many of these predators go into the ministry and spout their homophobic opinions is to deflect from their own sexual proclivities. Society pressures people to be ashamed of their sexual orientation, and one of the symptoms of that toxicity is the homophobia-spouting sexual predator.
The father who abandoned his son on the road was supposed to care for that child. He is supposed to protect him from bad forces in the world around him, including homophobia. He’s not supposed to be one of those bad forces attacking his son. And he feels free to be such a bad force because of that same toxicity that society fosters—the entire homophobic/misogynist/xenophobic stew that people call “traditional values.”
I don’t have any sum-up for this, other than to say that abusive behavior, sexual or otherwise, isn’t a bug in the traditional values system—it’s a feature.
I could hold this for tomorrow’s Friday Five, but I want to editorialize a bit here, so…
All right, so, while I am all in favor of transparency and recognize that without whistle-blowers even more corruption, malfeasance, and war crimes would go unpunished than already do, however, not all so-called hacktivists are good guys. Assange has claimed to be a journalist because he supposedly brings information to light. For part of my college career my major was journalism, and I have some strong feelings about journalistic ethics. One of the tenants of journalistic ethics is that if one engages in covert methods of uncovering information, one’s ethical obligations (to ensure accuracy, objectivity, while avoiding causing harm to innocent people) increase.
One of the basic questions an editor is supposed to ask when dealing with sensitive information of a diplomatic, political, or military nature, is will releasing this information place people in danger? And yes, you weigh that against the harm that has been caused or is being caused by whatever it is you are about to expose. It can be a difficult question.
But another one of the harms to innocent people that journalists are supposed to think about is: will releasing this information impede or interfere with legitimate democratic processes? Because elections matter, and who is in power can mean the difference between life and death— particularly for society’s most vulnerable.
The way in which Assange and his colleagues have stolen and dumped, unfiltered, large amounts of information into public view means that they are not even thinking about those kinds of questions. Therefore, what they are engaged in is not journalism, let alone ethical journalism.
I have no idea whether he is guilty of the sexual assault in Sweden that first sent him to seek asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy, but since Sweden isn’t exactly a vicious totalitarian state known for convicting innocent people of bogus crimes, I do wonder why an innocent man wouldn’t be willing to have his day in court there.
Yes, I believe in the Golden Thread of Justice: I believe that a person must be presumed to be innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But I am allowed to judge his character, and here is the thing that completely disinclines me to have any sympathy for the man: after taking shelter in the Ecuadoran Embassy for seven years—seven years in which these people sheltered him, fed him, and suffered strained relations with many allied states—when they asked him for the umpteenth time that he clean his own room and take care of his own cat, rather than expecting embassy staff to do those things for him, he sued the government of Ecuador claiming that these demands are a violation of his civil rights.
Expecting you to clean up after your own cat is not a violation of your civil rights!
He’s a self-important, arrogant jerk. And frankly, everyone is still being way nicer to him than he deserves.
BBC News – Footage shows Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy:
(If embedding doesn’t work, click here
This week we had a few sign-offs in the field of news reporting or commentary. I included at least one article about each one in yesterday’s Friday Links. I’d like to follow up on at least one of them today. We begin with a former writer for Gawker writing an op-ed of The Guardian: I was callow, it was unkind, and together we did some pretty ignoble things. So why am I sad to hear that after 14 long years, Gawkerdämmerung is nigh?
In case you don’t know: Gawker started out many years ago as a snarky/gossipy blog that covered “the scene” in New York City, which quite often involved covering other news sites and publications and the people who wrote for them. This was back when founding editor Elizabeth Spiers wrote almost all of the content and treated it almost as a personal blog. Spiers moved on and other people took over. Gawker expanded and changed, becoming, as Joshua David Stein says in the Guardian peace, “bullies.” He goes into a bit more detail, calling Gawker “a fertile ground for many things – ego, fame, alacrity, wit, a quick turn of phrase – but kindness was not one of them.”
I’m not writing to apologize for Gawker nor to say they were justified in what they did (Stein attempts to do that in his article, but I remain unconvinced). What I do strongly believe, however, is that Gawker’s death isn’t anything to cheer about, either. There are simply no heroes in the story of its demise. In 2007 they “outed” Peter Thiel. Thiel is often described as a billionaire investor (though he’s probably not as rich as he claims), but a more accurate description would be, man who got rich by mismanaging other people’s billions in a way that enriched him and impoverished them. If you want to know what kind of person he is, he’s the man who agreed to be Trump’s token gay speaker at the Republican National Convention; it’s harder to get any sleazier that being a gay spokesperson for a convention that adopted the single most hateful anti-gay political platform in the history of the U.S. He’s also one of the guys who thinks that women shouldn’t have the right to vote.
I put “outed” in quotes because Thiel wasn’t exactly closeted at the time. He wasn’t exactly out a proud, because like most homocons he held most out and proud queer people in contempt, but he had gone to no pains to hide his orientation, and was a public figure who regularly sought publicity and was often still trying to get people to invest in his managed funds. Being outed didn’t cause any measurable harm to his reputation. He was in no danger of losing his job, et cetera. Still, he was pissed off at Gawker because of the incident, and swore to destroy them.
Gawker, in just one of the many cases of bullying, published a sex video of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been a public figure, but he was generally retired. He wasn’t the public spokesman for one of those anti-gay/anti-sex organizations campaigning for laws restricting other people’s rights in the name of morality. Which wouldn’t have, IMHO, been justification to publish the video, but could have been a legitimate rationale to report on its existence. But they didn’t have such a rationale, so publishing it was just a puerile bid for clicks.
Hogan sued. And as we now know, he was able to afford to fight it out in courts, refusing all settlements, for as long as he did because Thiel was actually paying the legal bills. Thiel has since admitted that he’s funding several other lawsuits still pending. Hogan won a large settlement (and I’m glad he won; I just wish he had done so without getting involved with a sleaze like Thiel). And the settlement was so huge, that it forced Gawker Media, the parent corporation of Gawker.com, into bankruptcy. Which has left a bunch of people who work for other, less sleazy news sites that Gawker has been buying up over the years, in a position of not knowing whether they still had jobs.
And I want to be very clear here: the other news sites were not run like Gawker, and the people working for them are not complicit in any way with the sorts of sleazy stories Gawker is known for. The other sites were purchased by Gawker to shore up Gawker’s financial position, and were allowed to be run as before so they’d keep producing the cashflow needed to support the business. Which is why Univision, which won the bankruptcy auction, has announced that the other sites will be allowed to keep operating as before. Univision has absolutely no interest in the Gawker.com name or its brand of “journalism.”
It’s not just the Thiel is a sleazy hypocrite and a bully—the real shame here is that he’s used his wealth to completely shut down a news site because he didn’t like their coverage. Gawker’s owner and managing editor, Nick Denton, has been deservedly hung out on a rope of his own making. But the actual executioner, Thiel, is not on the side of justice.
I had a half-written post about the county clerk in Kentucky who is steadfastly refusing to obey the Supreme Court and issue marriage licenses because (and this is from her official statement yesterday): “I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.” One of the issues I have with this is that, actually, Jesus only ever said one thing about marriage, and it wasn’t that gay people aren’t allowed to do it. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality at all. What Jesus did say about marriage is that Moses was wrong to allow for divorce, because divorce is wrong.
Why is it that so many of the politicians (and Davis is a politician: she’s an elected official, which is why no one can simply fire her for not doing her job) who are most virulently opposed to marriage equality, et al, on religious grounds, also the ones with a lot of divorces and infidelity in their past? (Gingrich, Trump, and Davis have ten remarriages between them… and at least one of those remarriages for each of them was to someone that they had an affair with while married to a previous spouse.)
I started a long post about this, but then Dan Savage made most of my points better than I was: And Now I Have to Say Something About Kim Davis. Like Dan, I don’t believe this is really about her sincere beliefs. I think it is far more likely that she is trying to become a public martyr so that she can sell her book, go on the hateful rightwing speaking tour, and in other ways get showered in the “sweet, sweet bigotry money.” Heck, a pizza parlor owner managed to rake in a million bucks for religious rightwingers just by saying that he wouldn’t cater a gay wedding if anyone asked him to, even though nobody was.
I have other issues with Davis and her argument, which I don’t have time to go into because I wound up debating the very topic with a friend on line (though he helped me see a few aspects of this better, so it’s all good). But for me, Davis’s real crime is summed up by Dan in a section that I think a lot of other people are ignoring:
I say this with sadness, I say this as the son of a preacher, I say this as a former seminarian: This pathetic bullshit is what passes for Christianity in America today. Thanks to the efforts of hate groups like the American Family Association, the Family Research Council (co-founded by a tortured closet case and lately the employer of a kid-diddling serial adulterer), the 700 Club, the Moral Majority, the National Organization for Marriage, the National Association of Evangelicals, etc., and the mousy, near-complicit silence of left-wing and progressive Christians, “Christian” is now synonymous with “anti-gay bigot.”
To be a good American Christian like Kim Davis—or a good Alaskan Christian like Bristol Palin—you don’t have to stay in your first marriage, you don’t have to stop sitting on the dicks of randos who aren’t your husband, you don’t have to deny marriage licenses to straight people who are remarrying or marrying outside the faith or obtaining marriage licenses for Godless secular marriages. Nope. You just have to hate the homos. Hate the homos and you’re right with the God of Tony Perkins and Josh Duggar, hate the homos and you’re good with American Jesus. (Toss in support for capital gains tax cuts and American Jesus loves you even more.) You don’t have to feed the sick, clothe the naked, house the homeless—you don’t have to do any of that shit Jesus actually talked about—you just have to hate the homos hard enough to
go to jail for for your beliefscash in on your bigotry.
I do have more to say about other aspects of this (and I’ll probably use fewer swear words than Dan). But I’ll have to post them later.
Dan also links to an excellent (and profanity-free) op-ed piece by John Corvino from the Detroit Free Press which, coincidentally, I had already cued up for next Friday links before I found Dan’s piece: It’s time to remove Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. It’s worth a read.