Friday, February 27, 2015

#1300: Dave Agema

David Agema is a Michigan wingnut politician, former member of the Michigan House of Representatives, and current (2014) member of the Republican National Committee and the chairman of the Top Gun Republican political action committee.

Agema, who is a self-proclaimed pro-life Republican, is actively vocal in his opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage, as well as censorship (partially because he views it as a serious democratic problem that he cannot say offensive things without being criticized) – despite his alleged views on censorship he has endorsed Russia’s anti-gay laws, regardless of that law’s rather blatant attempt to censor free speech; but that would be censoring speech Agema disagrees with, and that’s very different. (I suppose he views himself as an opponent of censorship mostly because of this).

In 2013, he faced calls to resign from the Republican National Committee after he posted extracts from an article entitled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics On Homosexuals,” in which he claimed that homosexuals lived a “filthy lifestyle,” were responsible for 50 percent of U.S. murders and that many are paedophiles. RNC chairman Reince Priebus, for instance, was not very impressed, but he also played surprised by the statements – pretending not to have noticed that Agema is hardly the only RNC member with views like these; check out for instance:

-       Tamara Scott (Iowa), who alleged that the legalization of gay marriage hurt her state’s economy and that marriage equality will pave the way for man-Eiffel Tower marriage.
-       Steve Scheffler (Iowa), of the Faith and Family Coalition chapter, who falsely links homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that gay men typically don’t live past the age of 47.
-       Bill Armistead (Alabama), who claims same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, that acceptance of gay people is a “sad testament to where we are as a nation,” and that tolerance of LGBT people puts “America on a slippery slope.”
-       Debbie Joslin (Alaska), who wishes to ban mention of homosexuals in schools and anti-bullying measures since increased tolerance would “foster confusion in the minds of our children.”
-       Ada Fisher (North Carolina), who was outraged when Obama and Clinton endorsed marriage equality, suggesting that it showed a lack of respect for straight people, and that her opposition was motivated partially by concern for black families (right …).  

Why don’t people know the statistics Agema cites? Well, Agema got them from the FRC, Frank Joseph  and Paul Cameron (an extremist and activist who poses as a researcher) and similar sources, so no – there isn’t the faintest trace of methodologically sound research behind them. Surprised?

Although he tried to distance himself a bit from the claims later on, he repeated them in an interview was with WPIQ in Manistique, an obscure radio show that he probably thought none of his critics would listen to. And he went in with full force when talking to rabid fundamentalist Tony Perkins, arguing that gay people should be treated no differently than alcoholics, repeated his early claims, and complained that wealthy and powerful gay activists were in a conspiracy against him to suppress “the facts” and making the truth-tellers “shut up” (Perkins agreed, and added that homosexuality is “personally destructive and harmful to the society as well”). Indeed, Agema has claimed that he is fighting gay rights to save America from destruction; just “[l]ook at the Greek empire, look at the Roman empire,” which suggests that he is not too concerned with historical accuracy. He also pointed out the major and destructive repercussions legalizing gay marriage has had in “Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland,” but didn’t go into details (that Switzerland has not legalized gay marriage is only one of the problems). “I don’t hate gay people,” said Agema; “I just think they’re trying to destroy America like they destroyed every other civilization.” Right.

Agema has also been condemned by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, after alleging homosexuals were in favor of health care reform because “they’re dying between 30 and 44 years old.” In particular, he claimed that while working at American Airlines, he saw American Airlines workers who would say a person with AIDS was their lover so that person could get medical benefits (no, he didn’t try to back it up, and it’s unclear what social problem the assertion would illustrate if it were true). Said Agema: “To me, it’s a moral issue. It’s a Biblical issue.” Indeed, Agema claimed that it was “immoral” to insure gay people because their “lifestyle” kills them. So he really doesn't know what “moral” means and thus, as so many others, he confuses it with “things others do and I don’t and therefore don’t like.”

Though Agema has received most attention for his anti-gay efforts, it is probably little surprise that he also harbors strong creationist sympathies. For instance, in 2008, while a state representative, he and State Senator Bill Hardiman were the sponsors of a bill that would let schools teach “alternative views” of evolution, global warming and cloning, referring directly to the Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom campaign in the process (it is worth mentioning the co-sponsors Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, and Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township).

Then there is this, which tells you a bit about how Agema evaluates his sources – partially in response to that one some of his fellow RNC members have tried to kick him out (some of his fans mounted some interesting defense attempts), but they seem to be a long away way from succeeding.

Diagnosis: The scary thing, of course, is that the ideas and idiocy of people like Agema has become pretty mainstream. Agema is a fumingly bigoted, hateful monster, who fuels his bigotry by adopting whatever notion he thinks could fuel his bigotry, completely regardless of whether it is accurate or not.