Monday, January 31, 2022

#2511: Gary Barnes

Gary Barnes is an antivaxx writer and conspiracy theorist who has written for instance for TruthKings, the website run by antivaccine loon Sherri Tenpenny. Like antivaxxers in general, Barnes blames the vaccines. He often does so under the pretext of JAQing off, of course. But it is the vaccine.


So for instance, when Prince died in 2016, Barnes penned ‘Vaccine Injury Suspected InPrince’s Death’, the title being formulated that way to sort of hide the fact that the one suspected vaccine injury was him, based on nothing whatsoever except what he could pull out of his own ass. Basing his article off of the claim, from Prince’s management, that Prince was suffering from the flu (a common management claim about artists who are suddenly absent; Prince did not have the flu, Barnes stated that “suspicion is now high that Prince was potentially given a flu shot injection or heavy doses of Tamiflu. Prince suffers from epilepsy, and the flu shot can be deadly for those suffering from that illness.” Of course, vaccines are safe in children and adults with epilepsy, for whom routine vaccines on the vaccination schedule are still recommended. Concluded Barnes: “The key will be the discovery of Prince being given a flu shot, which isn’t clear as of yet. However the situation seems to reflect such potential.” ‘seems’ means seems to Barnes, and it seems that way to Barnes because he’s a dingbat. Even commenters on antivaccine sites had to ask why on Earth Prince would receive the flu vaccine if he already had the flu.


Barnes also engages in wishful thinking. In 2017, for instance, he claimed gleefully (and reflecting the antivaxx movement’s sharp turn to the right) that “[a]ccording to sources, the CDC has been ordered by Trump to remove all vaccine related information by February 18th of this year.” Yes, he relied on … ‘sources’. He seems to have gotten the idea from the Salt Lake City Guardian, a well-known fake news website with no named owners, boards or journalists. The fact that he didn’t name them as his source suggests that Barnes was, at some level, aware of the shoddiness of his source.


As for conspiracies, Barnes has suggested that pharmaceutical companies created the Zika virus to push vaccines and that “vaccines are a part of a large global holocaust against the black and Muslim community.”


Diagnosis: Armed with nothing but his imagination, his ass, and wishful thinking, Barnes is trying his hardest to undermine people’s trust in science and the best means people have for protecting themselves against potentially debilitating disease. Yeah, it’s rot all the way down. And yes, his rants do receive (some) exposure, and they do cause harm.

Monday, January 24, 2022

#2510: Eric Barger

Eric Barger is a Christian apologist for Take A Stand! Ministries who sees signs of the end times virtually everywhere – and like with many end-times preachers it is utterly unclear whether that’s a good or a bad thing. In a strikingly retro-80s fashion, Barger also rails against rock music and various toys, and in particular “New Ageinfluences by “liberals” and “emergents” in the Evangelical community, and he encourages his followers to approach pastors with test questions including:


-       “Do you believe in a literal hell, yes or no?”

-       “Is that a Brian McLaren book on your shelf?”

-       “Why did you quote Nouwen and Merton last Sunday without telling the church they are dangerous?”

-       The word ‘missional’ was in the church newsletter this week; don’t you check for things like that?”

-       “Why don’t you preach against evolution?”

-       “Are you aware of Rick Warren’s universalist leanings?”


Indeed, among the signs of the endtimes are not only things like Pokemon and rock music, but also completely imaginary and made-up stuff. In 2014, for instance, Barger (on a show with Jan Markell – Barger is a regular and sometimes co-host there – and Larry Kutzler) accused then-president for Obama for decision to hand over oversight of the Internet to the UN, a decision that of course exists only in Barger’s deranged imagination, warning that it will lead to the arrival of the Antichrist and censorship of Christian radio outlets. (He followed up the accusation with promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that Obama allowed INTERPOL to “kidnap” US citizens.) It probably goes without saying that one of the clearest proofs that the Antichrist is coming, as Barger sees it, is the non-existent rise of Sharia law in the U.S.


Before the 2016 election, Barger issued a dire warning to Christians not to elect an “admitted practicing occultist like Hillary Clinton to the White House.



Though Barger is a staunch enemy of science and anything that resembles science, he is particularly known for his distaste for psychiatry, which he characterizes as attempting to “deal with spiritual issues by using completely worldly means,” something that is ostensibly bad. In particular, Barger is shocked that “secular psychiatry” has become the first remedy the world around us employs when someone exhibits signs of demon possession,” unlike in medieval times. Psychiatric medications, according to Barger, do not fix spiritual/demonic problems; rather, they “disguise the symptoms but [do] absolutely nothing to alleviate the cause. As Barger sees it, “secular psychiatry cannot cure the demon possessed and can at best only rearrange a person’s emotional and mental problems. Doctor Jesus can cure them completely, set them free, and make the broken soul whole!


Cultural satanism

Among the targets for Barger’s charges of occultism and demonic influence, you’ll find some expected ones: according to Barger, Harry Potter, Twilight and The Walking Dead are all reasons that the Antichrist may soon materialize and attain global power, for instance. However, Barger also denounces Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stories, which is atleast somewhat more novel given that the Narnia stories are commonly endorsed by Christian leaders. According to Barger, however, these books desensitize people to the occult, deploy “unbiblical themes” and portray ideas of God that are not sufficiently in line with how Barger thinks of Him.


He has received some attention for his criticsm of Pokémon: “the original Pokémon franchise was developed by Wizards of the Coast, who gave the world the occult games, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and MAGIC THE GATHERING. Pokémon comes from a long line of anti-Christian, occult, and evolutionary development. For example, did you know that the very word Pokémon means pocket monster - i.e. demon?” But of course.


Diagnosis: Oh, yes, there’s still plenty of these around, though they tend not to have the sort of influence they had 35 years or so ago. However, there are surely people who tune in to his incoherent and rabid screeching; this colorful horror clown still has sharp enough fangs to annoy you.


Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

#2509: Mark Barclay

Mark T. Barclay is a deranged fundie prosperity gospel and endtimes preacher and QAnon activist. Barclay is convinced that the 2020 election was rigged; there is no evidence whatsoever for that, but to support his idea, Barclay has attacked the machines made by the Dominion Voting systems, arguing that the company’s name is clearly an attack on Christianity:


99% … 99% of those who use the word ‘Dominion’ is Christianity. And again – this is just how I see it, guys, and I think I see it right. I mean, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but look – They’re stealing Christianity and everything important that’s us. It’s called Anti-Christ. They steal Christmas from us. It turns into Santa Claus and flying reindeer, etc. They steal Easter from us and it’s bunny with eggs … and this word ‘dominion’. That’s our word. That’s Bible word. It’s almost like, how dare you even use it in this context? And then, if you look into Dominion – you know, I am not an IT guy, but I’m not deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid either – you look into this software, and what it does, and how easily it can be manipulated [for the record, Barclay has not looked into the software]. And, by the way, who’s manipulating it, and who’s governing it? This is Anti-Christ, anti-America, anti-justice, anti-fairness – and it’s being proven! [most things loons believe are always already just now in the process of being proven] And so they need to do something about it, like maybe just get rid of it.


And no, he’s got not a shred of evidence. It’s all a delusional wingnut fever dream (and that’s the charitable interpretation – it may also be, and probably is, projection). And you should probably not annoy him with questions about where we got Christmas and Easter from. Note also how the notion that anybody not agreeing with him on politics is non-Christian, is working as a presupposition.


According to himself, Barclay “is known as a Preacher of Righteousness. He is a proven [there’s the word ‘prove’ again; try to figure out what Barclay thinks it means], precise leader among ministers worldwide. God has anointed him with a severely accurate prophetic ministry.” Mostly, though, he is known for his unabashed and blatant promotion of the prosperity Gospel and his requests for donations. He is apparently also president and founder of Supernatural Ministries Training Institute.


Diagnosis: Unsavory piece of garbage rot to begin with – and that’s before you add the insane conspiracy theories and deranged wingnut nonsense on top. Monster.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

#2508: LaShawn Barber

LaShawn Barber is a wingnut fundie blogger and columnist for World (her drivel is also published on Townhall) whose main schtick seems to be to think that everyone who is different from herself, or who disagrees with her, is controlled by Satan – people who oppose good fundamentalists’ attempts to institute a theocracy, for instance. “Unbelievers [that would apparently include anyone opposed to complete fundie control of government] say they don’t worship him, but he’s ‘the god of this world’ and his influence is obvious,” says Barber, and claims to feel nothing but pain and compassion for those who disagree with her. She probably feels other things, too, but it really wouldn’t make it much better if she didn’t.


Barber is, of course, a creationist. According to Barber and her take on Hoyle’s fallacy, the “idea that an undirected, random series of events caused something as wonderfully complex, specifically magnificent, and infinitely beautiful as life is, to put it mildly, ludicrous.” Of course, the theory of evolution is precisely not the claim that complex life is the result of random chance, so even the premise going into her argument from incredulity is nonsense. But you didn’t really expect her to have the faintest clue what she is talking about, did you?


Diagnosis: To be honest, it’s been a decade since we last noticed anything from her. Perhaps it’s just silly to dig up such old rot. Whatever.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

#2507: Heather Barajas

Antivaxxers like to view themselves as oppressed and persecuted victims, and it’s testament to their general ability to reason carefully about proportionality that they persistently misappropriate symbols of the Holocaust, such as the Yellow Star of David, to compare their “persecution” to the real persecution of Jewish people under the Nuremberg laws. And yes: such lack of awareness and sense of proportionality is a form of Holocaust denial.


Heather Barajas was, of course, not the first antivaxxer to misappropriate the Holocaust, but the image of herself with her children in Holocaust Chic that she posted on her blog, wearing a self-imposed anti-vaccine badge and comparing it to the badges my people wore to the gas chambers and juxtaposed with photos of Jews from the Third Reich wearing yellow Stars of David, did make its rounds in antivaxx communities, and it is a pretty representative example of offensive dimwittedness that characterize these communities. The martyr complex and delusions of grandeur such a gimmick requires are staggering.


That particular image originated as part of Barajas’s protest against California’s SB277, which eliminated personal belief exemption from vaccine mandates in California schools. Barajas said of the law: “This is no longer about pro-vax vs. non-vax. This is about freedom of choice for medical procedures. Our bodies belong to us, not the government [note, of course, that “our bodies” here refers to her children’s bodies, which she apparently considers her body, too; and of course: no one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated but rather requiring that if you want to use their services you have to get vaccinated]. Measles is not a deadly disease [it most certainly is]. It is not sweeping the nation, killing thousands, as the media hysteria seems to have some believing.” Of course, the reason measles isn’t sweeping the nation, killing thousands, is that people are generally vaccinated to the extent that herd immunity is generally achieved – and even in the media, some people are aware of the potentially disastrous effects of losing herd immunity. And no: of course someone like Barajas would never consider the fact that getting a vaccine to a large extent is about protecting others too; the idea of other people is not something that she seems to have a very firm grasp of – as shown for instance by her tendency to confuse her children for herself. Other parents’ rights to have themselves and their children protected from Barajas’s children starting a pandemic accordingly don’t count.


Diagnosis: Now, we don’t, in fairness, know much else about Barajas. Her minutes of fame stems from her contribution to the side of dumb in the fight over SB277. She nevertheless deserves a substantial entry here, as an example of a very typical antivaxx ploy.

Monday, January 3, 2022

#2506: Charla Bansley

Charla Bansley is an Adjunct Faculty for strategic communication and direct marketing classes at Liberty University, on the Bedford County Board of Supervisors, and an at least one-time contributor to the WND. In 2015, Bansley penned a column asserting that then-governor Mike Pence was the “Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015” because he was “courageously defending the bakers, photographers, florists, ministers, county clerks, and owners of wedding venues” from oppression from gay rights activists with the Indiana version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which she claimed erroneously to be more or less equivalent to other RFRAs. (That MLK was arguing, you know, against the rights of businesses to discriminate against people goes unnoticed by people like Bansley.) She also called for Christians to turn Indianapolis into the new Ferguson.


An anti-gay activist, Bansley has also been the Maine director of Concerned Women for America and has helped organize anti-gay-marriage rallies for the National Organization for Marriage. “We must understand that the enemy will never accept defeat in their effort to destroy the family as God designed” or corrupt our children with pro-gay propaganda, said Bansley. As a spokesperson for Liberty Counsel, Bansley was also an important supporter for Kim Davis in her legal battles.


Diagnosis: So not the most flamboyant anti-gay activist, perhaps, and ultimately not a major figure; but then again: these loons are the ones that actually lead the footwork in the fight against decendy, freedom and fairness in the US. She’s probably kind and caring and polite at a personal level, but that is not enough to make her a good person.