Clear a space on your desk now, because by the time you're finished reading this, you'll be banging your head on it.
Rick Scarborough, founder of the Lufkin-based Tea Party Unity group, is a former Baptist preacher and, sigh, fellow Texan. Last week, Scarborough invited Peter LaBarbera to speak to his fellow Tea Partiers at an event. LaBarbera, it should be noted, is the founder of the Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, a website that reads like Buzzfeed for bigots.
During their discussion, Scarborough asked if they should file a class action lawsuit against homosexuality for leading to AIDS, much like was done to hold big tobacco accountable for lung cancer. Who exactly he would sue wasn't really discussed, but this obviously isn't the most logical of arguments.
Obviously, statistically, now even the Centers for Disease Control verifies that homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that.
LaBarbera, who gets involved in some pretty epic Twitter wars with his more liberal brethren, responded saying,
Yeah I think that’s great. I would love to see it. We always wanted to see one of the kids in high school who was counseled by the official school counselor to just be gay, then he comes down with HIV.
So really it's a public health issue; these two men just want to make sure that no one else "comes down with" HIV.
According to a 2008 Centers for Disease Control report, Scarborough's claim that homosexuality causes more cases of AIDS than smoking causes cancer is just wrong. Smoking accounts for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States and is responsible for more deaths than "human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined." Granted, that was five years ago, so maybe Scarborough and LaBarbera are right, and all the gays are now running around coming down with AIDS. But we have our doubts.
LaBarbera also urged Fox News to start reporting on the benefits of conversion therapy for gays, something the Burnt Orange Report points out has been banned in numerous states.
Though Scarborough is the founder of Tea Party Unity, the larger party has repeatedly tried to distance itself from the former preacher. TeaParty365, one of the original Tea Party groups, issued a press release on October 21 that reads in part,
As one of the true founding Tea Party groups, TeaParty365 would like to take this opportunity to once again, and once-and-for-all, distance ourselves — and the larger Tea Party Movement — from the self-serving antics of Rick Scarborough, and his ilk.
TeaParty365 does not support this idiotic notion. We feel it is counter-productive to the national conversation, and ultimately harmful to the Tea Party brand, and the country.
Right Wing Watch, a progressive group that monitors conservative groups, has a recording of the conversation here.