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Insulting: Both Brian Brown's work and WaPo's assessment thereof!

by Jeremy Hooper

"Same-sex unions are not marriages and Iowans should not be forced by law to treat them as such.
"This madness has to end. No good can come of a law based on a lie, and same-sex unions are not marriages."
"Governor Lynch and a narrow majority of the Legislature today have ripped a significant hole in the fabric of New Hampshire society by passing same-sex marriage legislation"
"Can you give $5, $50, or even $500 to protect God’s truth about marriage?"
"Same-sex unions are not marriages. Political regimes based on lies about human nature cannot last. Same-sex marriage takes a sacred institution, with deep roots in human nature, and tries to turn it into the plaything of politicians, a creature of the state, a bundle of rights to be tossed about between adults. Something so feebly rooted, so fragilely constructed and imposed cannot last."
"You can fight back against the bullies!"
"The One who designed marriage knew what He was doing. And we will never sit back passively and permit our own government to teach our own children a lie. Same-sex unions are not marriage. Same-sex marriage is not a civil right, it is a civil wrong."
"We will continue this good fight, for truth, for common sense, for the dignity of the human person, and for a responsive government that cares about what ordinary people think and believe."

-All comments have come from the mouth of Brian Brown


Personally, we find comments like the above both accusatory and belittling. "Accusatory," because they claim that gays, by virtue of nothing more than their loving relationships and attempts to seize their full citizenship as Americans, are somehow "ripping society's fabric." And "belittling," because they claim that our same-sex 6A00D8341C503453Ef0120A5639079970Cunions are false, wrong, anti-family, anti-child, anti-"ordinary," and ungodly, and make it sound as if our attempt to stop the anti-gay forces' unneeded and unwarranted attacks somehow makes us "bullies." In a world where homosexuality is a truth and anti-gay activism a chosen discriminatory construct, how could we who fight to benignly live those truths *NOT* see Mr. Brown's aggressive attempts to paint us as a "lie" as accusatory, belittling, and intensely hurtful?

But apparently Washington Post writer Monica Hesse felt more like accepting the meme that Brian Brown is nothing more than a nice, family man than to fully investigate the extent of his anti-equality work. How else can you explain why she has written a lengthy new piece, wherein among other things, she claims that the National Organization For Marriage executive is "never accusatory or belittling. His arguments are based on his understandings of history, not on messages from God that gays caused Hurricane Katrina."

And apparently Ms. Hesse also felt more like reducing the work of those of us who've responded to NOM with our tongues in our cheeks (without ever losing the steel in our spines) rather than actually talking to some of us. Because why else would she write an unfair line like this: "Some pro-gay marriage activists then get hold of these e-mails and mock them. But his more informed opponents know that scoffing is a response born of fear."

"More informed opponents"? How insulting! Many of us who have scoffed at NOM are among the MOST informed about NOM, Brian Brown, and their work against our lives and loves. We scoff, because their work is oftentimes comical (and because we have to laugh in the face of these constant attacks on our lives). But we do so without ever losing our firm convictions and our dedication to the fight! And we do so not out of fear, but rather out of principle!

You can go read Monica's full, fluffy piece (which contains only one quote -- ONE QUOTE! -- from a gay activist) at the following link:

Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile [WaPo]

Ya know, it took us about ten minutes to pull the eight quotes that head this piece. Too bad Ms. Hesse didn't see a need to "mocK" Brian as effectively as we do.


**SEE ALSO: Michael Cole has a great response up at HRC's BackStory: Washington Post Profiles Marriage Equality Banning Crusader [HRC]

**And of course NOM loves, loves, LOVES the whole thing.

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Your thoughts

Well Brian Brown was right about one thing, we can fight back against the bullies.

and moreso, we will win

Posted by: dragon88 | Aug 28, 2009 10:56:53 AM

Jeremy, you should read the comments on the Post story, there are maybe three of four out of about 60 that support the story, the author or NOM/Brown. WaPo readers, especially those who read online are pretty savy.

Posted by: Scott | Aug 28, 2009 10:58:44 AM

This is whats wrong with journalism today, no one gives a damn about the truth. Its all just about pandering to whoever the boss likes and blasting what he hates. Seriously, anyone who tries to cast NOM as the oppressed underdog is lying through their fucking teeth.

Posted by: penguinsaur | Aug 28, 2009 11:00:32 AM

Yea, I see that, Scott. Many people are up in arms about this. ive seen the same on various listservs.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 28, 2009 11:01:17 AM

Well I would say it's worse than lying, penguinsaur: They have bought into NOM's press releases. That is NOM's whole thing, to be seen as the "victims." Ms. Hesse seems to have swallowed it.

I think that's why I find the part where she writes off the "mockers" as so offensive. I would say that I am one of the lead NOM "mockers" in the world. And guess what? I probably know them better than most people in the world! But her tone is so derisive, it makes it sound as if she has a better handle on the situation than the "mockers" do. Clearly we see that this isn't true!

I've read her other work: She's not a bad journalist. She has been duped and needs to make some sort of amends.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 28, 2009 11:09:13 AM

And I thought WaPo was part of the "liberal agenda", among The New York Times.

Posted by: ---- | Aug 28, 2009 1:43:28 PM

That article read like a press release. In fact, it doesn't seem to be too knee-jerkish to suggest that it is a press release, perhaps spruced up by the writer and with her by-line slapped on it.
When I read that line you quoted (about "some opponents mocking"), I knew we were in for a fact-free article. After all, when "some say" is included in your writing, you know you've got not a thing to back it up.
Watch, I'll do it, "Some say Monica Hesse is a partisan hack who offers zero facts to back up the claims she writes in her stories."
Oh, wait, I'm right!

Posted by: Eric | Aug 28, 2009 1:47:44 PM

Brown is becoming a Stepford Maggie. Is the Gagger grooming her own replacement??

Hopefully this is the tip of a bigger iceberg that included her incarceration for money laundering, or something.

Maybe she really does have liposarcoma?? Something that I have secretly suspected for some time; and, if true, I certainly wish her the best.

Maybe that black dress is becoming too constrictive, and she wants to adopt a more frivolous frock?? I could see her as an entertainment reporter for the Duluth News Tribune, of something.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 28, 2009 3:56:19 PM

I am a heterosexual female who is just plain sick of this $h!t. The lies are what tick me off. Folks like Brown have absolutely no credibility, yet continue to roll themselves out before the public as the keepers of morality. What is shameful is the way that the MSM promotes them as being credible. IMO, this is the real crime in their entire scheme, and it is a scheme. As one of America's lesser children of God (according to these same folks), I become incensed when I see another attempt to discriminate against ANYONE. I lived through the Civil Rights Era with all of its' ugliness directed at myself and people like me, and what I would like to ask anyone is, with a history of racism, prejudice, and discrimination such as that in this country, what would make anyone believe this is fair, right, or just? IMO, we just don't have enough people who will stand up and state clearly, enough is enough. I didn't mean to come here and rant, but I get upset with these folks' BS all the time. I've lived a lifetime as a fourth-class citizen in this country, and this attitude still persists. It's time to put a stop to this. Forgive me, but I cannot help myself when I read about this kind of BS.

Posted by: majii | Aug 28, 2009 6:35:12 PM

Those quotes you found had me seeing white. The "smile" and the "sanity" are a matter of perspective, I guess. I am always surprised at how some heterosexual people think we LGBTs, particularly those of us who are same-sex married, will just sit and take their bullshit without a challenge!

The article was maddening in many ways, too, of course. I found the bit about mocking and scoffing particularly maddening. How *dare* she try telling us how to feel, or who in our ranks is more or less informed? How dare she act like we have no business getting upset when someone is dedicating his whole *life* to making our lives harder?

I can't help thinking of something Scott Cunningham said in one of the first Wiccan books I ever read, "Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner". I'll share it because I think it kind of fits: "Laughter has its ritual and magical functions. For example, truly laughing at a curse can destroy its effects. It sets up a powerful protective energy surrounding you through which no negative energies can penetrate. Laughter releases tremendous amounts of personal power."

Or as my granddaddy used to tell us a lot, "Some things are too serious *not* to joke about."

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | Aug 28, 2009 9:51:49 PM

What a bunch of whiners. Waaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh It's because I'm gaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy! No it's not! It's because you're not in power. Indians having been treated like crap - not because they're gay. Mexicans are being treated like crap - Not because they're gay. Atheists are treated like crap -Not because they're gay. Progressives are treated like crap - Not because they're gay. Marijuana users are treated like crap - Not because they're gay. People with drug and alcohol problems are treated like crap - Not because they're gay. Homeless are treated like crap - Not because they're gay. This country treats everyone like crap unless you're one of the wealthy. You gay people are pretty well off do in large part to the fact that you don't have to worry about accidents in your family plan. No unexpected pregnancies on either side. The simple fact is rather than fighting for this stupid version of poligamy where You're married to you, your spouse, and the state let's get our government that was formed to be separate of religion back to the good old theologically challenged entity it's supposed to be.


Posted by: Jared Lorz | Aug 28, 2009 9:58:32 PM

Jared Lorz, where do you fit in that list of people who are treated like crap? Obviously you are unhappy with the status quo (perhaps even a bit whiny), but aside from seeming atheistic and bent on overthrowing the govt because the religious are in power, you don't make your case.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Aug 29, 2009 8:44:20 PM

My favorite part of the article is how the writer clearly buys into their "victim" status.

Let me get this right... Mr. & Mrs. Brown are victims because they weren't invited to a party hosted by two gay couples. Right... I'm so distraught for their plight that I don't think I can go to work today.

Seriously, who can buy that argument? This family derives their sole income from removing rights of an entire group of people. And then members of that group decide not to invite them to their party. Boo freaking hoo.

As Dan Savage said to Tony Perkins, "you're taking away my rights, and I'm interrupting you - who's really suffering?"

Posted by: DN | Aug 31, 2009 10:52:51 AM

Am I the only one who read this piece as very critical of Brown?? It is very subtle, but the absurdity of Brown's statements speak for themselves and the author didn't have to challenge them outright. If she took his views more seriously she probably would have challenged them more. For example, the fact that she highlights that he thinks it is irrational to look at poll numbers showing young people support gay marriage. Go back and read the article again.

Posted by: rabbit6 | Aug 31, 2009 11:00:50 AM

Rabbit: You may not be the *only* one. But you are very much in the minority. I'm on many gay activist list servs, and this issue has been the hot topic for the past few days. Most are in agreement: Monica got it wrong, wrong, wrong.

Also, it's a little unfair to tell people to "go read..again," as if they must have missed something. Many of us have read it multiple times, with our frustration only growing with every reappraisal.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 31, 2009 11:08:31 AM

I emailed and then called the reporter. After talking with her, I feel like an idiot, and so should you G-A-Y. Because we TOTALLY misread this piece. I went back and read it. It's not a a fluff piece in favor of BB, as i thought. It's subtle, but you can pick up that she is not endorsing what he is saying -- he's letting his own words hang himself. Hesse told me that she actually thought she'd be getting calls from angry NOM supporters for a hit job on Brian Brown.

Posted by: Mark | Sep 1, 2009 7:18:04 AM

With all due respect, Mark: It's not really your place to tell me what I should feel. Especially if you are going to go to a discourse-lowering place like "idiot."

I too have had my own conversations with Monica. She's lovely. Truly. And she obviously was not *trying* to skew the piece. I don't think many people here ever thought she was. I certainly didn't. What we thought, and I what I continue to think, is that her presentation gave Brian Brown an unfair pass. And that it reads, at times, like a dangerous love letter to this man (which is how NOM also seems to see it, judging by the glowing way they have addressed it).

I should also say that the idea that Monica should be "absolved" because she wrote a "subtle" hit piece for our side would strike me as troubling as well. That is not her role as a journalist. Her role here was to put forth an accurate assessment of Brian Brown. Talk to him, to those who challenge him, do her own independent research of Brian and NOM's work. That's all we ever asked at her: To look at the evidence that belies the non-"argumentative", non-"belittling" theme, and to not just write off those who "mock" NOM in a way that makes them sound baseless (or working form a place of fear). We didn't need any sort of skewing on either side: All we needed was a complete picture.

Do I think Monica sees her piece differently? yes, of course. But that doesn't negate that a vast majority of those of us who cover NOM so closely see this piece as ill-formed. And in noting that, I should say that this site is FAR from the only one to criticize the piece. On various blogs, on Media Matters, and on various LGBT list servs, this piece has been discussed in length. The negative-positive breakdown is around 20-1.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 1, 2009 8:01:27 AM


First, you’re right, I shouldn’t assign words like idiot to you. But I certainly felt like one after reading your piece (and a number of others) and getting frothed up enough to contact Hesse to rip her a new one -- only to discover that I (and it seems, a lot of us) had taken some leaps.

And, respectfully, please don’t put words in my mouth. I never said she was doing a hit piece for our side. I said that after I re-read it, I found that, contrary to those of us who were saying she’s doing a positive piece for NOM, she is not endorsing what he is saying but letting him speak for himself. It’s subtle. Some may read his words and think of him as he thinks of himself, “rational.” I re-read it and thought he was crazy.

In terms of the sea of negative feedback on the piece, I’ll speak for myself and say that I think your 20-1 ratio may be the result of a feedback loop. In my case: after reading yours and several other blogs you mentioned, I skimmed the original piece, left a nasty little comment about it in the Post’s comments and fired off links to several friends. What I didn’t do was read the piece fairly and without the bias of your comments. But I re-read it after speaking with Hesse and have a much different view of the piece now. I think it’s quite possible that your 20-1 breakdown might reflect people like me.


Posted by: Mark | Sep 1, 2009 10:24:57 AM

Mark: I'm not going to have a continued back and forth about this. You seem to be saying that after reading this site's thoughts, you came away with an unfairly skewed view, but after hearing Monica's own "explanation," you achieved clarity. Fair enough. But that is personal to you.

For me, there is no "explanation" needed. The parts that I found annoying? I still find them annoying, even after exchanging emails with Monica (and having others forward me a form email that she sent around to many others).

I will say again: I never thought she was doing an intentionally positive piece for NOM. I never said she was endorsing NOM. My suspicions were always that she was on our "side" in this. I just found (and still find) the piece to be unrepresentative of Brian's work.

And one last thing: The people I am talking about did not read the piece with "the bias of my comments." Again: You are quite aggressive in your assertions about how people came to their feelings about this piece (i.e. they didn't read it clearly enough, they were skewed by online feedback, etc.). In fact, well before I ever wrote my piece, a list serv of prominent gay activists was UP IN ARMS about the piece! Negative comments were coming in fast and furious! And, before I ever hit the "publish" button on my post, WaPo's site has 58 comments on the story. At least 50 of them were negative, and most of them intensely so.

So please, have your own opinions about the piece. Mine (and I suspect others') remain unchanged.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 1, 2009 10:49:35 AM

Mark: Why did you not reveal that you are also "rabbit6"? And why when you posted as "rabbit6" did you not say that you had spoken to Monica at that time, even though your opinion has seemingly changed?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 1, 2009 10:52:34 AM


I posted under a different name because you respectfully replied to Rabbit6, so I replied in kind, with my name and email account. There is nothing inconsistent between my original post and my post as MarkD. I simply clarified how I got to where I got.

I'm sorry that you interpret me as being "aggressive" with my assertions about how people came to their opinions about the piece. That is not my intent or position. I simply responded to your 20-1 ratio and offered one alternative explanation of how those numbers may be inflated. I think it's a reasonable explanation.

Regardless, we'll agree that my opinion about the piece is different than yours.

Posted by: Mark | Sep 1, 2009 11:22:52 AM

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