The exgay network Exodus International on July 1 joined other religious-rightists in parroting a political scandal over an ordinary schoolyard fight that occurred May 17 in Lexington, Mass. The campaign’s premise was that the local community’s gay-tolerant parents incited their first-grade children to single out antigay parent David Parker’s son for a coordinated attack.
The antigay parent at the center of the campaign now admits the campaign’s premise was false:
“Are parents and administrators telling little children to get [my son] on the playground because of his father’s beliefs? No, I doubt it.”
Will Exodus and its partners come clean and correct their mischaracterization of the people of Lexington, Mass., or will they silently pretend they never participated in a campaign of falsehoods?
On May 17, antigay parent David Parker’s child got in a schoolyard fight with a friend over cafeteria seating.
The incident seemed ordinary enough; it was investigated by the school, and the friend was punished. The friend and Parker’s son even reconciled for a time.
Parker never formally disputed the school district‘s resolution of the dispute or provided any contrary facts. Instead, weeks later, the antigay group MassResistance/Article 8 launched a paranoid media campaign accusing the gay-tolerant parents of Lexington, Mass., of inciting their children to beat up Parker’s son, not over cafeteria seating, but over Parker’s anti-tolerance activism.
As MassResistance Watch notes,
The Boston Globe documents the harassment and intimidation tactics that Massresistance/Article 8 has forced upon Lexington [Massachusetts] by issuing a deceptive and fabricated press release…
Instead of working with the school district and accepting or appealing its disciplinary measures, Parker waged — or allowed MassResistance and its religious-right allies to wage — a campaign of public incitement that grew to include crank phone calls, threats against the principal and superintendent that may have prompted the principal to move, and religious-right press releases that had little basis in fact.
One such press release was a rant by the Traditional Values Coalition’s Lou Sheldon which reported only MassResistance’s account of a citywide conspiracy against Parker, and which ignored ongoing media coverage by The Boston Globe even as Sheldon demanded media attention.
Another fraudulent press release was penned by a Grove City College communications intern on behalf of the college’s internship partner, Concerned Women for America. Within the past week — coincidentally, after Ex-Gay Watch protested the intern’s conduct — CWFA deleted its original press release without explanation or apology. (Here’s a copy of the original.) CWFA then quietly posted a revised version of the press release. In both versions, CWFA conceals the reason for the brawl — a dispute specifically over lunch seating. CWFA voices, repeatedly, the disproven accusation that pro-tolerance advocates incited the brawl. And CWFA neglects to acknowledge (much less condemn) the harassment of school officials by religious-rightists.
More than a week after Ex-Gay Watch posted two alerts about the widening fraud, Nancy Brown of the Exodus Media Blog joined in the fraud on July 1 when she uncritically parroted Sheldon’s press release while providing Exodus supporters with none of the school district’s or the Globe’s established facts about the brawl.
Parker now acknowledges to The Boston Globe, without apology, that the MassResistance-TVC-CWFA-Exodus campaign lacks any factual basis whatsoever:
[School superintendent Paul] Ash said Parker has been “a gentleman.” But he worried that MassResistance , the Waltham-based group that issued the press release about the playground fight, is using Parker to further its cause.
Sitting on his living room couch, Parker denied that he is being used by anyone. But in retrospect, he acknowledged there was no evidence that an adult had directly incited students to bully his son.
He is worried that adults who criticize his views against homosexuality might have led some children to not want to play with his son or to pick on him.
MassResistance Watch points out that, despite Parker’s admission to the Globe, the false story remains on the antigay MassResistance/Article 8 web site. And it continues to spread via religious-right web sites, the Exodus blog and numerous other blogs.
Parker confesses to the Globe that the campaign of lies against his neighbors has damaged his son’s ability to keep friends — but he blames the Lexington community, not the lies that he has permitted MassResistance to spread. As MassResistance Watch notes, Parker’s comments to the Globe suggest that he resents other parents’ choice not to have their kids associate any longer with a family that defames and threatens them.
“Are parents and administrators telling little children to get [my son] on the playground because of his father’s beliefs? No, I doubt it,” Parker said, but added: “You have children being exposed to the notion that this guy, or this family, is wrong and maybe is a bad guy. That can influence their actions.”
In addition to our earlier call for Grove City College to repudiate the unapologetic misconduct of its intern and its internship partner CWFA, we also call on Exodus to publicly apologize for parroting information that it knew — or should have known — to be false. Exodus misinformed its readers, and a miiddle-of-the-night deletion or unexplained rewrite of Brown’s original blog entry would fail to set readers straight.