Yes, I realize that actress Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle) is a fairly outspoken conservative. However, she's been open in her support for LGBT rights and has bemoaned times when her politics get her "lumped in with lunatics," which is why I was quite shocked when I learned that the TV star chose to go on Focal Point, the American Family Association radio show that is hosted by Bryan Fischer.
For those who aren't as familiar with Fischer, you should know that he is, hands down, the most extreme person working in American radio. Even at the American Family Association, which has always been at the more rabid end of the socially conservative spectrum, Fischer stands out because of his brassy penchant for saying things that even the average opponent of LGBT rights would find detestable. To wit:
-- On multiple occasions, called for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households”
-- Says gay people must be criminalized and treated like drug addicts; even asks (at 2:29): "Do you put them to death, do you lock 'em up...what do you do?"
-- Praised Uganda's law criminalizing homosexuality (with jail time), saying it proves his is a "winnable war"
-- Directly links homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality: "We should discriminate against unnatural and aberrant sexual behavior, whether pedophilia, bestiality, or homosexuality."
-- Said that by overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and throwing marriage back to California, the Supreme Court is "doing to us what the Nazis did to the Jews"
-- Says (beginning at 8:00) that gay activists are "jack-booted homofascist thugs who want to use the tyrannical and totalitarian power of the state to send men of faith to jail, and that frankly sounds a lot more like Nazi Germany than the United States of America"
-- Says about LGBT activists: "We cannot accommodate, we can't compromise, we can't find middle ground. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be compromised with, they cannot be dialogued with—they can only be defeated!"
-- Says: "In the wake of what we've seen at Penn State, that alone out to be enough to say that, look: we are not going to put children in same-sex households—we are not going to adopt them into same-sex households. We are not going to give custody, if somebody goes into the homosexual lifestyle after siring children—bringing children into the world with an opposite-sex partner—they are not going to get custody of these children. If they have visits with those kids, they are going to be supervised visits. We cannot trust the sexual integrity and innocence and purity of those kids with those who have same-sex preferences. The risk is far, far too high.
-- In wake of Sandy Hook tragedy, suggested lack of God, prayer, and guns was to blame
-- Has dedicated several show segments to denying that HIV causes AIDS
-- Claims: "The homosexual agenda represents the single greatest modern threat to freedom of religion and conscience.”
-- Says: "The real haters are homosexuals. The real venom is coming from those that support the homosexual agenda, either homosexual activists, homosexuals, or those that support the homosexual agenda. They are the real haters. There is a heterophobic hatred, there is a Christophobic hatred that is just seething, there's a dark, venomous, demonic hatred that is in the homosexual community."
-- Says: "The Democrats as a party, I believe, they want slaves, they want Americans to be as slavishly dependent upon the central government as slaves were upon their masters in pre-Civil War days, that’s what they want.” Claims African-Americans "stay on the Democratic plantation" because they are "like drug-added addicts and the Democrat Party has gotten them addicted to welfare benefits."
-- Claims: "The homosexual agenda represents a clear and present danger to virtually every fundamental right given to us by our Creator and enshrined for us in our Constitution."
-- Asserts: “Ladies and gentlemen, they [gay people] are Nazis (see video at :24). Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They’ll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.”
-- Claims: "So Hitler himself was an active homosexual. And some people wonder, didn't the Germans, didn't the Nazis, persecute homosexuals? And it is true they did; they persecuted effeminate homosexuals. But Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual solders basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals."
-- Says: “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology. It is as racist as the KKK. ... Allowing a mosque to be built in town is fundamentally no different than granting a building permit to a KKK cultural center built in honor of some King Kleagle.”
-- More: "It is time, I suggest, to stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military. The reason is simple: the more devout a Muslim is, the more of a threat he is to national security."
-- Fischer's bullying prevention plan: "If We Want to See Fewer Students Commit Suicide, We Want Fewer Homosexual Students"
-- Again: "There is no spirit of God in Islam. It is the spirit of Satan (see video at :19). It is the spirit of darkness. It is the spirit of tyranny. It is the spirit of bondage."
-- Claims homosexuality is a form of "domestic terrorism"
-- In order to stop open service in America, Bryan claimed of the past: "Homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews."
-- Claims "allowing gay adoption is a form of sexual abuse"
-- In a now-scrubbed column, claimed Native Americans as innately cursed because they "cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition" (In a January 2013 interview with David Shuster, Bryan said he stood by this claim).
-- Flatly declares same-sex parenting to be "a form of child abuse" (using anti-gay researcher Robert Oscar Lopez a "proof"
-- Links homosexuality to dalliances with sex workers
BRYAN FISCHER [GLAAD CAP]
This is not the sort of stuff that most credible conservatives want to get with, much less those conservatives who work in Hollywood on highly rated network TV shows. So again, I was surprised to see Heaton make the appearance.
Turns out, the actress was surprised as well. Within hours of me tweeting her Bryan Fischer's GLAAD CAP profile, Heaton sent back a series of tweets where she made it clear that she had no clue who he was or what she was getting herself into:
She didn't have to respond at all, but she did. It was clear from the tweets that the interview was set up for her and that it was just one of the many she did that day—an error, not a malicious choice. It's also clear from the phrase "homophobic guy" that she has no problem distancing herself from Fischer, now that she knows what he's about. She is clearly desirous of distancing herself from this mistake (*interestingly, the video of the appearance has been removed from the AFA's YouTube channel).
Personally, I'd now like to know a little more. Since Ms. Heaton is the kind of voice that the American Family Association wanted to court, it'd be interesting to hear how this whole thing came about. What did the show say to her bookers in order to sell the appearance? Why didn't the American Family Association name alone raise a red flag? Now that the actress realizes the danger of lending credence to a show like this, will she help make that case to the conservative movement writ large?
But even while I ponder the larger questions and press for more answers, I do think Patricia Heaton deserves praise for getting in front and engaging in discussion rather than escalating it.