Shorter Dana Milbank

Accusing gay people of pedophilia is mainstream conservatism and mainstream Christian advocacy.

Claiming that gay people molest children is mainstream conservatism and “mainstream Christian advocacy,” so it’s wrong to call a group that uses that accusation to whip up hatred against gays a “hate group.”

If I were a Christian or a conservative, I’d resent that.


One one point, Milbank borders on simple dishonesty. He quotes a 1999 FRC remark from the SPLC website, suggesting that SPLC is simply digging up stray decade-old remarks. But he omits this, from the same website, and attributed to the head of the FRC:

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

“Mainstream”? Really?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

30 thoughts on “Shorter Dana Milbank”

  1. This wicked lie about gay people needs to be fought with information. Though, rightwingers being the way they are about facts, I wouldn’t expect much progress. It is the center that needs to be won, and I think it’s happening.

    Having said that, it might have been better to say that the FRC “engages in hate speech…” or something like that. They probably do a few good things, unlike your average white supremacist group. I don’t know what they might be, but it’s possible anyway. I think labeling is a kind of cost/benefit judgment. You get called a hate group if you a) hate, and b) don’t do anything else positive that’s significant. My guess is FRC doesn’t qualify. Then again, I haven’t made a study of them.

    1. I honestly don’t know how to discuss this topic without at least trending towards Godwin. Every non-negligible hate group in history has done good things; see the Autobahns and Volkswagen, Sputnik, etcetera. Even the most evil people in history tend not to be cartoon caricatures. I would modify your proposal from:

      You get called a hate group if you a) hate, and b) don’t do anything else positive that’s significant


      You get called a hate group if you a) hate

      It really is that simple. If hating is something a group spends very little energy on, revealing the hate only when asked, while it has a consuming passion to do good works, then maybe you might have a point. But the FRC actively organizes campaigns of hate. No pass for them.

      1. I guess I tend to be a cynic. Everyone hates something or someone, some of the time.

        But your energy metric is interesting.

    2. Is there any actual information out there?

      Certainly from media reports (e.g., the coverage of the Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal) one would get the impression that a child molested by a man is more likely to be male than female. Since estimates on the proportion of men who are homosexual run between 5% and 10%, this would certainly support the FRC position.

      1. You’re missing a premise, which is that men who molest boys are always homosexual. Pedophilia isn’t part of mainstream homosexuality any more than, say, Hutton Gibson-style Holocaust denial is a part of mainstream Catholicism.

        Anyway, here’s some actual information, which would have been easily available through your friendly neighborhood search engine — I recommend DuckDuckGo in this case, since you might not want to let Google know about the search terms you were using.

  2. After reading this I wondered if there was any truth to the statement that “evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two.” After all, just because it comes from the FRC doesn’t mean it’s necessarily false. (And even it were true, I can’t think of any possible policy implications.) But of course it is false: “The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And … many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.” (

  3. Is ignorant tribalism mainstream conservatism? Seems to me there’s plenty of reason to think maybe it is.

  4. What’s sad about this is that people who molest children benefit from ideas about the superiority and unassailable trustworthiness of patriarchy. Penn State, the Catholic Church, and ____________ . Making people wrongly believe that only gay people are a threat to their children will just blind them to their surroundings, which is always dangerous.

  5. And yet, if the standard for being a hate group is showing antipathy to any group, over any issue, then that pretty much broadens the category to meaninglessness. A more effective way of countering the FRC would concentrate on disproving their factual claims rather than lumping them with the KKK. Last I heard, FRC was not doing anyone bodily harm, mistaken though they are in their convictions.

    1. Last I heard, FRC was not doing anyone bodily harm

      The thing about telling insecure teenagers they are abominations in the sight of the Lord and are likely to become genuine monsters such as paedophiles is that they will do bodily harm to themselves. The thing about telling their peers this, is that their peers will do harm to them. There are calumnies of such vile nature that merely by telling them you are ensuring the violence will happen, while appearing to keep your own hands clean.

      See also The It Gets Better Project, or the story of Matthew Shepard.

        1. Why? The FRC has done plenty of hate-peddling in the past – and continues to do so today.

        2. I think that this is true only in the sense that I doubt that much of anyone takes the Westboro Baptist Church very seriously and, while they undoubtedly offend the people trying to mourn at the funerals they disrupt, they don’t do any more significant damage. The FRC, on the other hand, causes tremendous amounts of harm to gay youth.

          So you are correct. It’s not useful to lump them together. The Westboro Baptist Church is best ignored. The FRC must be fought.

  6. Doesn’t seem particularly inaccurate to me. Everything I’ve seen over the past twenty years or so demonstrates that “mainstream conservatism” and “mainstream Christian advocacy,” is nothing more than an aggregation of smaller hate group into one very large hate group.

    1. So you think that the FRC’s ongoing campaign of lies (equating gay men with pedophilia is the equivalent of the blood libel against Jews IMHO) means that FRC is not in fact a hate group since they merely prefer to put the insinuation out there and let other people get their hands dirty? And maybe they merely hope that LGBT lives become circumscribed and (in their dreams) eventually criminalized (and they don’t show up at your house with a noose since that kind of thing is frowned on these days)? I guess there’s a legality to what they are doing but it certainly smacks of hatred to me.

      All of that said, I don’t think people should exercise their 2nd amendment rights against anyone, even odious bigots. Just as an aside in the pre-right wing takeover America at least, Matt Dillon would’ve taken your 2nd amendment rights and put you in boot hill if you didn’t check your gun as anyone who has ever listened to gunsmoke knows (I’m aware it was a tv show too but they rebroadcast the radio shows on Sunday nights here in DC – one or the minor pleasures of living here).

  7. Is it appropriate to use “mainstream” to refer to predominant trains of thought within minority groups? I thought “mainstream” by definition referred to the entire electorate, at least.

    As a progressive who counts many conservatives and evangelical Christians among his friends and associates, I read Milbank’s article and thought it was actually quite good. If anyone is offended by his comments they should perhaps look in the mirror.

    1. See reply above: Just because FRC is cunning and merely inspires others to do the worst damage for them, why shouldn’t they be called a hate group.

  8. The left has really lowered the bar on what constitutes hate and bigotry. Back in the day, you had to actually, you know, hate people, and maybe even oppress them for good measure. Now all you need to do is fail to offer your full-throated support for gay marriage and you’re the moral equivalent of Bull Connor (which party did he belong to again?).

    1. 1) This is a contest, now? You’ve got to clear the Bull O’Connor bar now, in some sort racism-off?
      2) O’Connor was of course a Dixiecrat. You know the breed: Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, etcetera, etcetera. This willful historical ignorance you trolls practice about the trajectories of the major American parties and their major factions over the last century and change is really, really tiresome. Next, you’ll doubtless inform us that the Nazis were “socialists”.

      1. Tiresome doesn’t begin to cover it. Hint for the senator: After LBJ got his major civil-rights laws through, all the white southern racists left the Democratic Party and joined the Republican Party, where they are comfortably ensconced today. The white southern racists in the Republican Party do not reflect on the Democratic Party, even though they or their parents or grandparents used to be Democrats. Most non-southern American racists, as well as many other varieties of bigot, also happily call the Republican Party home.

    2. And to which party would he belong today if he wanted to be elected sheriff in Alabama? I love how every conservative’s reply when the bigotry in their ranks is pointed out is “Look! There were racist Democrats 50 years ago!” What possible relevance does that have now, when said bigots are mostly dead or else changed to the Republican party because they saw more kindred spirits on the other side.

      Look, when the only way your side can oppose me is to spread lies about me (“Them fags just want to rape your little boys” being the moral equivalent of “them niggers just want to rape your women”), then that’s hate, pure and simple. I wouldn’t put it past lots of small-county sheriffs to be latter-day Bull Connors regarding gays (except in this era of militarized policing they’d probably dispense with the fire hoses and just send in the SWAT team with guns blazing), but gays in intolerant areas have learned to keep a low profile. There’s a reason gay pride parades are an urban phenomenon.

      I’m more than willing to debate the entire spectrum of gay rights (and it goes way beyond marriage), but groups such as FRC are way beyond the pale regarding debates.

  9. We are living in a cruel and unjust sexual orientation apartheid system, that does not exist in more advanced and civilized countries. Obviously, anybody heterosupremacist who wants to perpetuate the cruel and unjust sexual orientation apartheid system is a political gay-basher, i.e. “an anti-gay bigot.”


  10. I’ll settle for “mainstream conservatism” and “mainstream Christian advocacy” as a hate group. Thanks Dana Milbank!

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