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paranoid theory of the week :: does ted cruz believe homosexuals should be put to death?

not a photo of sen. ted cruz about to get a blow job
i must apologize for the lack of paranoia around these parts of late. i've had some non-blog commitments that have kept me more occupied than i usually am and even in terms of the blog, i was getting so desperately behind on making faces [beauty] posts that i felt like i had to get a bit more caught up on those before i could get back to regularly scheduled programming. i've also noticed that having these posts on the weekend is just inviting delays, because those are the two days when i'm most likely to be distracted. so for the time being, we'll be getting paranoid on fridays.

i've also found that the paranoia i've encountered from my usual sources has either been so "out there" that it's difficult to either prove or disprove due to a lack of any reliable information, or they've been so offensive [and patently false] that i don't want to give them more attention. i did briefly wonder about doing a segment on sandy hook truthers, having seen those theories get resurrected briefly in the last weeks, but i honestly think that investigating those people would make me depressed enough to require hospitalization. and if that happens, i'll be even further behind than i am now.

but i couldn't resist the temptation to deal with something this juicy,since it combines my love of republican politicians and paranoia. and while it might not be "denying the murder of innocent children" disturbing, it's still pretty chilling to contemplate [and investigate].

the theory ::
republican senator and hopeful for the presidential nomination ted cruz believes that homosexuals deserve to be put to death.

the origin ::
stories about wacky things ted cruz may or may not believe are a dime a dozen, and he's certainly no fan of homosexuality, but this specific rumour started as a result of his appearance at a conference hosted by preacher kevin swanson. swanson does have some pretty radical views on homosexuality that we'll get to shortly.

the believers ::
the folks at right wing watch and msnbc's the rachel maddow show may not be convinced that this is cruz' belief, but they think it's at least plausible enough to warrant talking about it and getting him to talk about it.

the only evidence of mainstream media interest in this story.
screen grab is from a left-wing web site.
the bad guys ::
depends on whether you believe the theory or not.

if you do: ted cruz for believing that people should be put to death because of their sexuality and probably his campaign staff for trying to cover up that belief.

if you don't: right wing watch and rachel maddow, who have been the ones trying to call attention to the issue and to get an answer from senator cruz.

the evidence ::
let's start with what we know for certain and work from there.

  1. ted cruz did make an official appearance at an event organized by pastor kevin swanson in iowa in november. so did mike huckabee and now former candidate bobby jindal. 
  2. kevin swanson has some pretty extreme views on homosexuality, as do other participants in the event. that includes, on the mild side, saying that if his son were to come out as gay and marry his partner, he would show up at the event dressed in sackcloth and covered in ashes and that he would then sit outside and smear feces all over himself in process. [the remarkable specificity of that plan is a bit unnerving.] on the darker side, swanson has said that he believes homosexuality should be punishable by death, provided that homosexuals are given a period of time to repent of their sins before the executions start. 

now, the first question you might ask is: why am i picking on ted cruz and not jindal or huckabee? i'm not trying to excuse the behaviour of either of those other men, but let's be honest: jindal's campaign is already over, having never really gotten off the ground and huckabee's campaign looks like it's headed in the same direction. neither of those men currently holds public office and they are unlikely to have a significant effect on public policy now or later. cruz is a different matter. i mentioned after the last debate that i think his campaign thus far has been smarter than any other. because of that, i think that there's an excellent chance that senator cruz is going to be in this campaign, shaping his party's approach to the next election, for the long haul. which is background information for my ultimate point: cruz's opinion matters in a way that the others' just don't.

now, moving on to the case at hand... i'm gonna let my perennial girlcrush rachel maddow explain what was going on at the conference where cruz sat down for a question and answer session with the pastor.

while you can certainly argue that trms isn't objective- or even trying to be- it's pretty clear from swanson's statements in the video clip and in the links above that he does believe in the death penalty for homosexuality.

the cruz campaign's answers are frustratingly vague. on the one hand, his spokesperson seems to imply pretty heavily that cruz doesn't agree with the pastor's opinions. but he implies it, he doesn't just say it.

fortunately, though, we don't have to rely on the campaign's answer alone, because we can look at other statements that senator cruz has made about homosexuality.

shield your eyes! it's the gay jihad!
the left-wing web site the new civil rights movement has come up with a list of the most homophobic things that cruz has said [they do provide primary source links for most of the quotes]. right-wing media outlets praised him for taking a reporter to task for even asking him his position on gay rights. in fact, it seems like the senator may even have some gay friends, although i don't imagine they discuss marriage equality when he drops by for bridge night. on the other hand, with a more conservative audience, he gets a little more strident. [again, the link is to a left-wing web site, but there is a primary source link to the senator's statements.]

the vast majority of cruz's public statements about homosexuality have been on the topic of gay marriage. he opposes it because of his christian beliefs, but he falls well short of the bush-era policy of pushing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. instead, he wants to turn matters back to the states, so that each one can define marriage how they like. he may point to the constitution as his basis for that argument, but he's being a little cannier than that: while the majority of americans may support gay marriage, getting fifty different cases pushed through lower courts is a massive and tremendously expensive effort. it would also mean that lgbt people in more conservative states would likely remain the victims of prejudice for the foreseeable future. many of those states had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of racial segregation.

and if it were to come down to state-wide referendums, the anti-lgbt movement has always proven spectacularly effective at getting its troops out to the polls. witness what happened in california, not exactly a hotbed of conservatism on the whole, with the vote on prop 8.

the bottom line about cruz is this: he doesn't personally support marriage equality and he supports an interpretation of the constitution that would result in equality being much more onerous to achieve. when he announced his candidacy, he listed as a priority the defense of traditional marriage/ the limitation of marriage to heterosexual unions. he has specifically supported state bills that would place lgbt people at a disadvantage, like one advanced in ohio. he has also said that the lgbt community is waging a "jihad" against christians.

but you knew that already because
we dealt with it earlier.
one of his responses to those who question his stance on equal rights for lgbt people is to contrast america's comparatively tolerant culture with those in the middle east, where homosexuals are routinely [often legally] murdered. of course, the stances of those countries only seem to be an issue for him when they're useful to deflect attention from his own views, but that does seem to imply that cruz doesn't support capital punishment for gays and lesbians.

the fact is that ted cruz hasn't said anything definitive about whether he does or does not support the death penalty for homosexuals, which would be a big deal [barack obama hasn't made an official statement about his position on that issue either, but no one cares] except that cruz seems happy to hang out with people like pastor swanson who do think that homosexuality should be a capital offense. people questioned barack obama over his choice of friends and allies years before he ran for president. cruz and his staff can't pretend to be shocked that they're being questioned about an appearance like this done as part of his campaign. [in fact, i suspect they might have been surprised by how much of a non-issue it's been with the mainstream media. one of the reasons i've used primarily progressive and left-leaning links is that there just isn't coverage of this issue from anyone else.]

it's finally worth considering whether or not cruz was aware of the pastor's opinions before he agreed to make an appearance. quickly put, there's no excuse for him not to have been. swanson isn't shy about discussing his views and he has a broadcast that cruz's staff could easily have consulted if they were unclear on what the man stood for. [interestingly, dr. ben carson was initially listed as a participant in the conference, but he pulled out. which means that, yes, we are potentially using ben carson as our barometer for political astuteness.]

the likelihood :: 2/10
i'll just put this out there: i personally don't think that ted cruz does believe that homosexuality should be a capital offense, or at least, i don't think he believes it should be the law of the land in america. [although i may make jokes about him, i think that those who dismiss cruz as a religious whack job do so at their peril.] and he's not said anywhere that he does support those kind of laws or anything close.

but because he's openly standing with people like swanson, it raises questions about exactly how far their agreement goes. this isn't a long-ago link that his enemies are dredging up: it's part of his campaign and it does raise some entirely legitimate questions. cruz made the informed [or wilfully ignorant] decision to appear at swanson's conference of his own free will. now he needs to deal with the fallout. that means, he has to remove all doubt from people's minds; you don't get to play coy and skate away from the issue with a trickily worded letter from a campaign flak. at the very least, the senator owes something better to those gay friends of his.  


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