Robert O'Brien Nominee: David Barton

Robert O'Brien Nominee: David Barton August 10, 2011

David Barton routinely says crazy things on the Wallbuilders daily radio show. But in a show last week he actually claimed that schools are forcing students to become gay. Seriously. In discussing anti-bullying rules that help protect gay kids from harassment, he and co-host had this appalling exchange:

Barton: The American College of Pediatricians is cautioning educators about what they do with same-sex attraction or symptoms of gender identity or gender confusion in schools.

Green: You’re kidding, this is the Pediatric Association?

Barton: Got it, get this. The letter reminds school superintends that it is ‘not uncommon for adolescents to experience transient,’ that’s a big word, ‘transient confusion about their sexual orientation,’ and is telling 14,800 superintendents that ‘most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.’ And they’re saying, guys, back off. This indoctrination you’re doing—

Green: You plan that stuff in their minds your leading them down that path

Barton: If you’ll just let this develop naturally, they’ll end up being heterosexual unless you force them to be homosexual. Well that’s a remarkable letter coming from the leading pediatric association in America. And this is what it says, ‘for this reason schools should avoid developing policies that encourage non-heterosexual attractions among students who may be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion.’ The discouraging program, so all this bullying stuff–

Green: Forcing stuff into classroom—

Barton: All the NEA [National Education Association] nonsense. The ’docs are saying, leave it alone. Back off. Let it run its course. If you let it run its course it’s gonna turn out normal and natural unless you guys intervene and make the unnatural stuff natural, it’s gonna run its course. And by the way, as the ’docs point out, there is no scientific evidence that anyone is born homosexual. You have to force them to accept that position.

Green: That’s big man. And I remember Dobson saying years ago talking about how you’re gonna have an increase in the number of people that identify themselves as homosexuals simply because we’re putting out there in all the television programs, in all the movies now that’s the funny person, that’s the acceptable person. So naturally, when they’re in that state just as pediatricians are talking about, of confusion or temptation or whatever, if society’s saying ‘yeah yeah yeah, go down that road’ obviously you’re gonna have more go down that road.

First, it’s important to note that the American College of Pediatricians is not the “leading pediatric association in America.” It is, in fact, the religious right alternative to the American Academy of Pediatricians, which actually is the leading pediatric association. The ACP split off from the AAP because they regarded the AAP as not being Biblically correct.. Only in Wingnuttia is it the “leading” anything.

Second, the notion that students are being “encouraged” to be gay and that, absent such encouragement, they’d end up straight, is patently ridiculous. The average gay kid still faces enormous persecution for being gay in this country. If discouragement or encouragement could make them be straight, there would be precious few gays and lesbians.

If it only happens because it’s being “encouraged” then surely we would have had far fewer gay people when you could still be thrown in jail for it, when there were no support systems for gays at all, when they were forced into sham marriages to hide their sexuality because they literally risked life, limb and career by coming out. It is only recently that even a moderate level of acceptance for gay people has arisen.

What you have here is the logical conclusion of the “people choose to be gay” position. If people choose to be gay then, according to them, society should discourage that bad choice by making the lives of those who choose it as miserable as possible in order to keep others from walking down that same path. And yet, despite centuries of such efforts, gay people have always existed. Not because anyone “encouraged” them to be gay, but despite the massive efforts of society to discourage them from doing so.

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  • ‘smee

    But this is Wingnuttia…

    discouragement = support

    criticism = censorship

    permitting = fully endorsing

    bigotry = freedom

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … the American College of Pediatricians is … the religious right alternative to the American Academy of Pediatricians… The ACP split off from the AAP because they regarded the AAP as not being Biblically correct.

    The hyperchristian movement seems to have created alternative institutions for a very wide range of social structures, mostly within the last generation. I know the “New Apostolic Reformation” has the explicit goal of taking over the major structures of our nation/world, but don’t know how many of these christian-counterculture outfits align themselves explicitly with that movement. (I know: that’s a question for Talk To Action.)

    Revealingly, they don’t seem to have bothered with organized labor.

  • DaveL

    Just to illustrate the difference between a real professional organization like the AAP and its fundamentalist strawman counterpart, the ACP, here’s a sampling of topics covered by the AAP website:


    Child car seats

    Heat stress for child athletes





    Disaster preparedness

    Ear infections

    Secondhand smoke

    Child online safety


    Developmental milestones

    Infant Febrile seizures

    Newborn hearing screenings


    Substance abuse

    Firearm safety

    Teen drivers

    Sex education


    Here are the headings the American College of Pediatricians keeps under their “Child Health” section:

    Family Health

    Marriage Matters

    Sexuality and Gender Issues

    Marriage Rights for Homosexual Couples: Not the Best for Children

    From browsing the ACP’s list, one might get the impression that children don’t get sick or injured – apparently the worst that can happen to them is to be gay or live in a non-traditional family.

  • alanb

    According to Wikipedia, “The group’s membership has been estimated at between 60 and 200 members.” That’s not even a leading pediatric association, much the leading one.

  • For those of you who are unfamiliar with the legend of Robert O’Brien, last year he showed up at Sierra College during PZ’s tour of California and attempted to beard him during the Q&A session. PZ turned the tables on him by giving him the floor and asking him to present his best argument for the existence of God. The results were not pretty and O’Brien was left sputtering in dismay at the unfairness of it all. (That didn’t stop O’Brien from showing up when PZ and several attendees went out for drinks afterward. He just can get enough abuse.) I did an extensive write-up of PZ’s Sierra College visit.

  • O’Brien showed up at one of PZ’s speeches? That’s funny. A lot of my readers probably don’t know the story of why I named the Idiot of the Month award after him. He first showed up at my blog in like 2004 to comment on a post where I gave an Alabama state senator an award for the idiot of the month for submitting a bill to ban all books by or about gay people from the entire state. He actually defended that guy and made quite a spectacle of himself in the process. So I renamed the award after him.

  • tim

    And I remember Dobson saying years ago talking about how you’re gonna have an increase in the number of people that identify themselves as homosexuals simply because we’re putting out there in all the television programs, in all the movies now that’s the funny person, that’s the acceptable person.

    If homosexuality was more “out there” back when I was a teenager – I’ve would of spent a lot less time “playing straight” and would of not caused a lot of people pain.

  • I always don’t like when the debate over gay rights goes to the issue of whether its a choice or not because it should be irrelevant. The right to marry the same gender is also the right for bisexuals, who can “choose” to do so. But when the opponents’ views of the facts are so off base, I suppose you have to start from the beginning and correct a misconception that’s the base for all their other misconceptions before any real dialog can be had.

  • Formerly known as Sadie Morrison

    @ Pinkboi: the “is it a choice or not” argument has arisen in large part because the anti-gay rights side always cites the idea that homosexuality is a choice as a major premise in its arguments. Of course, that premise is a red herring: underlying the claim that homosexuality is a choice is the unspoken real premise of their argument, that homosexuality should be changed because it’s wrong. The truth, though, is that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual. Therefore, whether or not it’s a choice is utterly irrelevant. I am of the firm belief that there is no one precipitating factor that leads to homosexuality in a person (there are probably multiple factors, both organic and environmental, at play), but I don’t like to use this as a premise to argue for my support of gay rights. I support gay rights simply because there is nothing wrong with the existence of gay people, and they deserve all the rights that everyone else enjoy.

  • Abby Normal

    Robert O’Brian, the Leeroy Jenkins of the blogosphere.

  • Valhar2000

    Pinkboi & Fka Sadie Morrison: I agree, the whole “choice vs. innate quality” argument is completely bogus. The bigots who bring it up should try to explain just what it is that makes homosexuality so wrong, but, of course, the only only arguments they have to back up that position are “godseddit!” and “Ewww!”.

  • Chiroptera

    I dunno what everyone is talking about. First thing I do every morning is to choose whether to be heterosexual or homosexual for the day.

    The second thing I do is choose whether I believe in God or not.

    Then the staff comes in to clean me up and bring me to breakfast.

  • skinner city cyclist

    @Pierce Butler re: “Revealingly, they don’t seem to have bothered with organized labor.”

    Actually, a few months (maybe last year) ago, they had a mook on wallbuilders who had formed a teachers’ “union” rival to the NEA (“the American Education Assn,” or some such). The fun part was that they don’t do commie stuff like collective bargaining; rather, they offer liability insurance alone, which, according to the braying of Rick Green, is “all teachers want from a union anyway.”

    It was too utterly too too