(Weekly Column)

Anti-gay crusader David Caton is back in the news and this time he is targeting Islam. The New York Times’ Samuel Freedman reports that Caton is going after advertisers of the show All American Muslim. He apparently thinks that the show is a plot to mainstream Muslims who are surreptitiously trying to trick Americans into thinking they are normal, when they are actually organizing to destroy wholesome Christian families.

In my budding activism years in Florida in the early 1990’s, the LGBT community’s chief foe was Caton of the American Family Association and later the Florida Family Association. Caton, an admitted porn addict, wrote a self-help book and fancies himself an expert who dispenses such sage advice as: When talking to women, avoid looking at the mouth and instead focus on the nose.

I’m not sure if this works or just causes a nose fetish.

Equality Florida’s Executive Director Nadine Smith has sparred for years with Caton and describes him as a “less original cross between the Westboro Baptist Church (the “God Hates Fags people) and the ‘minister’ who likes to burn Korans.”

According to Smith: “In the ’90s he would spout all kinds of wild claims about the consequences of passing anti-discrimination policies that included gay people.

He said business owners would be helpless as gays began having sex on the job.

Teachers would alternate dressing one day as women, the next as men…He even proposed that people entering gay bars be photographed and their pictures be posted at the post office or other public square.”

According to a 1993 Orlando Sentinel article, Caton said: You don’t see abortionists out recruiting people into a lifestyle. It is an orgy, party-crazed lifestyle. I can’t think of any lifestyle that would bring anyone as close to death as the homosexual lifestyle.

What is his evidence? He says a man once sat next to him in a shopping mall and put a hand between his legs. “My body was grabbed in a public place,” he said.

First, while such behavior is inappropriate, it mirrors tawdry behavior by some heterosexuals. In fact, it sounds very similar to accusations leveled against Herman Cain. Second, the odds of a gay man randomly fondling Caton at a Florida mall without probable cause are infinitesimally small. It can be embarrassing or even physically dangerous to make random public passes at heterosexual men. This is why it almost never occurs in the real world.

Caton’s activism seems driven by his lack of self-control. Hillsborough Commissioner Pat Frank once blasted Caton for working to pass an anti-nudity ordinance.

“That’s going to cost us money that we can ill afford to spend to try to keep Mr. Caton’s temptations away from him,” Frank said. “And that’s what this amounts to … He’s on a one-person crusade to satisfy himself.”

Like Caton, many of the vilest homophobes are now throwing their hat in the anti-Islam ring. While they are portraying these innocent, tax-paying Americans as terrorists, the only terrorizing that is taking place comes from these right wing activists who are panicking the rubes that give them money.

For instance, evangelist Lou Engle just brought his stadium revival, The Call, to Detroit’s Ford Field in an effort to target the areas large Muslim population. Leading up to the massive rally, Apostle Ellis Smith, Engle’s local “point person” for The Call, referred to Islam in a sermon as a “false,” “lame” and “perverse” religion.

The Christian Action Network (CAN) used to attack Gay Days at Disney and created a videotape allegedly showing that the event was an “orgy of depravity.” (Having been to the event, the long lines to get on the rides was the only thing depraved)

Now, CAN is promoting a new documentary “Islam Rising” highlighting the supposed dangers of Islam in America. The group’s website asks, “Do you live near Islamberg?” and ominously warns about the, “Pro-Islam bias in public schools.”

I happen to agree that Sharia law is dangerous and any government run by fundamentalist clerics is a real threat to individual liberty. But it is beyond ridiculous to argue that Islamic law is a realistic danger to Alabama and Oklahoma and all of the other fundamentalist Christian enclaves.

Entrepreneurs like David Caton and organizations like The Call and CAN represent the opportunistic underbelly of America. When one minority, such as LGBT people, begins to gain societal acceptance, these professional haters simply redirect their depravity, pivot their prejudice, and morph their meanness into the latest vulnerable minority.

Even in this ailing economy, bigotry is one business that seems to be booming.