Conservative Commentors Believe Amtrak Engineer Brandon Bostian's Sexuality To Be "A Factor" In Recent Crash
The recent crash of Amtrak train 188 in Philadelphia was a terrible tragedy, and while the causes are still being investigated, I think it's safe to say that it wasn't caused by anyone's sexuality. But according to some conservative pundits, the Amtrak crash happened because the engineer driving the train is apparently gay. Or at least that it was likely "a factor" in the accident.
I think I'll take this opportunity to remind you that these people vote, before we continue.
Conservative site World Net Daily referred to the engineer, Brandon Bostian, as "a noted 'gay'-rights activist" for his campaigns against Proposition 8 in California, and made sure to note he "once lived in San Francisco." They also cited an interview in which he seems to indicate that he himself is gay (this has also been confirmed in other accounts), though World Net Daily stops short of actually directly saying Bostian's sexual orientation might be responsible for the crash.
Other commentators were not similarly restrained. American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios stated on her radio program that Bostian's sexual orientation was probably "a factor" in the crash. "I’m not inferring that this accident happened because he was gay, but I do think it’s an interesting part of the story and you can bet it would be edited out,” Rios said.
And some were even more outrageous. Notorious independent journalist Charles C. Johnson initially speculated, before the engineer's name was released, that the person driving the train was probably black, and that the crash was clearly due to "affirmative action hiring low qualified blacks." Once that ready-made bigoted response was no longer relevant, he moved on to blaming Bostian's assumed sexuality. He tweeted to his 23,000 Twitter followers about how "Gays have a higher rate of mental illness than do straights" and suggested the crash was caused by crystal meth, "given gay proclivities to it."
Again, these people are real. For the record: A person's sexuality has nothing to do with their ability to drive a train, and the fact that one of the many, many people who have been driving trains at the time they crash may happen to be gay is not relevant. Or surprising. Gay people can do everything straight people can do. It's not actually that remarkable.
Regardless, this is just one of a long line of wacky things some conservatives have chosen to blame on LGBT people and LGBT causes. Here are a few other examples.
1. The California Drought
According to radio host Rick Wiles, God is so angry with America for kind of getting better at not discriminating against some of His children that He's causing drought in California. Wiles made this statement in a recent interview on TruNews. It couldn't be climate change, or maybe that God's just pissed at us for destroying the environment, could it? No, it's definitely gay people. And you know this because there were never droughts back in the good old days, before gay marriage.
2. Floods in Britain
Wait, do gay people cause droughts or floods? I am confused. David Silvester, a councillor with the far right UK Independence Party, decided that the storms and flooding that hit the UK last year were God's wrath over same-sex marriage. In a letter to the Henley Standard, Silvester wrote, "The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence, and war"; the floods, he believed, were an example of this in action. Because "sometimes weather happens" is still too preposterous an explanation, I guess.
3. The Collapse of the Western Economy
I could have sworn that this whole thing was due to Wall Street and the deregulation of the banking industry. Silly me. It seems gay people don't just mess up everyone's weather, they also tanked the economy. Or rather, the economy tanked because of the work of 20th century economist John Maynard Keynes who obviously, as a gay man without children, didn't care about future generations and whose work was therefore just a ticking economic time bomb waiting to take down our global financial system. Or something.
4. The Northridge Earthquake
Lest you think this whole penchant for blaming the LGBT community for everything is a new trend, Pat Robinson was doing it all the way back in 1994. According to him, the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles was due to God's displeasure with gays and lesbians, pro-choice activists, and "perversity." Rather than, say, God's displeasure that silly humans decided to build a major metropolitan area on top of what he had clearly designated to be a fault line and therefore prone to earthquakes.
5. The Baltimore Riots
According to Texas GOP representative Bill Flores, the recent unrest in Baltimore was not due to systemic racism, racial inequality, generational poverty cycles, police brutality, or the completely avoidable death of Freddie Gray, but due to... wait for it... gay marriage. Said Flores in an April 28 "Washington Watch" interview (via HuffPo), "The single best indicator of whether or not a child is going to be in poverty or not is whether or not they were raised by a two-parent household or a single parent household." He then followed up this statement with the following:
Look at what is going on in Baltimore today. You see the issues that are raised there. Healthy marriages are the ones between a man and a woman because they can have a healthy family and they can raise children in a way that’s best for their future, not only socially but psychologically, economically, from a health perspective.
So apparently gay marriage causes a "breakdown of the family," which then somehow results in income inequality? I don't get it either.
Basically, it seems there is a large segment of the population that seems determined to view the continued existence of the LGBT community and their pesky habit of doing things like "not hiding their identity" and "wanting rights" as a convenient scape goat for everything that goes wrong ever. So it's not necessarily surprising that they're now finding ways to use a person's potential mistakes on their sexual orientation.
It still sounds no less ridiculous than blaming gay people for earthquakes. So let's not make this a trend.
Images: Getty (5)