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Should Gays Be a Part of the Conservative Movement? Part III: Why I’m Banning Ryan Sorba From NewsReal Blog and Why All Respectable Conservative Publications Should Do the Same

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Posted on January 26 2011 5:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

Burrowing into the Conservative Movement to subvert from within.

Editor’s Note: This is part III of a three-part debate on whether homosexuality is compatible with political conservatism. Part 1 can be read here and part 2 is available here.

My debating partner Ryan Sorba first rose to prominence after a notorious speech he gave last year at CPAC in which he condemned the conservative gathering from the podium.

After the speech Sorba had an encounter with someone whose name should be familiar to regular NewsReal Blog readers: Alex Knepper.

The original post of the back and forth is no longer online, but a large excerpt is still up at Andrew Sullivan’s blog here.  The two didn’t really get along for obvious reasons. Knepper called Sorba “intrinsically evil” to his face (a harsher condemnation than he gave the North American Man-Boy Love Association.) Correction: this “intrinsically evil” line was from Sorba to Knepper after Knepper refused to shake Sorba’s hand. And Sorba allegedly said that he wanted to physically fight Knepper.

This animosity between the two is unsurprising. What disturbs us most deeply is that which we recognize in ourselves. And Knepper and Sorba have much more in common than either could ever admit.

For those unfamiliar with the back story of NewsReal Blog‘s history with Knepper the place to begin is this post I wrote here on July 10 of last year correcting Knepper’s libels of us and explaining why David Horowitz and myself chose to no longer publish his posts. The pivotal reason compelling Knepper’s dismissal was his insistence on submitting work supporting pedophilia. (The day we decided to get rid of him of the two posts he submitted one argued that a girl becomes a woman at 14.)

The day after running the post I was contacted by a source who informed me that they had evidence that Knepper was actually sexually attracted to children — screenshots of posts and images of children that Knepper had posted in a gay teen forum. My source and I agreed that we did not want to expose this information unless absolutely necessary. For months we sat uncomfortably with our knowledge about Knepper’s true motivations until September when a Red State post by Lexington_Concord challenged Knepper. Knowing that he would likely prepare a counterattack I decided to write my own response laying out the evidence yet again. In preparing my research I accidentally discovered the Gay Teen Forum where Knepper was still posting under the alias “Lostpainting.” In one post in the forum he admitted who he was and also declared his sexual interest in 15-year-olds. When my colleague Jenn Q. Public and I looked a bit deeper we were horrified to find Knepper’s jokes about child rape and his admissions that he masturbated to images of “CHILFs.” (Yes, that’s “Child I’d Like to F—.”) Having seen the shocking material firsthand we decided it would be irresponsible to allow Knepper to continue to rise on the Right so we ended up publishing the results of our research in October here. The fallout from the post was Knepper’s expulsion from all the conservative publications who had published him and even the center-left Frum Forum.

On his facebook page afterwards Knepper admitted that his involvement with the Right was merely a “marriage of convenience.” Of course it was. He didn’t care about defending America — he cared about advancing his disgusting ideas about sex.

Knepper sought to subvert the Conservative Movement from within to make it safe for his brand of sexual totalitarianism. Under the cloak of respectable libertarian argumentation he gradually injected arguments sympathetic to pedophilia, rapists, and sexual predators into his blog posts. Of course, there is a faction on the Right who Knepper knew would be a problem in his quest: Christian conservatives. So he targeted them for criticism and ridicule, seeking to marginalize them as much as he could. We learned later that all this activity was actually driven by Knepper’s personal attraction to children.

Sorba is the same way except his totalitarianism is of the theocratic variety. Under the cloak of respectable social conservative argumentation against gay marriage he seeks to blend in his own anti-gay bigotry in favor of reinstating anti-sodomy laws and purging gays from the Right. The segment of the Conservative Movement that must be crushed is the “socially liberal” libertarians. Sorba doesn’t need to formally answer the question I posed at the end of rounds one and two of our debate. He’s already made clear by his two responses that he doesn’t care about defending America; he want to embarrass himself by fighting patriots like Andrew Breitbart (yes, that’s how his last name is spelled,) GOProud, Lisa De Pasquale, and Tammy Bruce.

It’s really as simple as this: if someone’s primary concerns are others on the Right then it’s a safe bet that they’re not truly a conservative. It’s certainly fine to criticize others on the Right or to try and nudge the movement in a certain direction but these cannot be one’s #1 priority — not today when our country is so threatened by backbreaking debt and World War IV is only beginning. Does Sorba have his own personal demons — as Knepper did — that find expression through his political activism? It’s a safe bet that he probably does, though I’ll leave it to others to speculate what they could be until Sorba slips up in some fashion and the truth about him is revealed to all. I won’t fall into the trap he’s set by littering the internet with shirtless images of himself – I won’t accuse him of being a closeted gay man.

There’s something else Knepper and Sorba have in common — a trait they share with all who are possessed of the totalitarian temperament: they lie as easily as they breathe. And it’s on this point that we return to our debate about whether gays can be conservatives and my explanation for why Sorba no longer has a place to spread lies and smears at this publication.

Question: if you agreed to three lunch dates with someone and at the first two they took a dump on the table in front of you would you be faulted in refusing the third get-together? If you were playing cards with someone and you caught them with an ace up their sleeve  would you be faulted if you refused to keep playing with them? Sorba has committed the intellectual equivalent of both of these acts in the previous two rounds of debate and in his recent anti-gay activism. In his previous responses he intentionally lied to NRB‘s readers about William F. Buckley Jr., Ronald Reagan, and the amount the federal government spends on gay AIDS patients who do not have health insurance. He’s also recently embarked on a smear campaign in which he has accused Breitbart of being gay. From Sorba’s Facebook page:

Breitbart didn’t care for this libel. He posted on Sorba’s facebook wall:

So of course Sorba had to walk back his lie and downplay what he actually wrote:

I’m sure Sorba will have an equally braindead, incoherent explanation for the three lies I’m calling him out for right now.

Sorba asserted that conservative founder William F. Buckley Jr. agrees with him that gays cannot be part of the Conservative Movement. To reveal this malicious lie we have to expose Sorba’s modus operandi. And my friend Calvin Freiburger (a social conservative and thoughtful opponent of gay marriage) did so perfectly in the comments of the last round of debate:

To make his position seem like it has more support than it really does, Sorba routinely changes arguments – one minute he’s railing against homosexuality itself, and the next he’s railing against the radical gay agenda and figures on the Right who’ve succumbed to it – and he quotes figures condemning the latter as if they agree with him on the former. Does this tool even realize that he’s actually hurting the cause of defending marriage by lumping its serious defenders with the nuts like him? GOProud, GLAAD, GLSEN, and the HRC thank you for your pro-bono advertising, Ryan.

In my previous post I linked to a statement by Buckley written in July of 1990 in which he made his position explicit:

National Review will not be scarred by thoughtless gay bashing, let alone be animated by such practices … You are absolutely correct in saying that gays should be welcome as partners in efforts to mint sound public policies; not correct, in my judgement, in concluding that such a partnership presupposes the repeal of convictions that are more, much more, than mere accretions of bigotry.

[emphasis mine]

I know for a fact that Sorba has read that statement. But he doesn’t care about the truth; he cares about furthering his totalitarian agenda by persuading stupid people to agree with him. His rebuttal? Citing Buckley circa the late ’60s voicing his moral disapproval of homosexuality. Sorba then points out the irrelevant facts that Marvin Liebman eventually gave up calling himself a conservative and then allied himself with radical gays who engaged in sexual practices that Sorba can vicariously enjoy by writing about them.

Sorba also has to lie about Ronald Reagan. I know for a fact that Sorba clicked the link I provided to the 2004 Dale Carpenter column with the information about Reagan’s record on gays. He lies about the entire case claiming my argument is based on one of the less-relevant items from Reagan’s gay-tolerant life: that the Gipper allowed a gay couple to spend a night at the White House in 1984.

Sorba goes on to claim — without evidence — that Reagan was a supporter of putting gays in jail. He seems to think that Reagan agreed with every single decision made by every single judge he ever appointed in his entire political life.

If Sorba was an honest man instead of a totalitarian ideologue seeking to lie his way into influence, he would acknowledge the fact that Reagan was a staunch opponent of the infamous Briggs Amendment. This California proposition proposed in 1978 would have made it illegal for gays, lesbians, and their straight supporters to work as California teachers. So Sorba wants us to believe that Reagan fought on behalf of gays teaching our children but that he supported government arresting them for what they do in the bedroom?

Deroy Murdock has more to supplement Carpenter’s piece:

“I remember Reagan telling us that in Hollywood he knew a lot of gays, and he never had any problem with them,” says Martin Anderson, a high-level Reagan adviser since 1975, coeditor of Reagan: A Life in Letters, the latest collection of material that Ronald Reagan wrote in his own hand. “I think a number of people who were gay worked for the Reagans,” Anderson told me. “We never kept track. But he never said anything even remotely like that comment in the movie. His basic attitude was ‘Leave them alone.’”

“Despite the urging of some of his conservative supporters, he never made fighting homosexuality a cause,” wrote Kenneth T. Walsh, former U.S. News and World Report White House correspondent, in his 1997 biography, Ronald Reagan. “In the final analysis, Reagan felt that what people do in private is their own business, not the government’s.”

Could Reagan have said more about AIDS? Surely, and he might have done so were he less focused on reviving America’s moribund economy and peacefully defeating Soviet Communism. Could he have done more? Of course. Who could not have? But the ideas that Ronald Reagan did nothing, or worse, about AIDS and hated gays, to boot, are both tired, left-wing lies about an American legend.

In other words, Sorba stands with the Left in lying about Reagan as an anti-gay zealot who wanted AIDS victims to die. This parallels with an uncomfortable truth Sorba is too intellectually ill-equipped to confront: he’s the anti-gay crusader the Left longs to hold up as the standard-bearer for the entire Conservative Movement. Why does he think CNN so eagerly profiled him? Because of his sharp wit and encyclopedic knowledge of gay jokes? The Conservative Movement that Sorba claims to stand for is the one that the Left wishes actually existed: a group of bigots that just wants to stick gay people in jail.

Sorba doesn’t even bother trying to twist Barry Goldwater onto his side. The evidence of Goldwater’s position is so overwhelming that Sorba instead has to start smearing him and his family with meaningless references to UFOs and alleged wife-swapping. (So Sorba is now concerned with heterosexual private acts too?) I generously indulge Sorba with two rounds of debate and over 2000 words’ worth of space in David Horowitz’s publication and this is what he chooses to talk about?

In my last post I challenged this questionable Sorba-ism:

Not to mention in 2011 tax payers will shovel out twenty billion five hundred million dollars on HIV/AIDS treatment for those who cannot afford insurance.

The evidence that Sorba supplied refutes his own claim. The 20.5 billion figure is the entire domestic budget the federal government allocates to anything having to do with HIV/AIDS — across many different programs. It includes treatment, research, housing allowances, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability, Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan, and prevention. A total of $14.1 billion is allocated for “care/treatment.” We have the ticking time bomb of Social Security and the recent behemoth of Obamacare — among other fiscal problems — yet Sorba is concerned about $14.1 billion for AIDS (spending that Reagan himself started)? Why do I find this sudden fiscal hawkishness a transparent fraud? Maybe it’s a mistake for Sorba to be waging his jihad against the libertarians because they’re likely to be the ones most receptive to axing government spending on HIV/AIDS (albeit for more principled reasons.)

So that’s three things — Reagan, Buckley, and government AIDS spending — that Sorba clearly lied about. Should I go on? Is it even worth bothering wading through the barely-literate muck of his last eight paragraphs’ clunky Natural Law argument when I’ve already established that Sorba is a pathological liar unworthy of inclusion in intellectual discussion? Well, nobody’s going to bother to refute this nonsense if I don’t so here we go:

Both the Declaration and Constitution ground human rights in human nature and the universal ethical dictates of the natural law –and this is crucial for the Conservative.

If our rights were grounded in the whims of men, or in left-wing socially constructed identities built up around various capricious desires like same-sex attraction or banana-philia, then our rights would be of a very different nature.

If the “gay” agenda were to succeed in acquiring fundamental rights it would set a revolutionary precedent. It would strike a blow at the very heart of the foundation upon which all other rights stand –our shared human nature.

This is the goal of the “gay” agenda, which will stop at nothing to achieve its end. All who refer to themselves as “gay” are, at present, laboring to achieve this end –whether they know it or not. “Gay” is incommensurate with modern Conservatism, and Classical Liberalism. Either abandon the term, or get out of the movement.

To translate Sorba’s incoherent prose: Homosexual acts are against natural law, natural law forms the basis for the Constitution, defending the constitution is the basis of conservatism, ergo those who engage in homosexual acts cannot be conservatives, are in fact working to destroy the basis for our country, and should be imprisoned. That’s Sorba’s entire argument and vision for the Conservative Movement. Meanwhile the National Debt keeps rising and Shariah keeps creeping, and Israel’s enemies keep plotting her destruction before they move on to us.

The problem for Sorba is that “Natural Law” as a philosophical concept is a broad one with numerous thinkers across the centuries. (We here at NRB explored the challenge of understanding Natural Law over a year ago here and here.) Natural Law concepts originated with the Pagan philosopher Cicero (106-43 BC,) were further developed by the Catholic Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274,) and influenced the Founders in the Enlightenment writings of John Locke (1632-1704.) The mere fact that some Natural Law thinkers have argued that gay sex acts are immoral does not prove that the constitution has anything to do with opposition to homosexuality. Some Natural Law thinkers have argued against birth control and all non-procreative forms of sex too. So I guess that means that everyone who uses contraceptives and engages in heterosexual oral sex can’t be a conservative either, right?

Let’s just call this Natural Law malarkey what it is: Sorba trying to sound smarter than he is in order to persuade stupid people into thinking there are high-brow reasons to justify their bigotry.

When Jenn and I wrote our article exposing Knepper one of our concerns was the effect his rise could have on the cause of all gay conservatives. We did not want his depravity tarnishing our gay friends on the Right. In confronting Sorba and exposing his totalitarian agenda and dishonest methods I have a similar concern: defending my Christian conservative and social conservative friends. NRB core contributors Calvin Freiburger, Lisa Graas, Diane Schrader, and Pastor Paul Cooper are people I care about and respect. Their opposition to gay marriage and spiritual conviction of homosexuality’s sinfulness are legitimate, principled positions. But as long as the Ryan Sorbas of the world maintain prominence the Left will always be armed with a powerful weapon to attack them with nonsense of jailing gay people. Calvin has boldly challenged these anti-gay radicals in the past. He sets a good example for other social conservatives and draws an appropriate line.

For the Conservative Movement to continue to serve its role as the bulwark defender of the American Idea we must maintain the political traditions established by the Founding Fathers and revitalized in the 20th century by Buckley, Reagan, and Goldwater. This is a movement big enough for both socially liberal libertarians and socially conservative Christians. It does not need either the radical makeover of Sorba or Knepper.

Because of the fact of Sorba’s pathological lying exposed in the previous rounds of the debate and in his conduct with Andrew Breitbart I will not grant him any additional space at NRB or in our comments section to further libel Reagan, Buckley, Breitbart and the Conservative Movement. I urge other publications and media outlets to adopt the same policy until Sorba sees the error of his ways and publicly apologizes for his embarrassing actions. Breitbart does not need to debate Sorba and neither does Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld. This debate was Sorba’s opportunity to demonstrate that he could make legitimate arguments and his ideas were worth engaging. He failed on a massive scale. It would be a disservice to NRB‘s readership to continue to provide him with a platform to speak after he’s behaved with such dishonesty, malice, and childishness.

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