Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly has led a campaign of smear and harassment in recent weeks against Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D) because of his belief that Ferrandino is protecting child molesters by opposing “Jessica’s Law.” Jessica’s Laws impose excessive mandatory sentences for child sexual abuse, but Colorado already has tough laws and neither the law enforcement community nor victims’ advocate groups support the proposed change. After suggesting Ferrandino was protecting somebody because he was gay, O’Reilly then sent a reporter to harass him on the street while he was walking his dog.
Numerous mainstream outlets, including the Denver Post, have criticized O’Reilly for saying “gay” with the expectation that his audience understand that to mean “pervert-pedophile.” On Monday, after once again laughing that Ferrandino “looked like a complete fool” when he was ambushed on the street, O’Reilly explained that referencing the Speaker’s sexual orientation was important context because people don’t know who he is:
O’REILLY: We described the speaker as “openly gay” because Americans don’t know who he is and that description is used in almost every article ever written about him. And the reason we brought up civil unions is because Ferrandino objected to that vote being sabotaged by Republicans a few years ago, then he turned around and used the same technique to table Jessica’s Law. […]
It matters that he is openly gay because he did the same thing to Jessica’s Law that he objected to on the civil unions situation… You have to basically get behind the motivation of the man, and his motivation is very narrow. He’s got only a couple of things he wants to do in there that he feels passionate about, but the kids apparently he doesn’t feel passionately about because he sabotaged it.
Watch it (HT: Equality Matters):
O’Reilly is still arguing that being gay and not protecting kids are somehow connected. Perhaps in his mind, he still conflates supporting civil unions with being gay, but of course he also admits to supporting civil unions himself. There’s no explanation for constantly inferring that Ferrandino’s sexual orientation is relevant to his other actions except to reinforce mythical associations between homosexuality and pedophilia. This is not a new tactic for O’Reilly either; just last summer he blatantly defended making such connections in defense of hate groups that do the same.
Moreover, the comparison between the two bills lacks intellectual merit even without the offensive “context.” Civil unions were widely supported and the bill had already passed through three committees but was killed in a fourth committee only to prevent it from passing a floor vote, which it likely would have. None of the relevant constituent groups support the proposed Jessica’s Law and there was no indication that it had anywhere close to the necessary votes to advance — perhaps not even out of any committee in the Democrat-controlled legislature. As the Denver Post noted, the bill is only introduced when Republicans are in the minority and then used in political attack ads against Democrats.
Nothing about O’Reilly’s campaign against Ferrandino is justifiable, and it’s telling that he’s starting to take a defensive position about it.