Rachel Maddow eviscerates "Coming Out Straight" author embraced by Uganda's "kill the gays" squad

Rachel Maddow tears "Coming Out Straight" author Richard Cohen a new one. Cohen's work is cited as inspirational by authorities in Uganda who propose killing gay people. "You have blood on your hands," she says. Can I get an amen? Related: Rick Warren, silent enabler.


  1. As much as I love Rachel Maddow – the problem with the way media functions today means that she’s just preaching to the choir. I guess it’s up to the choir to take the song to the streets.

    1. I don’t have much of an audience, but I do have a lot of far-right friends and relatives on Facebook who aren’t going to be hearing about this through their normal media sources. I figure that even if I can’t do much, one thing I can do is try to make sure that those people are aware of what’s going on.

  2. I was really disappointed by this interview. You’re right that she tore him a new one. But, only in the sense that she said stuff at him on national television that people have wanted to say at people like him.

    But, that’s where the value ended. His response to the blood on the hands comment was to completely distance himself from what Uganda is doing and argue that he in no way supports anything other than love towards homosexuals.

    Lest anyone think I’m a sympathizer, I’m not. She structured her interview around blasting points that he apparently agrees with her on. He came out seeming reasonable, and she looked foolish interjecting the blood on your hands comment as it came so far out of left field in terms of the rhetoric being thrown around.

    Either she failed to research adequately his personal position, or he threw her for a loop that she was completely unable to recover from.

    Points to have made:

    – Even if he acts in the interest of love, he unwittingly preys on a population much more likely to be grossly insecure with themselves and their sexuality. What are the statistics on teen depression for teenaged gay men? Teenagers and young men may internalize those issues as guilt associated with their sexual preference. Even if he acts genuinely, this leads them further down that path. Which leads to the next point.

    – He made a distinction between changed and cured that Rachel labeled as semantics and dismissed. It isn’t, and there is an area to be explored there. Alcoholics aren’t cured, but they can change their ways. The Salon.com reporter even noted the importance of this distinction in the preceding interview. Apparently this man treats homosexuality in a manner similar to alcoholism. What does that do for quality of life? Particularly for 19 year olds who find themselves changed young men and now face the alocoholics struggle for their next 70 years on earth.

    – Why wasn’t she more prepared to get into the technicalities of, or challenge this man on, the fact that he appears to regard homosexuality and pedophilia as the similar in terms of their being psychologically caused issues that can be treated. She challenged him on the argument that gays are more likely to also be pedophiles, but she let this portion pass by.

    Essentially, she challenged him on sensationalized issues that were remarkably easy for the man to distance himself from. I watched that interview, and the man who teaches homosexuals are statistically much more likely to be pedophiles came away from the conversation looking like a reasonable misunderstood fellow. That’s interview fail.

    Well done on expressing sentiment at the fellow, but she has a much larger responsibility than that. She has a national audience and a willing participant. She should have more systematically deconstrustucted his academic argument. Because, clearly that’s where he placed his reasoning. “We believe in love, I operate within the law, and everyone should have the right to choose.” He even at one point said that his clinics were available to people who were concerned about loved ones struggles with homosexuality. Meaning, family can enroll you in these clinics. This went unchallenged as well.

    It isn’t enough for it to just be obvious that he’s got blood on his hand. Or that it’s shit pseudo-science. The point of him being their was to deconstruct his entire platform point by point. If she just wanted to say things at people, she has a whole fifteen minute opening segment on her show just for that.

    1. I also wish she would have discussed what you’ve mentioned in your first point. According to his little viewpoint, if a heterosexual person would experience have feelings of guilt or discomfort towards sex, they should simply stop wanting sex altogether. It’s just hiding the real issues under the carpet.

      It’s true that probably many homosexuals feel guilty or upset, but it’s from suffering so much stigma and negative feedback, not because they need ‘fixing’ (it’s the people doing the stigmatizing who need fixing).

      But he’s obviously just another idiot, and I doubt there is a cure for that :(

  3. – Point of clarification.

    She appeared to challenge him on issues in which his involvement had been sensationalized. Or at least it was very easy for him to distance himself from.

    I did not mean to say that Ugandans setting up executions for anyone with HIV and also gay was a sensationalized issue. That’s a big deal.

    I think if she had gamed out her interview more, she would have been more prepared with a solid alternative plan, rather than a doubling down on plan a.

    1. The difficulty in challenging people like Cohen is that they are skilled from years of activism to be able to deflect and to insist that they didn’t really mean what their words are taken to mean. They’re well aware of the way that people perceive what they say, and they’re careful to give themselves wiggle room and plausible deniability to be able to insist that it’s just being sensationalized.

  4. RynTheTyn –

    I agree. I’m also generally a fan of hers. But she too is a professional. She’s a smart person, and if she truly wanted to press the point of blood on his hands she should of hammered out more of a connection than passage quotes, a few donated books and a onetime guest speaker who is affiliated with him (who should have been more quotable on the show
    no quarter to the enemy side).

    The guy is, however, o viously engaged in enough pseudo science that this should have warranted the focus of the interview, with this man. I didn’t hear how this fellow was a part of the family, or a part of Rick warrens church and he didn’t even argue that the Ugandans had it in anyway right with the law. In fact, he had a Pretty strong riposte that was responded to by Maddow weakly: The Ugandans have been persecuting gays for fifty years. Where was the immediate “then why would you who profess love associate with these people At All? Instead, she went with a fairly weak “well your words gave them logic to step up their persecution”.

    I was just disappointed with the interview. This was like the time
    she had a hard time clearly winning the slaves built America debate with Pat Buchanan. She lost that so bad she did a post fact riposte to buchanans points ithout even inviting him back. Neverminding that she was right. That’s just a poor performance. I expect a reasonable chance of a follow up on tomorrows program in a similar fasion.

    1. futbol789– The best I can tell, this guy isn’t connected to Rick Warren and isn’t connected to The Family. In a lot of ways, I think the whole Rick Warren thing and the stuff about The Family is a diversion, though they definitely aren’t without blame for the whole fiasco they aren’t the ones whose irresponsible behavior triggered the bill. I haven’t been watching Maddow ever night so I don’t know whether she went into this in more detail than she did in this segment or not, but the bill itself is pretty much directly as a result of the conference that Cohen’s organization participated in along with Scott Lively (author of the book Pink Swastika that argued that the Nazis were a bunch of butch gays) and one of the board members of the main ex-gay organization Exodus International.

      Anyway, all of the American ex-gay groups that participated in the conference were warned before participating, not just by people within the gay community but also by other people involved in ex-gay therapy–they all told the groups that sent people over there that they were playing with fire and could end up getting people killed and they ignored the warnings. I’m hoping that tomorrow she brings that up and brings people on who can document that fact.

  5. Sekino – I absolutely agree.

    RynTheTyn – exactly my sentiment in your last paragraph. I felt she should have been better prepared for that argument. I thought the Sqlon.com interview was good, but it didn’t dovetail into the blood on your hands point she wanted to make. It set up more of a challenge on the fundamentals of his pseudoscience. The preceding interview could have been a person who issued such a warning in the first place. The problem with multiple night stories is that it’s hard for the casual viewer to put pieces together. Each story Ina multinight segment should be self contained and build on the previous night. It’s hard, but I assume that’s why she got the gif.

    1. futbol789 — I’d assume that since Cohen’s been claiming to have been misrepresented that she must have dealt with some of those issues in earlier segments. In any case, one thing I wish she would have discussed is that it took until this week, and only after she went after Cohen’s group for them to release any kind of statement condemning the law.

      Here’s a source that’s debunking the claims that Cohen made on the show, hopefully some of this shows up in the followup: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/12/08/17565

  6. Astonishing, an insane man appears on national television to tell an interviewer he’s “cured of being gay”, which he apparently believes he initially ‘got’ because apparently he never had a chance to fuck his own father and someone still believes that “he came out seeming reasonable”. Remarkable, really.

  7. My favorite part is when Rachel reads to this clown out of his own book and he says “wait, that’s not in there” and she replies “yes it is, page 74. I’m reading it right now.”

  8. You all completely misheard the beginning of the interview, I ask you to please listen again. Maddow is NOT connecting Cohen to The Family or Rick Warren. She is connecting the Ugandan politicians pushing this legislation to The Family, but that while researching this connection, she and her staff also found direct connections between these politicians and Cohen’s work.

  9. Something tells me cohen wasn’t gay to begin with, and his “fixing” himself was just dealing with his bi-curious feelings. Having a shitty father does not make one gay, whether the father isn’t there emotionally or physically it doesn’t make one seek out a homosexual relationship with guys. I feel sorry for cohen, that (presumably) he had a shitty childhood, and his dad wasn’t around or whatever his issues were/are.

  10. I don’t think the way that someone’s work is interpreted by idiots or used as justification for actions that another party is predisposed toward is a burden on the author.

    1. If you really want to bring up Nietzsche, you should also know that his sister edited and published his works on his behalf. It was this edited book that people like hitler read and became influenced by it. No, I am not a hitler apologist. Yes, Nietzsche wrote some controversial shit, but he didn’t claim to be an authority in the field he wrote about. He didn’t claim to be a proven test case on his own theories.

      1. I didn’t want to use the ‘H’ word.

        My point is that, whether he’s right or wrong, he’s not responsible for things he didn’t say. What if some nutbag decided that Rachel Maddow’s heated rhetoric was her way of insinuating that Richard Cohen needed to be killed?

        She should stick to debating what he actually said, as almost every prior comment pointed out.

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