Pastor Ken Hutcherson, he of the ad on page 15 of this week's Stranger, just called me.
"It's really quiet up here," he complained, presumably from his office at Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. “I want to stir it up. I don't want to pay $2,000 to have it be quiet.”
Apparently there's not enough controversy arising from the anti-gay Stranger ad for which Hutcherson paid $2,115 (a sum that The Stranger donated directly to Hutcherson's archenemies at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).
I told Hutcherson he should check the comment thread on this post if he wants to hear from some of his ideological opponents. It's not very quiet down there.
Then I asked him what he thought of our printed rebuttal to his ad. In the rebuttal, we corrected all of Hutcherson's false claims, including his claim that being homosexual is "a lifestyle that the CDC has determined actually causes HIV/AIDS."
Which it's not. Obviously.
“I think your rebuttal was weak," Hutcherson said. "I mean, you go, 'False witness,' and then you go, 'It’s totally untrue,' but then you go 'This is true, but,' 'This is true, but...'”
I told Hutcherson that's because, while he did get some specific facts right (for example, that gay men in the United States contract HIV at higher rates than any other group), the conclusions and inferences he then drew from those facts were very wrong.
As we said in our rebuttal:
Yes, gay men in the United States contract HIV at higher rates than any other group. But in South Africa, where HIV is believed to be more prevalent than in any other country in the world, HIV is more common among women than men—and no one is arguing that being female causes HIV. What causes HIV is being exposed to HIV. Protect yourself and your partners.
“I didn’t make any inferences," Hutcherson said. “How can you say that all my premises is wrong but you agree with 90 percent of them?”
We don't agree with 90 percent of them. But, I explained to Hutch again, where there are basic facts that we do agree he got correct, we think the inferences and conclusions he draws from those facts are demonstrably false.
He didn't seem to get the distinction between verifiable fact and erroneous conclusion drawn from verifiable fact.
He compared being gay to smoking. I told him smoking is a choice. “So is HIV," he replied. Um. Setting that aside for a moment, being gay is not a choice. "I don’t believe in a gay gene," he said.
And there we were.
He also wanted to talk about this, from our rebuttal:
Yes, one million people are living with HIV in America, and that number seems to be increasing. (For black women, this increase is occurring at nearly 15 times the rate of white women—because, among other reasons, people like Hutcherson encourage black gay men to stay in the closet, thus fostering the “down low” sex habits that leave many unsuspecting women HIV-positive.)
"You’re saying that because of me a lot of these guys have to stay in the closet?" he asked. He sounded, possibly, a little hurt.
Yes, I told him. Because of people like you.
He didn't directly dispute this.
I asked him: What should black gay men do? Do you even believe that black gay men exist?
"I don’t think there should be any gay black men," Hutcherson said.
But there are, I told him. So what are they to do?
He said something about there being no more black gay men when Judgment Day comes.
Just for the sake of a thought experiment, I said: Well, until Judgment Day, what are black gay men supposed to do? Be straight?
“Get straight," he replied. "By accepting Jesus Christ. Like you need to. You aughta come and talk about it.”
I asked him what he would tell me if I came to talk to him about it. He said he would ask me why I hadn't accepted Jesus Christ.
And there we were.
I asked him what he thought of us giving all his ad money to GLSEN. "I don't care what you do with it," he said.
If that's the case, I replied, and if you're feeling like you didn't get enough attention this time around, maybe you should try buying another ad.
“Oh, I’ma do that," Hutcherson said. "And it’s gonna be about your and my conversation. You, like 90 percent of homosexuals, don’t want to know the truth about your lifestyle. And I want you to be healthy.”
I told him I appreciated the sentiment in that last sentence, at least, but that he still hadn't explained to me how he can really believe that, as his ad states, being a homosexual is "a lifestyle that the CDC has determined actually causes HIV/AIDS."
“Bro," he replied. "Bro. You have got be blind not to see that. And you don’t want to see, that’s the problem. Just like you don’t want to see that Jesus is the answer. Because you two could be great together. We could be great together.”
I told him maybe we could meet sometime to discuss it further. He said he'd make it happen. And there we were.