Shortcuts & Delusions: Gay Conversion Therapy & Alternative Energy
Former Saturday Night Live writer and performer Al Franken, now a senator from Minnesota, will be returning to host the sketch comedy show that launched his political career. Shortcuts’ intern Ajit Matharu, pictured in the file photo below, was able to talk his way into the writers room at 30 Rock and obtained a copy of the script for the show’s cold open.
SENATOR AL FRANKEN:
Mrs. DeVos, your family has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT causes including donating millions of dollars to groups that push conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, you and your family have given over $10 million to Focus On the Family, an organization that currently states on its website that, ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity.’
Mrs. DeVos, conversion therapy has been widely discredited and rejected for decades by every mainstream medical and mental health organization as neither medically nor ethically appropriate. It has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide, particularly in LGBT youth. In fact, many of the leaders and founders of conversion therapy, including both religious ministries and mental health professionals, have not only publicly renounced it but have issued formal apologies for their work and how harmful it has been to the individuals involved. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that this be included in the record.
Mrs. DeVos, do you still believe in conversion therapy?
Senator Franken, um, I’ve never believed in that.
First of all, let me say I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination. So let’s start there and let me just say that your characterization of our contributions I don’t think accurately reflects those of my family. I would hope that you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (feigning “tomahawk chop”):
AAAAAUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me speak, let me speak, LET ME SPEAK, LETMESPEAK!!!!
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:
The Chair recognizes the senator from Massachusetts.
Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!
Al Franken used to be a good political satirist; he, Tom Davis and Jim Downey were responsible for the majority of SNL‘s political satire, from the 1970s through the 90s. Now, Franken is the butt of his own joke. All of the text above, until the Veep speaks, occurred during the confirmation hearings for the new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Ostensibly, Franken’s questioning of DeVos’ alleged support of gay conversion therapy was to learn whether or not she would use the power of the federal government to prevent and/or punish bullying and abuse of LGBTQWERTY students.
I remember defending Franken’s bestseller Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, And Other Observations from my father’s disparagement (If I’m in my car when he’s on, I’ll listen to Rush. He’s amusing and insightful regarding the liberal media. I’m not a dittohead, but I’m honest enough to admit Rush is a low to mid-level political satirist). I would parrot back Franken’s premise for the book, which was “a satire on the breakdown of civility in public discourse.” See? I totally got it! Not everybody gets it, you know.
That was over 20 years ago, when I was a high-schooler. What I get now, after grad school wherein I studied satire, my own pursuit of it as a reader and writer, and as a political observer with a state-of-the-art bullshit detector, is that Franken was trying to use satire of the Right to mask being a typical 1960s college liberal and President Bill Clinton sycophant. Put another way, Franken was conflating “scatological” with “satirical.”
Similar to how Planned Parenthood provides services other than abortion, pregnancy termination, women’s health, Focus on the Family provides advice and services other than advice on how to unqueer a child (full disclosure: I once requested gay conversion therapy, but the counselor I saw said, “Oh, haha! No, no, we convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. It’s a one way trip for us.” I had just gone through a bad breakup with my girlfriend, and it was around the time Eternal Sunshine For The Spotless Mind came out [yes, pun intended], and I guess I was looking for a new direction). So, though you can donate money to Planned Parenthood because you advocate breast cancer screenings, or donate money to Focus on the Family because you are a Christian and big supporter of marriage counseling, money is fungible, and if you are trying to disparage a person for her charitable donations, you’d focus on the discredited, demeaning and/or despicable things that charity may do.
Franken’s and other Democrat senators’ lines of questioning regarding her views of gay conversion therapy, her immense wealth and her immense contributions to GOP political campaigns were designed to show her to be “unqualified” for the job. As if anyone, whether he be a school superintendent, principal, or Socrates, is truly qualified to responsibly pull all the levers of power at the disposal of the Department of Education.
To a liberal statist “school choice,” “voucher program,” and “returning power to the states” are code words for erosion of federal control of America’s school system that would occur with DeVos as Secretary of Education. The related special interest of these Democrat senators is not “the children,” but their own special interest of being reelected, which is dependent on the donations they receive from American teachers unions. What kind of an ROI can teachers unions realize if the recipients of their donations can’t derail DeVos and the threat her ideology represents to teachers unions?
Noticeably absent from her confirmation hearings are the DeVos’ investments in Windquest Group, which owns several companies that specialize in alternative energy. Compared to DeVos, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson sailed through his confirmation; he even scored a few votes from Democrats! Apparently teachers unions have more cache in the DNC than environmentalist groups do.
There’s a weird dichotomy of what conservatives and liberals think they can control: conservatives think they can prevent and punish homosexuality, and liberals think they can prevent and punish bullying of homosexuals. Both would require surveillance and police states. They both look to God and Government, respectively to work on behalf of these impossible goals. The two proclivities divide the Right from the Left; the delusion of their faith in these controlling powers is what unites them.
Image: Andy Towle / www.towleroad.com