Immediately suspicious because of both the institutionalized scare-mongering about Iran in the US and the fact that no one had a link to a news source discussing the video, I left a comment on the blog post at Gays Without Borders asking them for their source (that blog post has since been deleted without explanation, and they never responded to my comment).
Well, this morning Jim updated his original post and wrote another to say that the video was not of a gay man being sentenced to death by being thrown off a building in Iran, but was instead from a CNN report in 2003 on Saddam Hussein (the irony of that fact, I'm sure, escapes the gays who want to see the US *ahem* "take action" on this). Ex-gay Watch (an awesome narrow-focus blog that does amazing work following the ex-gay movement) posted a correction and apologized. Bil has yet to update his post, but I posted a comment telling him that they found out that video was fake. Gays Without Borders just scrubbed their site of the fact that it was ever there.
So, question: why are some gays so willing to believe anything they see about how awful homosexuality is punished abroad? Why aren't they even willing to ask the basic questions (like "What is your source?") when someone tells them they have something as extraordinary as a video of men being thrown off roofs as punishment for their homosexuality?
According to Jim, the video was found at the French-language site "Iran-Resist.org." Here's the text that accompanied the video (after a few videos of a gay-friendly, Jewish French politician being interviewed by Iranian TV):
Iranians have trouble hearing condemnations of their complacent attitude in the face of a terrorist-pimp regime, but we call on the gay community to call out this traitor who dances fine at Pride but then goes back in the closet in front of the dirty mullahs!
According to Sharia, mullahs eliminate gays by pushing them into the void. This Arabic video shows this sort of execution; watch these poor people who are really trapped.
[Translated by me]
Ummmm... yeah, when anti-Iranian sentiment is always a threat when discussing the central Asian country, a statement like that lets us know just what's motivating their presentation of this video. (And, as this post goes to publish, Iran-Resist.org still hasn't corrected their explanation of this video.)
Ex-gay Watch and Box Turtle Bulletin both corrected their original posts, which is a good thing. I can see how either would see the video, believe Gays Without Borders's explanation of it, and want to repost it to share, because if the story was true then it's an horrific crime against humanity. But why was their natural skepticism thrown out the window when it came to this item? Surely the lack of backstory at all to the video should have been enough to make some people skeptical.
And why would Gays Without Borders repost a video without disclaimer from such an obviously racist website?
Here's Jim's explanation of the video's actual source:
However, thanks to Steven Milerton we've been able to confirm that the video appeared much earlier in a 2003 CNN report, which showed troops from Iraq's Fedayeen Saddam throwing soldiers off the roof in order to "instill discipline."
In 2003, the US was just starting the war in Iraq. News media did their part by discussing human rights abuses in Iraq to justify America's naked resource grab, and Lou Dobbs played this video of Saddam Hussein's intimidation techniques that involved throwing people off buildings.
While we don't have any money to start a war now, it is kind of... appropriate that gays are participating in another round of condemnations of a nation that Bush lied about to try and make Americans scared enough of it to start another war.
But in a few decades, when America's ready to start spreadin' democracy again, will gay human rights abuses be the new excuse to invade in the same way feminism and human rights were cynically used to justify an invasion of Iraq? If so, will gays be ready to oppose that perversion of our movement?
Update: While not entirely related to this post, in other Iranian-American relations news today, Obama released a statement for Persian new year:
I don't know much about Iranian culture, but I do know that they have the same sense of cultural superiority and pride in their civilization that the French and Americans do, except they're far less secure about others recognizing it (Americans don't seem to have much trouble believing everyone thinks we're awesome... and lots of people outside of the US do). So good on Obama for hitting the "great Iranian civilization" notes.
And, as Michael Crawford said when Obama said he'd sign the UN declaration against the criminalization of homosexuality, this is a clean break from the Bush years. These sorts of things go hand-in-hand. The US can't have leadership on human rights issues by just condemning other nations. It has to reach out with some olive branches as well.