Bill O'Reilly has taken his crusade (or is it jihad) on behalf of Jessica's Law to the Colorado legislature which, in agreement with other legal entities, deems it unnecessary. But that's not good enough for Bill who, not only attacked the CO House speaker, Mark Ferrandino, but sicced Jesse Watters on him. On the first Factor hit piece, O'Reilly brought up the irrelevant fact that Ferrandino, who tabled the bill, is openly gay. In another Factor segment, after showing Watters' sting video, Bill again mentioned that Ferrandino is gay (and *lied about his support for marijuana legalization). If this gay baiting sounds familiar, it is! In 2007, Bill O'Reilly and Jesse Watters attacked the openly gay chairman of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee over the same issue. If, by Bill's own standards, hate speech is "designed to marginalize and harm an adversary, business rival or someone else the hater doesn't like," it appears that Bill O'Reilly, once again, could be engaging in homophobic hate speech.
When Bill speaks, he expects people to listen and when they don't, Bill gets mighty pissed. Such was the case in in 2007, when Vermont, a state reviled by O'Reilly because of it's liberal views, rejected Jessica's law. Contrary to Bill's beliefs about what's best for Vermont, they felt that "the 25-year minimums, by discouraging plea bargains, can actually undermine the chances of getting a conviction and increase the likelihood of a sex offender walking free without serving any time." While Vermont House Judiciary chairman, Bill Lippert, along with other legislators and advocates for victims of sexual abuse, opposed the law, he was the one chosen for Bill O'Reilly's wrath and Jesse Watters stalking.
He was ambushed, by Watters while having breakfast at the State House cafeteria. Watters immediately asked Lippert why he passed a transgender rights bill after he "killed" Jessica's Law. Watters added that it seemed "a little strange" that Lippert passed the transgender law but "killed" Jessica's Law and suggested Lippert's priorities were "a little strange." When Lippert informed Watters that Vermont has some of the strongest sexual abuse laws in the nation, Watters asked him if he was "OK with a guy getting probation for sexually assaulting a four year old" - classic Watters strategy of asking questions that can't be answered in a short sound bite. At that point, security ushered Watters out while Lippert received a standing ovation.
O'Reilly immediately attacked. After claiming that Vermont is "soft on predators," O'Reilly added that Lippert, whom he blamed for "beating down" Jessica's law, is only "tough" on those who discriminate against the transgendered. After creating the suggestion that Lippert cares more about the transgender community than sexual predators, O'Reilly voiced support for that type of legislation. While he claimed that Lippert refused to go on The Factor, Lippert said, in a radio interview, that he was never asked. O'Reilly accused him of being a liar and not caring about the welfare of children when the fact, never noted by O'Reilly, was that Lippert was part of passing a number of strict laws against sexual offenders. After Bill issued his fatwa, Lippert received hate mail which, in referencing his sexuality, made the bogus and correlation between pedophilia and homosexuality - a belief held by many in today's Christian right.
O'Reilly's newest attack follows the Vermont model, complete with Watters gotcha questions. Only this time O'Reilly actually said that his target is gay. As he did with the Vermont affair, in which he connected Lippert to a transgender rights law, O'Reilly referenced Ferrandino's support for gay marriage, describing him as a "big gay marriage guy" and "a fervent gay marriage person" when Ferrandino's "signature bill" is about civil unions. In both situations, the views of O'Reilly's targets were shared by others but that wasn't mentioned. And, like Lippert, Ferrandino is getting hate mail.
In 2007, O'Reilly claimed that he never targeted Lippert because he was gay. But if so, why did he bring up transgender legislation that had nothing to do with Jessica's Law? As Lippert's sexuality wasn't a secret, one wonders if O'Reilly knew exactly what kind of hateful response would follow from the media attacks. Ferrandino's sexuality has nothing to do with Jessica's Law so, why is O'Reilly bringing it up other than to target him, as he might have done with Lippert, for his LGBT advocacy.
Lippert, I believe, explained Bill's "distortions" succinctly. Substitute gay marriage for transgender and Colorado for Vermont: "The fact that he chose to aggressively inject the issue of transgender Vermonters into the conversation about sexual predators suggests the confusion of the issue of the long time stereotype that people who are in need of civil rights protection such as gay men, lesbians, and now transgender people are somehow deviant and are a threat to society in a way that sexual offenders are." Six years later, O'Reilly is still up to his old homophobic tricks!
*Ferrandino never took a position on marijuana legislation