Conspiracies and lies at MassResistance forum in Acton
At the MassResistance forum at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School the evening of Oct. 3, held to denounce the school drama club’s upcoming performance of The Laramie Project, several of the speakers seemed convinced that there was a vast gay conspiracy to silence them by any means necessary. The paranoia reached epic proportions when Brian Camenker, leader of the anti-gay group, told the crowd that one of the scheduled speakers, ex-gay activist Stephen Bennett, was rammed by a gay activist in another car while driving up from Connecticut. Camenker also alleged that the State Police were conspiring with the gay activists to cover up the hit on Bennett.
"Stephen Bennett will not be here tonight. ... He is reviled and hated by the homosexual movement. While he was driving here after he got off the Mass Pike onto highway 290, as he paid his tolls and went going there was a parked car," Camenker told the crowd of about 50 people at the start of the forum. "The parked car, as he got going, bashed into his car, causing him personal injury and then took off. State troopers came and they refused to file a police report on this."
The story of the gay plot to target Stephen Bennett became a recurring theme throughout the evening, particularly in the remarks of Dr. John Diggs, a Massachusetts internist who spoke at the forum to warn Acton parents and community members about the dangers of homosexual sex. Diggs at various points in his remarks compared the alleged attack on Bennett to the attacks on civil rights workers in the South fighting for rights for African Americans, and he said the attack was similar to the tactics used to quash dissent in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union.
"So why is Stephen Bennett so dangerous? Why is Stephen Bennett run off the road, in Massachusetts, the land of tolerance!" said Diggs, raising his voice to a shout. "Obviously because of what he had to say here tonight. Why? ... Stephen Bennett is dangerous because he sticks the knife in the core of the lie."
Diggs said that the lie in question was that being gay is an innate part of someone’s nature, as opposed to a dangerous aberration that can be cured.
There was just one problem with the conspiracy theories: According to Bennett, he has no knowledge of the motives of the other party in the alleged hit-and-run and no reason to suspect that party was a gay activist lying in wait. He told Bay Windows a very similar story to what Camenker told the crowd at the forum; while he waited to pay the toll heading onto Route 290, another car rammed him from the side, causing damage to his front bumper, the driver’s side headlight, and the driver’s side of his car. He said the incident also caused him back injuries.
"I don’t know who did it, why they did it, if it was road rage, but physically I was unable to make the event from that point," said Bennett. He added that Camenker may have mischaracterized his accident because Camenker did not have complete information about what happened and said he had no quarrel with him.
Trooper Eric Benson, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police, confirmed that police were called to the scene on the eastbound side of the Mass Pike at the toll heading onto Route 290. He said at 2 p.m. that afternoon a Connecticut man, who Benson said was not identified in the police log, reported that another car had struck his while he was waiting at the tolls. Contrary to Bennett’s version of events, Benson said when police arrived at the scene they found that Bennett had not been injured and that his car had not sustained major damage.
"The damage as a result of that crash was extremely minor. It includes a scuffed bumper," said Benson.
He also dispelled the myth of a conspiracy between State Police and gay activists. He said police did not file a crash report because the incident did not meet the required threshold; the damage to Bennett’s car was less than $1000 and he was not injured. Benson said police took down Bennett’s description of the vehicle of the alleged perpetrator, including the license plate number and are working to track that person down. He said the person may face criminal charges for failing to stop after the incident and exchange insurance information.
Beyond the conspiracy theories, the Acton forum featured the overt anti-LGBT rhetoric that has become a staple of MassResistance events and public appearances. Camenker denounced The Laramie Project, a play written by Moisés Kaufman about the murder of Matthew Shepard, as a propaganda tool to promote prejudice against Christians, and he likened it to the work of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
"That’s the power of this kind of propaganda, and the gay groups have often acknowledged borrowing from that period. And that is really what this is," said Camenker.
In attacking the play Camenker also shed light on his past work as a theater critic.
"Most towns don’t do this play because for one thing it’s really sort of bad theater. I was once a theater critic in an earlier life and I worked for a newspaper, and if you read this play it’s boring and it just grinds away," said Camenker.
John Russo, a former school committee member in Reading, spoke to the crowd about how to persuade the school to cancel the play. He urged the audience to bypass school administrators and begin flooding the school committee with complaints.