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Fox News to sue ex-'gay' activist? Bill O'Reilly engaged in heated debate with guest ^ | Friday, January 3, 2003 | By Art Moore

Posted on 01/03/2003 1:52:52 AM PST by JohnHuang2

Fox News is threatening to sue a prominent evangelical minister in the ex-homosexual movement who engaged in a volatile exchange over biblical morality on the top-rated television program "The O'Reilly Factor" in September.

Stephen Bennett, who says he left his homosexual lifestyle nearly 11 years ago, has distributed a 60-minute audio tape program called the "The O'Reilly Shocker," in which he responds to host Bill O'Reilly's characterization of people who take the Bible literally as "religious fanatics."

Fox claims Bennett's use of clips from the interview is a copyright infringement.

Bill O'Reilly

On the Sept. 3, 2002 program, O'Reilly, a Roman Catholic, called Bennett a "religious fanatic" who wants to "deny people rights" and suggested the minister wanted "all gays to go to hell."

Bennett said he has received hundreds of e-mails from viewers of the segment who said they were outraged at O'Reilly's "anger and verbal abuse."

O'Reilly is coming on like a "bully," charged Bennett, who still counts himself as a fan of the Fox News nightly show.

Stephen Bennett

"He's a libertarian who relishes the fact that he doesn't care what you talk about, but we have to have that right of free speech," Bennett said of O'Reilly. "Yet when it comes to me now speaking out – never saying anything nasty about anybody but just addressing the issues – he does everything possible to silence me."

Bennett said he has nothing against O'Reilly personally.

"This is just an issue the two of us do not agree on," he said.

A recording artist and national speaker, Bennett's Huntington, Conn.-based group, Stephen Bennett Ministries, says that it offers help to people who want to "come out" of the homosexual lifestyle.

Bennett, who is married with two children, also is a spokesman for the lobby group Concerned Women for America, which just prior to the Sept. 3 interview criticized O'Reilly for telling the homosexual magazine The Advocate that he favored homosexual rights.

Lawsuit threatened

Bennett received a letter yesterday from a New York City law firm representing Fox which charged him with copyright infringement for sale of a product that uses "almost all, if not all" of O'Reilly's four-minute interview with Bennett.

In the letter, Dori Ann Hanswirth of Hogan and Hartson warned Bennett that if he does not stop distributing the tape and does not turn over all remaining copies, Fox will file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief.

However, Bennett's legal defense, the American Family Association, maintains that the tape is legal because it uses excerpts from the interview for the purpose of commentary.

WorldNetDaily sought further clarification from Hanswirth, but after conferring with her client, she replied that Fox News does not comment on pending legal matters.

Michael DePrimo, senior litigation counsel for the AFA's Center for Law and Policy, told WND that his reading of Hanswirth's letter is that Bennett cannot use any of Fox's material.

Bennett's tape, part of his group's regular tape-of-the-month series, is legal under copyright law's allowance of fair use and comment, DePrimo said.

"Certainly Mr. O'Reilly put it at issue when he called Mr. Bennett a religious fanatic and did not give him a chance to respond," he said.

DePrimo, who vowed to "vigorously defend" Bennett if Fox proceeds with a lawsuit, noted that it would not be legal "if somebody puts effort into a particular product and another person tries to appropriate it and sell it as his own."

That is not the case in this situation, he insists, charging that Fox simply "does not like the fact that Bill O'Reilly has been exposed as a homosexualist."

Bennett called Fox's demand's "ridiculous."

"Of course I can comment on that interview," he told WND. "If the heart of the interview was on cats and dogs, that means I can't talk about cats and dogs?"

After reviewing his tape again yesterday, Bennett said he has a total of about three minutes of audio clips from the Sept. 3 "O'Reilly Factor" interview and 57 minutes of original commentary.

Discussing theology

Bennett described his response to the interview in a column published by WorldNetDaily in September.

He said that in "pre-interviews," hours before the Sept. 3 show, producers called to discuss probable questions related to his Aug. 27 commentary in the Washington Times about promotion of homosexuality in the U.S. media and its effects on children, titled "The Gay Spin Zone." O'Reilly's comments in support of the homosexual rights agenda published in The Advocate also were added to the mix.

But Bennett says the "O'Reilly Factor" interview turned out instead to be "about Bill O'Reilly's theology."

After numerous exchanges in which O'Reilly tried to press Bennett on whether he thought practicing homosexuals would go to hell, O'Reilly said, according to a transcript, "We live in a secular society. You're a religious fanatic, with all due respect."

Earlier in the day on Sept. 3, O'Reilly referred to Bennett as "an idiot" and "religious fanatic" on his radio program, "The Radio Factor."

Bennett notes that one day later, O'Reilly compared his brand of religious belief to that of the Sept. 11 terrorists in a conversation with a liberal Baptist preacher.

Just a few days before the Sept. 3 program, O'Reilly responded on his show to Concerned Women For America's reaction to his Advocate interview.

O'Reilly opened his Aug. 29 program with this introduction:

In the "Personal Story" tonight, more attacks on your humble correspondent on the Internet. Now, I've gotten used to being pounded by both the left and the right, and very rarely do I see anything even remotely accurate on these websites. This time, a conservative group believes I am patronizing gays. Fine. My stance is simple. We're all Americans here. Nobody should be discriminated against. I'll leave it to God to figure out who's going to hell and who isn't. I'm not qualified, and nobody else on earth is either.

John Aravosis of published a defense of O'Reilly in which he said, "What's troubling about this confrontation isn't that militant fundamentalists are angry about what O'Reilly said, but that they chose to respond to a political difference of opinion by questioning the faith of their opponent."

Calling Bennett a "self-proclaimed 'ex-gay," Aravosis quotes the minister commenting on behalf of CWA, "For a man to come right out and say that he does not believe in the Old Testament ? I think that many Catholics across this nation as well as the world are offended by Bill O'Reilly claiming he's an Irish Catholic."

Bennett said that his tape includes Rev. John F. Harvey, a Roman Catholic priest who asserts that O'Reilly is not speaking for the Catholic Church, which views homosexuality as "intrinsically evil."

Harvey, who runs Courage, a spiritual support group in Manhattan for homosexuals, says O'Reilly is abusing his public celebrity platform and promoting a heresy against the Catholic Church. The priest calls O'Reilly "confused" and "filled with pride – putting himself above the Catholic Church."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: homosexualagenda
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To: JohnHuang2
I saw O'Reilly in person in Houston a few years ago. He was saying some pretty negative things about gays. Now he seems to have softened on the gay agenda. I wonder why. I wonder if he found out a relative or friend is gay. I know that when I found out my nephew was gay it changed me. I do not approve of his lifestyle, but I don't want anyone to beat him up or abuse him because he is gay. It broke my heart when I found out he is gay. But being gay is no worse than getting a divorce and remarried. Sin is sin. That is all.
41 posted on 01/03/2003 5:20:32 AM PST by buffyt
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To: Sungirl
I heard on the news that alot of college girls are now 'experimenting' with same sex sex. Can't say that's genetic.

Bi-sexuals are not well liked in the gay-community.

42 posted on 01/03/2003 5:24:31 AM PST by Always Right
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To: patriciaruth
Do you have to be anti-gay in order to be conservative?

If you're a conservative, the concept that special rights and privileges ought to be granted to people who engage in specific sexual behaviors should be repugnant to you.

Conservatives believe, at the very least, in equality before the law - not the creation of privileged groups.

43 posted on 01/03/2003 6:05:04 AM PST by wideawake
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To: JohnHuang2
Hmmmm......I'm a practising Roman Catholic, so I thought that automatically made me a "religious fanatic." I wonder if O'Reilly's brand of Catholicism gravitates towards Bela Pelosi's.........
44 posted on 01/03/2003 6:13:01 AM PST by RooRoobird14
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: Always Right
It's funny. When you've spent time on a college campus, you get to see all the fractures between the identity politics people.

Few Middle Americans, for example, understand the hatred and prejudice that exists between many blacks and Latinos - despite the "we're fellow minorities and victims" routine that their respective "community leaders" sell to the public.

Likewise, lesbians and sodomites don't get along with one another - they're essentially separate tribes with very different "styles". They form a political coalition, but they rarely socialize with one another because neither has anything to offer the other.

Bi-sexuals are particularly hated by both sides, although they are, again, officially tolerated.

Many times in college I saw an attractive, normal-looking girl get briefly "involved" with your typical heavyset, leatherclad diesel dyke for a few months (all the while dating men simultaneously) only to throw her over for a good-looking guy.

I particularly remember one case of a very hurt dyke whose "girlfriend" was continuously "cheating" on her with men. She even said, at one point, "what do they have that I don't?", at which point I couldn't help bursting out into uncontrollable laughter.

46 posted on 01/03/2003 6:16:26 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake
It is ironic that those who push tolerance are some of the most intolerant people I know. They believe only in tolerance for their ideals.
47 posted on 01/03/2003 6:27:43 AM PST by Always Right
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To: ObieTrice
So why is bigotry towards gays not repugnant?

There is no such thing as a "gay" - there are people who engage in homosexual acts are there are people who do not.

One cannot be "bigoted" against a behavior.

Is it up to you to judge your neighbor or is it up to god?

It's not a matter of judging people, but of judging acts.

If someone lies, it is neither prejudiced or bigoted to (1) say that lying is wrong or (2) to inform someone that they should not lie.

If someone boasts to me, saying "I love to tell lies. It makes me feel great. I am one proud liar!" I have a right to inform them that I find their behavior repulsive and that they should be ashamed rather than proud of their behavior.

Yet when someone says "I love to engage in sodomy. Sodomy makes me feel great. I am one proud sodomizer!" it becomes somehow socially unacceptable to criticize.

Our society is awash in moral cowardice masked as "tolerance". People should accept the fact that when they choose to enagage in certain acts and then trumpet their engagement in certain deliberate acts from the rooftops, people may call them on it.

48 posted on 01/03/2003 6:29:52 AM PST by wideawake
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To: JohnHuang2
As unpopular as it may be, I have to agree with Fox and O'Reilly on this one. I'm not an attorney, but I have a broad and lengthy background in copyright law and intellectual property in the music industry.

Bennett is committing copyright infringement and his defense arguments aren't going to fly with a court. His attorneys are either seriously incompetent, ignorant of copyright law, or trying to win the court of public opinion.

First of all, he's clearly a blatant self-promoter. Who ever heard of this guy before he was on O'Reilly? Now he's trying to appropriate O'Reilly's fame to further his own career, to the point of using O'Reilly's name on his audio tape.

He's charging money for this tape, which instantly nullifies any 'Fair Use' argument.

He's also using nearly all of the segment in question, probably only editing out a few seconds in order to make his specious 'Fair Use' claim. While the tape may foster discussion, fair use is limited to short excerpts, not "nearly all" of a selected work.

The courts will see this for what it is, an attempt to ride O'Reilly's coattails to fame. Fox is correct to stop this.

49 posted on 01/03/2003 6:36:56 AM PST by tdadams
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To: ObieTrice
Is it up to you to judge your neighbor or is it up to god?

It is up to me to discern that my neighbor's behavior as evil (even as I discern the sinfulness of my own behavior) and refuse to excuse, condone, or celebrate it. That is not only an appropriate "judgment", it is a judgement commanded by Jesus Christ himself.

It is up to God to condemn my neighbor and carry out the sentence. That "judgment" is His alone. I certainly am in no position to second-guess God's "judgment." Are you?

A "gay" is not a unique gender or species of human being. It is a perverse, diseased-spreading, death-inducing sexual behavior. Unless my neighbor is vocal about it or otherwise brings it to my attention, I would never know. He ought to keep it to himself and not bring it to my attention. Such shameful things should be struggled with privately.

50 posted on 01/03/2003 6:40:28 AM PST by Kevin Curry
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Comment #51 Removed by Moderator

To: Always Right
They should be left alone but they insist on pushing their agenda in schools, changing what marriage is, pressuring organizations like the Boy Scouts to change their beliefs, pushing their junk science (like the new 'sickness' of 'homophobia'). If someone wants to live that way fine, but don't expect everyone to believe their behavior is healthy and normal.

That's the way I feel about many women's groups and religious organizations -- always trying to push their agenda on others -- but I don't hate women or fundementalists Christians.

52 posted on 01/03/2003 7:01:12 AM PST by Labyrinthos
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To: JohnHuang2
"What's troubling about this confrontation isn't that militant fundamentalists are angry about what O'Reilly said, but that they chose to respond to a political difference of opinion by questioning the faith of their opponent."

O'Reilly and his spokesman are behaving like a liberal democrat - demonize those you disagree with, e.g. calling those who support Bennet "Militant fundamentalists."

Christians should not be surprised at O'Reilly's attitude. It is what one would expect from a blind unbeliever. Unbelievers behave in this way because there is a veil over their hearts. O'Reilly has a strong sense of right and wrong, but it is based on worldly standards.

53 posted on 01/03/2003 7:01:25 AM PST by exmarine
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To: wideawake
Big difference between being "anti-gay" and "anti-gay agenda." I think most conservatives are the latter, not the former.
54 posted on 01/03/2003 7:07:38 AM PST by Pharmboy
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To: I_Love_My_Husband; *Homosexual Agenda; Remedy; GrandMoM; backhoe; pram; Yehuda; Clint N. Suhks; ...
Thanks for the ping. I think O'Reilly is wrong as well and even though I'm not tee-vee-less, I haven't watched his show in some time.

Homosexual Agenda Index
Homosexual Agenda Keyword Search
All FreeRepublic Bump Lists

55 posted on 01/03/2003 7:08:39 AM PST by scripter
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Comment #56 Removed by Moderator

To: JohnHuang2
The reason FOX is doing this is that is it affecting FOX's viewership of O'Reilly. I am one of those who does not want to do anything with O'Reilly's TV or radio show after this interview. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

If this was not affecting the ratings of O'Reilly then I don't think that FOX would even be wasting their time. O'Reilly's 15 minutes of fame with conservatives is coming to an end.
57 posted on 01/03/2003 7:10:26 AM PST by truthandlife
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To: B. Rabbit
This means that if somebody is born gay (genetic argument) or is raised and developed to be gay (societal influences) than they should be left alone with their decision and accountable for their own actions.

I realize you're not making the genetics argument here. It just seems like a good opportunity to post some links on the issue:

58 posted on 01/03/2003 7:13:30 AM PST by scripter
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To: buffyt
Well said. I used to like watching O'Reilly's show. But in the past year or so his views have become so apparent, I'm not sure whose worse, him or Donahue.
59 posted on 01/03/2003 7:13:35 AM PST by billbears
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To: Claire Voyant
It's not about being catholic or not being catholic, it's about one's relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't care if someone goes to confession once a week and attends Mass every other day - if they don't have a relationship with the Savior, the church cannot save them.
60 posted on 01/03/2003 7:15:14 AM PST by exmarine
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